How to Use Twitter for Business in 2016 and Beyond

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At this point in your career, you might be feeling as if you’ve read everything you could possibly ever read about using social media for your business. However, the very nature of the industry means that networks and platforms are constantly evolving and changing. News and tips become outdated so quickly and regularly, making the role of a content marketer one of continuous re-learning and re-mastering previously understood techniques.

How to Use Twitter for Business

Because it exists in an almost constant state of change (often for the better),using Twitter for your business will mean keeping yourself up to date on all of the changes taking hold in 2016. With new features focusing on up-and-coming trends and best practices, the following guide will help you stay ahead of the curve—no professors required.

The future is animated

Sometimes the message you are trying to convey cannot accurately be described by words alone. Thankfully, the popularity of emojis, memes, and GIFs has skyrocketed, making the inclusion of such visual messages practically a language of their own.

As a animated images, GIFs add an extra touch to certain messages and can usually add a feeling or emotion that words alone cannot. Recognizing the power of the GIF, Twitter recently announced GIF search—a feature that will allow users to search a GIF library provided by GIPHY and Riffsy and easily include their chosen GIF in direct messages and Tweets. While your brand’s Twitter account might have previously included solely text or static images, 2016 will be filled with GIF-centric content. That new features announcement you’re going to Tweet about can now include a GIF of a surprised panda—an image that will appeal to your audience’s attention span and emotions more than a text-only Tweet could.

We were lucky enough to have GIPHY join us for a #HootChat recently, and they shared the following three key tips for using GIFS, all of which can be applied to your business’ Twitter strategy in 2016.

1. Context is key: Now that you can easily search and include GIFs in your Twitter content, it’s tempting to just choose the first one that catches your eye to include alongside your content. However, as we explained previously, “Before you share anything, you should make sure that you know what that context is so that you don’t accidentally share a GIF that definitely doesn’t mean what you thought it did.” In 2016, everything has the potential to become a GIF (and I mean everything), so ensure that you’re not sharing moments from potentially awkward sources. If you can’t explain the context of a certain GIF to your parents, you might want to refrain from including it alongside your branded Twitter content.

2. Avoid being too casual: While it’s tempting to continuously use that Step Brothers bunk bed GIF (eight years old, by the way), if you’re continuously being purely silly through your image selection you run the risk of alienating certain audience members. As the GIPHY team explained to us, “It’s like reciting movie quotes. When someone uses the perfect GIF, it’s entertaining…[But] when a brand gets too meme-y or ‘hip with the kids,’ it’s time to get off the internet.” As we explain, you can use GIFs to animate data, add life to potentially boring content, showcase your product or service, and for a myriad other non-slapstick comedy purposes.
3. Skip the overly branded content: This is a given, but in 2016 your audience is savvy and can usually immediately recognize overly-salesy content. With technology today making it easier than ever to create a custom GIF for your company, it can be tempting to splash your logo or motto everywhere. Instead, as GIPHY advises, “keep it simple and skip the over-done branding in favor of a mini logo in the corner, some subtle product placement, or no official branding at all.”

Employee advocacy

It’s 2016, and companies are finally starting to recognize the immense power they have in their own employees. In a post our own Ryan Holmes wrote declaring five trends that will change how companies use social media in 2016, employee advocacy was one of the top five. As Holmes explains, “Employee social advocacy programs, which encourage staff to share updates about the business on their own social media accounts, have grown by 191 percent since 2013 and are due to take off in the year ahead.”

Twitter is an ideal network for employee advocacy initiatives. Emphasizing this, Ad Week explains, “All Tweets are public, and easily amplified across audience segments—making it ideal for employee messages to reach potential customers.” The goal here is not to hijack your employees Twitter accounts or monitor them to ensure that their accounts are scrubbed to a corporate sheen, but rather to give them the resources so that when your business does have positive news to share, they can easily do so. In fact, one could argue that having a non-sanitized Twitter account makes audience members listen more, and in turn trust an employee’s messages much more. As Holmes explains, “Content shared by employees, by one recent measure, gets eight times more engagement than content shared by brand channels.”

If you want to make the process of sharing messages of advocacy to Twitter and other social networks as effortless as possible, Hootsuite’s Amplify facilitates employee sharing and enables them to “build their professional brand, share content with their networks, and stay on top of the stories and news resonating across different departments, divisions, and regions.” In 2016 (and beyond), Twitter will be a hotbed for employee advocacy initiatives, and tools such as Amplify help make this as easy on businesses as possible.

Customer service

If you aren’t already doing this, social media customer service is something to consider seriously for your business in 2016. With 80 percent of social customer service interactions taking place there, Twitter is the perfect place for this. With two new customer service tools being introduced by the platform in 2016, it’s obvious that Twitter takes their role as a social feedback hub seriously. These tools, Customer Feedback and a Direct Message prompt feature, make social customer service through Twitter as seamless as possible.

When using Twitter for your business as a customer service tool, it’s important to know when to take the conversation offline, as well as make the process as easy for your customers as possible. With the DM prompt feature, “A business can now add a deep link to their Tweets that automatically displays a call to action button, which allows the customer to send the business a Direct Message, quickly and easily.” Respond to any inquiries you receive through this feedback tool as soon as you can, as you want to ensure you are doing everything in your power to help your customers and enhance their perception of your business.

The second new feature being introduced by Twitter in 2016 will allow your customers to privately share their opinions of your business with you—incredibly valuable information that can help shape your future strategies. After a customer service interaction, you will be able to send your customer a survey using “two industry standard question formats: Net Promoter ScoreSM (NPS®) and Customer Satisfaction (CSAT).” You will also be able to export this information, which is a highly valuable feature offering you a goldmine of information about your business. To help your business make the most of social media customer service efforts in 2016, “we’re excited to integrate Twitter Customer Feedback into Hootsuite’s customer service solution.”

Now that you’ve seen the ways you can use Twitter in 2016 and beyond, discover how Hootsuite can put these lessons into practice.

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