Twitter Marketing: The Essential Guide

By Curtis Foreman

Social

Image via @ssmintz

Thanks to the magic of following and unfollowing, every Twitter user can tweak and adjust their feed until it delivers exactly what they want. Looking for breaking news? Product recommendations? Cat GIFs? Twitter’s the place to find the latest and greatest.

What that means for marketers is that there as many ways to use Twitter as there are businesses (and people) using it. What is Twitter marketing? It’s what you want it to be. Want to learn more about your customers? Make your brand a little more human? Build buzz about your new product? Make an influencer’s day? Provide lightning-fast customer support? Start mopping up after a PR disaster? Publicly humiliate trolls? Twitter’s got you covered.

Whatever your marketing goals, there’s no question Twitter can be a powerful tool to help you achieve them. But you might not be sure where to start—or if you’ve already started, maybe you’re having trouble tying your Twitter strategy to your larger business objectives. So whether you’re looking for a few strategic pointers or a start-to-finish guide to Twitter marketing strategy, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s get started.

Bonus: Download the free strategy guide that reveals how Hootsuite grew our Twitter following to over 7 million users and learn how you can put the tactics to work for your business.

Why you should include Twitter in your social marketing strategy

Twitter is a core social network for research, engagement, and awareness. If you’re not working it into your content strategy yet, you can be sure your competitors are.

In case you (or your boss) aren’t already convinced Twitter needs to be part of your marketing strategy, here are a few reasons we find compelling:

For more stats like these, check out our long list of Twitter statistics all social media marketers should know.

Twitter marketing for business: tips, tools, and strategy

Define success on Twitter for your organization

Okay, so you’ve got a good answer ready when your boss asks, “Why are we on Twitter?” Then come the two follow-up punches: “Are we on track to meet our goals? And… what are they again?”

Answering these questions isn’t hard if you do your homework. Start with a list of your organization’s current high-level business objectives, such as:

From these objectives, craft specific goals you’ll work towards on Twitter, making sure your goals are measurable so you can evaluate progress and prove your success. For example, if your business objective is to provide your sales team with high-quality leads through social, your goal might be “use Twitter to drive 30 email sign-ups per month.”

With objectives and goals in place, remember to take time to benchmark the current state of your team’s performance. This will help you measure your progress toward your goals, proving that your strategy is producing real, measurable results for your business.

Defining and measuring success on social media can be challenging, so taking the time to do this right will really set you apart. Our guide to the ROI of social media breaks down the process for you. And when you’re ready to seriously impress your executive leadership team, check out 4 ROI formulas that will help earn you a promotion.

Design an effective Twitter marketing strategy

Now that you know what you’re aiming to achieve, you might be tempted to skip this section on strategy and jump ahead to the exciting bits about how to craft the perfect tweet. Don’t do it!

A well-crafted strategy is the foundation for your success on Twitter—and it’s what separates the most effective brands on Twitter from the also-rans. Without a clear, documented strategy, you and your team will waste time and money tweeting and retweeting without a clear understanding of how your activities are helping your organization meet its goals. And when it comes time to review your performance and budget, you’ll struggle to demonstrate what you’ve achieved—let alone make a compelling case for increasing your team size or budget.

Every hour you spend on research and strategy will pay off tenfold. We promise. Here’s what you need to do:

Research the competition

Gathering information about your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses on social is critical. Not sure where to start? Read our quick guide, and then use this competitive analysis template to design a social marketing strategy that will leave your competitors in the dust.

Identify your target audience

Your brand can’t be all things to all people on Twitter—nor should you want it to be. Know who you’re targeting and craft a strategy that focuses on delivering real value to them. This will encourage them to engage with your brand and eventually become customers and advocates. While you’re at it, check out our guide on how to attract and engage more Twitter followers.

Audit and take charge of your Twitter accounts

Depending on the size of your company and your goals, you may want to use a single Twitter account or multiple accounts for different departments or functions. If multiple people in your organization are already using Twitter, auditing and consolidating existing accounts is key.

How important is this? When the Vancouver Canucks hockey team deleted rogue accounts and launched official social media channels as part of their social strategy, they were able to strategically grow their Twitter fan base by 800 percent.

Integrate your Twitter strategy with overall content strategy

Teams working in large (or growing) organizations can find themselves working in silos. If you find this happening to your social marketing team, make sure you keep tearing down those silos and stay connected to other teams. Their work can be a rich source of great information and assets to share with your followers—and they may be actively gathering insights that can open up new opportunities for your Twitter strategy.

Keep your Twitter strategy unique

While it’s possible—and easy—to post the same content to multiple social networks, cross-posting isn’t an approach we recommend. Each network has its own unique characteristics and user base, so while applying the same strategy to multiple networks might seem like a shortcut, it might cost you more in engagement and authenticity than it saves you in time and effort. Nail your strategy on one network at a time, keeping it unique and fresh.

For a head start charting your strategy, download our social media templates that cover everything from social media strategy and audits to content calendars and bulk message uploading for Hootsuite.

Use Twitter tools to get more done

Twitter’s website and apps are great for sending the occasional tweet or direct message—but to manage your Twitter marketing at scale, you need the right tools for the job.

Our list of 33 Twitter tools you can use in your marketing strategy is broken down by function to help you find the tools you need to market your business more efficiently on Twitter. Here are just a few of the things these tools will help you do faster and better:

With your Twitter toolbox stocked and ready, it’s time to turn your attention to crafting a world-class profile.

Build a great Twitter profile

A complete, strategically crafted Twitter profile does far more than put a pretty face on your organization’s Twitter account—it can build trust with your audience, improve how your business appears in search results, and give your customers a direct, real-time channel to reach out to you with questions and kudos for your company. Here’s how to do it right:

Write a great bio

Twitter lets you use a few more characters in your bio than in your tweets (160, compared to 140), but you’ll still want to get maximum impact from every word (and hashtag). Whether you’re writing writing a new bio from scratch or looking to freshen up an existing one, we’ve got a list of world-class Twitter bio ideas to increase your follower count.

Image via Hootsuite on Twitter.

Complete and optimize your profile

A strategically optimized Twitter profile can do far more than just share your name, handle, and description. With a few quick tweaks, you can boost the visual impact of your profile; target a precise physical location or general area; help customers find other Twitter profiles your company manages; and make it easier for people to interact with your brand and start conversations about your products. For all the details, see our video on optimizing your profile settings on Twitter.

Get verified

When people see that you are verified by Twitter, they know that they can trust your content—and your brand. Learn how to get verified on Twitter and earn that small but highly valuable blue “verified” checkmark next to your account name.

Show it off

Of course, after investing all this work in crafting a great profile, you’ll want to make sure people actually find it. Add your Twitter handle to your website, email signatures, the side of your delivery truck, and wherever else it makes sense to show it off.

Listen and learn

If your strategy is focused on using Twitter to broadcast content to your followers, you’re not taking advantage of Twitter’s massive potential as a platform for social listening.

As our CEO Ryan Holmes explains, “For businesses that pursue social listening seriously, the benefits can be significant: real-time intelligence on competitors; instant feedback on how your own brand is being perceived; and actionable data for designing or tweaking marketing campaigns.”

You need to know what your Twitter community is talking about, whether people are directly mentioning your brand or not. What topics are they interested in? What kinds of content do they respond to? Who do they engage with? These are all important factors to consider when participating in social media listening.

Things to listen for include:

Another key reason to listen on social is to find influencers and experts in your field. Nearly 40 percent of Twitter users say they’ve made a purchase as a direct result of a tweet from an influencer, and 49 percent say they rely on influencers when looking for product recommendations.

For more information on how to find influencers on Twitter and build valuable relationships with them, take a look at our complete guide to influencer marketing on social media.

Our guide to social media listening lists tools you can use:

Create great content

While it’s true that you’ve only got 140 characters to worry about at a time, you should still strive to write tweets that are on brand, easy to read, and likely to resonate with your audience. If you’re looking for help or inspiration, check out our great list of 8 writing resources for non-writers.

Here are the basics for writing a great tweet:

Help your audience

To create content your audience will actually read and use, it helps to never stop learning about their interests, needs, and fears. In addition to reading their tweets and engaging directly with them, you can also use apps like Trendspottr to find and share trending content.

Keep it short

Yes, the limit is 140 characters—but you don’t have to use all those characters every time to create a great tweet. Mix up the length of tweets, and remember to use a URL shortener (like Ow.ly, available in the Hootsuite dashboard) to prevent links from taking up more space than necessary (and make it easier to include UTM parameters without creating clutter).

Incorporate content curation

You curate content when you sort through the massive amount of content online and share the best of it with your followers in an organized, meaningful way. At Hootsuite, we share the best content we find with our followers using the hashtag #ChoiceContent.

For tips on incorporating content curation into your overall strategy, see our guide to using curated content on Twitter.

Use hashtags

Hashtags ensure that your content is being seen by as many followers as possible. Hashtags enable you to classify content so that your tweets are grouped with other relevant Twitter content. This helps other Twitter users find your content easily, just as it can help you find influencers and others in your industry.

The art and science of using hashtags has evolved substantially in the past few years, and if you don’t know what you’re doing, you can wind up using hashtags incorrectly and sounding tone-deaf or worse. Get up to speed with our comprehensive guide on the do’s and don’ts of how to use hashtags.

Use multimedia to drive more engagement

The popularity—and effectiveness—of multimedia continues its meteoric rise on social media. A survey of Twitter users found that the majority (82 percent) watch video content on Twitter, and that users want to see more videos from celebrities, other users, and brands. Why not offer your followers more of what they’re asking for?

Video

According to Wyzowl’s State of Video Marketing 2017 report, 79 percent of consumers would rather watch a video to learn about a product than read text on a page—and 84 percent of consumers have been convinced to make a purchase after watching a brand’s video. You might tweet out videos your organization has created, retweet relevant video content your audience would find valuable, or explore ways to share real-time video on Twitter.

Images

Among all the options for sharing images and photos online, don’t forget to share them on Twitter too. Include relevant images to catch the eye of your community and encourage engagement. If you’re sharing photos of people, you can also tag up to 10 people per image, as described in our post on Twitter best practices.

GIFs

Ah, GIFs. With users sharing over 100 million GIFS on Twitter in 2016, they can be a great option for adding some relevant fun to your tweets. If some cheeky animated joy is on-brand for your organization, try out Twitter’s integrated GIF search. And for a wealth of ideas, you can check out our GIF guide for social media marketers.

Post at the right time

Tweets don’t last. According to Wiselytics, a tweet has a half-life of just 24 minutes and reaches 75 percent of its potential engagement in less than three hours. That means you need to tweet at the right time to reach the most potential followers and maximize engagement.

Tweet regularly

We recommend tweeting at least once a day to attract and engage Twitter followers. Experiment with posting more than that, and then pay attention to how your followers react to find the frequency that works best for you.

Start with industry best practices

Research has shown that the best posting times are generally 12 p.m., 5 p.m., and 6 p.m. Consider posting at these times in your initial strategy, then flesh out your schedule as you learn more about what times get the best results with your followers.

Use analytics to fine-tune your approach

Use engagement data from Twitter Analytics to adjust your timing once you’ve gathered some data about how followers are engaging with your tweets.

Schedule your tweets

Once you know the best times to tweet for optimal engagement, you can use Hootsuite to schedule your tweets, which will save you time and ensure you’re getting the best bang for your buck with each tweet.

With Hootsuite, you can schedule your Twitter messages manually or in bulk, and you can even set up Hootsuite to automatically post at optimal times. For more information on exactly how to do this, see our post on scheduling posts through Hootsuite. And if you’re looking for templates for bulk uploads, we’ve got those too.

Engage with your audience

It’s easy for marketers to get obsessed with the number of followers we collect on Twitter. But without engagement, your follower number is just that—a number. From the start, Twitter has been designed to help people connect and engage on a personal level. Use that strength to your advantage and engage daily with your audience.

Keep listening for opportunities and pain points. If you’re looking for a little inspiration on how to kick-start engagement with your Twitter followers, try our 5-day plan for increasing your Twitter engagement.

Monitor your business and brand

You’ve seen the news about companies mishandling PR disasters on social—but whether you’re monitoring social networks to mitigate major risk or just to keep an eye on overall sentiment about your brand, it’s vital to know what people are saying and sharing on Twitter.

Measure results

Measuring your Twitter marketing results allows you to evaluate your success, see what kind of content your community engages with, and shows you opportunities for areas to further refine your Twitter strategy. Here are a few ways to get the data you need:

Use Twitter Analytics

Twitter Analytics gives you an overview of how your tweets are performing, who is engaging and when, influencers in your network, and metrics for individual tweets. You can track your followers’ activity over time, their interests, demographics, and (if you’re running a Twitter Ads campaign) ad performance.

Image via Twitter.

Use analytics tools from Hootsuite

Hootsuite’s analytics tools feature real-time dashboards to help you monitor performance, spot trends, and track engagement across channels. You can tag tweets connected to campaigns or events, then track, analyze, and report on their performance.

Bonus: Download the free strategy guide that reveals how Hootsuite grew our Twitter following to over 7 million users and learn how you can put the tactics to work for your business.

Elevate your strategy with advanced tactics

Now that you’ve mastered the basics, why not try a few more advanced tactics?

Advertise on Twitter

As great as your social media strategy may be, there are times when it makes sense to supplement your organic efforts with paid advertising to achieve your objectives on Twitter. Depending on the specific goal you’re working toward, you can promote your individual tweets, your account, or even a trend you’d like to amplify and associate with your business. When you’re ready to get started, check out our complete guide to Twitter Ads.

Host a Twitter chat

Hosting a Twitter chat is a great way to show thought leadership in your field while building advocacy, loyalty, and community. Using a shared hashtag, users meet online to catch up on industry news, discuss issues, and share ideas. To learn more, see our step-by-step guide on how to run a Twitter chat.

Here at Hootsuite, we engage with our community through #HootChat, our weekly Twitter chat. We collaborate with influencers in the industry and encourage questions and discussion with our Twitter community.

Broadcast live video

Brands have been sharing live video on Twitter for some time now, and companies like AirBNB are even experimenting with 360° livestreaming channels. Given the exploding popularity of video on social media, adding live video to your Twitter strategy is definitely a promising area to explore.

Experiment with Twitter Moments

Twitter launched Moments in 2015 as a curated list of the day’s big tweets. In 2016, they opened the tool to everyone on mobile, and marketers have been using it to round up recipes, collaborate with influencers, and even create fan recaps for TV series. From serious to silly, Twitter Moments offer new ways to put Twitter to work for your business.

Offer social customer service

With 67 percent of customers in the U.S. turning to social media for customer service, there’s a very good chance your customers expect to be able to do the same. Whether you use your primary Twitter account or a devoted one for support will depend on the size of your organization and the type of support you offer. You could do worse than to follow the example of our favorite brands leading the way in social customer support.

With rich opportunities for researching your market, engaging with followers, and building your brand, Twitter has come a long way since its 2006 debut as a simple platform for answering the question “What are you doing?” in 140 characters. It’s a powerful platform for building meaningful relationships that will drive the success of your organization—one follower at a time.

Now that you’ve mastered Twitter marketing basics, Hootsuite can help you put them into action. Try it free today.

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