Much has been said about Twitter marketing. There are many fantastic resources out there that will lead you through the process of setting up an account, following other users and posting your first tweet.
I’m not going to do that. I’m going to assume that you have enough tech-savvy to be able to set up your own account (which is pretty easy, by the way). If not, here’s a link to a guide that you can follow.
In this post, I’m going to get right to the good stuff. I’d like to share my personal experience with you and some of the ideas I’ve implemented along the way.
In my opinion, following other users on Twitter isn’t really a marketing tactic unto itself. However, I can agree that it has to be done. If you don’t follow users when you’re first getting started, you probably won’t have any follow you back.
More importantly, you should follow people that interest you. Look for people who are consistently posting interesting and engaging content. Look for experts that can teach you something; people that are doing some of the things you want to be doing.
Generally speaking, this is an ongoing process. Sometimes following other users will cause them to follow you back, but because of how impersonal this can be, it won’t necessarily help you to develop an engaged follower base. It’s far more important to develop an engaged user base than it is to build a disinterested big user base. Focus on creating personal connections.
Engage with Others
Engaging with other users on Twitter is essential. You should ‘favorite’ and ‘retweet’ things you like, and you should ask questions and start conversations with others. It is social media after all.
Believe it or not, I’ve even lined up several interviews for the podcast using Twitter (although it was the guest’s preferred method of contact). You may be surprised by the relationships you can build on Twitter.
In order to hold the attention of your existing followers and to extend your reach to potential followers, I have found tweeting regularly to be an important activity. This isn’t merely about letting the world know that you’re alive. It’s more about tweeting content that is relevant to whom you are positioning yourself to be.
What I mean by that is that if you are a guitar blogger, most of your tweets should be about guitars, guitar straps, amplifiers, picks, effects pedals and other related gear and accessories. This is about creating a reputation. You want to be known for bringing relevant, value-adding content to your audience in your specific niche.
Of course, if you want to, you can post personal updates. You can post famous quotes and tidbits of wisdom too. However, I have found sharing links to relevant content to be the most effective strategy. At the very least, it gets me the most ‘favorites’ and ‘retweets’.
Here is an example of a tweet that seems to engage:
I have experimented with other formats, but I have not found anything that works as well as this framework. Quite simply, I use the title of the piece I’m sharing, followed by a shortened link and several #hashtags. I have found that adding pertinent #hashtags generally extends the reach of your tweets beyond your immediate followers.
Take Advantage of Apps and Tools
There are some great third-party tools available for Twitter.
It used to be that you could mass follow or un-follow users, but Twitter has disconnected a lot of that functionality from their platform. You may be able to find other websites or apps that help you to manage your account (and that’s generally a good thing), but personally I have never bothered with number inflation or automated direct messaging tactics. I don’t believe number-boosting services will help you at all.
On the whole, I think this will cause users to put more thought behind what they do. When you know you can’t just cut off a segment of the people you’re following at the click of the mouse, you’ll follow more strategically.
Regardless, there are a couple of tools I would recommend using in conjunction with Twitter:
- A social media management platform: I personally use HootSuite to manage my various accounts. Though you can ‘favorite’ and ‘retweet’ and interact with other users directly from the dashboard, I don’t really use it for that. I use HootSuite for two distinct purposes. The first is so that I can schedule tweets. Rather than taking time out of my day to tweet at random intervals, I will schedule my various posts in advance of them ever appearing on my stream. The other reason I use HootSuite is so that I can connect RSS feeds to my accounts. You can take any feed and connect it to your stream so that new items will automatically be posted to your stream as the feed is updated. I mostly use this feature to promote other people’s work.
- A link shortening service: there are a variety of link shortening services available. I personally use bitly. Naturally, since you only have 140 characters per tweet, it’s nice to be able to shorten your links so that they take up less space. The other reason I like to use bitly is because they track stats. Whenever someone clicks on one of your links, the metrics are automatically recorded by the platform. It’s good to be able to see where your traffic is coming from and make adjustments to your social media campaign accordingly.
Tweet like a Pro: Construct a Database of Pre-Crafted Tweets
This was an idea that came to me one day as I was scheduling posts. It had occurred to me that I was going through my entire archive of content, copying and pasting links into a shortening service, and then crafting a tweet from scratch for each posting. It was relatively efficient, but I finally realized that there was a better way.
Rather than crafting tweets from scratch, I realized that I could create a database of posts that I could copy and paste directly into HootSuite and schedule them. Since I was usually sharing the same content anyway, it made sense to build a database.
You could go about this any way you want to. You could save your tweets in a text document or a Word document. I personally created a simple HTML file (with tables) that contains my various tweets. They are all formatted in the manner I described earlier.
Of course, you’ll want to develop a significant amount of content before doing this so that you have a variety of things to share with your followers. You may even want to create two or three unique tweets for each piece of content, so it rarely looks as though you’re sharing the same thing over and over.
Customize like a Pro: Brand your Profile
It is possible to make your Twitter profile look like a destination rather than just another page on the web. This used to be reserved for the Twitter gods, but now it seems as though it is a fairly necessary part of being recognized as a real entity on the platform (after all, there are many fake/spam accounts).
Let’s start with the basics. You can customize your profile picture, your header image and the link color on your profile. In short, you can make the branding match that of your website or blog.
Your profile picture is typically where you would post a headshot, but you could also use your logo.
The header image can be used in a variety of different ways. Some people use real-life photography. Others show 3D graphics or screenshots of their software. One thing I will say about the header image is that it’s probably not the best place to put color-heavy graphics. Your profile text appears just above it, and that text is white. The best way to cope with this is to use a header image with darker colors (experiment a little and see what works).
The background is also customizable, and that is a lot of prime retail space to showcase your brand. This is a little more advanced, as you will need to create a custom graphic, and you’ll also have to think about spacing and margins too. If you’re already well-acquainted with Photoshop, then you should be okay (here is a helpful guide). If not, you may want to ask for help from a less graphically-challenged friend.
The background is a great place to make people aware of your website URL and other social sites you are on. Again, it is a good idea to match the overall branding of your website with your background image too.
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