In this multi-part series on Twitter marketing for small businesses, we will be walking you through tips, advice, and best practices for getting the most out of Twitter for your business. In parts 1&2, we explained why Twitter is an important platform that every small business should add to their marketing arsenal. In part 3 & part 4, we reviewed the first two steps of the tactical wheel (listening and building community). In this post, we will discuss effective ways to talk to your audience through broadcasting.
The broadcasting stage of your social media marketing campaign is all about tweeting value-added information to your target audience. Use Twitter to create a buzz around who you are and what value you bring to the table. Every business should tweet a minimum of 1-3 times per day. The more visible and consistent you are, the more traffic you’ll receive when you invite people to visit your blog or website.
When broadcasting remember these best practices:
Types of broadcasting:
- 20-30% of your posts should be designed for creating engagement. Getting users to comment and share your post.
- 20-30% of your posts should be content that you curated from other sources (YouTub, blog, Pinterest, other Twitter accounts, etc.).
- 20-30% of your posts should be focused on drive traffic back to your website or blog.
- 10-20% of your posts should include a special offer or promotion.
Use “@” mention to promote and give visibility to others: If you’re talking about another company that is on Twitter, you can use the “@”sign in front of their Twitter handle and it will add a direct link to that company’s page as well as show up on their feed. Re-Tweets (RT): It’s important to re-tweet people you admire in your industry. This creates an affinity with them and associates you with the audience you want to be connected to, which is referred to as social proofing. It also enables you to share useful information with your followers. To make it easy for others to re-tweet you, make sure you leave at least 15 unused characters so there is space for your Twitter account name to be included without having to abbreviate your original tweet. For example, because Twitter allows a maximum of 140 characters, try to limit your tweets to 125 characters. Although you can easily re-tweet by clicking on the re-tweet button next to someone’s tweet, this function does not allow you to add your personality to the tweet. Instead, you may consider using the copy and paste functions on your computer to create a new tweet and add “(via @JohnSmith) Great content!” to the end of the tweet, which gives credit to the author and personalizes your tweet.
@Replies: By starting a tweet with the @ symbol followed by a Twitter account name (with no blank spaces), you can direct a comment or question to one specific person that will appear publically for all of your followers to see. People like to be mentioned because it gives them the opportunity to be exposed to your followers and therefore earn new followers for themselves. It also improves your credibility because your followers see you engaging and adding value. Even if you are simply replying to a message from someone else, make sure your tweet makes sense to anyone who reads it. If your followers don’t understand it they won’t be interested in what you’re sharing and won’t join in on the conversation.
With @Replies there are very few barriers in the Twitter world versus the real world. You can easily start a conversation with a Fortune 500 CEO or have dinner with Charlie Sheen. Reply to and mention high-level influencers often and you’ll never know what’ll happen. Many times I’ve been able to have conversations with very high-level people just by mentioning them or even asking them a question.
Direct Messages (DM): Direct messaging is a less effective form of communication than @Reply, but it has its purpose. You want to use a direct message to communicate with someone privately. Keep in mind that in order to use the Direct Message function, both accounts must be following each other, otherwise you cannot send a private message.
Ask questions: By asking powerful, open-ended questions you are more apt to get people to respond and engage with you. It allows the conversation to occur naturally. These questions should be relevant to your audience. Once you post a question you’ll need to monitor Twitter closely so you can participate in the conversation your question sparks. Be sure to respond and thank those who answer. It is okay to post the same question throughout the day to make sure followers across the country can see it. Make sure your question is easy to answer within the 140 character limitation of a tweet. Finally, remember to use hashtags to gain exposure, and offer to post everyone’s answers in an upcoming blog. This typically gets the ball rolling. For example, Spurs OR Heat. Good vs. Evil or just basketball? I’ll post answers in an upcoming blog. #NBAFinals
Promote Others/Curate Content: Let’s take a page from Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People book. It’s important to come off as informative and engaging, not commercial or self-centered. Again, remember: people like to talk about themselves. Give them a podium every once in a while to do that. Remember, too, that you’re leading with value, so be as generous as possible with Twitter to point to other influencers in your industry that will be valuable to your target audience. Examples of items to curate include tweets, blog posts, online articles, and info-graphics. It’s easy to curate other people’s content by listening on Twitter
Promote Your Blog, Website, and Products/Services: Remember to promote your blog, website, and products/services within your tweets. Your blog is a resource. Your products/services help people and it’s perfectly okay to talk about them in your tweets.
Abbreviations: As you might imagine, because we’re dealing with 140 or fewer characters, there are a lot of abbreviations that are beginning to show up in Twitter. I don’t recommend you craft your tweets with abbreviations in mind. Instead, you should write out the tweet as you would a regular sentence and then find ways of shortening it, if necessary.
Shortened URL Service: Because of the character limit on Twitter, you’ll need to shorten the long URL to your blog. You also want to be able to measure the amount of traffic you’re getting from your efforts (click-through rate), which is where a shortened URL service comes in handy. Bit.ly is one of the most popular sites to use and, based on Dan Zarella’s research it is also one of the most frequently re-tweeted link services compared to ow.ly, tinyurl.com, etc.
Hashtags (#): Simply put, a hashtag is a word or a phrase that’s connected to a pound sign (#) without any spaces in between (#socialmedia). The idea behind the hashtag is by using it in front of a word or phrase, you are highlighting that topic for other Twitter users to follow based on their common interest. It also offers a way for your tweets to get noticed. By using a hashtag your tweets come up as a search result when a user types in that particular keyword in the search box within Twitter. It’s a great way to see real-time conversation around a particular topic, and it’s also a great way to find new people discussing a topic of interest to you.