Many businesses want to know what the ‘secret sauce’ is to gaining new followers on Twitter and running a popular, engaging account. The truth is that there is no secret sauce. Every business has its own story to tell to a unique audience. That being said, there are eight key tactics every business, both small and large, should employ on Twitter to get the most out of the platform.
1. Establish a brand personality
Consumers like brands they can relate to. Just because you are running a business doesn’t mean you have to maintain a corporate, buttoned-up approach on social media. Twitter is a chance to let your personality shine through. Have some fun with your Twitter account and don’t shy away from exhibiting a sense of humor. Make yourself stand out from your competitors. Casper, DiGiorno Pizza and Wendy’s are strong examples of brands that have gained notoriety over the years for their Twitter personas.
2. Use relevant hashtags
Studies have shown that tweets with hashtags receive twice as many engagements as tweets without hashtags. Tweeting about trending topics or utilizing popular hashtags within your industry will not only expose your tweets to a lot more users, it will result in more retweets, replies and link/profile clicks. In short, tweeting relevant hashtags improves your discoverability to people who otherwise might not have heard of your company or didn’t know you were on Twitter. Restrict your number of hashtags to 1-2 per tweet, however, as anything more than that can actually decrease engagement.
3. Always reply to customers
The worst thing you can do as a small business is give your customers the impression that you don’t care about them. Almost every tweet to your business, both positive and negative, deserves at least one response. If a customer tweets at you with a compliment or sends a photo of him/her using your product, be sure to thank the person. If a customer has a complaint, whether it is justified or not, make sure to address the person publicly in some manner while trying to take the rest of the discussion offline. Digital marketing guru Jay Baer urges marketers to “hug your haters” in this video for Community Managers. He also published a book on the topic as well.
4. Incorporate User Generated Content
Your current customers have tremendous value for your business. It’s one thing for consumers to view paid advertisements by a brand, it’s another for them to see other people endorsing companies on their own. If a customer tweets at you with a photo of him/her using your product, private message the person asking for permission to repost the picture from the company account with a new caption. Many Twitter users feel a sense of validation and self-gratification when a company uses their photos in official posts and will often share them with friends as a result. If you don’t have a lot of followers who tweet at your handle, you can run Twitter contests seeking out the best User Generated Content (photos, tweet replies, short stories, etc.). Consumers appreciate brands that take the time to single them out on Twitter or refer to them by name in a tweet.
5. Engage with influencers
For small businesses looking to gain exposure, it is important to identify any influencers (or micro-influencers) who currently use your product or who you think might enjoy using your product. Figuring out a way to get them to tweet about your brand is the best way to increase your organic following. One idea is to send free samples of your product to these people (or offer them your service free of charge) with a note that includes your company name, Twitter handle and official hashtag and encourage them to post a tweet if they enjoyed using it. Klear and Hashtagify are free online tools that can be used to identify top influencers for your brand.
6. Monitor your analytics
Take full advantage of Twitter Analytics to track which types of posts are performing best. Some of the metrics to look at include: engagement rate, link clicks, retweets, likes, and replies. You may also want to look at performance trends in terms of time of day, day of the week, and type of post (text-based, photo, video, etc.) to see what works best for your audience. Other free analytics tools for Twitter include Social Bearing, Followerwonk and Tweriod.
7. Use Twitter Advanced Search to find new customers
Twitter Advanced Search is one of the more underutilized tools that Twitter has to offer. Twitter Advanced Search allows you to search for specific keywords, phrases, and hashtags and listen to the conversations that are happening on Twitter. By taking the initiative to strategically listen to what Twitter users are saying about your category or industry, you can make an effort to reach out to these people directly and let them know about your company’s offerings.
8. Offer value to your customers
All customers understand that at the end of the day, you are a business. However, that doesn’t mean they always want to be pitched. Make sure your Twitter account offers some form of value to your customers and is not just a hard-driving sales tool. Offering value can take place in the form of curating articles from notable experts in the industry, posting funny photos or memes, or offering inspirational quotes (#MotivationalMonday is a popular hashtag). Interacting with your followers on Twitter is about establishing a relationship and building trust. Make your followers feel like friends of the company, not bottom line transactions.
The last piece of advice? Be patient. Don’t get frustrated if you aren’t gaining dozens of likes or hundreds of new followers every week. Be consistent with your approach on Twitter. To paraphrase the movie Field of Dreams, “If you build it (a strong Twitter presence), people will come.”