Twitter 201: The Ins and Outs for 2012
It's hard to believe that a social media site that started almost six years ago -that was then primarily used for reporting users' every waking move-has blossomed into one of the top ten websites visited on the Internet today. Twitter adds about 11 new accounts every second leading to over 175 million tweets per day. Clearly, it can be challenging to have your voice heard. By now, you're likely familiar with Twitter's basic how-tos, but perhaps your business could use a refresher course in how it should be using this social networking giant in 2012.
Twitter for Business
Maintaining a Twitter account requires a consistent time commitment. If your company isn't able to provide a steady flow of content or willing to give time each day to it, then it probably isn't the right tool for you. However, if you can commit, Twitter can become a great resource for lead generation, client service, trend spotting, real-time news, and keeping in touch with your vendors, sponsors, and customers.
From a business perspective, companies should be tweeting to answer the question "what has our attention?" rather than "what are we doing;" of course, non-business tweets are good for showcasing a company's personal side. Update your followers when a client does something great. Let customers know about a running promotion or upcoming event. Provide advice on topics related to your industry. Tweet links to your company's blog posts. Ask questions to engage your audience in thoughtful, interesting conversations. These tactics will brand your company as well as establish you as a leader in your field. Be sure to keep tweets below 110 characters so that others can easily retweet your updates with commentary, allowing their followers to see your content.
Also, make sure you are not only following your friends and clients but their followers as well. Answer those looking for help. Follow industry leaders and who they follow. Increasing who you follow and your Twitter engagement will, in turn, increase your follower numbers.
Using Twitter Lingo Effectively
Sharing your information isn't only what Twitter is about. It's a two-way conversation. Look for discussions to contribute to. Maybe a popular account has started talk on a certain subject that is gaining a lot of attention from your target audience; reply to them, but start the tweet as ".@" to ensure that all of your followers will see the tweet, not just those following the account you're replying to. Hashtags (#) are a great way of finding hot topics as well. They filter tweets by the designated tag used. Do a search of different hashtagged areas in your field, like #webdesign or #realestate, to respond to. If your company can contribute effectively to a trending topic, that's even better. Tweets that are part of trending topics are more likely to gain @replies and retweets, which in turn can up your following.
The New Layout
Twitter has recently updated its layout and integrated some new features that make these business efforts more easily attained. The website is now broken up into three tabs: Home, connect, and Discover. The "Home" tab streams your live Twitter feed per usual with some suggestions of who to follow and the top trending topics listed to the left.
The "Connect" tab lists all the recent interaction with your account, including mentions, follows, retweets, etc. However, you can hone in on your @replies by clicking "Mentions" specifically.
Twitter's new "Discover" tab is probably the most valuable feature to businesses. It is broken into five different sections: Stories, Activity, Who to follow, Find friends, and Browse categories. Stories organizes tweets by specific topics based on popularity as well as your connections, location, and language. Activity shows everything your connections are doing concerning their lists, retweets, favorites, and follows. "Who to follow" offers smart recommendations of accounts you might be interested in following while "Browse categories" files accounts by various subjects, making it easier for users to search for relevant people they may like following. Advanced searches can also be done through Twitter by searching a term and then clicking the cog wheel at the top right of the screen. From there, a more specified search can be made based off of a word or phrase, hashtag, person, location, or even a type of tweet. Companies should use this feature when looking for an understanding of the interaction done through their account.
Twitter has exploded into a necessary social networking outlet for personal and business use. Many companies have already installed a plan for maintaining their account successfully, but social media is not a stagnant platform. It is important to keep up-to-date with new changes and procedures that will help differentiate a good business from a bad one.