Everybody tweets. Twitter has now been adopted both by the public and brands; people have to be on Twitter to exist (kind of) and timelines are now looking like never-ending rolling text. The village square has become quite a metropolis in fact.
So, as an individual or small business, how can you show up in the crowd and make some noise of your own ?
There are a lot of “how to” articles about social media and Twitter in particular. Yet, having gone through some of these and tried some of the tactics, here are my takes.
1) Yes, content matters
As obvious as it sounds, tweeting random opinions about the most random things in your life does not make (much) sense.
Looking like a real person is definitely important but tweeting all weekend about your football team or whatever cocktails you are sipping will quickly become a pain for followers and will not drive much people to follow you.
2) Make tweets long enough
Sure, tweets are intended to be short. But they can still be long within the limit.
A short sentence can be impactful. But then it may only be a quote and/or a remark once in a while (unless you want to sit in some “quotes to use” list).
A longer message will get more re-tweets and more visibility. As well as there are chances it does have more content (and a link to develop) with a referencing through hashtags.
120 characters is a proper length knowing that you need to leave room for people to “RT” with their handle.
3) Shorten links with known tools
People trust what they know. One sure way to see your links not clicked is to shorten them using “tiny url”. That is basically what I have found in every spam tweet I received and so have people out there too.
Trusted sources can also be useful. Bit.ly, for instance, is a known tool which also adds metrics to the shortening. Tweetdeck, Hootsuite, WordPress, etc … also do it and can be seen as trusted sources.
Oh and I did not say it before assuming it is basic when only 140 characters are available but you are shortening links, right ?
4) Use #hashtags
Yes, some people will agree and some will disagree. With Facebook introducing hashtags and the growth of Twitter there has been a tag fever overall.
However, hashtags make sense (and I say it while having not used them for years in the past) and help visibility.
People tend to search social media with hashtags now (so do I). Twitter is not “read” through the timeline but also (mainly) through lists and keywords. Which people make relevant to their industry (think #SocialMedia for instance).
Further than that, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, to mention but a few, do use hashtags. It then just makes sense to optimise the communication and keywords for all these media especially if having a presence on all.
A reminder though, more than 5 hashtags is too much. And putting a hashtag on an actual sentence does not make much sense #doyougetmypoint ?
5) Use images.
Another obvious point. Images increase visibility and re-tweets.
We do live in a visual world where reading text is basically a pain (if it is not sexy even just a bit).
In the same way as a blog post has to look nice on the eye (not a massive block of text, some images or graphics, …) so should a Twitter timeline. At least that is what you want people following you to see.
Not every tweet shall be a picture and the latter must be relevant but why not make use of Pinterest or Instagram to include nice, eye-catching images in your Twitter communication. Not only would it increase engagement but also drive to your other (visual) sites which do also have a good SEO positioning.
6) Time and tailor your tweets
Putting a lot together because tailoring is not only adapting the tweets to the audience and being consistent. This should be business as usual somehow.
Tailoring also goes with time and geography.
First, the timing. There are times when users are most active, when tweets get read and when people interact more.
Use tools to define these for your audience (Tweriod for instance or other analytics tools) then plan. Ideally, you need to tweet all day. Or at least not once in a day, sending a dozen tweets at the same time. Hootsuite or Tweetdeck would allow to schedule tweets during the day or Buffer can even allow to dispatch tweets over a number of times set by you.
Then, prefer high engagement times to send the most important tweets. Basic indeed.
Now, if your audience is on a worldwide level, the preferred times may change and so may the content to be published. That is where the tailoring has to happen.
An easy example: the usual high availability times are around lunch time or after work while commuting back to work (train, metro, …) for instance. I could see, in my own reports, that this trend was to be found too with a lot of engagement after lunch time, in Europe. However, looking at replies or re-tweets, most came from the USA. In fact, my lunch time slot for Europe was actually USA’s morning time slot.
My tweets being in English and the content (startups, social media, …) applicable to all that shall not be a major issue but a brand could be missing its right target by not ensuring touching the right population and even more maybe with a message that is not right.
7) Find your niche
A niche market or niche topic indeed. But some matters are mainstream.
That is not the niche I mean anyway. I would say tweeting niche in regards to time and period.
I was mentioning the noise of Twitter earlier. Twitter has grown into a huge crowd and everybody is trying to raise their voice above their neighbours. To stand out in this crowd and noise, there are some ways for individuals and smaller brands.
Make use of the time niches. To say it clearly, there are times when there is a lot less activity on Twitter and timelines tend to refresh more slowly, where content is not only content (remember the football line ?).
These times, for instance, are weekends and holidays times. Be active – and relevant – when others are not.
I can see a surge in engagement just by being active and tweeting at weekend. It does not have to be a lot, just a handful of serious and clean tweets with proper content (and hashtags) to make you climb this step and raise your head above the crowd. Then, build on it.
So, here are my views on how to improve Twitter engagement. And there are thousands of others out there that may be true too but these simple tweaks work for me at least.
Agree ? disagree ? Or want to add to the list, please feel free to start the discussion with a comment.
[Image credit (CC): PixaBay user – OpenClips]