Social media marketing is integral for building brand recognition in the current day and age. A crucial part of any social media campaign is a strategy for promoting your organisation on Twitter; the ultra-popular microblogging service that provides its users the ability to post short updates of 140 characters or less. With both traditional and online media watching Twitter feeds carefully for new stories – and with search engines sending their crawlers out through Twitter for specific keywords – any social media strategy needs to include marketing and promotion through the platform. Here are a few ways to build such a winning strategy.
Content Is King
In the early days of Twitter, the focus on marketing strategies had been amassing as many followers on the micro-blogging site as possible and then bombarding these followers with several advertising tweets every day. However, the platform – and its users – have since evolved. Today, such a marketing strategy would be largely ineffective.
Today, Twitter has become less of direct avenue for constant ad bombardment and has instead transitioned to a platform where businesses both large and small can interact directly with their customers. This tends to humanise a large organization that might otherwise be seen as an aloof, faceless corporate goliath, especially if light-hearted humor can be incorporated into your business tweets, particularly when responding to comments or questions made about your products or services.
This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t dedicate at least a proportion of your daily tweets to advertising and marketing endeavors. However, it’s best to keep these tweets to around 20 percent of your total in order to avoid alienating your followers or anyone else who comes across your tweets through the use of hashtags.
You Are Using Hashtags, Aren’t You?
One of the most important ways to ensure your business tweets reach the largest number of people is to embrace the use of the hashtag. Originally just known as a simple number sign (sometimes referred to as a “pound sign” in the United States or a “hash” in Europe), the numerical symbol (#) was adopted by Twitter several years ago as a way to introduce searchable keywords into the platform to help organise conversations among the microblogging site’s millions of users.
The hashtag’s popularity grew quickly, prompting other social media platforms such as Facebook to integrate similar functionality into their own sites. Clicking on a hashtag that comes across your Twitter feed brings users to a page where all tweets being posted with that particular hashtag are included in a real-time list, which has proven highly useful for breaking news stories and emergencies just as it has for simply organising tweets by topic.
Including hashtags in your own posts is an easy way to expand your visibility, as you can reach Twitter users that aren’t directly following you. However, misuse of hashtags should be avoided. Any more than two hashtags per post is often considered overkill. Additionally, as hashtags count against your 140-character limit, be sure not to make them so long and unwieldy that your message gets muddled. Remember, hashtags are a useful tool, but need to be used responsibly.
Share and Share Alike
Another excellent way to get your message across and increase your visibility on Twitter is to create and post content to the micro-blogging site that will encourage followers to repost it on their own Twitter feeds. The process is called re-tweeting, and it’s one of the core ways that companies can reach the Holy Grail of online marketing – going viral.
Everyone who uses social media has a dream at least in the back of their mind of posting something so entertaining or so insightful that all their friends begin to share it, which leads to friends of their friends sharing it, and so on and so forth until it’s become an Internet sensation. Many of these social media posts, whether they originate on Twitter, Facebook, or somewhere else, often jump platforms and spread like wildfire – or more appropriately, a viral infection – and in as little as a few days or even hours, there could be millions of eyes on your content.
It’s easier said than done when it comes to creating viral media. Your core concern is to produce content that is so striking and noteworthy that people who see it want others to see it, and that means you’re primarily looking towards visual media such as images or video clips. However, short and succinct tweets that are profound (or profoundly entertaining) can go viral as well. Use your discretion and hope for the best.
Engagement with Your Audience
All of these strategies so far have all had to do with being able to engage with your audience to some degree or another, but the concept is so important that it deserves reinforcement. Twitter, like all social media platforms, is a two-way street. It’s the great equaliser in that even the lowliest, most seemingly insignificant person on the street can have a one-on-one conversation with a massive multinational organisation in a public space for all to see. This makes it even more important to engage with your audience to demonstrate that your business is more than just a soulless machine trying to siphon as much of your customers’ money as it possibly can.
The platform provides the ability for anyone to tag you in a tweet they write. You will then be alerted to the new tweet, and this gives you an opportunity to respond to questions or concerns that your consumers pose. Meanwhile, the use of hashtags means that even if you’re not tagged directly you may still become aware of something that needs to be responded to.
Use caution when replying to a tweet, though. You need to strike a careful balancing act between entertaining and serious, judging from the tone of the initial tweet. Twitter users can be highly socially conscious when it comes to certain phrases or hashtags used, so be careful about what you’re saying. You don’t want to end up precipitating a public relations disaster that will do your brand more harm than good.
The Internet moves quickly. What was considered funny or entertaining a few weeks ago or even just yesterday could have already fallen out of favor. Being late to jump on the bandwagon when it comes to the newest trend or meme is going to label your organisation as not having its finger on the pulse of popular culture, and that’s bad for any company’s image.
This doesn’t mean that you have to spend hours trawling across the dark underbelly of the Internet to look for trending image macros, concepts, or anything else. However, you can take a good, hard look at what sorts of hashtags are trending every few days and investigating them. If the topic is something you want your business to support in a public manner, it may be a good decision to tweet something about it.
However, be careful in the causes you think you’re supporting – make sure that hashtag means what you think it means. Also, prepare yourself for any possible backlash if you decide to take a corporate stance on a controversial issue; realise that declaring your allegiance can both earn bring in new customers and lose existing ones. If you’re prepared for the paradigm shift that will accompany such an action, then by all means pull the trigger on that possibly controversial tweet.
The goals for maintaining a presence on Twitter are; to capitalize on the micro-blogging site’s potential as a brand recognition platform, to present an image of being a modern organisation that understands social media and, ultimately, to grow your business through leveraging the equalising power of the Internet in an effective manner. What this means for you is that the strategies you adopt to accomplish these goals need to work hand-in-hand with one another.
These specific, discrete strategies work best when combined together. In other words, if you engage with your audience in an entertaining, but still professional manner while using hashtags intelligently and responsibly and if you provide memorable, timely content at the same time that people enjoy enough to share with their friends and family, your chances of a particular tweet going viral and increasing your brand recognition by a substantial margin are going to be higher.
This is the true value of a solid, well-thought out and winning strategy for Twitter. Demonstrating how well your company navigates through the social media realm shows that you value the platform for its ability to encourage and promote real conversations between real people on an equal footing. It shows consumers that your organisation values them as people, and not as part of your profit and loss sheet.
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