a starter guide to building & managing your twitter presence

by | Mar 24, 2014

Twitter has almost 250 million active users per month and generates more than half a billion Tweets per day.

Users are constantly connected to Twitter, worldwide and take to the network daily to discuss everything from entertainment and news, to brands and businesses—in over 35 languages. Twitter is a real-time, information network that connects people to the latest stories, ideas, opinions and news. Three quarters of Twitter users access it on their mobile device.

This rapid shift and growth in social participation offers significant opportunities for businesses to build and manage customer relationships via social networks. As you embrace Twitter for your business, think not only about the social network as a channel for marketing, but also as an ever-present communication layer than spans the entirety of your business and secures your business’s future.

What Twitter Means To Your Business

As a growing business, your Twitter followers have a great impact on sales and recommendations, especially as your audience increases interaction with your business.

Engagement opportunities go beyond just marketing and promotions, extending into sales, customer service and more. In this age of ultimate connectivity, customers are now using social networks to reach businesses in the moment and on their terms—at home, at work and on the go via mobile devices. Gone are the days of restricted opening hours for support.

Consider these statistics about what Twitter means for your business:

  1. 34% of followers interacted with an SMB after seeing an ad with the business’ Twitter handle.
  2. 72% of followers are more likely to make a purchase from an SMB they follow moving forward.
  3. 175% increase in customers using Twitter to interact with brands in 2013.
  4. 4 out of 5 social messages to business still go unanswered!

Know The Social Customer

As you begin to devote time, resources and energy into Twitter, it is imperative that you understand your social customer. How they think, how they act and what they need from your company’s social media presence.

As you identify ways to utilize Twitter, research and analyse how your current customers, brand advocates and even your competitors engage on the platform and with their audiences. The role of social media continues to shift for everyone, so not every customer will utilize it in the same fashion or have the same set of expectations.

Think about these types of social customers as you map your Twitter engagement strategy:

  1. SOCIAL MAVENS: Social is their primary channel for brand customer service & engagement.
  2. 24/7 COMMUNICATORS: They know no service hours and reach out when thoughts are fresh on their minds.
  3. TREND SETTERS: They influence an expansive audience and frequently engage with brands on social.

Setting Social Goals & Increasing Your Presence On Twitter

As you set goals and increase your presence, take the opportunity to define and teach your engagement strategy across your business. Think about what your customers want on social media—what type of communication are they looking for when they engage with you via Twitter? What content is helpful?

In the context of setting goals, it is also important to create a social media policy. As a team, strategically decide who handles different types of incoming questions, develop an escalation process, and set desired metrics around response rates and times.

Take these tips into account when setting your company’s specific growth goals for Twitter:

  1. Identify near term goals like sales, customer care or brand presence, and make a plan.
  2. Create promotions and Tweets specific to Twitter.
  3. Integrate Twitter into traditional campaigns like product launches and holiday sales.
  4. Identify metrics to measure success like retweets, site traffic or message response time.

What makes a good Tweet?

Our primary recommendation is to be authentic when engaging with your followers on Twitter. While it is important to always stay on message and accurately represent your brand, avoid ‘marketing speak’ and connect with audiences using language, content and a voice that show you understand their needs without being overly formal.

Your Tweets should reflect the individuality of your business so; think about these best practices when engaging on Twitter:

  1. RESPOND: Don’t keep customers waiting. It’s a real-time network so respond quickly.
  2. SHOW YOUR PERSONALITY: Convey your brand’s personality throughout all your interactions with conversational Tweets.
  3. INTERACT: Reply, retweet, favourite and thank your customers for their loyalty, but do not use humour (or sarcasm) when they are complaining about you.
  4. STAND OUT: Tweet unique info about your business in addition to interesting content.
  5. COMPELLING CONTENT: Diversify the types of content you share and have fun with your Tweets, but do not tweet news links for the sake of it. You are not a news service!
  6. STAY CONSISTENT: Your brand voice should remain consistent but your tone can change based on the situation.

Build & Manage Your Twitter Community – The Checklist

As you increase your presence, reference this checklist of best practices and tactical tips to get started on Twitter:

  1. SECURE TWITTER HANDLES: Create appropriate company Twitter profiles. Not only for your main business but any sub-groups or specific uses like customer service.
  2. POPULATE PROFILES: Give followers the information they need to interact with your business. Include info such as your website, a brand description, store hours and contact information.
  3. STAFF FOR RESPONSIVENESS: Decide which team members will be active on Twitter and clearly define roles, responsibilities and escalation procedures for timely engagement.
  4. SELECT A MANAGEMENT TOOL: The right social tool enables you to engage, publish and analyse top performing content—on a web browser or mobile apps for easy on-the-go management.
  5. SET YOUR SUCCESS METRICS: Before you begin, set goals for Twitter engagement based on larger business goals, available bandwidth and desired actions from your followers.
  6. CREATE A CONTENT CALENDAR: Keep your social team organized and on message with structured content, drafted Tweets and regularly scheduled posts.
  7. INCORPORATE MULTIMEDIA: Photos and visuals make for much more compelling content, so be sure to include related multimedia to enhance a Tweet and encourage sharing.
  8. FORGET YOUR FOLLOWER NUMBER: Bigger communities aren’t necessarily better, so do not get caught up in total followers. Be authentic and your audience will grow naturally.
  9. SCALE TO SEARCH: Identify keywords related to your industry and search Twitter around those terms. You’ll find new connections and opportunities to increase your follower base.
  10. TEST & LEARN: Monitor engagement levels, assess which messages are working, which are not. Correct your course to ensure you hit your goals.

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