With more than 241 million active users on Twitter, more and more brands are realizing that establishing a presence there is no longer an option. It’s a must.
The good news is that it’s relatively easy to get up and running on this social media channel. But building a substantial audience that hangs on everything you’re saying in 140 characters or less? Not so much.
Success on Twitter takes time as well as a deep knowledge of the best practices that only comes with experience through trial and error. Keeping an eye on what others are doing on the channel is an excellent way to learn the latest strategies and tactics as well.
To monitor how brands are using Twitter to capture the attention of their constituents, I’ve compiled a list of more than 500 businesses and brands on the channel, which I regularly scan for ideas and inspiration. What I’ve learned from this list and from my own work with clients is what I’d like to share with you now.
1. Newsjack What’s Hot. Taking advantage of trending news by writing about it as it is breaking can be a very effective way to inject your brand into the conversation if it is done in a clever, timely, and tasteful manner. The Grammys. The Academy Awards. The Olympics. Special events like these are ripe for the picking. For instance, during this year’s Super Bowl, many brands were playing the newsjacking game, sharing their quips in real time.
Example: DiGiorno Pizza
2. Ask Questions. Any networker worth his or her salt knows the best way to win over an audience is to show an interest in what others have to say rather than to talk about yourself. Ask them anything. The more you ask them questions, the more likely they’ll be to trust that you’re genuinely interested in their needs, interests, and opinions and the more likely they’ll be to do business with you when the time comes.
3. Engage With Other Brands. Back in the day, it would have been highly unusual – and nearly impossible – for one brand to talk to another. What would be the point? And without the Internet, there wasn’t really a good forum for such conversation, anyway. Social media changes everything. And today, now that most brands have the basics of Twitter down, they’re going where no brands have gone before, reaching out to one another for not just casual banter, but for strategically timed engagement.
4. Embrace Your Fans. People follow brands on Twitter for a number of reasons, one of which is for a digital autograph, a chance to connect with someone or something they adore. One-on-one interaction is ideal. A retweet or a reply goes a long way with your fans. But if you’re too big or too busy to reach out to others individually, you can still at least acknowledge those who follow you in one fell swoop and thank them every once in a while.
Example: New England Patriots
5. Talk About the Weather. What’s the one thing people talk about when they have nothing else to say? The weather! Everyone is interested in the forecast, the temperature, and whether it’s sunny, raining, or snowing outside. The weather is the lowest common denominator of conversation. It’s an opportunity for brands to talk about something that has universal appeal.
6. Be Responsive. Given the fact that more than 70 percent of users expect brands to get back to them on Twitter in less than an hour (according to a Lithium Technologies report), it only makes sense that the quicker you respond to those who tag you, the better. Monitor the channel for mentions and questions. Unless they’re trolls, spammers, or ridiculously rude people, everyone deserves a timely response.
7. Have a Sense of Humor. Far too many brands take themselves too seriously on Twitter. For them, every single tweet is watered down, devoid of any personality whatsoever, never mind a sense of humor. Yet one of the best ways to stand out on this channel is to lighten up every once in a while. Laugh at yourself. Poke fun at others – in a harmless, good-natured way. Don’t hesitate to put a smile on the face of your brand.
Example: Taco Bell
8. Give Something Away. Perhaps the easiest way to stand out among the competition for attention on Twitter is to host a contest or sweepstakes. You don’t have to feature a big prize, either. Anything you have to offer is sure to draw interest. Make sure you abide by Twitter’s guidelines, though. There are probably more details involved than you realize. But if you play by the rules and your prize is desirable, you’ll likely be deluged with replies and entries.
Example: AMC Theatres
9. Be Inspirational. Whether you’re marketing to businesses or consumers, don’t forget that you’re talking to other humans on Twitter. Sure, your ultimate objective may be to increase lead and sales, but that doesn’t happen overnight on Twitter. It happens over time. Start by helping your followers achieve both their personal and professional dreams. A little emotion goes a long way toward moving people to action and helping them separate the good tweets from those not worth their time.
10. Share Your Knowledge. Speaking of being helpful, some of the most popular accounts on Twitter are those that provide insight and information to their followers. Like the most successful thought leaders, they share tips, tricks, facts, and figures about the space in which their brands and followers live, work, and play.