At its heart, Twitter is about conversation – be it between long-lost friends, or brands and their audiences. The same could arguably be said for all of the major social networks, but the beauty of Twitter is that you’re forced to think carefully about your words. After all, you only have 140 characters in which to get your point across; hence the term ‘micro-blogging’.
With Twitter, it’s all too easy to get lost in the noise of its 500 million users.
That’s why it’s important that brands recognise how best to utilise this simple conversational tool. There are already plenty of guides that demonstrate how to get started on Twitter – but here are the three key things your brand can do to really get involved in the action.
Use it to… Learn
Imagine having access to the conversations your audience is having every single day; knowing their likes and dislikes, as well as the types of information they like to receive. The power this could give your brand is overwhelming, allowing you to target your consumers/prospects in the most relevant way possible. Twitter can give you this power.
By tracking your brand’s followers’ habits, you can gain a significant insight into their lives. For example, you can track:
- Who they follow and re-tweet
- What they are tweeting themselves
- When they are doing it
- Where they are (i.e. checking via Foursquare or just saying they are at XYZ)
- Why they use Twitter (i.e. is their feed mostly conversational, or mostly re-tweets?)
Just think of the ways in which this data could influence your marketing – for example tweeting followers at the times they’re most likely to be active on Twitter, or tailoring your content to the types of content they’re already re-tweeting.
You can also learn about your competitors by doing some Twitter research. Check out how they’re interacting with their followers, what sort of content they’re tweeting and their overall engagement levels. Then, outsmart them.
Use it to… Educate
Now that you’ve started learning, you can start educating. Use that information you gathered from your competitors and use it to target their followers quicker than they can. Provide them with content you already know they’ll like, at a time they’re likely to read it and your engagement levels could shoot through the roof!
So what sort of content should you use to educate your prospects? Well, this all depends on what stage of the buying process they are at. Of course, you can’t provide a bespoke Twitter stream for each of your followers, so be sure to publish such a variety of content that you can appeal to buyers at all stages of the process.
For example, those who are in the ‘Awareness’ stage (i.e. they have a need for a product or service, but don’t know where to get it from) can benefit from purely educational content – like how-to guides/videos or whitepapers. Prospects stuck at the ‘Evaluation’ stage (i.e. they know what they want, but are trying to device where to get it from) might find case studies or webinars useful; whereas ‘Purchase’ prospects are best targeted with content that explains how your specific product/service will meet their individual needs. This could be achieved with targeted email marketing, for example.
There is a one-size-fits-all type of content you can utilise too – neutral, industry news. This subtle approach allows you to nurture your prospects, who will come to view you as a reliable source of industry news; a brand that is fully aware of what’s happening in its market.
Use it to… Join the conversation
The last – and perhaps most important – way in which brands should use Twitter is to join the conversation surrounding… well, them! The conversation has already started and be it good or bad, brands need to get involved.
Although a common fear for brands is that when they open themselves up to social media, they also open themselves up to complaints. There’s no point denying that this is true, but consider this – if you had a complaint about a brand and voiced it on Twitter, would you feel better if they just ignored you? Or would you have more respect for a brand that listened to your opinion and was pro-active in improving it? I know which I’d choose!
Not only can you placate those who have a less-than-rosy impression of your brand, but you can also build engagement with those loyal followers that love it. This invaluable source of custom won’t keep itself engaged; you have to do that for them. Use Twitter just to talk to these followers, or even to provide VIP offers or discounts. Get their opinion on products and encourage them to share their opinion with their network. It can’t hurt; in fact it’s likely to do the opposite – helping your brand become bigger, better and more profitable than it ever has been.
Now tell me, what brand wouldn’t want that?!