So you’ve finally decided your company needs to have a presence on Twitter. Congratulations! You’re joining a number of companies that have made that exact same decision and seen a lot of success because of it. However, it can be a harrowing experience using Twitter in the marketplace if you’re not educated and informed on what to do and what not to do. Here are eight tips to get you started:
Do it all, or don’t do it at all
Twitter, much like all of social media, requires time, patience and focus. Doing Twitter halfway is worse than not doing it at all. Name your favorite company. Now, imagine you go to that company’s Twitter page and its most recent tweet is from last summer. Obviously, that’s not a company that cares enough about feedback from its customers to be bothered with paying attention to Twitter. You don’t want to gain that reputation. The first thing you have to do is make a commitment to spending time every single day monitoring your Twitter page, your followers and some other things we’ll point out a little later. Twitter success is not found by doing the bare minimum.
Be yourself, not your company
If you look through the Twitter pages of social media specialists who work for companies, you’ll likely notice that most of them are themselves. The page is for a person; not a logo or a company name. No one wants to talk to a logo. Be yourself, talk like yourself and act like yourself. You’re more likely to build on our third tip if you’re not hiding behind your company’s logo or slogan.
Twitter is a great tool for making great connections with the most important people to your business: your customers. Engage them. Talk to them. Ask them questions. Who knows what you might learn about the way you do business. What if you get negative feedback? Listen to it and learn from it. Talk to the person giving you that feedback and find out more. Why do they feel that way? What can you do as a company to change that opinion? This is important information to have, and one of the reasons you signed up for Twitter in the first place, right? Connections with your consumers will change your business perspective in ways you never thought possible.
Respond to @ replies in a timely fashion
Under the home tab on the right side of your Twitter feed is where you will find your @ replies. Click on it and you’ll see every tweet that mentions your Twitter name. Some replies will be statements. Others will be questions. Whatever they are, respond right away. Don’t let any of your followers think for a moment no one is listening to what they have to say. If you don’t know the answer to the question they’re posing, kindly @ reply them back and tell them you’ll find an answer for them as soon as possible. Using the @ reply function is an important part of building relationships with your customers, so don’t neglect it.
Twitter is not your stage to wildly promote your own products or services. Sure, a plug here or there is great. But your focus should be on what information you can provide your followers that they would find helpful. For example, I run the social media for The Legends Poll, a top 25 college football poll voted on by legendary college football coaches. Our followers don’t just follow us to hear about our poll. They follow us to talk about all things college football, so that’s what I give them. If there’s a great article on another site that I think would spark a good discussion or provide information to our readers as college football fans, I post it. Look at the big picture and provide information about your industry or your specialization instead of just your company. Be a source for your customers like no one else can.
Post often, but not too often
Figuring out how much is too much can be difficult. The key here is to not overload your followers’ Twitter stream with a bunch of information at one time. A good rule here is to tweet maybe three times per hour. Maybe that’s too much for you, and that’s fine. But going over that means you run the risk of annoying your followers. You don’t want to do that.
Twitter search is a powerful, wonderful thing. Use it. Search for your company’s name and see if anyone out there has been talking about it on Twitter. Get in the habit of doing this, as you’ll likely find opportunities to make connections and gain followers by engaging those users. Also, use Twitter search to find conversations related to your industry. Look at the big picture. If you’re a graphic designer, search for a term like “designer” and see what comes up. You may find that people are tweeting about needing the services of a skilled graphic designer, and that’s where the true value of Twitter search really shows itself.
It may go against one of the top rules of business, but it’s a good idea to mention your competitors and be complimentary of them on Twitter. Scott Monty is a good example of this. Monty is the head of social media for Ford Motor Company, and while Monty does a great job of talking about Ford products, he’ll sometimes point out products from other car companies and be complimentary of them. Compliment others on Twitter, even if they’re direct competitors, and it will come back to you.