If you’re in any way involved with an online business, the importance of social will have invariably been drilled into you by this stage. A simple Google search will also inundate you with more ‘guides to social’ than you’ll know what to do with. Analysis paralysis is more prevalent than ever in an age where we have access to, in many cases, too much information.
It’s my hope that this post will ease your paralysis, for Twitter at least. I’ve been actively involved in digital marketing with Kurve for the last three years, I don’t think a day has gone by that I wasn’t using Twitter in some capacity.
I’ve learned a lot in that time, the bullet points below are the distillation of my education, all gained from personal experience – no conjecture. I hope you find them useful. If you’re short on time I recommend jumping to the concluding paragraph where I summarize the 5 main points I explain below.
1. The ideal length for the average tweet is approximately 100 characters
The 100 character figure has spread over the web like wildfire. In reality this depends on the length of your own twitter handle, the key is to ensure you’re leaving enough space in the 140 character limit to allow people to retweet you without having to edit your message.
Essentially your tweet should be as long as it needs to be, communicate your message, and provide a clear expectation for your users. Use a hashtag if there’s an obvious trend you want to attach yourself to / try to start, don’t just insert one because you feel ‘you should’ especially if it’s going to encroach on that 100 character threshold.
2. The Managing Director / CEO of your brand should be tweeting, a lot
Any company trying to make noise in their niche needs to attach their thought leadership and innovations to a public figure for maximum benefit. Users engage and trust in an individual much easier than a faceless brand.
This helps build a cohesion across your company. If a single name is hosting webinars, attending conferences and publishing blog posts then people are going to remember them. Their sense of humour, idiosyncrasies, language and tone will all come across much stronger than if these content vehicles are compartmentalised and produced by different people.
That doesn’t mean your ‘name’ has to do all of the work on their own, your team can support them in research and writing content, but ‘the name’ must take charge of the final redraft and layer their unique expertise and insights over the content to add that ‘secret sauce’ to the content that makes it stand out.
3. When outreaching, don’t tweet ‘cold’
I use Twitter for outreach all the time — from arranging guest post opportunities, to connecting with new influencers and promoting cool content we’ve created for someone. It’s never a good idea (in any medium in fact) to outreach with no foundation.
By this, I mean taking the time to follow your target accounts, retweet their best and most relevant tweets, share content with them that’s not yours but that they would value. You need to be legitimately engaged, there’s no faking it I’m afraid. If you’re serious about your marketing however you should want to do this anyway!
4. When using Twitter for customer care service, respond to queries within 24 hours max
Even if it’s to refer them to a support email account, direct them to a specific phone number to call or link them to an FAQ url that answers their question.
There’s nothing more frustrating than a Twitter handle that isn’t moderated frequently. Twitter is the platform for speedy communication, if you can’t commit the resources to reviewing (and replying) to tweets every working day at least, then I would suggest it’s better not to use twitter for customer service at all.
On the other hand, if you’re handling 99 percent of your customer queries on a same-day turnaround you’re going to make a lot of people happy. I’m sure you all remember Virgin Trains converting a literal turd into promotional heaven earlier this year.
5. The 80/20 publishing rule
Another popular phrase on the web, but I cannot fault it. This refers to the nature of your tweeting – 20% self-promotion and 80 percent ‘other’ content. The ‘other’ content is as, if not more, important than that 20 percent when you’re tooting your own horn.
I don’t recommend posting ‘other’ content just for the sake of preserving your schedule of posting either – while consistency is important, quality is more important. With Twitter especially, people easily go overboard, publishing so many tweets a day that they’re generating a background noise that followers learn to filter out.
Always aim to add value, what you tweet is still a reflection on your brand as it shows what you value. Ask yourself if you honestly think this is click worthy content before you post. In an ideal world, we are looking for that golden region where you’re tweeting things that your audience is really interested in that overlaps with the promotion of your business too. Don’t force this, but be pragmatic with opportunities to tie your service to news and events in meaningful ways (much easier said than done).
That’s all folks!
There you have it, the best practice principles that I swear by, for reiteration’s sake, and because repeating yourself helps your message resonate, repeating yourself helps your message resonate; I suggest you internalise these 5 principles into your Twitter methodology:
- Limit tweet length to 100 characters or less
- Ensure your main ‘tweeter’ needs a name
- Don’t tweet ‘cold’ to people you don’t know
- Respond to queries within 24 hours
- Use the 80/20 rule for publishing
Scott Todd is the organic search manager at London based digital marketing agency Kurve, when he’s not frightening his soft-spoken English co-workers with his brazen Irish raucous he can be found helping websites climb to the front page of the Google search mountain with all the confidence and skill of an old Sherpa. He does get lonely on occasion, so feel free to tweet him @scottkurve.