Twitter has been referred to as a “virtual water cooler” because it provides a meeting place for all the latest news, cultural happenings and information in every niche imaginable. You can use Twitter to build your brand, increase your website traffic, and interact with people at the leading edge of your field. Hey, you may even attract some potential clients through Twitter. In this day in age in the digital marketing world you really need to know Twitter.
Yet a huge number of people can’t quite get Twitter. They may open an account and barely use it or never bother. Here’s why they freeze up or give up:
1) They never set up their account thoroughly.
2) They have no idea of the rules and etiquette of Twitter.
3) They don’t follow anyone relevant to them so they never see interesting tweets and, no one is following them, so their Tweets get no response.
Help is on its way for all of these hurdles and more. If you haven’t started (or you’ve given up) on Twitter, I’ve brain-dumped all that you need to know to help you get going and leverage this important social media tool.
- Setting Up Your Twitter Account Thoroughly https://support.twitter.com/articles/127871#
Pick Your Twitter Handle
Make it easy for people to remember. Unless you are a large brand, it is best to establish yourself with your own name. Keep it as short as possible, because character length counts. If your name is already someone else’s Twitter handle, add an identifier at the end (such as the abbreviation of your city).
Add a Profile Picture
Change the egg. If you don’t put up a profile picture, no one will want to follow you. Ever. You want to be approachable and professional, so don’t upload that goofy selfie. Remember: The image is small, so choose one that people can see clearly so over time they can get to know you. Currently, Twitter recommends uploading an image of 400 x 400 pixels.
Optimize Your Profile
Your 160-word bio should include keywords that are searchable, so people looking for your particular expertise can find and follow you. Include one active URL and make good use of it. It can be a link back to your website or maybe better to a special page on your site inviting your Twitter followers to download your free opt-in. If you still have room, it’s OK to share some personal details to help you stand out.
Detail Your Header Image and Background Design
While you are doing your Twitter housework, you may as well add a header image to your account profile and pretty up your background. The header is very wide and Twitter will resize it for you; to avoid pixilation or random cropping. Currently, the recommended size is 1500 x 500 pixels, but you can look up the current size requirements on Twitter’s site. Those specs help you make the image look exactly right before uploading it. You can also change your background. You can upload an image or better, just change out the colors of your feed page to go with your header mage or brand colors.
- The Basics of How to Tweet (Rules and Etiquette)
First, you need to know these types of tweets and how to compose them.
- Basic Tweet. This is a message that is 140 characters long at most and will be seen by those who follow you. It is good to try to keep your tweet at 100 characters to leave room for followers to retweet and add their thoughts. If you’re Tweeting a link, a URL shortener will save some characters.
- Image Tweet. Uploading an image or a gif will get your tweet more interaction. You can find out all of the ways to do this on the Twitter site. Images on Twitter many more clicks, more favorites and 150% more Retweets!
- Engagement tweet. To direct a public tweet to one or more people, type @twitterhandle in it. This Tweet will show up in the notification tab of the people you mentioned, whether they are following you or not. If they are not, your Tweet will not be visible in their feed to them or their followers.
- Reply to tweet. When you choose reply to another person’s Tweet it will start your Tweet with that person’s @username at the beginning of the Tweet. When you do this the only people who will see this Tweet are those that follow both you and the recipient. The Tweet will show up in your notification tab.
- Direct message. Twitter lets you send private tweets to people if you are both following each other. Direct messages have gotten a bad reputation because people use an automated program to send a direct message thank you to new followers. Most people hate all direct messages and consider them spam, so don’t do this.
- Retweets. Twitter includes a Retweet icon that you can use to and quickly share a Tweet with all of your followers. You can Retweet it as is or add a brief commentary to it. A Retweet begins with RT which distinguishes it from one of your own Tweets. You can find out if people have Retweeted your Tweets by looking in your Notification tab where you will see posts that have been Retweeted and who Retweeted them.
Second, you need a Hootsuite account.
Hootsuite is a very handy application that lets you handle multiple streams for a variety of social media accounts, which makes it like a Social Media Dashboard where you can do all of your updates to your apps from that one place which saves you from having to log into multiple social media accounts.
Open a free Hootsuite account and authorize it to connect with your Twitter account. Hootsuite makes Twitter much easier to use than going through the Twitter App itself since the dashboard allows you to view all of the Twitter activity tabs you’d want to see at one time. Set up a main feed to show all Tweets, and then add a feed that shows all Notification Tweets that mention you. Another feed should show Tweets you sent, and another feed can show any Direct Message Tweets. You can use Hootsuite to create other feeds that allow you to follow activity on certain hashtags or to follow Tweets you don’t want to miss from special people you have put on a Twitter list.
Third, start tweeting.
Before you follow people, start Tweeting yourself to build up a page of activity. When you follow people you want them to follow you back and if you do not have any activity on your account, they will pass you by.
Just like at the water cooler it is not cool to be that person that blabs about yourself all the time. Think about creating Tweets your audience would be interested in. People are interested in hearing about news, articles, humor or gossip that will add something to their lives.
Once you start tweeting, it’s important to show up to your growing community by Tweeting regularly. This way, your followers have the greatest chance to see your Tweets.
Here’s why: A Twitter feed is like a fast flowing stream, especially for those people who follow a lot of people. The average lifespan of a tweet is 30 seconds! That means that unless a follower is online within minutes (or less) of the time you make your occasional Tweet, they won’t see any of your content. And, if your Tweet comes out the first thing in the morning, but your audience is not on Twitter until later in the day, a large portion of your followers will never see that Tweet! If you have something important to share, it is okay to rewrite it a couple of ways and repost it several times that day.
Fourth, tweet creatively.
Don’t limit yourself to posting content that you produced, such as a link to your latest blog post. A good rule of thumb is to provide a mix of the types of you Tweets. If you come across someone Tweeting information you like and think your followers will enjoy, then Retweet it with a message about why you liked it.
You can Tweet quotes in your field or tidbits of information people in your niche might like to know. You can reply to Tweets of others by answering their questions or adding a relevant comment. Just don’t be that person who only tweets out your own posts! If you aren’t providing content that your audience is interested in, you’re not going to get much traction with your followers. The few who stick around, I mean.
Fifth, use hashtags (#).
Hashtags make it easy for other people to search and find your expertise. They want to follow you and other people talking about that subject. Anyone can develop a hashtag to use to help promote and track social campaigns, events, brands, TV shows or trending news topics.
Respond to @mentions. If someone @mentions you in their Tweet, respond to them as soon as possible. Check your account daily to see if anyone has mentioned you. A Hootsuite notification feed that pulls in Tweets that mention you, will help make sure you don’t miss these interactions and opportunities for connection that they present.
Thank people for @mentions or retweets. When someone Tweets about you or Retweets your content, be sure to thank them. Use this as an opportunity to get to know them. Take a minute to look up their bio and respond using their first name. You can ask a question relevant to their business or interests. Show you care. Twitter, when it works, is due to the power of engagement.
Double-check your direct messages. Much of what you’re going to see in your Direct Message (DM) feed will be spam sent by automated Tweets thanking you for a follow. People hate this by the way so don’t do it yourself. But check your DM feed in Hootsuite regularly to be sure you don’t miss a live DM.
Join conversations. You can use keyword searches to find conversations happening online about topics in your niche. If you are watching an event or TV show and a topic that interests you comes up, search for the related keyword. When you find people Tweeting about it, jump right in. It is perfectly acceptable.
Other best practices
Schedule your Tweets. Since you can’t or shouldn’t spend your whole day and night on Twitter, use a tool like Hootsuite http://hootsuite.com , Buffer https://buffer.com/ or CoSchedule http://coschedule.com/ to schedule your Tweets in advance, so they are being posted at regular intervals when your audience is most likely to be online. Thanks to these and many tools out there, you don’t have to be online 24-7.
Retweet and share. The more you share other users’ blog posts and Retweet their content, the more they will reciprocate. You should make a practice of reading the posts you are Retweeting so you don’t make a gaffe. When you come across content on the Internet that you think your audience will like, share it on Twitter with a link, and tag the author. This is a great way to get on the radar of people in your field. When others Retweet you, you show up in their feeds to their followers.
Create Twitter lists. When you get a lot of followers you will want to keep a list of people that are important to you in your community. This way you can keep up with their content, and like and share it. Curating content from people you admire and sharing it with your audience will supplement content you create yourself as well as get you on the radar of the other great content producers in your niche. Engaging with these industry leaders can lead to relationships with them in real life with the potential to transform your business.
Share the link to Your Twitter account. Be sure to publish your link to your Twitter account on your website and email signature to make it easy for people to follow you.
- Follow the Right People and Have Them Follow You Back
Next you need to connect with the people who offer the curated news, information and commentary that you are most interested in. These are not the National Enquirer-type celebs that may have beckoned you when you first joined Twitter. To get going and stay interested in Twitter, you need to quickly find people in your niche who are posting things interesting to you and follow them. A good percentage will follow you back.
Searches. Look up key people in your field, friends or colleagues and follow them. Search on hashtags of events you are interested in and follow people Tweeting interesting things about the event. Search on keywords in your field, it will bring up a list of people Tweeting about that topic. Go ahead and follow the people you find interesting. Follow a bunch of people. 250 or more over a week or so. If your Twitter stream looks interesting 30-40 % of non-celebrity type people will follow you back.
Twitter chats. Twitter chats are great because they are live, public conversations. They use a particular hashtag so that during a particular time slot, usually an hour, on a particular day, people can show up on Twitter, create a feed with that hashtag and interact with people about the topic. Most Twitter chats are recurring, but they can be based around special events. You can do a Google search to find Twitter Chats that you might be interested in.
By participating in a Twitter chat you have an opportunity to engage with some of the most active people in a niche. People ask questions and answer them and comment on each other’s Tweets. Another really helpful thing is you can then follow people who have participated in the chats and they will follow you too so it is an effective tool to quickly build your brand and gain new followers.
ManageFlitter. This is a geekier way to find and add quality Twitter followers. Get an account with ManageFlitter which will provide you with a view of the follower and follow list of anyone on Twitter. It is a lot like being shown someone’s Rolodex. You can look up a Twitter power user in your niche by their @username and follow his or her friends or followers. You can filter the list of followers by other variables such as location or last time they Tweeted, and check ones to follow. Start by following up to 250 people each week. Remember, the best way to follow people and have them follow you is to get involved and engage with others.
Patience and ratio. Give the people you follow some time (at least a week or so) to follow you. Many aren’t on Twitter every day. Once you get close to 2,000 followers, Twitter is strict that you can’t follow more than 10% of the number of people who follow you. This prevents people especially spammers, from simply following a large number of people without some of them ever returning the favor. Before reaching the 2K mark, Twitter doesn’t tell us what the magic ratio is, but beware that your account can be suspended if you exceed it by following too many people without showing followers yourself. If your ratio is getting out of whack while following people while building up your account, use ManageFlitter to find and unfollow certain people who have not followed you back.
Don’t be a Twitter quitter!
Following this Twitter primer should help you give Twitter a chance to help your business. At a minimum, posting your blog posts on Twitter is a great way to get on Google’s radar. Your Tweeted post has a much better chance of getting indexed and showing in a Google search. Twitter offers you an amazing tool to find and engage with people who are worth getting to know. They’re waiting to meet and do business with you. I promise you that.