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Katy Allaire
by Katy Allaire
on September 14, 2015

 Twitter is a beneficial social media network that can be a great tool in generating leads and developing and fostering relationships both for B2C and B2B marketers. In knowing the proper etiquette and establishing best practices for using Twitter to your brand’s advantage, you will be able to maximize the success of your Twitter account and use it as a way to build a reputation and community online.

               

Be Content Savvy

Your Twitter account should have a goal for your business. What benefits using Twitter will bring for your company? Do you hope to:

  • generate leads?
  • build a customer base?
  • establish your brand within an industry-specific community?

All of these are valid goals, but you will want to be sure that the content you post will assist in reaching whatever goal or goals you choose.

 

Mix Original and Shared Content

As a business, you will certainly want to maximize your opportunity to share information about your company. For example, if you are an architectural firm, you may way to give updates on new projects and use images to let people know where you are and what projects you are working on. You could also provide information about the kind of work you do, for example, whether your specialty is building homes or skyscrapers. Your followers should know your business forte.

Be sure to keep the information relevant and focused on your business. Avoid discussing topics that are not directly related to your company’s goal. While weighing in on popular culture or timely topics can be a good way to generate buzz and earn followers, be sure that you tie these discussions back to your core business. Keeping your content focused allows you to gain credibility with your followers and establish your brand as a trusted source of information.

While using Twitter to talk about your business is one of the many benefits, it is not the only content you should share. If you are only posting content where you discuss your business, you won't build credibility because your Twitter feed will read like an advertisement. By sharing content from other reputable sources, you prove to your followers that you care about the industry and are taking steps toward learning new and innovative ideas.

 

Finding Shareable Content   

Social media is a place for people to share ideas, communicate, and build relationships. A great way to gain credibility online is to share content relevant to your field. Read news articles or blogs to stay current and educate yourself on industry trends. For example, if you find a news article online that you learned from or that inspired you on a project, you would want to share that. Most news publications or blogs will have a quick way to share this content on Twitter. Simply click the Twitter icon and you'll be able to automatically share the link to your account. Take advantage of this tool to share knowledge with your followers.

Examples of shareable content sources:

  •          News articles
  •          Magazine articles
  •          Industry-specific websites
  •          Industry leader blog pages

               

Retweet Etiquette

In addition to sharing external information to Twitter, a great way to build relationships with users you already follow is to share tweets with the click of a button. 

 

How to Retweet

 

The retweet feature is a tool that allows you to share a post written by another account. Businesses love to have their information shared because it allows their content to be viewed exponentially.

 

Consider this:

Company 1 has 400 followers

Company 2 has 500 followers

Company 1 writes a post and all of their 400 followers can see it

Company 2 loves the content Company 1 shared and decided to retweet that information for their 500 followers to see

The original post has now been shared to up 900 Twitter accounts (assuming Company 1 & Company 2 do not share followers)

 

Think of this as word-of-mouth marketing on a grander scale. The information sent is viewed at a much quicker pace and is introduced to a larger audience. Another great benefit of retweeting information is that it boosts your chances of having your content retweeted. When you build a strong online relationship and you have accounts that you interact with, each of you will share content from one another’s accounts.

               

Organic Interactions

Aside from focusing on content you share, you want to find ways to communicate with your followers directly. Twitter has features that let you reply to posts as well as privately message accounts.

Replying to accounts can be done in a few different ways. When communicating with industry professionals, it is great practice communicate by responding to content they shared, such as writing a congratulatory message for a recent achievement or thanking them for sharing quality information. It is a small gesture, but it gets you noticed online. If you can show genuine interest and build that relationship, others will likely reciprocate.

Another form of responding to accounts would be to interact with your customers, present or future. Consumers will often use Twitter to ask questions, whether it is a generic question to the Twitter community or to specific companies. You need to be sure to properly track any such information.  A great way to track the information is to use hashtags and checking your Notifications tab.

 

Twitter Notifications

 

Your notifications tab will show you when a Twitter user has tagged you in a tweet. It is a good practice to check your Twitter account at least once daily to be able to keep up to date on these interactions. You want to make sure that, should a customer have a question, you answer it in a timely manner. This will assist in building up your reputation and reliability online and as a brand.

The Direct Message feature is a great tool to use when you want to connect one-on-one with a consumer, though it is important to note that you can only send direct messages to Twitter users who are following you. If a consumer has a question, and you think it would be better to set up a phone call, Skype meeting, or in-person interaction, a direct message feature would be the best way to go about this. As opposed to using your public Twitter feed to request a meeting or give and receive contact information, you can keep information confidential for both you and the consumer. For the sake of community viewing, if you opt to respond to a customer through direct message, you will want to publicly reply to the consumer to let them know you will be sending them a private message. That way, it does not appear to outsiders as though you ignored their post.

These small acts of kindness go a very long way with consumers. They want to be heard and they feel special that the brand has responded to them. However, it’s not only a benefit for the consumer. As a brand, the more you interact and get involved with the Twitter community, the more visibility your account will have among a large audience. This will help drive followers to your page and increase your brand’s Twitter awareness.

 

Building a Community

There is more to interacting on Twitter than solely focusing on content. On the social media platform, you have the power to build your community. In fact, a key part of the importance of Twitter is your ability to interact directly with consumers and potential customers.  Be sure these users are relevant to your business and will be interested in your content. For example, if you are an architectural firm, you would want to follow building companies, interior designers, and other architectural firms. It would be a waste of your time to follow healthcare accounts, for example. Once you have followed these accounts, the hope is that they will follow you back and your community will begin to grow from there.

As a best practice, you will want to try to follow new profiles daily. When following new accounts, you’ll want to pay attention to their posting habits as well. If you see that an account has a large following, you will want to become a part of that as this account could have great influence. On the other hand, if you see an account that hasn’t posted in weeks or months, they are probably no longer active on their account and will generate very little in terms of an online relationship.

Perhaps your wondering where exactly you can find accounts to follow. A great way to find the right accounts to follow can be to take a look at your competition or other accounts within the same industry. Go through their follower numbers and take a look at the accounts they follow and which accounts follow theirs. Determine whether these accounts are in line with your target market. If they are, give them a follow. Keying into your industry will become a great tool to build your community.

Sometimes, unfollowing can be just as important as following. The question is when is it okay to unfollow? Say, for example, that you follow an interior design account. You followed this account in hopes of gathering information and ideas that you can share with you customers. However, instead of posting tutorials, success stories, or helpful images; they are posting political ideas that have nothing to do with the industry. Perhaps this firm gets interaction from their followers or other Twitter users in a negative manner, such as receiving backlash from the Twitter community. As a company, you do not want to be associated with these ideas and statements. In this case, you would want to unfollow them. Remember, your followers tell other users about you. You want to make sure that the accounts you follow generate the same messages you hope to convey.

 

Conclusion

Setting out a specific goal is the first and most important step in beginning an online strategy for Twitter. Once you have established your goal, be sure to surround your online presence with a community that shares the same or similar principles as a means to further growing your community. Be sure to make your content succinct and relevant to your brand’s purpose and message. This content will be how users share and learn about your brand. Make your content impressive and leave a mark on your consumer. If you follow these best practices and take the time to build a Twitter community, your business can reap the benefits in terms of brand awareness, leads, and ultimately customers. 

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