How to use Twitter for business: 8 tips to rise above the noise

14 August, 2018

Whether you’re an avid Tweeter or not, you will see stories involving the social media giant on a daily basis. Twitter creates news (real or otherwise), controversy, conversation and rich online engagement almost constantly, and its reach is seemingly limitless.

This is probably why your boss has asked you to develop a tip-top Twitter strategy for your business.

All businesses are different in their goals, audience and personality. Due to the vast user base of Twitter users, there’s sure to be a way you can use Twitter to your business’s advantage. In theory, this is true. But considerations must be taken.

This guide aims to show you how to rise above the noise and use Twitter for your business effectively.

1. Is Twitter right for my business?

This is one of the most important considerations you will need to be taking. Twitter, and wider social media as a whole, should not just be a corporate box checking exercise. Often businesses will sign up and Tweet the odd link here and there “because that’s what all businesses do.” 

Surprise, surprise: many of these Twitter accounts find themselves dormant and thoroughly ignored after a while.

You wouldn’t dive into Google Adwords, Programmatic or YouTube without a coherent strategy and understanding of exactly how this platform can lend itself to your specific business model, and Twitter should be no exception.

Things to consider before Tweeting as a business

  • Do you have the content? Twitter users thrive on regular, interesting content that addresses topics relevant to themselves. You must be able to produce this regularly.
  • Do you understand your audience? Twitter is a great way to reach out and forge more personal relationships between brand and customer – a robust understanding of this area is crucial.
  • Do you understand how and why it can go wrong? More on this later, but you must have a strong understanding of how Twitter can backfire for businesses, and how to mitigate these risks.
  • Are your expectations managed? Your business must have a sound and realistic understanding of what Twitter can actually deliver.

If your answers to the above are positive, then it’s time to get Tweeting!

2. Content is STILL king

Twitter is all about making noise and conveying a message to eager followers. Your content should be unique, interesting and relatable.

90% of Twitter users will be active on the platform weekly, while 57% will use Twitter at least once a day on average. These users see countless messages on their feeds every time they scroll. Dud Tweets will likely be glossed over.

Success relies upon creative and engaging copy that catches a user’s attention.

What kind of content works best on Twitter?

  • Interactive features: This includes Twitter polls and the asking of direct questions in order to elicit a response.
  • Video: Absolutely crucial with modern Twitter trends. Users are more than 6 TIMES more likely to retweet a video than a standard Tweet.[1]
  • GIFS: If you are unable to churn out video content regularly, Twitter users also respond positively to gifs – there are millions of these online.
  • Memes: Those familiar with popular Twitter users will be aware of the engagement potential of the right meme referenced at the right time. From kermit drinking tea, to Morpheus delivering an epiphany, there are thousands out there to explore. Just be sure to understand the full context of each before delving into this.

The golden rule is to test different varieties of content and measure success as you go. Speaking of which…

3. How to measure success on Twitter 

This links directly to whether your business is suitable for Twitter. It is crucial that you understand the key performance indicators for your Twitter account.

Engagement is ultimately what we’re looking for. But this is a rather generic umbrella term that only scratches the surface of what’s actually going on.

What is Twitter engagement?

Twitter engagement is any kind of measurable interaction or response of your audience to what you have posted. The most common types of engagement can be seen below.

Engagement
type
What
happens?
What
is the value?
LikeSomeone liked your Tweet and wanted to let you know publiclyThis is essentially approval of your content. More likes indicate a higher quality of content.
Retweet (RT)Someone has forwarded your Tweet on to their own followers.Perceived as an enhanced version of a Like. Usually this means a user has found your content engaging enough to share itwith others. Good for audience growth. Not necessarily endorsement.
FollowSomeone has subscribed to your Twitter audience.A user found your content interesting and would like to see more.
Retweet with quoteSomeone has forwarded your Tweet on to their own followers with an additional comment.A user has engaged with your content and contributed their own ideas, while also forwarding on. This can be both a positive and a negative
ReplySomeone has simply responded to your Tweet
directly with a Tweet of their own
A user has been engaged by your content and offered their own thoughts. This can also be a positive and a negative.
Link clickSomeone has clicked any link that you shared
with them
Traffic has been directed to your desired page.
Media engagementSomeone has triggered media that you shared,
such as watching a video you posted or partaking in a poll.
Your shared media caught the attention of a follower enough to view it in more detail.
Hashtag clickSomeone has clicked on a Hashtag you shared and is seeking further content in relation to yoursA follower was interested in the overall topic of your post and sought more of the same elsewhere.


Each of these can be tracked through Twitter Analytics. 

There is no single metric that is most important – it depends entirely on your marketing strategy, for example:

  • Web traffic: If your goal is to drive traffic to your primary website, Link Clicks may be your KPI
  • Audience growth: If you want more followers, Follows and Retweets are of great value
  • Brand awareness: If you just want your content to be seen by as many people as possible, almost all of the above apply.

4. Don't be spammy on Twitter

Hitting your followers with a high volume of direct Tweets serving no purpose other than promoting products and services is likely to reduce your follower count.

How to drive sales on Twitter

Your Twitter sales strategy should be fluid and your ‘ads’ should fit seamlessly into your regular content.

Examples of effective Twitter sales content

  • Product Videos: Interesting and engaging video content featuring your products and services in action.
  • Conversational Tweets: If you do need to announce a new product or service, do so in a way that invites opinion or feedback from followers – “What do you think of our new BATMAN SOCKS range? [link + Image]”
  • Let the images do the talking: If you have a really cool product that you want to promote, don’t waste time saying why it’s so great in words – simply post images with a link. This comes across as less intrusive than “ORDER YOURS TODAY FROM £XX!”

5. When and how often to post Twitter content

You’ve just written a new blog for your website that you believe is going to deliver some strong engagement. The natural course of action is to share it on social media. Sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn’t. 

Twitter users may follow hundreds (if not thousands) of different accounts, each posting their own Tweets. There are simply too many Tweets flying about for all of your followers to even see it, let alone engage with it.

Having 500 Twitter followers does not mean all 500 Twitter followers will see your Tweet. To improve your chances of success, you may need to post it more than once.

When is best to Tweet content? 

  • Time of day: Twitter is always on, but user numbers vary hour by hour. Your Twitter Analytics will tell you which times of day your Tweets get the most impressions. If you choose to post your blog twice, consider Tweeting at a different time of day and measuring the difference in response.
  • Day of week: This also applies to day of week, with some days being busier than others across different audience types. B2B Tweeters may be more active during working hours, while consumers may scroll more while commuting, or when they get home.

Study your Twitter Analytics closely and figure out the best times to Tweet – this will vary by account.

6. Don't just transmit - Discuss

Twitter engagement is a two-way street. At its core, Twitter is a conversation tool, not just a publishing platform. While there is clear value in sharing your own content with your audience, there is further success to be gained from engaging with other Tweeters.


This means responding to and engaging with Tweets from those you follow and promoting ideas or sharing interesting content that may not be of your own making.

This doesn’t mean promoting your competitors’ products, but many Twitter success stories arise from businesses taking an initiative and having proper conversations with others. 

7. Anticipate negative responses

Twitter PR nightmares are commonplace in the news. If a Tweet is sent or image shared that someone finds unpleasant or offensive, the unhappy user will often share their disapproval. Problematic content can be shared at an alarming rate, as some businesses found out the hard way

How to prevent Twitter backlash

The so-called ‘Twitter backlash’ occurs when one displeased follower starts a domino effect, broadcasting what they don’t like to others, who then do the same.

This, in extreme cases, can result in the Tweet going viral for all the wrong reasons. Preventing this sort of thing is actually quite straight-forward. 

  • Consider all interpretations: If your content is potentially sensitive, take time to consider any ways in which it could be misconstrued. Many Twitter faux pas are a result of ‘tone deafness’ rather than intentionality.
  • Be aware of wider context: Always be aware of the Twitter landscape, top trends and what your audience may also be reading at the same time as they read your Tweet.
  • Check your scheduled Tweets: What was a perfectly acceptable Tweet when you scheduled it yesterday, may not be so tomorrow. See Tesco’s ‘hit the hay’ Twitter fail for a great example of how scheduled Tweets can go wrong.
  • Learn from the mistakes of others: There is no shortage of ‘Twitter fails’ content out there. Reading this and taking note of where other businesses went wrong is a good way to avoid issues yourself.

8. How to use Twitter hashtags

Hashtags are one of the cornerstones of Twitter. They help users locate and identify additional messages relating to a specific topic. When used correctly, they can reveal your content to many more users than follow you currently. When used incorrectly, they can have zero impact whatsoever, and can make you look silly.

How to use Twitter hashtags

  • Include hashtags that are trending for maximum exposure
  • Include hashtags directly related to your content
  • Include hashtags used by competitors so you can appear in that space

How not to use Twitter hashtags

  • Don’t stuff unrelated hashtags into your Tweets for easy exposure – it probably won’t bring any real value, and you may be reported for spam.
  • Don’t make up bogus hashtags – If there is no activity for a hashtag, including it simply won’t achieve anything.

Summary

Twitter offers a superb opportunity for businesses of all sizes to enhance their audience, grow their brands and communicate with customers in a modern way.

Ultimately, testing and analysis is key to long term success. Equally important is a sound understanding of how Twitter works and the kinds of people who use it regularly.

We hope this has been a useful read, and please share any ideas or success stories you’ve had on Twitter in the comments box below. Best of luck, and happy Tweeting.

Written by Tom

Tom cites his key strengths as communication, writing and presenting. He enjoys working in digital due to the way it satisfies both the creative and logical sides of the brain.

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