It’s understandable how Twitter can seem like a complicated and intimidating social media platform, even to social media veterans. It moves at a rapid pace and is a constant stream of thoughts, news, and opinions. Amidst all the noise, how do you create a Twitter strategy that allows your brand's voice to be heard? Let me break it down to the basics. In this case study, I'd like to look at a fun, positive personality on Twitter—Sir Patrick Stewart—and give you some easy Twitter best practices to live by.
But first, let's start with a solid understanding of Twitter terminology:
- Tweets: a "tweet" is a message you post directly from your Twitter account. Depending on your privacy settings, your tweets will either be seen publicly or by people you've approved to view your feed (your followers). This act of posting messages is also known as "tweeting."
- Retweets: a "retweet" (RT) is sharing someone else’s tweet on your feed. Retweets are often news, photos, or breaking stories.
- Character limit: Twitter sets a limit of 140 characters per tweet.
- Hashtags: a "hashtag" (#) is a symbol that categorizes your content for the internet. Check out "The Beginners Guide to the Hashtag" for a thorough background lesson on hashtag usage on Twitter, as well as Facebook, Instagram, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest.
- Followers vs. following: your "followers" are Twitter members that have subscribed to your feed. Twitter members that you follow, or subscribe to, are known as your "following."
- Trending Topics: trending topics are displayed on Twitter based upon popular discussions in real-time (it's decided by an algorithm that counts hashtags).
Now that you know the basics of Twitter, let’s look at some examples. If you read my post about social media engagement and Willie Nelson, you’ll know that I’m a big fan of following positive, fun, celebrities on social media. One such beloved figure I like to follow on Twitter is Sir Patrick Stewart. You can find him on Twitter with this handle: @SirPatStew. He’s a fantastic example of everything good about reaching an audience, speaking to them, and making them want to come back for more. Let’s learn from the example Patrick Stewart sets for Twitter best practices.
Tweet in real-time
Tweet about small of-the-moment events or observations as they happen.These make for quick, interesting reads that don’t require a time commitment from your followers, or much planning on your behalf.
Post fun photos
Even though you’re creating a Twitter strategy for your business, you don’t have to be serious, or all business, all the time. According to Twitter, adding photos to your tweets can give you a 35% increase in retweets. Keep them fun and relevant like @SirPatStew’s 2013 Halloween tweet:
@SirPatStew tweets wholesome, heartwarming content, which makes him relatable to audiences of all ages. Be a positive and uplifting presence to your audience, and avoid sharing tragic news or opinionated viewpoints.
Share relevant personal events that are important to you, within reason. This can position your brand as relatable, approachable, and real. I like how Patrick Stewart announced his marriage on Twitter:
Take pride in community
Patrick Stewart isn’t self-centered when it comes to tweeting. He often celebrates the triumphs and successes of his friends and family too. Share in the joys of others in your Twitter network as often as you can.
Start important conversations
Sir Patrick Stewart is a philanthropist, and social and political activist. He participates in meaningful conversations and influences positive change in the world, which makes him an inspiring figure to follow. He also takes to Twitter to ask his friends and colleagues to support and promote good causes:
Overall, @SirPatStew provides plenty of variety, humor, and meaningful content to his followers. Gain even more value from your Twitter experience through the following best practices for increased engagement.
Frequency of tweeting
According to this study, you should be tweeting anywhere from 3-20 times a day for maximum engagement. Unless you have a dedicated social media specialist on your team, tweeting 20 times a day may be a bit exhausting. Aim to tweet at least three to five times per day to keep your followers interested and engaged.
Grow a quality network
Follow people and businesses in your industry that are reputable, respected, and display thought leadership. You can start by following a few well-known sites in your industry that you like, then examine users who are participating in conversations with them. Connect with those that are active and have a strong presence. Make sure you’re actually reading and following their feed, not just subscribing to them because they’re popular. Steer clear of anyone that stirs up controversy in a negative way.
Practice quality over quantity
Keep in mind the following for more engaging tweets:
- Tweet daily and don’t exclude Saturday and Sunday.
- Keep tweets under 100 characters for maximum engagement.
- Don’t overuse hashtags (three maximum, ideally two).
Prompt users to engage
According to the Moz blog, the average lifespan of a tweet is 18 minutes. It’s important to use your Twitter time wisely. Ask fun questions to your followers, like trivia. Give away coupons and offer discounts. Also, ask followers to retweet your content and prompt them through calls to action. Likewise, engage with them by responding to their comments and concerns.
Weed your Twitter garden
Low quality and spammy profiles can infiltrate your Twitter account the same way they do your email junk folder. Monitor your followers and weed out any suspicious or negative users.
Use tools such as Followerwonk, an analytics tool that lets you analyze users you follow, as well as those following you. You can identify trends, such as peak engagement times, and retweet data which will allow you to target your posts according to time and content type that's unique to your followers.
Finally, there’s a few tactics you should avoid when creating your Twitter strategy. Firstly, don't post old or irrelevant news. Keep your profile fresh and relevant by posting recent news and events. News can have an expiration date, and you don’t want to appear uninformed in your industry. Also, avoid talking at your followers, and posting banal details of common frustrations (e.g. traffic, mood, etc).
Please share some of your Twitter best practices here or on Twitter. You can connect with us at @jimdo.
Adrienne is a web marketer and freelance writer in San Francisco with a focus on content marketing and earned media. She loves the internet, every single animal on Planet Earth, sticking her nose in books, and running in the park. Catch her if you can.