Back to Basics #28: Getting the Most Out of Twitter

getting-the-most-out-of-twitter

How many followers do you have on Twitter? Do you talk with other people on a daily basis? Do you get people clicking through to your website or your blog?

If you're feeling a little lonely in the follower department and haven't really seen any new traffic to your site, you're probably feeling a little frustrated. But don't despair--this doesn't mean that you're doomed to remain this way forever!

That's because in this article, we're going to show you a few simple things you can do to get more out of Twitter. None of these tips require a ton of your time and energy. In fact, many of these are simple little tricks that you can easily implement into your regular social media strategy, and you don't have to spend a dime.

So let's take a look at how you can get the most out of your Twitter account!

Fill out your profile completely.

twitter-profile-example

Image courtesy of http://instructionaltechtalk.com/how-to-join-twitter/

This might seem obvious, but it's absolutely crucial that you fill out your profile and don't leave anyone guessing at anything. Twitter gives you plenty of space to make your page unique, so take advantage of that! Create unique graphics to place in your profile picture and header, and make sure you've listed all your important information: Website, location, and a description of what services you provide. Finally, make sure your handle is descriptive of your company. For example, if you're a plumber, choosing a name like plumber50432 probably isn't helpful to your followers. But you could choose ChicagoPlumber or ThePlumbingKing or something like that—you get the picture.

For your convenience, here's a checklist of your profile necessities:

  • Profile picture
  • Header image
  • Bio filled out
  • Website listed
  • Location, if possible
  • Descriptive handle

Find people in your industry to follow.

twitter-follow

A lot of new Twitter users don't want to follow people in their industry or field because they think it's pointless to follow their competition. But that's not true at all!

Twitter allows you to peer directly into the marketing plans of other companies that provide the same services you do. If you really think about it, you'll begin to see how wonderful this can be for your own marketing strategy. Back to our plumbing example: If you see other plumbers tweeting about a brand new kind of sump pump, retweet them or compose your own tweet about the topic. If you see a plumber who links to a creative contest on his or her website, you can use that as an opportunity to use that as a model for your own contest. Take a look at those with the most followers and see how they build their profiles and interact with others. Chances are, you'll be able to learn something and you won't even have to pay a cent!

Make lists of influential people.

This is a great way to make use of all those influential accounts mentioned above. An easy way to collate your most influential accounts is to add them to a list. To do this, go to the person's profile, select the gear icon, and then click “Add or remove from lists”. You can then name and describe the list, and select whether you want it to be public or private. If you're watching your competitors, you may want to change it to private. But sometimes adding people to a public list can be beneficial—they might add you back or other people might subscribe to your list so they can also follow your influential accounts! We've included some helpful (hopefully) screen captures to better illustrate this process:

example-list1

Select the gear icon, then click "add or remove from lists."

example-list2

If you don't have a list created, select the "create a list" option.

example-list3

Name your list, fill out a brief description, and choose whether you'd like it to be public or private. Save and you're done!

Follow back relevant accounts.

follow-back

It's not always going to be you who finds the best accounts to follow--sometimes people will find you, too. Keep track of your followers by using a tool such as Tweepi or ManageFlitter. If you find people who are relevant to your interests, go ahead and follow them back! If they're not, then there is obviously no obligation to do so. We suggest taking the time to block bots as well. After all, they don't add anything to the conversation, and they aren't real fans.

Oh—and while we're on that topic, never purchase fans. Even if you're desperate to look like you have more than five friends (which, let's be honest, we all would be!), don't pay for followers. Just keep finding relevant accounts and following them, and soon you'll get people following you back.

Use appropriate hashtags.

If you think hashtags are just words used as slang, you're in for a surprise! Truthfully, it's not very effective to use Twitter without them. Hashtags are a way for people to find important topics and conversations in real time. Whether you're looking for information on roofing expos or you simply want to chat about the hottest new shade of nail polish, you can probably find hashtags that will appeal to people looking to follow that topic. You can use tools like BuzzSumo to help you find popular topics and coordinate your posts with current and relevant conversations.

Here are some helpful tips to get the most out of hashtags:

  • Don't use too many in one tweet. Two, maybe three tops.
  • Hashtags tend to do better when included in a sentence or placed at the end of the tweet.
  • Don't use any punctuation or spaces. Hashtags only support letters.
  • If the hashtag is long, try making it easier on the eyes by capitalizing the beginnings of words. I.e., #SocialMediaStrategy.

Use photos every once in a while.

twitter_sand_re

People will read interesting text tweets, especially ones with links or hashtags. But think about it: Which would you find more appealing—a plain ol' string of text or something with a bright, beautiful photo by it? Of course your eyes will be drawn to the photo. So take the time to include a photo with your tweets on occasion. You could attach an inspirational quote, a picture of a project you just did, or a new product you're offering in your store. Be aware that photos do count against your character quota, so you'll have to plan for a shorter tweet if you want to use a picture!

Retweet others and ask for Retweets.retweeting

Finally, don't exist in a vacuum on Twitter. No one wants to see a stream of self-promotional spam from a single account. Take the time to retweet others, or tweet interesting articles that you find on blogs and websites you enjoy. A general rule of thumb to follow is that you should stick to 80% tweeting about topics relevant to your business but not necessarily self-promotional; and then the other 20% of the time send out tweets promoting your own business.

You can also ask for retweets! Many people respond to a simple request for retweets—just don't overuse this tactic with every tweet you send out. And be sure to retweet those that you follow who ask for shares as well!

Well, there you have it. With these tips, you'll soon see your Twitter follower count growing and your engagement soaring! You can easily start doing these things on your own, without hiring any special assistance.

If you have any other great tips, leave them in the comments below!

Holiday Shopping with Social Media

holiday-shopping-with-social-media-2

As we draw closer to Thanksgiving, ads for the upcoming shopping season can be seen everywhere: From the mall to the grocery store, it seems there's always a reminder that the holidays are sneaking up on you, and your window of opportunity nabbing the best gifts is closing. But whether you're the type who wants to go out and get all the best products on Black Friday, or you're more the kind of person who procrastinates until mid-December, you're still always looking for a great deal! After all, you don't want to spend more money than you have to, and you definitely want the whole shopping process to be as painless as possible. And that means you're probably going to do your fair share of shopping online. But in 2014, online shopping can be a lot more than just logging on to your favorite store and filling up your cart. You can also utilize the power of social media to do your holiday shopping.

By using social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest, you can easily find what you're looking for in multiple places. You can quickly compare availability, prices, and more. Even better, you can read reviews and get feedback on any items before you add anything to your cart. Sure beats the old way of doing things, doesn't it?

Here are a few ways you can use social media for your holiday marketing strategy—and maybe even use some of these tips yourself when you go shopping!


 

Holiday Marketing with Twitter

twitter-for-small-businesses

In a survey conducted among 500 US adults, 36% said they wanted to use Twitter for holiday gift ideas. Another 35% admitted they used the social media platform to find links to the business's online store.

Now, in case you didn't know, 284 million people are on Twitter and active every month. That's a lot of potential business.

Furthermore, 4 in 10 consumers who are active on Twitter plan on beginning their holiday shopping before Thanksgiving. That leaves about a week and half from the publishing of this article to get your store holiday-ready! You can begin by tweeting about special deals, ask your followers to "please retweet" your updates, and direct people to your store for coupons or special checkout codes. Perhaps you could offer a "new followers" coupon for your new fans. Think outside the box on this one--people who use Twitter want to get information and get it fast. If you deliver it in an attention-grabbing way, you're sure to get a few new eyes on your merchandise.


 

Holiday Marketing with Facebook

facebook-logo

With Facebook, you are provided a more “permanent” platform to advertise to your fans. Permanent is in quotes because, of course, Facebook is actually moving at a rapid pace--updates seem to come and go quickly, and the feed refreshes constantly. But fans can easily find apps or albums that you've set up on your business page to promote your holiday specials. You can make your page visually appealing and full of content to entice your audience. Plus, sharing on Facebook works a bit differently than sharing on Twitter does—people get more personally invested. Family members are likely to share with one another over Facebook, whereas Twitter tends to foster more professional connections. When was the last time you tweeted your grandparents? (or grandchildren!)

A good place to start is with two of the biggest shopping days of the year: Black Friday and Cyber Monday. According to AllFacebook.com, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are growing into a quarter-long phenomenon. They urge businesses and advertisers to “capitalize on lower reach costs and high consumer engagement before and after peak days.”

Yeah, yeah, that's nice. But what does it mean for small businesses?

Basically, that you can promote your great deals before and after days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday to get the best returns. But that doesn't mean you should only focus on those days. You should also keep promoting your business's specials throughout the holiday season, because shoppers will be buying more heavily until Christmas.


 

Holiday Marketing with Pinterest

pinterest-logo

If you haven't gotten into the habit of posting to a Pinterest board, you might want to start: 47.7% of holiday shoppers say that Pinterest has influenced their buying decisions. That's a lot of people!

But just how can you make the most out of your pins and get people interested in your products? It'll take a bit of creative thinking, but if you try, we bet you can come up with a variety of effective marketing strategies. For example, you could try making a themed board. You can showcase great gift ideas. You can create a storyboard where a shopper uses your product to bring happiness to friends and family. You can show how other customers choose to use your products to make their lives better. It's all in how you choose to present yourself!

We hope that these tips have been helpful for you. The holidays are a great time for helping customers get the special gifts they want for friends and family. By putting your best foot forward, you can prove to your community that you are dedicated to their needs, and that you're ready to help them make this holiday season the best one yet!

Can you think of any other ways to use Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest for holiday marketing? It's always a learning experience, and everyone gets different results. But with a little bit of practice and creativity, you can learn how to get more sales, happier customers, and better engagement during the holiday season. If you have any tips or tricks, be sure to leave them in the comments below!

Good luck!

Back to Basics #18: When Should You Automate Updates?

scheduling-updates We've talked before about how you can take a load off your shoulders by scheduling your social media and blog updates. But, as with any automated services, there's a point where you need to draw the line. Your followers and fans don't want to interact with a robot, after all—they're there because they enjoy what YOU have to offer.

So how do you know when to automate your blog posts and social media updates, and when to interact with your fans?

Automate for hours you aren't awake.

Sure, it's not the perfect time to post at 3 am on Twitter—not for everyone, anyway. But many businesses have customers who reside on the other side of the pond—and they're awake during those hours. So it's a good idea to schedule a few tweets to go out when those other eyes will fall on your page. As for platforms like Facebook and Google+, it's best to figure out when you get the most interaction. For many people, the best hours are earlier in the day, local time. If this is the case, you don't necessarily have to automate your updates. However, you might choose to do so if you know you're going to be forgetful about it!

Going to be busy or out of town all weekend? Automate your updates.

Of course it's ideal that you be around to interact with your fans and followers no matter how busy you are. But the reality of life is that we have to unplug every once in a while.

But just because you're gone doesn't mean that you can't still engage your audience. By scheduling a few posts to pop out when you're away, your fans will still be able to see what you're up to, the content you want to share with them, and products that they might want to buy.

Keep a balance of 80/20: 80% promoting other people, 20% marketing your own products.

People don't like to see a constant stream of advertisements coming from the accounts they choose to follow. If the only updates you ever offer are hard sales pitches, you'll find that your social media presence and blog subscriptions are going to go nowhere fast. A good way to keep this balance is to schedule some retweets or shares during the day. This way you can be sure that you're still contributing to discussions without coming off as overly sales-y.

Reuse old posts—schedule them to pop out at some time in the future.

What do you do with old blog posts? Well, as long as the content is “evergreen” (meaning that you could read it three years from now and it'd still be helpful), you can schedule the posts to pop out in the future.

For example, let's say you write an article about cleaning your gutters yourself. This is probably the most useful in the fall, but that's not to say it can't be helpful at other times of the year! Posting it once every few months across your social networks can help drive traffic back to your site. By scheduling them in advance, you won't have to think too much about it, or try to remember a few months down the road. It'll already be ready for you!

homer-simpson-doh

When should you NOT automate your updates?

  • When dealing with customer service--people want responses from humans, not robots.
  • When you have a fan or follower trying to get an answer to a specific question. For example, “How long is your sale going to be on?” shouldn't elicit a response based on the fact that a person contacted you (i.e., “thanks for connecting!”), or worse—radio silence.
  • During a time of national crisis. Too many brands have forgotten to take off their scheduled tweets or updates during an unexpected crisis, and as a result, they came across as insensitive—even callous. Even if your company's services have nothing to do with the crisis at hand, sometimes it's just best to stay silent for a little while.
  • When someone follows you (this is primarily geared toward Twitter users). When you follow someone on Twitter and they send you an automated direct message welcoming you (or asking you to buy something), how does it make you feel? Annoyed? Yeah, it probably doesn't really make you want to interact with the person. So don't do this to your followers. Send a personal greeting if you like, but whatever you do, don't spam them.

What do you think? Do you automate your posts? When should someone avoid scheduling updates? Let us know in the comments below!