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Twitter: What Is It and Should You Do It?

Suzy DeLine

Suzy DeLine

April 22

I admit it. I’ve resisted Twitter. But recent life events (blog post for another day!) have made me keenly interested in certain public figures and certain topics. Now, Twitter is my go-to to stay (gulp, buzzword) engaged!

Twitter has become one of the most used social media platforms because it is both personal and rapid. Katy Perry, Ellen DeGeneres, and President Trump are some of the famous Twitter users. Their daily updates foster a sense of connectedness with their followers. It’s powerful for advertising purposes. And it’s compelling and motivating for the people following the celebs.

But, assuming you’re reading this because you’re a digital marketing professional, (or a member of my immediate family… Hi, Mom!) let me summarize some of the questions you might have, such as “Is Twitter right for my company’s social media strategy?”

What is Twitter? Why Would Your Business Use It?

Again, thank you Hubspot for your concise definition.

Twitter is a social media site. Its primary purpose is to connect people and allow people to share their thoughts with a big audience. Twitter allows users to discover stories regarding today’s biggest news and events, follow people or companies that post content they enjoy consuming, or simply communicate with friends. Additionally, PR teams and marketers can use Twitter to increase brand awareness and delight their audience.

Twitter is easy to use as either broadcaster or receiver. Once you have joined, you can broadcast (tweet) daily, hourly, or as frequently as you like. Go to the What’s Happening box, type 280 or fewer characters, and click Tweet. People who follow you, and potentially others who don’t, will see your tweet.

To organically build a following, encourage people you know to follow you and receive your tweets in their Twitter feeds. If you’re a business, promote your Twitter account through other channels such as your website, emails, and other social sites.

Twitter’s advice is to “engage with people, follow others whose tweets are interesting or meaningful to you, and be an active part of the Twitter community by reading and posting high-quality information.”

Why Is Twitter So Powerful for a Brand?

Even if you don’t join Twitter yourself, you can monitor what people are saying about any person, company or brand. This is quite useful from a marketing and PR standpoint.

Twitter has a search engine that lets you do just this. You can subscribe to these searches by RSS to keep yourself updated. (Or, use Hubspot or your preferred social media dashboard to do it for you.)

Tip: You can “follow” all the people you find talking about your company (just click on their username to go to their profile). If they are talking about your company, they would probably be pretty happy that someone from the company wants to follow them.

The openness of the platform increases the viral potential of your content. Even with an audience of 100 people, a retweet from a major influencer can help you reach thousands of users. This can give a major boost to your Twitter engagement rate.

Tip: “A valuable aspect of Twitter is connecting with and and getting your message to relevant (not necessarily large!) audiences through influencers, partners or customers in your industry. For example, a current client regularly showcases customers in blogs and tweets and significantly increases exposure and engagement by tagging them and replying to related tweets.”

@leilaniyau, Social Media Marketing Consultant

While your content still reaches all of those people who are most likely to leverage your brand’s services via your followers, an added benefit is that you can also reach followers of people who retweet you. (I’ve been blown away by how relatively easy it is to get a retweet — though I’m typically tweeting about things that I’m super positive, ’cause that’s just how I am…)

Tip: To get the retweet, use the @ symbol before someone’s Twitter username to have a “conversation” on Twitter. Their username becomes a link to their profile so other people can follow the conversation. For example if you wrote, “@techieyogi thanks for the cool blog article about Twitter today” that would be a way of telling me you liked this article. Try it out. It’s sort of like a publicly-broadcast instant messaging service.

Eavesdropping Made Simple = #hashtagging

Hashtags are best used for joining a larger conversation. Trending topics show up on the right side of the “Home” tab. Hashtags are clickable, too, so you can tap on a hashtag to see all the tweets related to that topic.

Here are a few tips (thanks, Wired!) on how to pick hashtags, i.e., conversations you’d like to be part of, as well as how to set up a process that lets you optimize your time spent.

  • Find influencers you want to follow closely and see what they’ve tweeted. Or search for the hashtag of the event you wish to follow, then tap on the “Live” tab to see the most recent tweets in the larger conversation.
  • Turn on your notifications. You can set your mobile app to send you push notifications based on popular tweets from your activity and when news breaks. This is really helpful if you want to keep track of your favorite folks and news outlets, but can’t be online all day to watch.
  • Use Tweetdeck or dashboard of your choice. You can make private lists with select targets that matter to you and make sure you catch their tweets. You can also set up customized lists within Twitter itself to organize the people you follow and generally keep your sanity. 😉

Caveats! Remember, everything on Twitter is public by default. Most people (certainly a brand) choose to leave their accounts public. There is a way to make your profile private. If Facebook is the dinner table with your family and friends, Twitter is a rousing bar. Most opt to stick with the default but choose to only say things they’d be comfortable saying to strangers. And while a DM (direct message) is always available to talk to fellow travelers, be aware they are under no obligation to answer you. (Though I’ve been pleasantly surprised!)

Conclusion

A lot of drivel is on Twitter. At the same time, there is a base of useful news, helpful content, and a ton of opportunities to (buzzword redux) engage! If you’re looking for inspiring examples of brands who do it well, a few of my favorites:

  • The pizza company that broke the internet. (Lesson learned: let your personality shine through!)
  • A big serious company that lets itself be goofy
  • Taking it even further, there is the company who invented the concept of #TweetFromTheSeat (before it got politically weird.)
  • And of course, our friends at Busch Beer shared some very sage advice for someone who might have managed a refund this tax season…

In any case, you’ll learn a lot. I would love to hear more of your Twitter experiences, so leave me comments below! Or talk to me @techieyogi.

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