By now we all know how valuable and important it is to include social media in your business marketing strategy and one aspect almost all businesses can benefit from is having a Twitter marketing campaign. The effectiveness of said campaign will depend on much more than simply Tweeting randomly!

When using Twitter for business, you need to have a clear and well-thought-out plan of attack, with a long-term commitment to building your follower base and delivering what they want to see, share and, most importantly, act on.

Twitter – In a nutshell

Twitter is an incredibly popular social networking channel. Users share short, sharp messages of no more than 140 characters apiece; these are called “tweets”. More than 320 million people actively use Twitter each month and these numbers are, for now, growing. The potential reach and exposure of a brand with a presence on Twitter is mind-boggling – the sky really is the limit.

Using Twitter to its highest potential takes more than just signing up and creating a profile. There are some definite points to consider as you tread the Twitter path which can make or break your Twitter marketing campaign

1. Customise!

The first thing you need to do is to customise your Twitter profile for your brand or business. By customising, you give other Twitter users a clear snapshot of who you are and what you offer – and hence are much more likely to generate followers and fans. Steps to customisation of your Twitter for business profile include:

  • Upload an icon. A high-quality professional photo, logo or other identifier for your business is perfect. Leaving this icon space blank simply demonstrates laziness, apathy or an inability to utilise the platform properly. For a brand, it’s not a good look.
  • Upload a header image. Similar to a cover photo on Facebook, it’s one more way to personalise your profile. It should represent your brand, be of high quality, and a banner is ideal for this space.
  • Choose a colour theme. A theme colour chosen by you will help your profile stand out; it will appear as an accent hue and be visible in links and on your home page.
  • Share a short bio of your brand and business: in 160 characters, say who you are, what you offer and where you are located, as well as including a link to your website.

2. Verify!

Verifying your account as authentic sets you apart from fan pages (or fake pages) for your brand. It is highlighted by the blue and white tick icon next to your name, and is verified by Twitter. This icon makes it easy for users to know exactly who is posting and exactly who they are following – your authenticity is highlighted when your Twitter profile includes this feature.

The benefits of being verified by Twitter extend beyond helping your followers know you are who you say you are. Verified accounts on Twitter can access other features including notification filters and data analytics.

NB. Twitter does not verify all accounts that request verification.

3. Make your tweets count

While it is very straightforward to post to Twitter, there are numerous ways to make every tweet you send count. With the character limit, you need to be short and sharp, and say what you need to say quickly and without fuss or embellishment. Yet tweets are not necessarily just text based and, for engagement and also SEO purposes, you should include the following in at least some of your tweets:

  • Images: Image-based tweets generate far higher levels of user engagement than do tweets that are purely text-based. Bear in mind that this does impact on your character count, so compose text alongside images after you upload the picture.
  • Links: Share links in your tweets that take users back to your business website, your blog, or other relevant online content. Use a link-shortening tool to preserve valuable character space and to also tidy up the appearance of the tweet.
  • Videos: These may include videos from your website, your blog, or from YouTube or Vine. This will use some of the available character allowance.
  • GIFs: These are moving images that are taken from original videos; they are popular in memes and generate high fan engagement.
  • Polls: Encourage active engagement from the follower base by asking a question that requires an answer. People love having their say and feeling like their opinion counts, and polls are great for this.
  • Hashtags: Can be a tweet’s best friend…
  • Add a Twitter button to your website.
  • Embed tweets on your blog.

4. Make your hashtags count

Hashtags are words or phrases preceded by a hash symbol (#) that classify a tweet based on a particular topic. This collates all identically hashtagged tweets into a single place so that specific topics and conversations can be followed by those interested in them. They are searchable online and also work well on Instagram.

Hashtags are a great way to broadcast or showcase your brand and they can be added anywhere within a tweet. There are some basic rules to follow to get the most out of your hashtags. Ensure your hashtags are relevant to your business and your tweet’s content. Keep them very simple. Never hijack a trending topic when you have nothing relevant or valuable to add. Also, bear in mind that the more hashtags you use, the less likely it is that your tweet will encourage interaction. Too many hashtags per tweet is simply annoying to many Twitter users. Using one or two relevant tags per tweet is ideal.

5. Be actively social

Too many social media users love to broadcast but never reply when their followers have something to say. What they don’t understand is that social media is social – this means having a conversation, and a conversation is a two-way interaction. As a business owner and a social profile owner, you need to actively interact with your audience – not just talk at them. It’s really not all about you!

Interact with others on Twitter via:

  • Likes – by favouriting a tweet.
  • Re-tweets – by sharing others’ posts with your own followers on your own feed.
  • Mentions – like tagging on Facebook, use another’s @twitter-name in your tweet.
  • Direct messaging – via the private messaging feature on Twitter.
  • Engage followers – use Twitter chats at predetermined and specific times

Here are some extra added tips on what NOT to do:

  • DON’T: Oversell your brand – your tweets should not all be sales pitches!
  • DON’T: Hijack trending topics unless you have something relevant or valuable to add.
  • DON’T: Fail to optimise your content for Twitter.
  • DON’T: Be inconsistent with your “voice”.
  • DON’T: Automate all your posts.
  • DON’T: Ignore feedback and follower interaction.
  • DON’T: Bombard followers with too many tweets.
  • DON’T: Be invisible by not tweeting often enough.
  • DON’T: Be offensive.
  • DON’T: Buy followers.
  • DON’T: Forget to use hashtags.
  • DON’T: Abuse hashtags.
  • DON’T: Try to be something you are not.

Using Twitter for business can be a powerful part of your overall social media marketing strategy. Pay attention to the basic rules of etiquette, be committed for the long haul, and watch results happen in an exciting and organic way.