Twitter is an ongoing conversation powerhouse. With over 500 million monthly active users sending nearly 340 million 140-character messages, or “tweets” daily, the social media network’s potential for real time dialogue with consumers is vastly different from that of Facebook or Google+. Other social media websites are stricter when it comes to privacy settings, and although you can have a “locked” Twitter account, the most successful Twitter users are simply broadcasting their thoughts and tastes to the world in small blurbs every few hours. The conversational freedom that Twitter gives to consumers, it also gives to companies.
It’s important to stay on top of industry trends and customers’ viewpoints, so you know when to offer them the solution they need at the moment of purchase. Twitter is ideal for this, especially if your customer is the primary user demographic, between the ages of 24-54 and making $25K-$75K per year. You need to be in on this real-time conversation, and have a voice in it as well.
Here are 5 rules you can follow that will increase your engagement and connect with more current and potential customers.
1. Use Hashtags Wisely
Hashtags are the “#” symbol followed by a word, like this: #trendingtopics. This is a simple method that Twitter uses to categorize tweets by “topic”. If you’re trying to share a great solution to your customers’ plumbing problems, you might use a hashtag like “#homeplumbing” to indicate that your message is related to home plumbing. You could add “#tips” so that people looking for help will find your tweet also. This will draw a fresh audience that is looking for new accounts to follow and new experts from the Twitter universe to follow you and spread your brand influence. Tweets with hashtags receive twice the engagement of tweets without.
Remember: Don’t use more than 1-2 hashtags per tweet. Once you reach 3 hashtags or more, engagement drops by 17%.
2. “Listen” for Trending Topics in Your Industry & Customer Feedback
You need to keep up with your customers’ needs, so make sure to search Twitter regularly for hashtags and words that would be related to your customers, your local area, or your industry. Find out what your community and fanbase are saying so that you can offer them a better solution. Read through feedback related to your brand, services, competitors, or products, and you will become an expert in consumer opinion. If you want to, you can even tweet questions you’d like customers to answer. It’s likely you’ll get a few volunteered opinions.
Remember: Listening to customers is key, whether it’s online or in person. Just as you would listen to a customer if they spoke with you face to face, you must listen to them on Twitter.
3. Keep It Simple, Sweetheart
Even if it’s only 140-characters, sometimes a tweet can be long-winded. Be sure to avoid a lengthy introduction to a link or a photo. This will also drive engagement on those clickable links, and drive more traffic to your Twitter profile. This will spread your brand name and gain you more followers as well. Because tweets that contain less than 100 characters receive 17% more engagement, you will need to make sure that every word is perfect. This means you’ll need a firm, distinct voice and a strong Call To Action when you send your messages into the “Twitterverse”.
Remember: If you want your tweet to be shared with more of the online world, tell your followers to retweet, or “RT” your messages. Tweets that directly ask for an RT receive 23x the engagement normal tweets do.
The way a ReTweet works, with the original message on the right.
4. Include Imagery & Link
Although natural, conversational tweets are the most successful text tweets, tweets with links and imagery receive more engagement. Include a photo, or a shortlink sharing an article or appropriate news bit which interests your followers. Tweets with links receive 86% higher retweet rates, meaning that your followers are spreading your brand message farther online. Tweets with images and links receive twice the engagement and follower interest than messages without. Make sure that your content is relevant to your business and the solutions you provide.
Remember: When you add a link, you’re no longer allowed 140 characters – you’re only allowed 118. This makes Rule #3 even more essential.
5. Reply to Connections
Reply to both those who either use @-reply to speak with you directly, and those who use a hashtag reference related to your brand. Acknowledge digital vocalization about your brand and the customer’s need to hear from you, whether it be critique or praise. Be there for those who attempt to dialogue with you. You should also jump into conversations or answer questions that a local potential patron may ask. For example, if you are a bakery and you see a tweet about an indecisive person regarding breakfast, you can @-reply and offer them a delicious solution to their problem. Don’t forget that you can also reply to complaints and have great customer service, right on Twitter.
Remember: Reply to relevant tweets that involve your products or services, and don’t stray from discussion around your industry.
If you are in the right industry, Twitter has the potential to drastically affect your followers’ and potential customers’ brand loyalty. You can use it as a tool, by checking your business Twitter account every day and following these 5 rules. Just as you would engage the customer who comes through your shop door by starting a conversation, answering a question, or offering a solution, engage the customer who visits you virtually.