Every social media workshop I present at, I get the same few questions from new and wide-eyed students eager to unravel the mysteries of social media marketing. But what has always struck me as interesting is the order in which I hear the platform names inquired about. Twitter is often in the first two platforms mentioned despite the fact that at my Social Media for Small Business Owners workshops I rarely have a student who actually needs to implement Twitter in their marketing strategy.
The following F.A.Q. is going to address the questions I get asked most often. These may not necessarily be the best questions to ask about Twitter and implementing it in your social media marketing strategy, but that really isn’t the point of an F.A.Q., is it? Majority rules.
“What is Twitter?”
O.K., this is the most basic of questions, so to keep the answer in its most basic form, Twitter is a platform for sending information to the masses in real-time. This means its best use is time-sensitive information like a fresh batch of cookies now available for purchase at the local bakery. Twitter is what’s known as a microblogging tool, meaning it’s all about news-worthy information, not a picture of your dog and kids (like Facebook would be).
“I have Twitter but I never use it. Should I be?”
If you have it already, the least-effort you can put into it is an auto-Tweet integration with other platforms you do use. So if your social media strategy uses Pinterest, you can make sure that Twitter automatically Tweets each time you Pin on Pinterest. After that, you’ll want to see if your marketing strategy fits Twitter, which is a much longer answer. The short version would be to only use Twitter as a primary strategy if you have real-time news to share (i.e. cookies out of the oven), blog a lot (once or more per week), have a B-to-B (business-to-business) business model, or want to be seen as an industry expert.
“What’s a Hashtag?”
I get asked this question so much, I’ve written an entire blog about it! What Is A Hashtag and How the #### Do I Use Them? But for a short answer, hashtags are conversation topics marked by the “#” symbol. Hashtags create hyperlinks to a list of all other Tweets/posts/Pins/shares about the same conversation topic within that same social media platform. So if I’m writing a Tweet about social media marketing, I can include #socialmediamarketing in my Tweet and it will turn into a hyperlink to other Tweets all about social media marketing. Click on that hashtag to see what I mean.
“What should I Tweet?”
If you need a whole monthly social media marketing strategy, check out my video on social media calendaring. Once you know your goal and engagement topic, you should be Tweeting very short teasers of information. The best practice on Twitter right now is under 80 characters (even though you can use up to 140, the best strategy is not to). You can use Twitter’s link shortening tool (or bit.ly, HootSuite, etc.) to shorten a long URL, but this shorter strategy means you’ll probably also want to limit yourself to only one or two hashtags. The best practice for hashtags on Twitter right now is between one and three anyway, so this isn’t a problem. And by ‘teasers of information’ I mean say something that will entice a click, like asking a question that the answer can be found by clicking the link. You also really need to be Tweeting to others, so use “@” mention tags, reply to other Tweets, and find hashtag-driven live chats to participate in. There will be more about these in the next answer.
“How do people find me on Twitter?”
I saved this question for last even though it’s in my top 3 for frequency because I wanted to give it the longest answer. There are several things you can do to be found more easily on Twitter by those interested in what you have to say. The first is your profile’s description: be sure to use your most valued hashtag in it and keywords that someone might use in searching for the content you are sharing. Next, regularly use the same high-value hashtags in your Tweets. A high-value hashtag is going to be one with heavy use on Twitter, not one you made-up or use for a short-term project like a conference. Just as the hashtag in your Tweets will turn into a hyperlink, the hashtag in other users’ Tweets does the same, so someone might be looking at #socialmediamarketing from the Tweet of another user and find my Tweet using the same hashtag which will then give them the option of following me. The last acute strategy you can use on Twitter to gain more followers is the mention tag (“@”) in conversations. The mention tag will notify a user you are talking to/about them, so you might Tweet: “Hey @Chicadita, thanks for the blog! bit.ly/ch1cablog” This mention tag will not only link to my profile, but will give me an alert so that I may respond as quickly as possible. Not only will this one user be able to find you and possibly follow you (they will if you are a good Twitter conversationalist!), but their followers will also be able to see this interaction. If you have conversations with high-ranking users with lots of followers, the numbers will be in your favor to gain more real followers!