Like Facebook, there is no special recipe to use Twitter like a pro. However, we believe there are many best practices that, if used correctly, will lead to success. Here, we outline our top 15 tips for effective Twitter usage which cover things that will improve your Tweets, your networking, bring Twitter followers back to your website, get Twitter into your social media marketing and make Twitter tools work for you: 

#1: Share the content your audience ‘wants’ to here, in ‘your’ brand voice

Craft your tweets, @replies and promotional Tweets with a seamless style that matches you or your brand’s personality.

Ideally, you’d want people to read your Tweets and feel naturally compelled to click on your links and the Retweet button.

You want to add value and have no agenda or attachment to “making the sale”, yet be strategic and mindful about how you Tweet. Then you’ll see a marked improvement in your Retweet and click-through rates.

#2: Twitter strives on Keywords

Keywords have been and continue to be a relevant and driving force for web content (whether you’re talking about a website, blog post, Facebook update or a Tweet). Keywords are the backbone of content.

So I’d have to say, hands-down, my best Twitter marketing tip for business is to make a list of keywords that best describe your business and industry. Use these words as you compose your 140-character posts.

Think quality over quantity. Make every character and Tweet count!

#3: Only post what is relevant

Sharing links to useful content is, statistically speaking, more effective at growing and retaining followers than “engaging” with them in conversation.

That’s not to say that conversations aren’t useful in helping people to like you, but if you want to grow your fan base, you need to share more links than you do @replies.

#4: Use Search Features to understand your client

Use the search feature in a Twitter tool like HootSuite to watch for conversations about a problem your business can solve. It will give you insight into what is on your prospects’ minds and provide an open door for you to help them.

Try providing a link to a great article or video that answers their question. This one action could lead to an ongoing dialogue that in turn may lead to a customer relationship later.

#5: Engage with the right people

There are two crucial things businesses should focus on when implementing their Twitter strategy.

The first is not finding just anyone to follow in hopes that they will follow you back, but finding relevant people to follow who are more likely to follow you back. You can bloat your account to 100,000+ followers, but if they are not interested in your content, it gets you nowhere.

You need to be using tools such as ‘Follower Wonk’, ‘Twellow’ and ‘Wefollow’ to find people who are in your region (if you’re a local business) and interested in your industry. Then start following them.

The second is after you find your targeted audience, don’t just Tweet at them—Tweet with them. Follow their conversations and add your opinion from time to time. Follow anyone who talks about your brand and thank them for their compliments or help them with their concerns. Follow anyone who talks about your industry and show why you are an authority.

Doing these things will help you run a successful Twitter campaign that will give your brand exposure as a leader in your industry!

#6: Icebreakers aren’t just for offline

Most followers become nameless and faceless numbers on a follower list. Remember when networking used to be about meeting people face-to-face? Icebreakers were important then, and they’re just as important now in the virtual world.

Icebreakers help you share a common connection with a stranger—and make you memorable enough to begin and sustain a long-term relationship.

When you find relevant tweets from among your followers, RT their blog link—and follow the author’s feed. Then send them a @message, detailing something insightful about their blog post. At the end of the Tweet, link to a similar post you’ve written.

This should result in more blog comments, Retweets and followers, all from 10 minutes of effort. Twitter is all about icebreakers, and collecting followers who instantly recognise you in a sea of faces. Invest time in your introductions and they’ll make all the difference to your feed.

#7: Encourage relationships

Pay attention when someone Tweets about your blog posts or Retweets something you’ve shared. When you are building a business, never take it for granted when people help you spread the word. Start by thanking them for the Tweet. And take it a step further: add them to a private list for Tweeters and Retweeters.

At least once every day for five minutes, review the Tweets in that list. Look for great content that you might have missed, information from smart people you need to follow and conversation trends you might have missed. Jump into conversations, Retweet items your community would appreciate and thank people for sharing great things.

Most of all, get to know more about these people who volunteered to become part of your team by sharing your content. It’s all about relationships and Twitter helps you build relationships with these important members of your community.

#8: Engage your audience

Find ways to reach out and engage your audience. Too many businesses want to just set their Twitter feed on autopilot or constantly push promotional content.

Although there is a place for the promotional tweet, your feed will receive much more attention if you make it a resource for your followers. Do this by sharing interesting articles, leading discussions on topics important to your industry, answering questions and sometimes just being there.

It’s about creating relationships and building trust in those relationships. Although they may not be clients now, when the time comes, you’ve already cleared the first hurdle for your followers.

#9: Be helpful

Plenty of people are filling up Twitter streams with the tech-equivalent of screaming infomercials to buy things. However, engaging and interacting with your consumers in a consistent and helpful way will keep your product or service at top of their minds. Not everyone needs what you offer right now. You’d want to provide information and solutions that keep them reading so that when they need what you have, they know you’re there for them.

#10: Transparency assists credibility

If you mess up, admit it. If you don’t know the answer to a question, admit it. If you’re inexperienced, admit it. If you’re willing to admit that your business is not perfect and is a work-in-progress or open to suggestions, your audience is more likely to take you seriously. You build your company’s credibility and trustworthiness. What’s the quickest way to lose credibility? Letting your business cover things up, lie, over-promise or under-deliver.

#11: Use hashtags to create conversations around your brand

You can reward your followers when they participate by Retweeting them or displaying their Tweets on your site or blog. High-end clothing and shoe retailer Bergdorf Goodman uses Instagram (a photo sharing app) and Twitter hashtag ‘#BGShoes’ to encourage fans to Tweet pictures of their shoes (purchased at BG, of course) around New York City. Bergdorf Goodman is capturing all of the photos and tweets on this interactive map, which gives users an incentive to participate.

Here’s another example:  The San Francisco Food Bank (@SFFoodBank) gave followers a challenge: try and spend less than $5 a day on food and Tweet about it using the ‘#hungerchallenge’ hashtag. Participants are listed on the Hunger Challenge website (and you can pity them in real time as they Tweet about their barely-full bellies, all captured in the hashtag stream,!/search/hungerchallenge). These tweets were not just blank advertisements – they were an entertaining journal of the struggle of trying to eat on a budget each day!

#12: Share links back to your website for list-building

In most cases, people aren’t going to buy from you right off a site like Twitter. You need to shift your thinking from how can this person buy my brand now to “How can I bring this person into my community and strengthen the relationship with him/her on an ongoing basis?”

One of the best ways to do this is to encourage visits to your blog or website by providing something of value for free in exchange for an e-mail address. That way, you have permission to keep in touch and build an ongoing relationship with prospects.

This shouldn’t be thought of as list-building just for the sake of boosting your subscriber numbers. Rather, it’s a natural continuation of the solid foundation you’ve begun building with a potential client or customer within the Twitterverse.

#13 Research

Twitter has an overwhelming amount of information. This is excellent for the marketer, as they understand that they can use this data to research how people are talking about a brand, product, service or place and so on. It is likely you will find this is different in every country or state, and that there will be special hashtags for many things depending on their popularity or the savvyness of the users of these hashtags.

From here, you can then start to plan out how exactly you will reach your consumer.

#14: Connect your Twitter to your other social media accounts

Connecting all of your social media accounts together allows people to easily access your business profile on a variety of different platforms. It also increases productivity and reach.

For example, syncing your LinkedIn account with your Twitter account can make your Twitter activities more relevant to your business. Not only can you share content across both networks simultaneously you can also keep track of your professional connections from LinkedIn and follow their Tweets!

Here are three tips:

  • Make sure that you add your Twitter account to your various social media platforms. Visitors to your profile will be able to follow you on Twitter right there from your profile page! If you have more than one Twitter account then add them both to your profiles and designate your primary account.
  • Connect your Twitter account with other social media platforms. This way you will be able to automatically share content from one platform to the next. For example, install the LinkedIn “Tweets” application on your LinkedIn profile and immediately go through and follow each of your LinkedIn connections who have Twitter profiles. Create a Twitter list of your LinkedIn connections automatically with the click of a button using the Twitter application in LinkedIn. This makes it easy to follow the stream of updates on Twitter coming from your professional connections.
  • Twitter is a fire hose of information, data and resources. Integrating your Twitter account with other social media accounts is a great way to do this.

#15: Use tools to create and manage content

Sending out 140-character messages ever so often may not seem like a task that requires marketing automation software but, to the contrary, these tools can greatly improve the effectiveness of your Twitter marketing.

There are a slew of services available, some free and some paid, to help manage your Twitter account. The best two tools that we have come across for automation as mentioned earlier are Sprout Social and Hootsuite. When it comes to sharing, having a platform like Hoot-Suite where you can schedule tweets is extremely helpful. Given the short shelf-life of a tweet, you can easily schedule content to be pushed out at pre-set intervals to maximise visibility.

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