I thought, for a really long time, Twitter was the stupidest fad ever. Something the “young ones” were into. Who in the world could even pretend to carry on a meaningful conversation limited to 140 characters at a time?
A lot of people as it turns out. About 555 million at last count. From teens, to huge corporations, to governments, to those fighting government repression, Twitter has been used in ways that are influential beyond what most people expected when it was first launched.
So, what does Twitter mean to you and your start-up online business? Should you use Twitter? How should you use it? How much time should you spend on Twitter?
Unfortunately, there’s no “one-size-fits-all” approach. You can’t jump on every social network and try to have an effective presence. It’s just not possible, unless you have a dedicated social media team. Even if you had all the time in the world and a team working for you, you’d still have to have a solid strategy guiding what you’re doing.
Twitter can be a positive influence for your business, if you know what you’re doing. Here’s your guide to easy Twitter management.
Why Twitter Management Matters
Flickr @ Rosaura Ochoa
Let’s get one thing out of the way. Having a Twitter account is not about having a huge list of followers. Sure, if you do have a big list of followers you’ll be able to say things like “Yeah, I’m huge on Twitter”, which will impress no one. Anyone can buy Twitter followers (and Facebook likes and even Instagram comments!) on the cheap, so don’t be impressed by large numbers of Twitter followers.
A huge number of followers is not the point of Twitter anyway. Twitter is about engagement. Can you find people who want your stuff, that need your stuff? If the Twitter followers you have don’t care about what you have to say (because they’re spam accounts, or robot accounts), you might as well shout into the wind be more productive. I’ll least you’ll get some fresh air out of it. If your potential audience doesn’t hang out on Twitter, then you’re wasting your time.
What Twitter can help you with is to find people who are interested about what you have to say and are passionate enough about it to discuss with the world via Twitter. Those are the people who you need to reach out to. Here are some simple, but effective Twitter strategies you can follow.
5 Simple, Effective Twitter Management Strategies
Strategy #1 – Be Smart about Who You Follow: Remember, Twitter is about engaging people who care personally about what you have to say. The simplest way to do this is by doing a search on your topic on Twitter. Use software to do automatic searches (see #3). Once you find people who are interested in your niche, follow them.
Initially, Twitter will allow you to follow up to 2,000 people. Make it count by following people who matter to you and your business, not people who will pad your Twitter follower count.
There are three types of Twitter accounts you should follow:
a) People influential in your niche.
b) Peers that are doing projects like yours (aka. the competition/future business partners).
c) People interested in what you can offer (your audience).
Influential people will keep you in the loop about what’s developing in your niche, peers provide networking opportunities, and your audience are those who your Twitter content should mostly cater to.
Strategy #2 – Create Lists: Once you have a sizable number of followers, say more than 1000, your home feed (main Twitter stream) will become clogged with tweets. Some people you will want to follow closer than others and for different reasons.
Take advantage of the power of Twitter lists, which you can group different people according to topics, your relationship with them, or if you’re working on a joint project. Set up lists to either be public (everyone can see who’s on it) or private, if you don’t want anyone to know you have them on a specific list. Scan those instead of your home feed for relevant, interesting content.
Strategy #3 – Use Twitter Management Software: Twitter’s official website is OK for doing Twitter-related stuff. But to turbocharge it and get the most out of it, you need additional software. Here’s what I use:
Tweetdeck (Free – PC/Mac): Tweetdeck allows me to create search lists, which you can use to check ongoing conversations about any topic I choose to follow. I can also view tweets by users I’ve placed on lists created on Twitter. Tweetedeck will let you know if anyone mentions your Twitter handle (name) if you choose to.
HootSuite (Free – iOS/Android): My weapon of choice for checking out my Twitter account, responding to tweets on the go, and checking my feeds. Conveniently, it now allows you to add your Facebook account as well, so you can respond to comments on your Facebook Page and tweet, all from the same place. The Pro version allows you to check stats, how may people are clicking on your links, as well as add an unlimited number of social media accounts.
TweetAdder* ($55/year for one Twitter account – PC/Linux/Mac): I love this program. Before, doing steps one and two on this list was a time-consuming and somewhat tedious process. With TweetAdder, I was able to quickly find the people I needed to follow, and let TweetAdder take care of the rest. TweetAdder has a bunch of neat features, such as automated tweets and retweets, RSS tweets, profile and tweet searches, automatic following based on keyword searches and followers of a specific user and a host of other options. This has made managing Twitter a piece of cake, since I’ve automated the process of following relevant people, as well as doing timely tweets and retweets. Which leads to the next point. *Affiliate link.
Strategy #4- Time your Tweets strategically: A “once a week”, or even “once a day” tweeting strategy will not pay off. Your lone, single tweet, no matter how powerful, will drown in a sea of Twitter noise. You have a better chance of catching someone’s attention by tweeting at different times of the day, different days of the week. Here’s a very handy infographic providing everything you’d want to know about when to tweet for greatest effect:
Strategy #5 – Maximize your Existing Content: Did you know that there’s no rule on the Internet that says you can’t repost old post to Twitter? If you have interesting, insightful, or even just plain entertaining information to share, repost it to Twitter! It is very likely many people in your Twitter audience didn’t see your post the first time you tweeted it. Or the second time. Or the third, fourth, fifth, etc, specially if you have added new followers in between retweets of that same post.
I highly recommend Tweet Old Post, a free plugin downloadable from the WordPress plugin repository. It’s excellent because I can specify which posts I want retweeted (I can exclude Christmas-themed posts, for example). I can also specify at what rate I want my posts retweeted, in what format, and add hashtags as well. While I’m off doing something else, Tweet Old Post is humming along, posting to Twitter like clockwork. One of my favorite (free!) plugins ever.
Note: Some people like to add “From the Archives”, or other such disclaimer, to differentiate older posts from new posts. Personally, I don’t recommend this. If your information is still current and not time-sensitive, don’t discourage potential readers by implying the post is a musty shirt you just pulled out of the back of your closet. Which is why you should always try to write “evergreen” content that always stays fresh. Think of all that web-content referring to Paris Hilton and how dated it seems now. Who’s Paris Hilton you ask? Well, she was this really famous person famous for… no one know exactly what, but she was everywhere, and…. never mind. Let’s not speak of this Paris person ever again…
Twitter is a valuable marketing tool if used properly. To get the most out of it, use automated tools. It’s a great tool for learning headline copy-writing and figuring out how to attract people to read your content and interact with you.
What’s your favorite Twitter marketing strategy?
Share in the comments below :)
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