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I can think of one valid reason you aren’t already on Twitter, and that’s if your business just opened. If that’s not the case, well, I’m glad you’re finally jumping on the bandwagon with the rest of humanity. And while Twitter can seem daunting – oh my God look at these tweets, it’s like a firehose – I promise you it’s easy to use.

I’lll even show you.

The Basics

So why should you even be on Twitter? Aren’t there more people on Facebook? Like, a lot more people?

There are. But Facebook and Twitter serve pretty massively different purposes. Facebook is sort of an all-things-to-all-people proposition, leveraging social connections to help people communicate, connect with brands, donate to charities, organize events, play video games, and more and more and more. Twitter is more focused: it’s a giant conversation involving 500 million people, navigated primarily through nametags (those little @name thingies) and hashtags (those other #stuff thingies).

Twitter posts are limited to 140 characters, which is actually an advantage: it makes your tweets easy to digest and very to-the-point, allowing for easier, faster decision-making on the part of your audience.

It’s got massive business potential in three major areas: relationship building, relationship management, and customer service. It also has some pretty amazing seo potential, which we discuss elsewhere. You can use it to engage with potential or existing customers and drive visitors to your web content, giving you the opportunity to convert them into leads (and then into customers because that’s kinda the point).

In other words, Twitter is a conversation engine, allowing you to interact with people talking about your industry, generate buzz, and develop direct relationships with the public. That’s powerful stuff.

Twitter for Marketing

First things first, you need to make sure you have a completed Twitter profile that’s easy to access from your homepage. You need a clear profile image, a link back to your website, and a descriptive bio. But that’s basic.

Let’s get down to brass tacks and talk strategy.

We’ll discuss paid advertising on Twitter in another post, but in any event, your Twitter strategy depends on your business, brand, and industry. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. But there are a few basics that we’re going to introduce you to.

  1. Twitter is for conversations, not one-sided announcements. While there is ample reason not to engage with every single person who tweets at you, you want to make a point of being responsive. Twitter helps you foster relationships with customers, and its often the first place they’ll turn to make a complaint or seek support; by being quick on the draw and engaging with people discussing you or your industry, you can both put out fires before they get out of control and build serious customer loyalty.

  2. Twitter is a giant firehose of text. The best way by far to stand out is by being visually striking. That means images, gifs, and videos – all of which Twitter supports. These attention-grabbers, when coupled with a great message, lead to an overall larger number of clicks, and a wider variety of engagement types; Twitter measures everything from opening up a tweet to clicking an image to clicking through to a profile. As often as possible, try to include an image.

  3. Keep it relevant! Not “relevant” in a social buzzword way. I mean actually, honestly relevant. The content you share on Twitter needs to be right for your audience – and that means you need to know exactly who you’re trying to reach here. We’ve talked a lot about developing buyer personas, so think: who of your customers are on Twitter? What are they there to do or read? Serve them.

Welcome to the Party

Imagine some weirdo who walks into a party and immediately starts trying to sell to everyone he knows. He’s not there for you. He’s there to use you. It feels skeevy and exploitative, and that’s because it is. So don’t just show up and start blasting your own promotional content and website. Go be a human being.

The best way to use Twitter is to actually use Twitter instead of treating it as a channel you use to pump content out into the world. That means talking with people, engaging, sharing (limited company-approved) interests in a real, human (company-approved) voice.

But that takes a massive investment of time and resources that, while totally worth it, might not be available. In that case, you simply need to make sure you’re following the 80/20 Rule: talk about other things 80% of the time, and save promotional content for the remaining 20%.

What that does is justify your place at the party, and makes your audience profoundly more likely to listen to you when you start talking about yourself. This can be as simple as sharing interesting news or content from anywhere online that your audience will find interesting; the key, in other words, is to sell without selling by not being a one-note song.

Goals like reach, awareness, buzz, customer satisfaction, and engagement are hugely important on Twitter, and are exactly as important as active lead generation. These numbers reinforce your ability to sell.