Welcome to the next installment of our Social Media Essentials 2017 series. Today we focus on Twitter, perhaps the most misunderstood of the social media platforms. Lifewire.com sums it up well when they report that Twitter is many different things to many different people. It’s used as a microblog, social messaging, a business tool, a news reporting service and a marketing tool.
Read on to discover exactly how you can use this valuable platform to promote your business.
Here’s the Twitter lingo you need to know:
- An update posted on Twitter is called a “tweet”
- Tweets cannot exceed 140 characters but can include text, images, GIFs, videos, photos (all of which will not count toward the character limit) and links
- Reply to someone’s tweet to engage with them by clicking on reply
- Retweet to share someone else’s tweet with your followers
- Like someone else’s tweet to offer a positive response
- A hashtag is placing a # sign in front of a word. It will link all related Tweets on that topic together in a search
- A mention is placing @ symbol in front of someone’s name to ask a question, thank them or highlight information they have shared
Twitter was founded in 2006 as a mobile-based SMS platform. According to Lifewire, at the time, 140 characters was the limit that mobile carriers imposed, hence the allowed length of a tweet. Although Twitter later moved to a web-based platform, the space limit was already established so they kept it.
Twitter currently boasts 328 million users per month (Statistica), who send roughly 500 million Tweets per day.
So why is Twitter right for your company?
According to Twitter, 66% of customers have discovered a small or medium-sized business on the site, 94% of whom plan to purchase something from those businesses and 69% of customers purchased something from the companies on Twitter because of something that was tweeted.
What to Post:
According to Spokal, the average lifespan of a tweet is 2 hours. And remember, you only have 140 characters to work with. Twitter suggests you keep your tweets focused on one topic and include an image, video, gif or link. People engage 3 xs more with tweets that feature an image.
When to Post:
When to post really depends on who you are trying to reach. Hubspot suggests that B2B companies should post during the week, at 5pm for the highest retweet rate and between 12 to 6pm for the highest click-through rate.
If you are trying to reach consumers, Wednesdays and weekends have a 17% higher engagement rate than other days. The times however, stay the same.
Length of Posts:
This one is easy. You only have 140 characters. Of course linking to a blog or website is a great practice if you would like to share more information. Always use a URL shortener to make your links as small as possible. Ow.ly, or TinyUrl are good options, but check out several. They all have slightly different features and you can figure out which works best for your purposes.
If you absolutely cannot stick to 140 characters, Adweek suggests sending two tweets. But remember, they run the risk of showing up 5-10 tweets apart in a feed. Write out the whole message and cut and paste tweet one after the other immediately, or include a (cont’d) at the end of the first tweet to indicate there another one coming.
Frequency of Posts:
According to Buffer, you should post 14 times a day to Twitter, but never more than once an hour (remember we already established the average lifespan of a tweet is 2 hours). You want to spread your tweets out between midnight and 10:00 pm CT. On the weekends, you should post seven times a day between 3:00 am and 9:00 pm, basically every three hours.
Why post in the middle of the night? You will better reach your global audience. It may be 3 am in Chicago, but its 4:00 pm in Hong Kong. Don’t worry, you don’t need to stay up all night--you can schedule your tweets. More on that later.
- Don’t be confused on how to reply
This is a big one, simply because replying on Twitter is actually fairly confusing. A reply is a direct response to someone else’s tweet. However, if they are not one of your followers, your reply will not show up under their tweet, it will only show up in their @connect tab, which notifies users of mentions. In addition, others will not see your reply unless they follow both you and the person you are replying too. Confused yet?
Lifewire says that you can avoid all this confusion but simply place a period (.) in front of the @ when you are replying to someone. However, make sure what you have to say is witty or interesting because everyone will be able to see it. You can carry on a private conversation with direct messaging.
- Don’t link to a traditional website
According to Driftrock, 77% of Twitter users are on mobile devices. They are expecting a fully mobile-optimized experience. You may get click throughs if you include links to a traditional website, but once people have to shrink the website down and fill out lengthy forms to access information, they will give up and move on.
- Don’t tweet at the wrong time of day
We have touched on this, but it’s an important point. If you tweet at the wrong time of day, when your followers aren’t using the site, you will simply get lost in cyberspace. By the time your followers log on, your tweet will be buried in their feed. A great way to measure when your Tweets are most effective is by using Twitter’s analytics.
- Do incorporate hash tags
Twitter encourages you to use hash tags. They expand your reach and help you join relevant conversations. You can hash tag public events, regular times of day like lunch or holidays. Play around, see what works for you, but never use more than two hash tags in a post.
If you want to try and piggy back off of a popular hash tag, Sproutsocial suggests you access Twitter via your mobile device. On the search tab, Twitter will display the top trending topics personalized for you. Then you just need to tie your tweet into the topic.
- Do retweet with a comment
There is an automatic way to retweet and you can just click the button. However, according to Hubspot, that is actually not the proper way to retweet. The right way to do it is by cutting and pasting a tweet, editing it down to the proper length and including your comment. Confused? They outline how to do it here.
- Do use Twitter Polls
Twitter polls are simple to create, they provide you with valuable market research and people love offering their opinions. Twitter offers a step-by-step guide on how to set up your poll via computer or mobile device. Once created, polls are live for 24 hours.
Hootsuite suggests the most effective polls to run are those that ask relevant questions about your industry, ask opinions about a particular product or to conduct content research.
Other Tools for Posting and Measuring:
Followerwonk is a tool that will help you best understand your followers—the time of day they are online, their bios, locations and other people they follow. You can also search Twitter accounts to find overlaps and target new influencers and analyze which of your tweets have been most popular with your audience.
Remember how you need to post all night long? And how much you like sleep? Tweetdeck will allow you to schedule future posts, link multiple twitter accounts and will show you all of your activity and notifications in one place.
There you have it, Twitter essentials. It can still be a little confusing for newcomers, but the best way to understand it is to dive right in and start tweeting.
It's a social world and you can’t afford not to be active on social media -- it’s where your prospective customers are. Download our Social Media guide to learn more.
This blog post is part of our Social Media Essentials Series 2017, an 8-part blog series aimed at demystifying social media promotion, one platform at a time. Each post will focus on a separate social media application offering the skinny on updated ways to best use each site for promotion. We’ll let you know about who you will reach, what to post, when to post, examples of best practices and more. We will feature a new post every two weeks. Follow the Educated Marketer to stay up to date on our series.