You wrote a new post and it’s time to give it a little promotion. Push it in the right direction. Get it in the inboxes and under the noses of the people who care to read it. You can put it in your email newsletter, you can publish a post about it on Facebook and you can submit it to Google+. All of this helps, but it neglects the often-overlooked platform of Twitter for marketing. Twitter marketing is possible – even easy, done properly – but it can take quite a while to build up your audience to a level where the investment is worth it. Even so, if you don’t start somewhere, you’ll never start anywhere.
Hashtags operate as links you can click to read all recent tweets made using that hashtag. It’s a way to keep discussion about a particular topic centralized and on track. You should create a few hashtags for your own use. One for your general business conversations is recommended, for anything that isn’t urgent enough for a @mention or relating to an ad campaign. You should also create tags for individual ad campaigns to centralize commentary. Another tag for your blog commentary can be beneficial to discuss the implications of what you say in a given post. The point is to use hashtags unique to your brand and your campaigns, yet general enough that other users can pick them up and run with the discussion. Try to find tags that haven’t been used before – run a search for them before you use them – for maximum benefit.
Tip: Use a custom URL shortening service. Twitter has a built-in URL shortener already. If you post a long link, like http://example.com/blog/compelling-title-for-a-blog-post/, twitter will automatically shorten it to something like http://t.co/b3nYh. If you choose, instead, you can use a third party URL shortening service that allows the creation of a custom link. Bitly, for instance, would let you create a URL that looks more like http://bit.ly/ShortTitle/ with a single compelling word as the custom URL. No one on Twitter would blink at a normal Twitter shortened link, of course, but you can add that little bit of interest by customizing the link.
By headline, here, you should be thinking about the tweet itself. You don’t really want to make it a direct copy and paste of your blog title. Anyone who clicks through is going to see that anyway. What you want to do is create a new brief message that will relate to the subject but entice readers to click. If your blog title is “10 Ways to Live Life Awesomely” you might go with a tweet such as “Are you living life as awesomely as possible?” with a link to the post. Remember, you have all the time in the world to come up with a tweet, but you can’t take back a tweet once you’ve made it. Come up with a dozen variations on tweets to promote your content and pick the one that works the best.
Tip: Keep your tweets short and sweet. The Twitter character limit is 140 characters, but that’s not telling the true story. Those 140 characters have to fit in your tweet as well as your shortened URL, whichever service you use to make it. Beyond that, you probably want to leave a little extra space for user commentary or a hashtag. These sorts of considerations keep your tweets short and sweet, while promoting user engagement and communication. The standard industry suggestion is to keep the tweet itself to under 120 characters, to give space for your URL and a @mention if you have one. More on that in the next section, actually.
To succeed on Twitter, you need to build a following. Building a following typically involves getting people who are interested in your business to sign up and follow you on the social media platform. Another way to build followers, however, is to follow the big names in your industry. There are, for sure, people in your industry already established and advertising to a large audience. Take advantage of their hard work. Follow them and, when you write content that may be of interest to them, use a @mention to get their attention. If you’re lucky, they may pick up your content and advertise it as well. Even if they don’t, your interaction will be visible to their users, who may then investigate your content and join your audience with a follow.
Tip: Use thought leader content to create new blog ideas. The leaders in your industry regularly post their own content, and this is something you should study. What subjects do they consider important? What are they writing about, and where do they stand on the issues affecting your industry? These are opportunities for you to write similar content to gain their attention. For example, you can take a recent opinion piece they wrote and write your own rebuttal. This engages them in a blog-based dialogue and it helps to mix your audiences. It helps to push you into a role as a thought leader as well.
Twitter isn’t all about the thought leaders. Yes, they can be extremely influential and important when it comes to building your audience, but you can’t write just for a small handful of important people. Your Twitter account will live or die by its audience. You need to work to gain that audience – particularly in encouraging existing users to add you on Twitter – and to make it grow. When a user mentions you, respond. When a user leaves you a complimentary review, thank them for it. When a user asks a question, do your best to answer it. This helps personalize your business in a way that encourages users to trust you, which in turn makes them more likely to trust your content and your product.
Tip: Promote your content 2-3 times with buffer space between. Users hate it when they follow a social media account and they see nothing but self-promotion every time it updates. Still, you need to be promotional if you want to use social media effectively. This is another great use for engagement; tweets and retweets of content that isn’t yours helps break up the constant flow of self-promotion that would otherwise make your business look like it’s run by a robot. Speaking of, don’t try to automate much more than the time of your posts; if you’re robotically generating your content or trying to auto-reply to retweets, it will be noticed and called out.
Twitter isn’t hosted or used in a vacuum. Users expect to click links and follow conversations both on and off of the platform. Obviously, you’re going to be linking to your own site frequently enough. You should also consider some of your non-competing industry partners to tweet about. This gives you more buffer between promotional posts, plus it gives you the foundation for ongoing conversations.
Tip: Use Twitter to promote other social media profiles as well. You don’t need to limit your links to just your website either. You can include links to discussions on Google+, contests you’re running on Facebook or photos you’re sharing on Instagram. Social media users often have profiles on most of the big sites, so you can gather your audience on all of them.