So you’re on Twitter to market your business, blog, website, or services? You’re pretty sure that using Twitter for business purposes is doable, but you’re finding that shouting ‘visit my blog’, ‘buy my products’ or ’do you need my services?’ isn’t helping you stand out in your followers’ crowded Tweet streams.
There’s a reason for that. Twitter has an estimated 245 million active monthly users (and about 100 million daily users) sending out around 500 million tweets a day, so it’s easy to get lost in the noise. If you’re using Twitter for business, you need to be prepared to get strategic and approach your Twitter strategy like a real marketing pro.
Know your objectives
A lot of solopreneurs who struggle with Twitter have hopped on there without setting clear objectives. This is never a good idea with social media marketing, and on Twitter (where you only have 140 characters to play with for each update) it’s worse than on other platforms. When I set out to write a book on using Twitter for business I called it Tweeting For a Reason. I want to encourage you as solopreneurs to really set out WHY you’re on Twitter before you start. Decide in advance what you’re aiming for with your Twitter activity.
Possible objectives might be:
- Driving traffic to your blog, website or online store
- Building a following interested in your offerings
- Growing your email list
- Getting sign-ups for your webinars or online events
- Selling your book or info product
If you know those are your objectives, you will obviously be tweeting about these things, but you’ll also be sharing a lot of links, quotes and tips that will attract followers who will be interested in those things in the future. You’ll soon get a feel for what to Tweet and why when marketing on Twitter.
Choose the right user name
Solopreneurs worry about branding themselves and their businesses, but one of the easiest ways to brand yourself is to simply be consistent across all your social media and other online platforms. Same name, same profile pic. Use either your real name or your business/blog name. Don’t try to be too creative or clever.
I strongly recommend your real name because you can be on social media for years and you WILL evolve along the way. Using your real name will enable you to tweak your profile and sharing strategy to fit with whatever you’re doing right now. You can close down blogs, start new ones, launch new services, write new books, etc. If you do most of your work under your own name, use your own name as your Twitter handle.
Make your profile about what you offer
As with any social media channel your profile should let people know straight away what you do and how you can help them. I want people landing on my profile to either hire me as a content creator, buy my books or visit my blog, so I’ve recently tweaked my profile to this:
Note that links become live in your Twitter profile. I’m pushing it with three. Don’t include any more than that.
I’ll tweak my profile again as I progress. Often, if I have a new book out I’ll mention that in my profile. If I offer a new service, that will go in too. You only get 160 characters of profile space on Twitter, but you can change it as often as you want. Make it about what you want your followers to know right now.
Use your cover photo wisely
This is important real estate. Don’t just make it a pretty picture. With some well-placed text, it can also tell people what you do and how you can help them. Mine looks like this right now.
Not everyone will actually bother to click through to your profile and check out who you are. Make sure you make an impact on those who do.
Define and attract your target audience
Who do you want to connect with on Twitter? If you’re there to sell, promote or market you’re looking to attract your perfect client or customer. Take a moment to define who that is.
Every day I see authors on Twitter connecting with other authors instead of readers, coaches connecting with other coaches instead of people who need coaching, and writers connecting with other writers instead of publications looking for contributors.
It’s fine to network with others in your industry. They can be a source of support, tips and like-minded company. But if you’re marketing your business, market to your intended audience, not others providing the same services you do.
Follow and engage with people who need what you have to offer.
Grow your following organically
Every day I get messages from people offering to sell me followers. I tell them I’m not interested, but they don’t seem to get the message. I resorted to this Tweet recently.
Buying followers will not get you an engaged following of people interested in what you have to say and ready to buy your stuff. It will most likely get you followed by a lot of fake and inactive accounts, which won’t help you reach your marketing objectives at all.
Consider Twitter Ads
Twitter call their popular ad program Twitter cards. They’re a paid promotion and are similar to Facebook ads in that they allow you to expand your organic reach via sponsored Tweets, which are (roughly) similar to boosted posts on Facebook. Twitter make it easy for you to design your Twitter ads according to your objectives, offering, for example, a lead generation card, or a product card.
I’m a big believer in using all social media platforms as free tools to enable you to connect with your audience, but if you have the budget you may find Twitter cards and/or Facebook Ads worth trying out once you’ve started to build an engaged following. There’s a great article that takes a close look at Twitter ads over at audiense.com.
Just like most other social media platforms Twitter is becoming more visual. People love a big, bold, relevant image, and Tweets with images receive 18% more clicks, 89% more favorites, and 150% retweets (Source).
You can source images for free from around the web, pay for stock photos or take your own photos if you’re so inclined. Or you can create fun, eye-catching images with free online tools such as Canva and PicMonkey.
If you’re not remotely visual or don’t know where to start, I recommend you check out Image Monthly, a very affordable monthly service that will get you started with tips, tricks and REAL resources (they actually curate and provide monthly packages of royalty free images, inspiring quotes and beautiful background images you can use on your blog or social media – HUGE timesaver).
Tag relevant people in your images
When you post an image, Twitter will ask you who is in it. You can add up ten people in this field, effectively tagging way more people than you would be able to @mention without running out of characters. Don’t abuse this. Only tag people legitimately. This would include people who are actually in the image, of course. But it can be used in other legitimate ways, such as if you’ve produced a piece of content with input or examples from multiple people. For example, infographics like this one.
Get strategic with your hashtags
If standing out in those crowded Tweet streams is a challenge, how are people going to find your tweets? A lot will find them through hashtags, so use them strategically. On Twitter hashtags actually get searched. They’re not there just to make a statement or a joke. So make sure you tag your posts with real, relevant hashtags that people actually follow or search.
To find out if people are already regularly using a certain word or phrase as a hashtag just type it into the search bar on Twitter and see what comes up. Be aware that certain hashtags have long been used for specific things so it’s worth a quick Google to check that you’re not ‘hijacking’ a hashtag or using it for something inappropriate.
Use sharing hashtags
These are simply hashtags that encourage you to post on a certain day and share other posts with the same hashtag. My favorites are #MondayBlogs, #ArchiveDay #SundayBlogShare and #WeekendBlogShare.There are rules people, so check them out first (here are the rules for #MondayBlogs). If it’s a blog share it’s for sharing blogs (or specific blog posts) NOT sales pages, sign-up forms, stand alone contests etc.
The common thread here is that you’re supposed to share others posts, not just post your own link and wait for shares. You don’t have to share everything. Just pick what will be relevant to, and appreciated by, your audience.
Consider Just ReTweet
This is my secret weapon for getting lots of ReTweets (as well as Facebook likes and +1s on Google+). It’s a network of bloggers all sharing each others posts in return for ‘points’ you can then use to get your own blog posts shared on Twitter (and other social sites). Simply sign up for a free account, find posts you love, share them (you can do it direct from the page if you’re logged into your social media accounts) and then submit a Tweet you want to promote. Just ReTweet even schedules out your posts for you (there’s about a 15 minute delay) so you don’t overwhelm your followers
NO sales pages are allowed. Link to valuable blog content only. I find this is a great place to curate great content and easily schedule it into my Twitter stream, and I’ve found some really cool people to follow on there too.
CoPromote is even more flexible than Just ReTweet, in as much as you can boost any Tweet you want so technically it can be a sales page or sign-up page (though it still needs to be Tweet-worthy, so make sure it’s a sign-up page with a great, high-value, high-quality opt-in gift, or a sales page with a special offer, bonus or discount). You can also use CoPromote to promote an image or video, so it’s pretty versatile.
Join in relevant Twitter chats
Twitter chats are public Twitter conversations that take place at a specified time using a specific hashtag, allowing everyone to follow the discussion and participate in it. They’re great for connecting with others who share your interests, and often allow you to ask (albeit) short questions and get real time answers from people in the field. TweetReports.com has a handy Twitter Chat Schedule so you can check out what’s happening when.
Curate amazing content
One of the biggest mistakes new Twitter users make is they focus on only sharing their own links and things that directly benefit them. They don’t Tweet all the amazing articles they find around the web, and they don’t ReTweet things they find on Twitter, because they think they’re just sending people to other people’s content.
To understand Twitter you have to understand that most people will consume a LOT of content during the course of each day. You can’t possibly supply it all personally, but you can curate it. Every time you share content that is of value you attract new followers, AND position yourself as an expert on the topic. People actually associate you with the content you share. Pressing the ReTweet button is a lazy way to have your followers mentally link you with Richard Branson, J K Rowling, or anyone else you care to ReTweet.
Be careful with your @Replies
There’s a slight Twitter design issue with the concept of @replies. When you hit the reply button to respond to a tweet you will generate an @reply which looks like it’s a public reply but will only actually show up on the account of the person you’re replying to.
So you get a tweet like this
And you hit reply and generate a tweet that starts @MeganMaxwellS… that only she can see! Not good. Especially as she’s said something nice about you. There’s a way to get round this. Simply slip in a greeting.
As long as the Tweet doesn’t start with the Twitter handle it becomes public. It’s an odd glitch but important if you regularly reply to people who have complimented a blog post or recommended your books (I do!). You want that to be a public exchange.
Find new business
We should all be actively marketing our services and offerings every day, and you’d be right in thinking Twitter may not be the best way to do this, but there are a few ways to connect with potential clients on Twitter. A lot depends on what industry you’re in, but it’s worth putting together a simple, time efficient strategy that helps you find work via Twitter. I wrote about how find freelance writing clients on Twitter over at Freelance Writers Online.
Use integration sparingly
You can easily link your Twitter account with your other social media accounts such as Facebook and LinkedIn, using Hootsuite or a service such as ITTT.com , but think carefully before fully automating this function.
This type of integration saves time, but doesn’t always work that well. Your audiences may be slightly different on each platform, and posting style definitely is. If you’re going to post the same update to each site you may want to at least adapt the message so it fits the feel of the site.
And automation too
Same deal. A little automation is OK. Too much and it starts to work against you. Your followers want to interact with a real person, not an automation tool, and most can tell the difference. If they can’t, it may be even worse. If you’re not interacting and responding and having conversations (even though you appear to be checking in to Twitter regularly) you’ll just look rude.
There are good reasons to use a little automation, from time to time. A scheduling tool can help you space out tweets so you don’t overwhelm your followers. It can also be a way to help you reach followers in different time zones without having to stay up all night, especially if, for example, you’re running a 24 hour sale or a free offer.
I do a little automation through Hootsuite and Just ReTweet for these reasons, but I’d strongly advise against trying to ‘set it and forget it’. Log in to Twitter at least a couple of times a day to respond and interact in real time.
Use Twitter analytics.
Twitter’s native analytics are easy to read and can be accessed right there in your Twitter profile. Keep an eye on which Tweets get the most attention and engagement and focus on posting more of the same. In every part of our business we’re aiming to do more of what works and less of what doesn’t. Twitter makes this simple, compared to many other platforms.
Need more help with using Twitter for business? There are plenty more tips in my book Tweeting For a Reason: How (and Why) to Use Twitter to Market Your Business.