Social media spotlight: Twitter

twitterSocial Media Spotlight is designed to introduce you to the benefits of social media for your business, with specific examples tailored to the graphic arts industry. This month we’re exploring Twitter.

Why join for business?

Twitter is a multidimensional platform because it is both a broadcast medium for your followers to understand what’s happening in your business, as well as a powerful tool for collecting market intelligence. From discovering what’s relevant in the eyes of your target market, to keeping tabs on your competitors’ activities, Twitter can help you make more informed decisions. At the end of the day, Twitter is a powerful platform to turn followers into quality leads, and quality leads into customers.

On Twitter, users can “tweet” a message of 140-characters or less to their audience. If a customer or potential customer takes interest in your business, they can choose to “follow” you on Twitter and every time you tweet, your followers will see your tweet in their timeline. You can also follow a business or person that is of interest to your business, including complementary businesses and your brand supporters. Twitter houses millions of hyper-niches so you are very likely to find something relevant to you and your business.

Twitter is also a fantastic tool for events, conferences and trade shows where the hosting body can specify a “hashtag” (a keyword, which is prefaced with a ‘#’) for the event (#GraphExpo, for example). If anyone has an interest in this keyword, they can search the hashtag within Twitter, which will take them to all other tweets with the same hashtag . This allows your tweets to reach anyone looking for information surrounding a specific topic or hashtag. In the context of an event, this is a fantastic way to gauge attendee engagement, as well as receive highlights from other happenings throughout the event and follow along with the conversation.

Here is an example of a tweet that includes a hashtag, as well as an image:

tweet

With regards to managing your Twitter account, don’t feel that you need to hire someone to spend all day posting and monitoring Twitter. Automated tools from companies like HubSpot and HootSuite allow your Twitter account manager to spend just a few minutes scheduling the tweets that will be posted at various times throughout the day. Once these automated tweets have been set up, your marketing department can focus on other work, including occasionally checking Twitter to see what people are saying about your brand and then responding accordingly. Always remember that the greater the reach of your tweets, the greater your chance of generating leads.

Post Ideas:

  • Links to news items
  • Links to offers
  • Blog posts
  • New product/service information
  • Poll questions
  • Real-time updates and highlights from live events/conferences
  • Retweeting relevant tweets
  • Answering customer questions
  • Interacting with brand supporters

Tips for engaging prospects and customers

On Twitter, sharing as much interesting content as you can is incredibly important. People usually follow a company or person on Twitter to receive information that they would not normally come across on their own. Therefore, posting useful links to resources, white papers and videos, for example, is critically important for engaging your followers on Twitter. Those who share valuable content reign supreme in the Twitterverse.

Additionally, one of the aims of your Twitter activity should be to have your tweets retweeted (other users sharing your content) so that your influence has further reach. Hubspot’s Social Media Scientist, Dan Zarrella, reveals that the Twitter effectiveness ‘sweet spot’ happens when 70% of your tweets contain useful content links. He also assures us that it is very difficult to “over-tweet” especially if you are staggering your tweets throughout the day. Zarrella has conducted research on the number of tweets a company should post each day for maximum effectiveness. His research shows that the number of followers peak for companies who tweet 22 times per day. He suggests that this this is a high number (even for him) and you won’t always be able to achieve this many tweets each day, but it’s a good reference point.

Another component of succeeding on Twitter is understanding and maximizing your Click Through Rate (CTR), which involves tracking the number of users that click on a specific link, as a measurement of online marketing effectiveness. By tweeting highly sharable content, you are more likely to increase your CTR, thereby improving your lead generation. Zarrella has studied the types of words that achieve the highest CTR’s and he has found that using more verbs and fewer nouns is optimal. Therefore, if you explicitly ask your followers to do something (click on a link, register for a webinar or retweet a message, for example), they are more likely to do it. Calls to action get clicks.

Here are three tips from Zarrella about engaging your prospects and customers on Twitter.

  1. If you want more retweets, post links and remember that headlines are as important (or even more important!) than the news item. Don’t forget social calls-to-action (eg. “Please retweet”) because those who asked their followers to retweet got 4x more retweets versus those who didn’t ask.
  2. Tweet later in the day and week because when Twitter is quieter, your tweet has more impact.
  3. Try words like “you”, “free” and “new”. Talk more about your audience, offer more free content and provide new ideas often to maximize engagement.

twit2rHow to Measure Your Effectiveness

In order to monetize Twitter, one must understand its relationship to other forms of online marketing channels. There is a positive relationship that exists between tweeting and success in Search Engine Optimization (SEO). As Zarrella explains, “It’s not just about being on Twitter for the sake of being on Twitter or because ‘everyone else is doing it’. Think about all of the online marketing channels available and how Twitter can positively affect them because they are all interlinked.” By providing links to landing pages that offer your followers relevant free resources in exchange for some basic business information (name, website, business size, etc.), you can turn Twitter into a lead-generating machine!

There are many online tools to measure Twitter effectiveness, including software like HubSpot, Google Analytics and HootSuite. As with any marketing effort, measuring effectiveness is critical to understanding whether you are making strides or spinning your wheels. HubSpot’s team suggests focusing on two metrics above all else: Twitter follower month-to-month growth and Twitter visitor-to-lead rate. Monitoring these metrics on a monthly basis will help refine your Twitter strategy and see what type of information is having the most impact on your followers, as tied to lead generation and your overall marketing campaign.

If you have tried using Twitter for business, with little success and ROI, it’s okay to take a step back and simply maintain your account, versus spending time and resources and being frustrated with it. Just know that this marketing channel has produced amazing results for many B2B and B2C companies.

A Company Who’s Got It Right

Examples of what HP’s Graphics Solutions Business @HPGraphicArts is doing right on Twitter (www.twitter.com/HPGraphicArts):

  1. Posting several times every day
  2. Company Twitter bio provides information about who would be interested in following them (designers, print service providers)
  3. Hyperlink to their website
  4. Sharing photos and videos directly within their Twitter home page
  5. Sharing valuable news items of interest to their followers (ie: digital printing)
  6. Including hashtags of keywords in the majority of their tweets
  7. Retweeting relevant news items
  8. Responding to and interacting with followers’ tweets (two-way conversation)

Glossary

Handle: A user’s “Twitter handle” is the username they have selected and the accompanying URL, like so: http://twitter.com/username.

Hashtag: The # symbol, called a hashtag, is used to mark keywords or topics in a tweet.

Mention: Mentioning another user in your tweet by including the @ sign followed directly by their username is called a “mention”. Also refers to tweets in which your username was included.

Retweet: A tweet by another user, forwarded to you by someone you follow. Often used to spread news or share valuable findings on Twitter.

(All glossary terms retrieved from Twitter’s Help Centre)

Links to Further Resources

This is only the beginning of Twitter’s robust functionality for business. To get started, check out Twitter’s Business Centre (business.twitter.com). If you’re looking for more advanced resources, check out HubSpot’s free Ebook about attracting customers on Twitter: http://j.mp/XWDZNZ

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Diana Varma is an Instructor at the School of Graphic Communications Management at Ryerson University and the Owner of ON-SITE First Aid & CPR Training Group, a health & safety company that provides training to the Graphic Arts Industry.