Social media is here to stay. In fact, a recent article boldly proclaimed, “Social Media is dead!” How can that be? You ask.
Simply stated, social media has become such an intrinsic part of the modern landscape that it’s no longer a separate thing. It’s part of who we are and how we think.
A relative newbie on the social media scene, Twitter was created in 2006. Its 140 character limit has shaped the way many of us think, as we find ourselves self-editing the very words we speak, trying to condense our thoughts into punchy, engaging sentences.
Why should I use Twitter?
With the proliferation of weapons of mass interaction out there, it can seem overwhelming – and a little daunting – trying to decide which platforms to include in an effective social media strategy. Many of our clients simply ignore Twitter altogether, because its unedited stream of modern consciousness is more than the average person can easily process. However, with over 500 million users, can you really afford to ignore it?
We think not.
That’s why we’re sharing today’s cheatsheet:
10 tips for using Twitter to generate leads
Find out what’s trending
The easiest way to find out what’s hot on Twitter is to open Twitter and look to your left. Just below the information about you, and suggestions of people for you to follow, Twitter conveniently aggregates current trends in real time. The rise of the hashtag has made it possible for you to tag certain keywords in your posts with a hash symbol, thus indicating to Twitter (and the world) that you’re wading in on a conversation around a certain topic – or starting a new one. This is the way Twitter finds out who is talking about what, and which topics are getting the most attention.
Identify how something you do relates to that
Once you know what people are talking about, you can join the conversation, figuratively speaking. Within the average list of top ten Twitter trends, the odds are high that at least one trend relates in some way to something that you do, that your business sells, or that forms the basis of one of your core values. It’s very important not to get this wrong, and accidentally tweet something outrageously insensitive when you haven’t done your research. But a thorough investigation should clear up any confusion.
Create relevant content that explains the link to your clients
Now that you know what’s hot on Twitter, and you can see how an aspect of your business relates to that, it’s time to create content that explains – in simple steps – how the thing people or tweeting about is solved by what you do. Make the content clear, engaging and relevant and you’re sure to make it popular. The best place to create, store and share this content is on your company’s blog, which should be hosted on your web server.
Share the content on Twitter
Make a noise! Get that content out there by sharing it on your social platforms – especially on Twitter.
When you share your content, bear in mind that headlines matter. The wording of your tweet needs to be carefully considered to ensure that it is effective. Remember that the average half-life of a tweet is less than eight seconds. Make each second COUNT with a punchy and enticing headline. Remember the 140 character limit, however. Your clever catch phrase needs to be concise. It’s also important to leave space for the link (see below), the hashtag (see below) and a retweet. In your head, add the number of characters in your Twitter handle PLUS three to your content before you publish it. This leaves space for people to reply to or retweet your content, without you losing a valuable lead in the process.
Link to the content
Link the headline to your carefully crafted content (see step 4 above). A link to the content you’ve created is a great way to increase traffic to your site. Without such a link you really can’t expect to see an increase in visitors to your website.
Part of creating content on social websites has to do with engaging your customers in a stream of useful, interesting updates that encourage visitors to your channel to follow and share your updates. A lot of that will be thoughts, images and inspiration. However, if we’re not sharing at least a few links to our own sites, we’re not capitalising on the potential traffic embedded into that stream.
Shorten your links
Remember that old chestnut, the 140 character limit? You don’t have a lot of space in a tweet for sharing content. If you have a long, search-engine-friendly URL for your article, you won’t be able to fit all of it into your tweet. Use a service such as www.bit.ly or www.ow.ly to shorten your links to a twitter-sized URL. Simply copy the URL, paste it into the handy “Shorten your link” text field, and click the button. Now copy the shortened URL and paste it into your tweet. All set!
Last week the internet exploded in laughter at Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon’s comic sketch, which showed us just how silly we’d sound if we spoke the way we tweeted: short, punchy sentences filled with jargon and hashtags. After we shared that video, we had a number of people asking us what a hashtag is. So, before we get into the tagging of posts (which is a serious matter), let’s cover the basics with regards to hashtagging.
Very simply, hastagging is a way to join (or start) global conversations. Add a hash symbol (#) to the beginning of a word or phrase, remove the spaces in the phrase, and use ‘camel case’ (capitalise the first letter of each word in the phrase). Voilà! Hashtagged. If you’re tweeting on your Twitter stream, rather than using embedded “share this” functionality on a blog or website, as you type your hash sign and star typing your word or phrase, Twitter will auto prompt you with the most popular hashtags, allowing you to join in an existing discussion. However, you don’t have to limit yourself to what’s already out there. If what you want to talk about hasn’t been tagged yet, start a new conversation.
The beauty of hashtags is that they truly harness the social power of Twitter in a way that few other things do. A hashtag converts a seemingly unconnected stream of data into conversations. As one commentator quipped, “hashtags turn Tweeple into Twibes”.
Engage with influencers
An influencer is not hard to spot. They’re the ones with all the followers! Seriously, though, find the people you would like to follow. Stalk the ones who say the most interesting things and share the most relevant content in your industry. If you find what they say interesting, so will others. Then, in moderation, connect with them. Retweet their content. Address them directly in certain conversations. This will garner the attention of the influencer and their twibe of followers. If you practice discretion and you share great content, you’ll start building your own influential following.
Measure the results
Really, this item should be first in the list. Start off by installing Google analytics on your website, and make sure you’re set up to measure the results of all your hard work. Otherwise you will never know if the time and effort you’ve invested in this campaign have delivered any kind of a return. What a waste that would be! Make sure you’re ready and able to measure the data, and then measure it. As you monitor the (hopefully) increasing traffic, you’ll be able to identify what is and isn’t working, and develop more effective strategies for engaging your audience and, ultimately, creating new customers.
Ditch what doesn’t work
Finally, no matter how good it looks or how great it sounds, if it doesn’t work, ditch it. In step 9 you would have collected and analysed the data, so by now you should know if your efforts are paying off. Be brutal. As Sheryl Sandberg famously chants, “ruthlessly prioritise”. Don’t get emotionally attached to your ideas: throw out the bad ones and build on the good ones.
How many hashtags?
Once you understand how hashtags work, and how powerful they can be, it’s tempting to stuff so many hashtags into your posts that they’re barely legible. Don’t! Twitter’s best practices guide recommends no more than two hashtags per tweet if you don’t want to run the risk of disengaging your followers.
Once you’ve followed these ten simple steps, you’ll start to see a steady increase in engagement on your website. People will find what you’re selling because their interest has been sparked by what you’ve shared. If your website design is attractive, people will stick around to read your content. If the content on your website is engaging, your audience will begin to connect with you, asking the questions you want to answer. You will soon find that the effort you’ve invested into how to generate leads using Twitter will pay off.
What about you? Are you still trying to wrap your head around “this whole Twitter thing”? Are you baffled by hashtags and overwhelmed by options when it comes to social media? aXent specialises in delivering effective content marketing and social media solutions to engage your followers with your brand. Let us help you get noticed.
- Twitter Best Practices: https://dev.twitter.com/media/hashtags
- Twitter Help Centre: https://support.twitter.com/articles/49309-using-hashtags-on-twitter
- Twitter Glossary: http://openphd.wordpress.com/2009/09/14/twitter-twibes-and-tweeple-oh-my/