First things first. Who are you trying to connect with?
1. Describe your target audience on Twitter. If you’re not an active participant on Twitter, then research. Do the homework and write it down, including Twitter handles of actual target users. If you’ve been able to go so far as develop a persona that represents your customers that spend time on Twitter or social media sites in general, that’s even better.
The first step in scoring is knowing all about the goal.
2. What outcomes are expected from Twitter participation? Besides being able to say you have 50,000 followers, of course. Incidentally, we experiment with Twitter accounts and those that have a substantial number of followers do not always result in the the most retweets and web site visits. This is important in the fans/friends/followers game. It’s not how many connections you have, it’s who you’re connected with that determines the propagation of tweets, spread of links, traffic, etc.
It’s essential to know how success with Twitter will be measured. If it’s just follower counts, heck those could probably be purchased. (Which TopRankMarketing does NOT recommend) However, that would be a fake network without effect.
Where does Twitter fit in?
3. Where does Twitter fit within your overall online marketing strategy? Is Twitter meant to be a customer service tool? Brand monitoring? Monitoring for sales opportunities? Promotion of other corporate social activities? (ie blogging, Facebook, YouTube, Etc) Does it support some other communications function?
As a communications and social networking tool, Twitter can connect with customers, prospects, journalists, employees, candidates, investors and marketing partners. Understanding where Twitter fits within the overall mix of online marketing and communications will help with: allocating monitoring and engagement resources, establishing a working social media policy, workflow management and reporting. You may very well find a number of synergies available through Twitter, such as connecting with journalists and bloggers for PR purposes but also encouraging link usage when citing the company to assist with SEO efforts.
Twitter is a tool and only as useful as the tactics you use.
4. A firm grasp of the first three steps really needs to be addressed before useful tactics should be implemented. If all you do is focus on Twitter popularity tactics without addressing a plan for reaching other goals (hopefully being popular isn’t the sole goal) then the investment in time and effort becomes more like guesswork.
First and foremost for tactics, the Twitter page needs to be designed and optimized. If a business has the expectation to be perceived in a significant way, then the Twitter page needs to avoid looking insignificant. Tweets need to be diverse, yet follow a theme that is consistent to the messaging and audience goal. Kudos to customers and offering tips are great but alone are not going to attract followers fast.
There are a few tactics with Twitter that are almost always a good idea regardless of the audience, goals and overall plan:
- Having a persona or target profile in mind, research Twitter users and follow them.
- Associate the Twitter account with something else that is social, such as a YouTube Channel, Facebook Fan Page and/or a blog.
- Make an effort to link to a small number of high quality and creatively written resources, daily. Mornings are best. Brand these with a hashtag like #yourbrandtips, where “yourbrand” is the brand within your company that this Twitter account is focused on. It could also be a behavior or action. Ex: #niketips or #runningtips.
- Schedule a #yourbrandtips Twitter event every month, two weeks or weekly. This would be run like #blogchat where a real person from your company hosts a chat on Twitter about topics relevant to your offering and useful to who you’re trying to reach. Ideally there would be influential guests involved so that their tweets attract new followers to your brand’s Twitter account.
- The company should really post their twitter handle everywhere their web site address is posted.
- Find a way to ask followers questions, then use those answers in blog posts, which are promoted via the business twitter account.
- Create a Twitter list of a segment of the target audience. One list for each segment. Then solicit followers asking for recommendations of people that belong in the “segment one” list or “segment two” list. Ex: “librarians” or “network administrators”. Mention that anyone who retweets a link to the list can get added to that list – provided they belong. Lists must be relevant and managed to be of any use. Promote lists with Listorious.com.
- Use #FollowFridays or #FF to recognize people that retweet the brand’s Twitter content the most. Also mention influential Twitter accounts that you have had some connection with. They might retweet the #FF and expose the brand Twitter account to new audiences.
Measure twice, Tweet once.
5. Measurement with Twitter can be tricky such as identifying referrers via various URL shortening services, but it’s the most important. By “measurement”, I also mean monitoring on an ongoing basis, not just counting outcomes or KPIs. Followers is just one dimension. Based on what the brand is trying to achieve, a mix of data points and measurement tools should be implemented. Some example metrics:
- Tweets published
- Retweets & potential reach from those retweets
- New targeted Twitter users that are followed by the brand’s Twitter account
- New followers of the brand’s Twitter account acquired
- Direct traffic from Twitter to brand’s web pages. URL shortening services should be used like bit.ly
- Mentions of the brand in Tweets without links
- How many lists the brand Twitter account is included in
- What new Twitter users has the brand’s Twitter account added to it’s own organized lists?
- How many engagements or discussions the brand’s Twitter account has with other users
- Connections (follow, retweet, @message, DM) with targeted Twitter users
- social media monitoring tools
- Web analytics
- cotweet.com, hootsuite.com, tweetdeck.com
Obviously, there are many other tools for Twitter out there, including overall social media marketing campaign management tools such as: Wildfire, Objective Marketer, Spredfast, SocialTalk, pop.to and others.
Sure, you can “experiment” with tools like Twitter and find your specific strategy as you go, but you could also find productivity and valuable connections a lot sooner (as well as effective time and resource management) if you create a plan that addresses who you’re trying to reach on Twitter, what goals you hope to achieve and a plan for getting there. Make no mistake, there will always be a component of on-demand and real time or opportunistic marketing with Twitter. The platform is still so new that the community is finding new and innovative uses every day. You might find new uses too, so don’t get too committed to a single focus in your Twitter efforts. Be flexible, curious and willing to participate.
Some tactics are always a good idea and some will reveal themselves as you develop your Twitter network and participate with the community. Measuring success on Twitter has everything to do with goals, so make sure you’ve spent at least a little time figuring out where Twitter fits in with your overall social media marketing strategy and then what tools make the most sense to use when measuring success.