twitter2No other social media platform seems to flummox more business people than Twitter.

The purpose of this blog post is not to teach you how to use Twitter.  There are a ton of great tutorials out there already about the mechanics of setting up a Twitter account and how to use it.  The purpose of this blog post is more about the business strategy of using Twitter.  So if you want to learn more about the mechanics of using and setting up Twitter we recommend this useful overview by the Social Media Examiner on 16 Creative Ways to Use Twitter for Business as well as this fabulous, free, video tutorial on just about everything you need to know about setting up and using Twitter from the great Lynda.com training series HERE.

So let’s assume you know how to post tweets to Twitter.  Here’s some strategic ideas on who to follow, what content to post and how to automate the process and get reporting.

WHO TO FOLLOW ON TWITTER

The first thing I recommend you do on Twitter is to follow all your own customers and clients.  What better way to learn about what they are tweeting and talking about on social media?

Here’s a short list of other entities to follow right off the bat:

  • Your own customers and clients
  • Your prospects who you WANT to be your clients and customers
  • Your industry trade publications
  • Reporters who cover your industry
  • Industry leaders
  • Your competitors

By following as many of these as possible you’ll immediately be taking the pulse of your industry, learning about hot topics, pain points, news, new hires and appointments, special events, etc.

WHAT CONTENT TO POST ON TWITTER

Now that you’re following a bunch of other relevant Twitter accounts you’ll begin to form a picture and get ideas about what’s important to your clients and prospects.  The goal is not to just post information about yourself and your business but to post information about you and your INDUSTRY.  Some people commonly suggest 80%-20% but I suggest 70% – 30%, but either way, it equates to this:  The larger number should be about topics OTHER than you and your business.  That means 70% of your Tweets (and other social media postings, too, such as LinkedIn Google+, Facebook) should be about INDUSTRY topics, NOT you and your business.  That includes retweets of Tweets from the entities that you are following. The remaining 30% should be about you and your business.  A suggested list might include:

70% About Industry Topics

  • Headlines from the relevant trade publication websites you’re following
  • Mainstream news and stories about events relevant to your audience
  • Press releases about industry trends and announcements
  • Retweets of any of the above from the entities that you are following

Just a note about retweets:  By retweeting someone else’s Tweets, that entity will know you retweeted their content and may result in a follow back, mention or a retweet of YOUR content.  This is what is commonly referred to as “engagement.”  Engagement is not just blasting out your own content in a one-way conversation (we all know how boring THAT is)  but helping others to increase their reach while participating in the conversation.  When you follow someone and retweet their content, now all of your followers will see that other person’s tweets.  You want the same thing to happen to you — have people retweet your content with the goal of reaching more and more people who will become exposed to your messages and expertise.

Engagement is not just blasting out your own content in a one-way conversation (we all know how boring THAT is)  but helping others to increase their reach while participating in the conversation.

30% About You & Your Business

  • New products or services
  • Sales or promotions
  • New hires
  • Product reviews
  • Commentary on industry trends

Just a note about commenting on industry trends:  All these points, but especially the last one about commenting on industry trends, are best accomplished by writing original content on your own website or blog and then pushing out social media posts that link back to the full article.  This accomplishes two benefits:  positions you as a thought-leader and expert;  and drives traffic back to your own website.  In fact, this is one of the best Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques we recommend for increasing your search engine rankings.

AUTOMATE THE PROCESS & GET REPORTING

A lot of resistance to Twitter specifically and social media in general is the frequency required to be effective.  In order to really have any type of positive impact on your business, either in website traffic, foot traffic or inbound calls, you have to generate content consistently throughout the day — every day!  We recommend these suggested frequencies (Not all social media outlets are recommended for all businesses):

  • Twitter:  5 – 10 times a day
  • Google+:  5 – 10 times a day
  • LinkedIn:  2- 3 times a day
  • Facebook:  2- 3 times a day

The best way to do this is by using a tool such as HOOTSUITE which allows you to schedule posts to all the listed social media outlets listed above, days and even weeks into the future.

Hootsuite

And by using a tool like Hootsuite you also get informative reporting so you can gain important insight into what content was the most popular, both in terms of clicks and shares, to help you plan for future content marketing strategies.

hootsuite-report

Sample Hootsuite Report

Just a note about automation: Even though we advocate automating as many of your social media marketing processes as possible, you still need to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty by PARTICIPATING and ENGAGING with others.  This means, RETWEETING other people’s tweets, following other people, using HASHTAGS and mentioning other people’s Twitter accounts by using their Twitter handles in your posts (i.e by using @samsonmedia in a Twitter post I will be alerted, both on Twitter and Hootsuite, that I was mentioned in your tweet).  So while automation will get you pretty far, in order to really take it to the next level in a way that positively impacts your bottom line, you need to get in there and participate manually.  I recommend 30 minutes a day while you’re having your morning coffee.  Whatever works for you, social media is called social media for a reason — so use it or lose it!