The fourth and last post in my How to Use Twitter series is about building a solid Twitter strategy. Let’s put it all together and get to work. If you haven’t read earlier posts in the series, here are the links.
What’s Your Goal?
What are you trying to do with Twitter? Set specific, measurable goals for what you want Twitter to do for you. Here are some ways you can use Twitter to build your business:
- Get customer feedback on new products or promotions. I’ve seen authors who tweeted book chapters to get readers’ thoughts. Even if you’re not writing a book, solicit feedback on new products or offerings. This gives your customers ownership and lets them know they are important to you.
- Respond to customer inquiries or problems. Sooner or later, someone will say something negative. It’s not all going to be roses. If someone tweets you with a problem, respond immediately and apologetically. Then take it to direct message (DM) to solve the problem privately.
- Lead generation. Follow those you hope to do business with and engage with them. Building relationships on Twitter is the same as building them in real life — it’s not an overnight process, but will provide long-term benefits. Follow relevant hashtags and search for tweets asking for recommendations.
- Brand awareness. Use Twitter to provide helpful content and solve potential customers’ problems. If you’re known as an authority and thought leader, it will bring positive attention to your brand and customers will seek you out when they are looking for a solution.
- Connect with influencers. Find and engage with those who have already built a following in your industry. Comment on and retweet their content — start a conversation. Get to know them and help them get to know you.
More Twitter and Social Media Reading
Research the Competition
Now that you know your goals, it’s time to define your Twitter strategy. First, look at your competitors. See who they follow and who follows them. Read their tweets and see how they interact and how their followers respond.
What types of customer problems and concerns do you see? Is there an area in which they struggle that you have figured out?
Spend some time reviewing their profile and see what’s working for them. Don’t copy them, but do use what they are doing to generate ideas that might work for you, just as you would offline.
Find Your Audience
Do a search on relevant hashtags and search terms. For example, i did this search on the term planting flowers. I found photos of home gardeners planting flowers with their cute children, and a tweet with a link to an article about planting a new flower bed.
Once you find your audience, do some listen and monitor their conversations for a bit before you jump in. What do they talk about? What problems and issues do they need help with? What do they love, hate, and care about?
Now you’ll be better equipped to start conversation and build relationships on Twitter.
Helpful Twitter Tools
These tools can help you plan and execute your Twitter strategy and you can use them both at no cost. It’s much easier to do listening and monitoring with the column feature.
We’ve talked about Tweetdeck, the free web app from Twitter. Go to TweetDeck.Twitter.com and sign in with your Twitter login. Now think about your audience, what searches gave you the best results and start setting up your columns.
In my TweetDeck, the first column to the left is the one I read most often. This can be your home feed, or it can be a list. Either way, it’s your most important feed.
The second is my notifications. It’s important not to miss these, as it may be a customer with a complaint or comment and you want to be prepared to respond quickly either way. Keep your notifications where you’ll see them readily.
The third column is where my searches begin. Use quotes around multi-word searches to keep the phrase intact. You can have as many columns as you need for terms and hashtags you want to monitor.
Build out the rest of your columns to fit your needs. I use a pinned tab in my browser (Firefox, but Chrome and Safari also allow you to pin tabs) to keep my Tweetdeck window open so I can check back often.
Hootsuite is another service that allows you to set up a layout similar to TweetDeck. It’s also a scheduling tool, although for unlimited scheduling you’ll need a paid account. You can schedule up to 30 social media updates on the free plan though, so, especially if you’re just starting out it might work well for you.
You’ll see in my Hootsuite window I’m scheduling updates for my Facebook page, LinkedIn, and Twitter. As I don’t use Hootsuite for reading tweets, I don’t have my columns set up as I do in TweetDeck, but it works in a very similar way.
At the top left, I’d click Add Stream and then select the type of stream I want to add, just like in TweetDeck.
The keyword stream allows you to add up to three keywords to monitor in your column. It will pull all mentions of those search terms in tweets so you can monitor for your chosen terms.
What Do I Tweet?
Your Twitter feed should be a combination of conversation and content. At some point, you’ll probably have to schedule at least some of your tweets, but don’t neglect spending time reading and engaging. This post explains how to use a tool called Buffer to schedule your tweets.
Most successful Twitter accounts post a mix of curated and original content. It would be virtually impossible to produce enough content on your own — unless you have a large content team — to populate an active Twitter account, so your Twitter strategy will probably include posting others’ content curated for your audience.
There are many ways to find content online. The easiest is an RSS feed reader called Feedly. It’s free to sign up and you can subscribe to blogs that publish content about your topic. Feedly finds new content and delivers it to you in one place. You can then share it to Buffer or Hootsuite and schedule it to be published automatically.
Remember, everything doesn’t have to be related to your business in a literal way. If you’re a local business, help promote other local businesses that aren’t in direct competition. Highlight civic and community events and show your customers that you’re a good citizen and care about your neighborhood.
Show how you make your products, or your employees receiving or providing training. Use images of customers, with their permission, shopping happily or even on video talking about their experience in your location. Think creatively about what might be helpful content. Even if you think no one would be interested, keep an open mind; they just might be.
Keep your phone with you at all times and snap photos of everything. Find an object or view that you like and snap it — you never know when you might need an extra image. Posting images with tweets with get more eyes on your updates, especially if you’re a visually-oriented business.
Managing Your Time
It’s no secret that social media can be an endless time suck, and Twitter is no exception. As part of my own Twitter strategy, I try to jump on for a few minutes several times each day. First thing in the morning, I check and spend about 30 minutes reading tweets and monitoring searches. I’ll find posts I want to retweet and schedule those, respond to any notifications, and read any important breaking news that happened overnight.
Then I’ll go over to Feedly and quickly go through my feeds for content. I’ll save interesting articles, read them through (never tweet anything you haven’t read) and schedule them if I think they’ll be helpful to my audience. At that point, I’ve generally got my curated content set for the day, and sometimes for the next day as well.
I can now just jump back on every few hours and see what’s new and start or continue conversations.
I hope this series has helped you get a new understanding of Twitter and how you can use it to build and grow your business online. If you have questions about anything, hit me up in the comments.
Here’s the video.