Twitter. No matter how much you may want to avoid dipping your toe - or whole leg - into it, it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. On top of that, it’s where many of your customers, competitors and press contacts are getting their news, communicating with each other, learning about products, services and events and simply hanging out. In a world of smartphones that satisfy the need for instant information, it’s one of the top ways brands can provide just that. It’s simply “where the eyeballs are”. Even me – a person who once swore she’d never get into this strobe light-like feed of information – I’ve become a Twitter-fiend. In the past month alone those who I follow on Twitter have convinced me to join SoulCycle, informed me that Beyonce’s baby was born (a full 3 hours before CNN and People reported it - thanks Huffington Post Twitter feed), turned me onto a few entertaining new people to follow and, thanks to Twitter, I found and purchased the COOLEST Mother’s Day present months in advance (made by a small business, of course). All that said, you know what my favorite thing about Twitter is? The way I can connect with and get to know press targets so much faster. I’d say every week this happens, and if you have a message to share, product to sell or story to tell, that should be reason enough for you to get out there and tweet a little!
That said, no matter how much I plead with those who are still avoiding this power tool in the world of small business marketing and DIY-public relations rainmaker, I can tell people are still intimidated. I'm sure many of you are still wondering: "How can I tweet better?" "How can I get more Twitter followers?" "How can I grow my company on Twitter?" So, to convince you to dip that toe in once and for all, I’m laying out a few tips for fast and furious Twitter success. Come on in, the water’s warm and we’re all waiting for you!
Tweet something every day. If you can, tweet a couple of things. Inactive Twitter feeds fall of people’s radars. You don’t have to spend hours planning these tweets out, as I’ve said before, they aren’t going to be written on your tombstone so just do it already. Need ideas? Give a sneak peek into what you’re up to at work, comment on a hot topic of the day, share news, say something funny – just say something.
If this is simply impossible for you (really?, really?) use a program like HootSuite or TweetDeck to schedule some of your tweets and better manage your outreach! That said, even if you’re using these, you should still be tapping in daily to respond, retweet, etc. (see below)
Be yourself. Let your personality show through and don’t over think your tweets or try to be someone you’re not. That will simply take too much time, it will be inauthentic and it will be unsustainable.
Install a Twitter app on your smartphone. It will remove the need to stare at your feed all day long by providing visible alerts when someone has mentioned your name, messaged you, tweeted about your or at you, and even allows you to manage an “inner circle” of people you really want to keep up with, separate from your larger twitter feed. Being able to peek at your feed when waiting on line, on the subway, etc will make it a lot easier to get into your Twitter groove! As an aside, I rely on UberSocial to help me out - it's made Twitter 10x easier for me!
Make Use of your Twitter Bio: Even if you want to be sassy or funny in it, link to your company or personal website and attempt to give some insight into who you are within those 160 characters the bio space allows.
Ask questions. This helps you engage your followers! People love to respond to them, and questions start conversations. DO NOT WORRY IF NO ONE RESPONDS. It doesn’t mean no one likes you or you’re bad at Twitter, it means you just keep asking authentic questions that matter and eventually you’ll begin to get responses. Ask about product decisions your Twitter-public would be excited to weigh in on, ask about hot topics in the press- heck I ask for restaurant and local service recommendations and now rely on people’s responses to help me!
Think about the press outlets you want to be in and the reporters who cover them and begin to follow both. It’s not only a great way to get your news, but it’s a very easy way to get to know their coverage style, get to know editors and producers as more personally and when you’re ready, you can actually respond to and retweet them. This is how you begin to form relationships with them!
Respond & Re-tweet. Twitter isn’t all about you. Don’t simply talk about yourself all the time. Beyond asking questions you should retweet things you like or things you think your Twitter followers would like. Provide information this way and people will begin to rely on your tweets to get scoop from the world in which your brand lives.
Try to avoid tweeting more than or even too close to the allotted 140 characters. Leave space for people to re-tweet you with your message intact. This isn’t always possible of course, but the more you do this, the more it will work to your benefit.
Don’t follow too many people. Just like “real life” friendships and relationships, only follow those you are interested in, press you read or want to be a part of, feeds that excite or inform you, etc. Following too many people will only muddle up your Twitter feed making it harder to manage, and I can promise you no one thinks that people who follow 20K are really following them.
To me it’s an instant sign you use some type of program or tech tool to get your own followers and that you aren’t actually using Twitter strategically or honestly, so I’m less apt to follow you.
Reach out to the press contacts you’re targeting directly. Here’s a simple way, if you TRULY think you are a fit for a certain outlet or reporter, simply tweet at them! It’s that easy. What’s the worse that could happen? Say you would love to share something with them/email them or cc them on scoop about your brand, a sale or promotion, a big announcement etc.
At the end of the day, Twitter is like many things in business, it sounds a lot scarier than it is once you begin trying it. Instead of seeing it as a daunting, foreign object you have to conquer, think of it as a fun, free tool you've been given to grow your brand. Practice will make it all easier. I'll leave you with a quote to inspire you to do just that which we posted this week on our Tin Shingle Twitter feed:
How often in life we complete a task that was beyond the capability of the person we were when we started it - Robert Brault