How can there be so many ways to screw up completely, a message of no more than 140 characters, so nobody reads it?
How do you make your Tweets count and not just disappear into a black hole in the Twitterverse? What’s the biggest challenge to successful Tweeting? How do I get people to follow me and Re-Tweet my Tweets? What shall I Tweet about?
Well, I am going to give you the definitive answers to each of these questions, and many more besides, but because we are all different, in what we write about and find interesting, the right answer is different for everyone. So it turns out its going to be a pretty long list.
I have tried to list them all in order of importance, but for reasons I have already mentioned, that’s not always possible. However the are some do’s and don’ts which are pretty much universal, because some mistakes almost everyone makes. Me included.
So here they are my top 50 do’s and don’ts for successful Tweeting.
How To Use Twitter ~ Top 50 Do’s and Don’ts of successful Tweeting
- Engage your followers. To use a common social media analogy, when you arrive at a party where you don’t know anyone, you listen until you see an opportunity to contribute something of value. Same here. Simply throwing promotional offers at people will only annoy them, add to the white noise on Twitter and you will not stand out (in a good way). Send @ replies, help out, discuss and be real.
- Don’t reference your site too frequently. You don’t need to always reference your newest content, but when you do, reference your most useful content. And make sure its right on the money with the stream of messages your reading on Twitter. There is nothing wrong with referencing, now and again, as long as it doesn’t look like a ‘machine-gun’ approach of advertising for your site and nothing else.
- Create a custom Twitter landing page on your website and, when you do, direct Twitter users there. Use the KISS approach, one offer and specifically for Twitter users, you’ll notice a huge difference.
- Do not be afraid to un-follow people who are adding to your white noise in the Twitterverse. Like any list you develop, you want to target your audience, and some affiliate marketers out there will only Tweet offers and junk. Just lose them ASAP.
- Re-Tweet valuable Tweets from your followers. This is a really BIG thing in the Twitterverse and extremely complementary. I find on my lists that there are about 20% of the users I Re-Tweet multiple times. Is that a new 80/20 rule? 80% of your Re-Tweets will probably come from 20% of your users too.
- Ask your users questions. There are two ways to do it. Informally by simply throwing it out there and asking for a response, generally. Formally by using TwtPoll, which will track responses. Either way ask engaging questions of your users, something that will entice debate and opinion. Remember you’re at a party. You need to make friends and take the chill off the room.
- Exclusive offers. When I say exclusive I mean exclusive, don’t just regurgitate another meaningless offer. Make it exclusive, time limited and relevant to Twitter users only, and only very occasionally, otherwise you risk being in that “white noise” category.
- Incentives for followers. I have very effectively used £25 Cash Cards for the nth Twitter follower for doing nothing more than simply following. We do it every thousand followers, but pick the metric that suites you, and follow-up on it. You want to get the buzz from the exited user who gets the cash card, when she tells all her friends; not by avoiding paying out the £25.
- Monitor Twitter Search. You would be amazed at how many active discussions you can miss if you don’t watch the buzz that’s going on. Get in there! Want to know how? Well, for a start, read #10 and don’t forget to check out these 50+ ways to search Twitter.
- Join Twitter Business Directories. Two good examples are WeFollow.com and Twellow.com, add yourself to relevant categories and search out potential leads on a regular basis.
- Engage a key individualon your side, in the Twitter dialog. A good strategy is joining your CEO’s profile to your corporate profile. Not only will you gain a wider following, you’ll have the ability to channel directly to your “go to guy (or girl)”.
- Follow PR and News Sources. Search the Twitterverse, seek them out and friend them. Offer them news and PR before it gets released. You’ll create a direct dialog with the people who can get your message out there.
- Engage Anger. If you’re a business there is likely someone ready get annoyed with you. Don’t shy away from them, embrace and communicate them. Fix there problem for them, publicly, if you can. You may have your next great advocate out there screaming good things about you. Don’t get into a slagging match. You can never win.
- Live Updates from Events or Conferences. This will create buzz and excitement from your user base. No one cares if “it’s a hot day here in Lilongwe, Malawi”, but they might care about “The boss just gave me the inside story on our newest product release, before it goes public”.
- Follow people. A lot. I can’t stress this enough. Some people think it is a badge of honour to have significantly more people following you than you follow. Not true. What you are really saying is, “I want a one way conversation”; not very social at all.
- Figure out “Social Engagement”. How do you engage social media? You need to be social and engage. That’s what it means. Why so many people don’t understand this I will never know. I guess its just that some people are talkative and some are not. Do your organisation a big favour, get talkative on Twitter ~ engage!
- Twitter about your partners, friends and the competition.Why not? Even link to them, if you are confident then you have an opportunity to show the world you have the superior product, service or solution.
- Complement your competition. When your competitors do something right then do not shy away from giving the proverbial ‘pat on the back’. Give them a shout out. It shows your strength and confidence, in a superior kind of way.
- Send useful links which may not be directly related to your business. It could be a news event or something you found useful. People appreciate tips and advice. Especially when it comes out of the blue and is related to something THEY had maybe mentioned earlier. Do your research diligently and you’ll be surprised what you can come up with, and how creative you can be.
- Create a custom background for your Twitter page with your contact information. You would be amazed at how many people will reach out to you directly. Check out the Effective Twitter Backgrounds at Smashing Magazine, and Twitter Background Resourcesif you want to make your own.
- And don’t forget to add your Twitter profile to your email signature. Sounds basic enough, but emails get passed around quite a bit.
- Add TwitterCounter and Twitter badges to your site. Not rocket science but highly effective. Internet marketing is a two way street ~ goes both ways.
- Engage in polarising discussion. Is @DambisaMoyo adding nothing of value the debate on Africa? Then tell her, it will polarise but it will get you engaged.
- Auto Follow people who follow you. I use SocialOomph.comto automate this process, but it is (to me) only a common courtesy, and I just think it works well, saves a ton of time too. You can purge lists once a month or so to keep your list up to date.
- Provide customer support. Whatever you do or sell, on- or off-line, people will have problems. Either you caused it or they did it to themselves. Either way, utilising Twitter as a rapid response tool is incredibly effective and generally people only need a minor tip to get back on track. If you’re regularly searching Twitter for instances of your name etc., you’ll soon find out what problems they’re having, and can just ‘helicopter in’ and save the day.
- Create a daily digest of your tweets for your blog. This not only entices the search engines into ranking you quickly (more customers and followers!) but it provides a history and a sense that your company has fully engaged the community. And that’s a good thing, right? If you’re using WordPress, which I recommend, its really easy, you just use Twitter Tools, and if not then here are 10 Awesome Ways to Integrate Twitter With Your Website.
- Twitter your knowledge. No matter who you are and what you know, your background and experience will help those and could position you as a thought leader, provide “authority” social signals, and improve your Kred and Kloutscores. Its a bit of a cheesy term, but its true. You’ll become ‘an expert’ and people will respect that and as such respect your organisation.
- Stay on Target. You want to communicate with people and lead them to and end goal. Never lose sight of that. Sketch out your conversion path (whatever it might be) and make sure you are achieving that goal. You will be surprised at how quickly results will happen.
- Don’t necessarily try to sell “stuff”. Selling “things” may or may not (probably won’t) work for you on Twitter. Be realistic about your end goal, branding, customer service, lead generation, supporter nurturing. Generally using Twitter as a conduit makes it a great lead generator, not a closer. Remember its like a party, or nobody will want to talk to you.
- Talk about how your product, service or cause helped someone. If they are on Twitter ask them to participate in the dialog and back you up. Bringing it full circle will provide you incredible benefits.
- Create a Twitter Interview. Another case of mangling of the English language for the purposes of branding Twitter. Some call them Twinterviews – whatever! Set up a series of 10-15 questions and ask your interviewee to @ reply them. You can even ask your followers to DM you specific open questions. Works like a charm.
- Ask people to Re-Tweet but not everyday. Asking people to Re-Tweet directly, on occasion, will indicate that this is an important message. With a good following you’ll get some help. Do it often, and the law of diminishing returns takes over.
- Don’t be afraid to go offline. Sometimes you can’t engage completely on Twitter so take it to phone, email or face to face (if possible). Only so much can be communicated in 140 characters. Just don’t forget to type those 140 to let everyone else know what you’re doing.
- Ask your followers what they think of your offers, product, service or cause. It’s a form of Direct Market Research. Example: “We were thinking about running a promotion ~ would you rather get 20% off or a free movie pass for two?” “…Do you think A works better than B?” “…How often would you typically need this service?” “…How we doing against our goal at XYZ?” ”…Do let me know!”.
- Use TwitPic. Post pictures of your events, office, people in your office, people you’ve helped. Be human! Nobody likes a marketing driod Twitter profile. You can REALLY connect with people by being just like everyone else.
- Tweet company events. Did Mindy in Accounting just have her first baby? Tell everyone about it and how happy you all are for her. Unless of course your organisation is a sweatshop, which I highly doubt. Remember ~ be human.
- Tweet the success of your customers. If you run a B2B organisation, congratulate your clients on a successful promo or campaign. Spread the love.
- Don’t insult people. Unless this your personal account (and nobody does have a personal account, where it doesn’t matter, by the way), you’ll do whatever you want, then fine. But never insult a client or competitor or another organisation, you’ll look bad for ages and you can damage your own future reputation. Trust me, there can be a real idiot factor on Twitter, and it can be difficult sometimes. But don’t become part of the problem. I know I’ve lashed out a few times on my personal account. Oopsie.
- Conduct Website Testing. If you have a new promo or landing page on your website, ask your users which they like better. You are after all trying to appeal to them are you not?
- Define your objectives. I have alluded to it earlier but make sure everyone in your company understands what you are trying to do. Maybe directly selling your product, service or cause won’t be successful, but letting people know what your service is and what it can do, will be. Make sure everyone knows without cramming it down their beaks (Beaks? Twitter? Get it? ~ Oh never mind).
- Test, test, test. Twitter is an emerging technology; to be honest no one quite knows what to do with it just yet. Amazing but true, as its been around so long. This makes testing your message and conversion flow critical. You are tracking your conversion flow aren’t you? No? Well why on earth are you on Twitter?
- Don’t be afraid to change course. Things change and you should change with them, if you found a sweet spot for communication or sales or the organisation need to move in that direction, without being scared to do so. Life’s like that. Not clean and simple.
- Automate your blog and Twitter accounts in both directions. I love WordPress so it’s a no-brainer for me. Every post gets an automatic tweet and a mention on Facebook, which create another social signal and help drive your customers to you. Simple.
- Integrate Twitter into your online strategy. I am a big proponent of integrated marketing. This includes Traditional and Emerging Marketing with the same message. Tip: when going Social, don’t change the message, just go a bit more ‘grass roots’ style, a little less formal.
- Tell people who exactly is Tweeting. You may have a corporate profile like http://twitter.com/_SocialStrategy but start out by saying something like “Morning All, @TerenceMilbourn is here this morning”. People like to know who you are and will be far more willing to engage you. So don’t hide behind corporate anonymity ~ it doesn’t work.
- Create a Twitter Meetup. Admittedly this is a bit nerdy, but it doesn’t have to be. Have an open house meeting to invite your Twitter followers to the office, then Tweet about it. Buzz is amazing.
- Create time limited promotions and update it on Twitter. Real and effective time limited promotions could include giving out a free whitepaper or case study for a limited time. Link via DM to a PDF but only keep access open for a few hours. When it’s over redirect the link to a thank you and registration for email download. Then you’ll capture the traffic, which is bound to happen after time has expired.
- Create a Twitter only contest. Be bold, be outrageous but don’t be boring, run it exclusively on Twitter and give away a product as a prize. It doesn’t need to be fancy, just fun. And worthwhile. But remember, nobody really want’s old stock you can’t sell, even if you give it to them.
- Create a tone of helpful information. Example: “Did you know that the Queen is visiting us next week? Check out the incredible thing happening here…” and link to a blog post or information sheet – product knowledge is important and can lead to a supporter, or better yet, the conversion and sale.
- Deep link people into your website and blog. You’ve likely invested heavily in that shiny new website. Point out useful company information, employee profiles, product information, review and news in an interesting or novel way ~ be creative. It surprises me all the time to see Twitter being used to link to just one page on a website. Deep linking encourages people to dig deep into your site, increasing the opportunity for the conversion from traffic to supporter or even customer.
- Use your own voice when you’re Tweeting, listen to yourself speaking as you write. Stay true to yourself. Often (and I know I make this mistake too), we tend to put on a different voice when we write, our ‘Sunday best’ voice, as my kids used to call it, when they caught me doing it. And don’t say “we” when you mean “I” ~ not very personal “we”, unless you’re the Queen.
OK, that’s it. Now go and be social!
By the way, did I miss anything out? If so, let me know so that I can share it with everyone. Wouldn’t do to keep all the good stuff to ourselves, now would it?
P.S. I under-promised and over-delivered! I just added another one I thought of, so now there’s 51.