Twitter For Beginners: The Ultimate Guide
Twitter is a fast-paced social media network, boasting 328 million users who send roughly 500 million “tweets” out into the world per day. When used properly, Twitter can be an incredibly powerful tool to engage and reach new customers without spending a dime on promotion. The best way to think about Twitter is as a water cooler conversation at work – you’ve got the people you talk to (followers and people you follow) and you’ve got the stuff you talk about (hashtags).
Want to know more about how to leverage the platform for your business? We’ll let you in on some tips for how you can dive in and be the best Tweeter you can be. Be sure to download our checklist as well for reference!
Set Twitter #Goals
When approaching Twitter as a tool for your business, you need to ask yourself what your goals are. Are you using it simply to disseminate information? Is it a customer service tool? Are you going to use it to interact with customers and brands you admire? All of the above? Diving in without specific goals can be like jumping into the deep end of a pool when you can’t swim. Twitter can be overwhelming so knowing what you want to achieve is essential. Set specific goals and make sure that you have a voice that reflects how you plan on using Twitter.
Be mindful of the people you follow
When you first start using Twitter, it’ll be an overwhelming task to figure out whom and whom not to follow. When choosing which accounts matter to you, you must realize that your Twitter experience will be greatly affected by who is in your feed. For example, if you follow exclusively political accounts that lean to left, you’ll only experience and interact with liberal content. A good approach to figure out whom to follow is to have a balanced mix of your customers (follow back and interact with particularly engaged ones), accounts of brands and/or people you admire, news outlets who aren’t overly biased, and a few fun accounts so you can laugh once in a while.
If you’re just getting started, here’s a cheat sheet on who to add as a starting point. Obviously, they’ll be different for every company/individual, but just think about the ones that appeal to you.
- 10 favorite celebrities
- A few of your favorite comedians
- 4 news outlets
- 5 of your favorite magazines
- 5 influencers who are big in your industry
- 5 of your favorite brands in your industry
- 2 major retailers in your industry
- 10 content writers in your industry
Now scroll through your Twitter feed and get a feel for what your feed feels like.
Pay attention to the conversations happening on Twitter
Once you’ve started scrolling, you’ll start to notice hashtags. The use of hashtags broadens the amount of people who view your tweets beyond just your current followers list, allowing for people outside of your immediate network to find you. For brands, hashtags are an integral part of accessing new customers as well as expanding their reach.
- Use specific hashtags (#analogfilm)
- Use brand specific hashtags (#bosesoundlink)
- Be a part of the conversation, use hashtags that influencers and industry peers are using
- Don’t make your hashtags too long, a sentence does not a hashtag make (#ibetyouhavealreadystoppedreadingthis)
- Don’t overuse hashtags
- Don’t get overly creative with your hashtags, stick to relevant ones that industry people are already using
- Don’t post full URLs, instead, use bitly to shorten links to save characters for hashtag use
Be smart about how you interact with others on Twitter
The point of Twitter is to be conversational. You can’t just sit back and watch. It’s a fast-paced stream of consciousness. While Facebook is often more editorial and Instagram focuses on visuals, Twitter uses 140 characters in short bursts and at a much more frequent pace than its counterparts. Twitter can be used to self promote but you should keep this to a minimum. If all you do is promote yourself, you’ll bore your audience. It’s meant to react to topical news and current events, engage with fellow Tweeters, and interact with your following. As people tweet at you, you should engage with them. If you receive a direct message, you should respond. If you read a tweet you like (and feel that it falls in line with your brand’s overall voice) retweet it or favorite it to interact with other Twitter users.
Keep on top of trending topics
One of the largest value adds of Twitter is the fact that no matter what your brand’s social media voice is, you can engage and keep on top of current trends. On Twitter itself, these appear on the left hand side:
When trends pop up on this portion of Twitter, jumping in on the hashtag and interacting with others currently involved in the conversation can bring your account to the forefront. That said, it is incredibly important to ensure that any trend or event you involve your business in falls in line with your values, brand direction, and overall voice. The other benefit to using the “Trends” section of Twitter to your advantage is knowing what news or keywords are going viral and being able to piggyback on them, using hashtags to gain further exposure.
Get your “brand voice” just right
On Twitter, consumers tend to react more positively to business accounts that have a more “human” feel. They want to interact with a person, not a robotic business shoving advertising down their throats. When looking at successful brands on Twitter, Wendy’s definitely comes to mind. The brand does an amazing job of seeming human and uses a healthy dose of humor in their tweets. They have also become infamous for “roasting” adversarial tweeters and have gone viral numerous times on the platform.
Images via Buzzfeed
Wendy’s is also incredibly skilled when it comes to running contests and interacting with their followers on Twitter:
Keep in mind that not all brands are made with the same goals in mind. As such, they may wish to interact differently on Twitter. A more service-based brand, JetBlue, is known as one of the best social media-wielding companies on Twitter, specifically when it comes to their customer service. Their turnaround time for responding to customers who tweet at them is just minutes and they often use Twitter as a tool to convert customers who feel they’ve had a negative experience. They effect a “customer service desk” voicing and cut straight to the core issue and resolve it immediately.
With Twitter, your voice is everything. As a brand, you’ll have to choose whether you’re strictly informational, serious, self-promoting or even just funny. The possibilities are endless, but make no mistake: you must choose.
It’s impossible to be everything at once so consistency is key. If you decide to approach things with humor (like Wendy’s) stick to that voicing. If you choose a more formal (yet friendly) voice, better suited to customer service, take that path and stick to it. Going back and forth will only be confusing to your followers in terms of letting them know what to expect from you and, quite frankly, can reflect as unprofessional.
Growing on Twitter
If you want to grow your following on Twitter you have to ensure you’re in a constant state of interaction and activity. Remember, you can choose to just be reactive and only tweet back at customers who tweet at you. However, if you want to grow actively, print off this handy daily checklist to help keep you honest and stick to your goals.
When used right, Twitter can be an incredibly powerful tool. Leveraging this massive network not only lets you interact with your consumer but can also help to grow your brand for very little investment. Having a strong social media presence as well as a cohesive voice is somewhat expected for businesses these days and Twitter is one of the foundational tools to having a presence in the social media world. Be clear, concise, and present cohesive tone while staying engaged and Twitter can become a powerful tool to add to your business’s growth.
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