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Getting Started on Twitter

Getting Started on Twitter
Lauren A Lauren Photo

Lauren Swarbrick

Social Media

Getting Started on Twitter

There are multiple platforms to choose from when setting your social media strategy; Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+ and LinkedIn being the biggest 6 players, but not all of them are right for every sector, or every business. It’s critical to discover where your target audience spends time online, in order to identify which platforms are going to deliver results for you.

Of all the platforms however, the sheer scale of Twitter (it has 560 million active users) combined with it’s ability to deliver news stories as they happen (37% of people get their daily news from Twitter) presents a huge opportunity for your business to connect, communicate and build relationships with an engaged audience both locally and globally. If you’re not currently using Twitter here’s our 5 top tips to help get you started and ensure you’re making the most of the platform.

1. Personalise your profile page

Choose a memorable username

Always preceded by the @ symbol, your username is how you're identified on Twitter. Your username can only contain 15 characters, so if your company or brand name is longer, get creative and find a shorter name that people will still recognise.

Change your profile picture and header image

Before you do anything else change your profile picture or the default egg picture will be displayed. Your profile picture appears alongside every tweet so ensure it is visually appealing, good resolution and instantly recognisable. The optimum image size for your profile picture is 400 x 400 pixels, though in the Twitter feed it will be displayed much smaller. For many businesses, your logo won’t fit naturally into the square window, so make sure you frame it well or create an icon that captures the essence of your logo.

The header image, which appears at the top of your profile page presents an opportunity to display a bit more of your brand personality or promote a specific message. The optimum size for your header image is 1500 x 500 pixels but bear in mind that it will display differently on different devices.

Update Your Biography

As well as providing an overview of your business, a good Twitter biography is great for SEO, so ensure it is optimised, relevant and up to date. You only have 160 characters so be succinct and don’t forget to include a link to your website.

2. When, what and how to post

Regularity

The more regularly you post, the more opportunities you have to engage with your audience. Having said that, there are spikes in engagement at certain tweet volumes, with the first spike occurring at around 5 tweets per day. Spike 2 hits at around 15 tweets and spike 3 at around 25. Unless you have a digital marketing team, the 5 tweets per day rule gives the highest return on the smallest amount of time invested.

For maximum exposure your tweets should be delivered during the morning commute (7-9am), lunchtime (midday-2pm) and evening drive time (5.30-7pm). And don’t restrict your posts to the working week, engagement is 17% higher on weekends.

Not posting regularly is worse than not having an account at all. If you can’t commit the time needed to properly maintain your account, delegate the management of it to a team member or outsource to an agency.

Content

As with many things in life, the 80/20 rule should be implemented when developing your content strategy. Use just 20% of your tweets to promote your brand (without giving an and out sales pitch), and dedicate the other 80% to content that really interests your audience, engages them in meaningful conversations and above all, that they want to share. Tweets which are shared build credibility and trust, so create content worth sharing.

Despite its immediate and fleeting nature (tweets have an average life span of just 18 minutes) it is vital that every Twitter post distributed by your business is relevant, well prepared and on brand, so take the time to double check before pushing the button!

Tweet length

Twitter restricts the length of tweets to 140 characters (as of this month rich content will no longer count against this limit), however if you’re maxing out your character count it makes it difficult for other people to retweet and share your post with their own commentary. Tweets with between 80 and 110 characters get 17% higher engagement so keep them short and sweet.

Rich media

Including rich media in your posts increases click throughs by 18%, likes by 89% and retweets by a massive 150%, so include photos, infographics, videos and animated GIFs wherever possible. Image collage apps (such as LiveCollage), animation apps (such as Ripl) and animated gif resources (such as Giphy) are great free tools for creating engaging rich content.

When using video, bear in mind that around 85% of videos viewed on social media are played with the sound off so ensure that your video captivates viewers without the need for sound.

Getting Started on Twitter

Hashtags

If people can’t find your tweet then they can’t engage with it and that’s where the hashtag # comes in - hashtags can actually double your engagement rate! Leverage an already trending topic (you can discover popular hashtags on Twitter or by using resources such as Tagdef and Hashtag.org) by including it’s hashtag in your tweets to boost your message beyond your own network, or develop your own campaign hashtag which you encourage your followers to adopt and share. Tweets that use more than 2 hashtags have a 17% drop in engagement so don’t go mad!

Pinned tweets

If you have an important message to communicate you can pin a particular tweet to the top of your feed, boosting its visibility to anyone who visits your profile page. To pin a tweet, simply click on the three dots next to your tweet and select ‘pin to your profile page’.

Automated systems

Automated systems such as Hootsuite, Buffer and Sprout Social are a great tool to assist with your social media management. Among other things these systems allow you to pre-write your tweets and schedule them to go live on certain days and times, ensuring your feed is always full of engaging content. I would say however, that Twitter is all about the live, immediate and spontaneous sharing of news, insights and updates, so automated systems go against the spirit of the platform. Although they have their place, not all of your tweets should be pre-programmed!

3. Conversations

Always respond

Twitter is all about creating conversations; it is a two way dialogue, not a one way stream, so keep your eye out for direct replies, mentions, private messages and relevant discussions and always respond or get involved.

Trending Topics

Trending topics are quite simply a hashtag-driven topic that is popular at a particular time. Trending topics by their very nature are fleeting but are potentially extremely powerful, particularly if you have the resources for creating real-time content. Whether that means writing an article, creating an infographic, or simply engaging in the discussion, trending topics offer an opportunity to show your audience that you are on the ball.

Retweets

The ultimate goal of tweeting is for other users to share your content, but less than 1% of businesses ask for their content to be retweeted. Simply asking results in 12 times more retweets so well worth doing, especially if you are trying to reach wider audience.

4. Grow your audience

Seeding

Seeding is a technique used to increase your brand reach and grow your audience. The idea is to follow, engage and build relationships with key industry influencers, who will then share your message with their network. Tools such as Onalytica will help you identify relevant influencers for each piece of bespoke content you create, allowing you to approach the right people with the right message, knowing that they can help get your tweets in front of your target audience.

Unfollow inactive users

It’s a good idea to unfollow people who are no longer active or who don’t tweet much. unTweeps is a great tool (you can use the free account up to 3 times per month) for identifying people and unfollowing inactive users quickly and easily.

Twitter lists

Twitter lists allow you to categorise other Twitter users, assigning them to groups which will have their own feed. You can create your own lists or subscribe to lists created by others and when you select to view a specific list’s feed you'll see a timeline of tweets from the accounts included in that list only. If you have followers who share your posts a lot, put them in a list of valuable partners. You can then dedicate time engaging with these key users and sharing their content. They will then naturally start sharing yours, win-win!

There are two types of Twitter list; ‘public’ and ‘private’. As the name suggests, public lists are visible to anyone whereas only the creator can access a private list. Users who are added to a private list will not be notified of their inclusion, which makes Twitter a powerful tool for competitor research.

Advertising

Twitter ads gives you the opportunity to share your message with people outside of your network, targeting by specific interests, demographics, or activity. You are only charged when someone completes your pre-set campaign call to action (such as visiting your website) so it delivers a good ROI. To get started access your dashboard at ads.twitter.com using your user name and password and set up a campaign. There are various ad formats to choose from including Promoted Tweets, Promoted Accounts, and Promoted Trends depending on what you are trying to achieve.

5. Track and measure

Twitter has it’s own activity dashboard which you can access at analytics.twitter.com using your Twitter logins. You can use this analytics tool to learn more about your tweets and how they resonate with your audience (including detailed information on retweets, replies, likes, follows and clicks) so that you know what’s working and what’s not. You can also export your analytics to excel to create great monthly or quarterly management reports.

Twitter is a hugely powerful communication tool and it should be incorporated into every business's digital marketing strategy. However, no activity is an island, Twitter should be used in tandem with other other social media platforms, digital marketing activities and marketing channels as an integrated part of your overall marketing communication plan.

For more information or to talk to us about integrating social media into your digital marketing strategy please get in touch!

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