Last week I was at a potluck where some of the people I was enjoying dinner with, upon learning that one of the things I do as a freelance writer / editor is to manage social media for clients, began asking me how I go about marketing a business on Twitter.
So here you have it: a Q & A for using Twitter for business purposes:
Q: What kinds of Tweets would you post if you’re trying to promote a business?
A: This is SUCH a great question. The types of things you Tweet will change with time as you discover what your audience likes best (interestingly, the audience for my personal Twitter account seems to like it the most when I share SaganMorrow.com blog articles and topics related to business—whereas my Facebook blog page audience is much more interested in articles on feminist issues from all over the Internet).
In the beginning, try a mix of different Tweets: for example, you might include myths / facts about the type of work you do (for example, myths and facts about chiropractic work if you are a chiropractic business); any special deals, sales, events, or things of note related to your business; behind-the-scenes details and images; relevant articles from other reputable sources (for example, the benefits of chiropractic from a new source); and links to your own website.
Q: Why is Twitter, as a social media marketing platform, useful for businesses?
A: There are so many social media platforms out there that it can be REALLY challenging to choose which ones are right for you, your business, and your audience.
I like Twitter because it’s an effective way to discover and connect with your exact target audiences. You can post more regularly than on Facebook without annoying anyone, and Twitter chats are an awesome way to engage with a like-minded community. Moreover, Twitter’s algorithms aren’t as complicated and changing as Facebook algorithms are—which is a nice bonus.
Q: How should I use hashtags effectively on Twitter?
A: Check out my article on Instagram hashtags for a detailed answer on this—hashtags can be used pretty much the exact same on Twitter and Instagram.
Keep in mind that your Twitter posts are limited to a mere 140 characters, so choose your hashtags wisely! You want the hashtags you use to be general enough that more people will see them, but specific enough that they won’t be buried under a bunch of other Tweets immediately.
Q: Should I have an automatic response for when people follow me?
A: PLEASE DON’T DO IT. I totally get that this might be a personal preference thing, but you really run the risk of annoying people. Having an automated direct message “thanking” people for following you (while also happening to include a link back to your website—“oh, how did that link get in there?”) was a popular practice a few years ago. I never liked it and I’m glad that people don’t seem to do it as often anymore.
It feels inauthentic and way too salesy. Here’s the thing: most people aren’t just following others on a whim. People will usually take a look at your profile page and your most recent Tweets, and they’ll usually check out your website if you have a link in your profile to learn more about you, before following you. Having an automated direct message is just too pushy.
Q: What’s with “RT” and “MT”?
A: RT means ReTweet; MT means Modified Tweet. You use these when you’re reposting what someone else said and crediting them.
MT is a great feature, because it enables you to modify, or “tweak” the original Tweet slightly, either to add extra hashtags, or to remove unnecessary words so you can perhaps add a little note at the beginning of it. This is a great way of showing your support for other Tweeters and to share what they are posting.
Q: How do I let someone know that I’m sharing their blog article?
A: A simple “via @THEIR_TWITTER_HANDLE” will do nicely.
Q: Do I have to follow everyone who follows me?
A: Nope! It’s a nice practice to follow people who follow you, but you are under no obligation to do so—especially when you aren’t interested in their Tweets, or they rarely publish Tweets, or the things they post just aren’t relevant to you.
This is one of those things that I find really interesting about the blogging community. For example, a mommy blogger might follow me on Twitter because they are interested in the lifestyle issues and blogging resources I share—but as I don’t have any interest in parenting issues and as parenting topics are completely irrelevant to my business and my life, if those are the things they post, I might not follow them in return. And that’s okay! The same thing, vice versa, has happened to me many times before. It’s no hard feelings—because why should you (or they) follow someone that posts things which just aren’t at all relevant to you/them?
Q: How often should I Tweet for business purposes?
A: I recommend one to six times per day. You can publish more often than that, but keep in mind that some people don’t follow hundreds of other people. So you don’t want to clutter up their newsfeed too much (20+ Tweets per day might be pushing it, and besides, it will be A LOT of work on your part).
Try not to post just for the sake of posting—if you have some kind of strategy in place, you’ll get better results. One to four Tweets per day is quite manageable for most business accounts.
Q: Since Twitter feeds move really fast, I can post the same link to the same article five times in a row on the same day, right?
A: Oh. My. Goodness. PLEASE DON’T DO THIS. Twitter (and social media in general) isn’t about being spammy and shoving your work in other people’s faces.
Now, if you post 20 times in one day, linking to other sites and ReTweeting other people, and you share the same link to the same article five times throughout that day in between the other Tweeets (ideally with slightly different wording along with the link each time—for example, the title + link, and then a quote from the article + link, and then maybe a question people will have answered in the article + link etc.), that’s a little bit different.
It’s also a little bit different if you have something that’s particularly time-sensitive: but in that case, you still want to change the way that you word the Tweet.
When in doubt, check out your profile page. If your Twitter profile page is full of the exact same thing, Tweeted over and over again, that’s not a good sign. I check out every Twitter profile before I follow that user, and if they just post the exact same link multiple times in a row, I won’t follow them. Twitter, like any other social media platform, is about building community and sharing valuable resources.