The big advantage that Twitter has to offer social media marketing companies is the ability to gain followers quickly. Long before a prospective follower decides to be-friend your company page on Facebook, they are more likely to follow your Twitter feed, or at least, be part of a re-tweet chain. Twitter creates brand ambassadors out of every follower of your updates. They in turn reach out to their audiences and extend your brand message.
Besides the obvious merits of creating a strong social presence, there are some other ways to use this free service. If you’re a small to mid-sized company, Twitter can become a tool beyond simply one for social media marketing. In fact, you may grow to rely upon the data and information you can collect from this one site over all the analytics you can access on Google. I predict that over the next 5-10 years, search engine results will figure less prominently in the success of a company’s marketing campaign. Instead, we’re going to see communities growing together and of their own choice. People want information from other trusted sources. In my opinion, Twitter is going to be the future home of the trusted voice, over that of even organic search results.
Brand Your Profile Before Anything Else
Being unique and personal is a key element to not coming off stuffy and corporate. Twitter allows you to customize certain images and designs where you can allow your creativity to shine. Consider looking at the following elements:
- Custom Background Design. Your background should align with your brand tone, personality and sense of style. Don’t be generic.
- Concise Bio Info. You only have a short, short paragraph in which to entice your audience. So the key point here is to: remember you audience. Don’t bore them.
- Humanize Your Profile Picture. Would you want to be friends with a logo? Neither will your audience. Don’t be a talking logo.
- Share Only the Best. No one wants to listen to the same joke over and over. Make sure your last 20 tweets show that you engage with your public, have a sense of humour or at least reverence for other’s humour. Don’t be a stick in the mud.
Keep Your Competition in Your Sights
There is no better way to find out what your competition is doing to win its audience than by using Twitter. As well, if you’re new to social media marketing, you’re going to need to learn how to use it better.
In your research, you may discover that your competition is making some key errors when it comes to their efforts. There is no better teacher than experience. Especially if that experience is happening to someone else. Your competition will also reveal pockets of followers and areas where discussions are occurring in your niche. You can track them down and follow them.
Two of the tools we suggest using are Twellow and Wefollow. Each works like a directory of the companies using Twitter in a specific industry. It’s a great place to begin.
How to Gain Followers and Influence Friends
Who is the best person to follow? If someone has a large number of followers but follows very few, they may not be of use to you. Your job is to go and target people to follow in the expectation that they will reciprocate. You can use the tool TwitterCounter Search to discover the stats on a particular feed. It can show you other industry users that tend to employ a “follow back policy.”
Another great tool is Listorious. It helps you by showing lists of journalists and bloggers that have been compiled by other members in your industry. This is useful if you want to quickly connect personally to thought leaders and influencers who are at the centre of your industry.
Another tool that you may find useful is Twitter Adder. It allows you to automate your search for new users based on your custom keyword. It can automatically follow these users as well as unfollow them within a certain timeframe if they don’t reciprocate.
Find Followers Based on Interest in Your Content
This seems fairly obvious, but should be mentioned. A reader is more likely to re-tweet, share or follow your feed immediately upon reading your quality content. Make sure that every blog post contains a retweet button that allows them to do just that.
Direct Message With Care
Inbound marketing tactics suggest that you employ a more subtle method of attracting clients. That being said, don’t hard sell them once they’re following you. You can begin your relationship by thanking them for following you. From there, you can continue to offer them things. Everyone likes offers. These can be in the form of:
- A new blog post
- Helpful info
- Product updates
- Opinions about industry events
- Special offers
You can use Social Oomph to automate your direct messages. But the best advice is to always give personal attention to your DMs. Remember that you’re trying to establish a personal relationship at this stage, so treat them with the respect you would give a person who enters into your store and is standing at the counter.
Automation Protocol: Social Media Marketing Advice
This leads us to the benefits and perils of automation. It should be noted that no matter how you slice it, when a potential lead receives an automated message, a small part of them dies inside. However, they will be less likely to blame you for this if you are offering quality content or something worthwhile. It also helps if you have a history of expertise in your industry and therefore have the authority to be making whatever offer or claim you’re making in your automated message.
The first place to start is to automate the announcement of new blog posts from you and your favourite RSS feeds. A good service to try out is TwitterFeed. By inputting the feed name and URL of the Blog or RSS feed, you can automatically generate tweets whenever it publishes new content. Why is this good? It can show that you’re on top of the newest ideas, stories and developments in your industry. It can prove that you’re interested and engaged with the freshest content available. Beware of how often you post, though. You can change the Update Frequency of when it scans for new content. Be sure to also “post link” when you retweet the content. This will alert the user you’re following to your constant and loyal presence.
Also check out WordPress’s Tweet Old Posts. Just because your content is aging, doesn’t mean it can’t be fresh and relevant to someone who hasn’t seen it yet. You can alert new followers who may have missed your earlier quality work. The key benefit to automation is that it enables you to appear active even when you’re unable to do it in person.
Social Media Marketing Mean Listening
While posting may be the first thing on your mind, consider listening instead. We recommend HootSuite in order to set up keyword specific lists. You can monitor and see up to the minute updates concerning:
- Mentions of your brand
- Direct messages
- Hashtags and what’s trending
- Twitter lists
- Search terms
There are tons of options when it comes to segmenting, monitoring and viewing lists of targeted users. HootSuite allows you to create lists by adding users to it, allowing you to monitor only those in the list. This is highly convenient if you’re trying to narrow your focus and grab the attention of a few key influencers and thought leaders. Another HootSuite tool allows you to monitor questions that may be trending as Twitter searches. This can give you a foot in the door. Especially if you can answer a question that helps a user out. More advanced search lists can also specify a precise location or area code in which to monitor.
Monitoring for mentions of your brand name can alert you to the positive or negative chatter about you. You can choose to respond proactively, long before the topic takes on a life of its own. You can also thank and congratulate users if they leave a favourable comment somewhere.
Hashtags and Chats
Depending on your industry, you can attach yourself to trending topics. Again, don’t do this if it’s in bad taste or comes off as forced, but check out of the top 10 most popular tags that are listed in the sidebar of the Twitter homepage. If something appears to fit your message and you want to jump on the bandwagon, feel free. It’s a great way to open up your brand to a huge audience.
Join chats, of course. Be part of your community by following and creating relevant (hopefully insightful) input. A great place to find a list of chats, their topics and their moderators is found on this Google spreadsheet. As long as you’re sharing information that’s informed, you’re apt to get some new followers and build a little brand buzz along the way.
The Future of Digital is Social
As much as we fight for SEO domain of the Google front page, consumers are building in the Twitterverse. What’s more important is that they’re engaging with your brand or your industry and you may not even be aware it’s happening. A search engine ranking tells you that your website is building traffic. That’s great. But it doesn’t reveal the personality, voice and unique concerns of each visitor. This is why I believe that Twitter is the future location of digital and social media marketing efforts. When it comes to learning more about a brand or whether the product is worthwhile or not, potential leads are scanning trending topics between users rather trolling blog feeds or review sites. The goal of any brand is to insinuate itself into the common conversation. To be friendly AND familiar. This is why I see Twitter as the most powerful tool in the chest (above Facebook) when it comes to successful social media marketing and branding initiatives.
Tell me what you think about all of this. What has been your success in the Twitterverse? How have you managed to increase followers and have you been able to see a direct relationship with sales engagement? If you have seen any growth at all, I’d love to hear how you did it. And I’m sure everyone else would as well.