If you're looking to build a business, organization, or even an individual brand, Twitter can be a great tool to utilize. Twitter can help increase brand awareness, drive web traffic, enhance brand reputation, foster relationships, and establish expertise - if done correctly. Too often Twitter accounts are launched with the best intentions, but quickly lose steam or are mismanaged, which can negatively impact a brand. The best way to avoid this issue is to be strategic with your approach to the channel.
I was recently asked to give a talk on whether Twitter was the right tool for an organization to use and how to launch a presence on the channel. The following is the framework I use to help brands answer these questions or to help them improve their current strategies.
1. Set a goal
To get started, a goal needs to be established. First ask what is trying to be achieved through the channel and consider if Twitter can deliver what you're trying to gain. If this is a yes, then a Twitter-specific goal should be a piece of - and informed by-your larger organizational marketing goal and tied back to hard metrics. This goal will also need its own metrics and objectives to measure success. Examples can range from increasing marketing reach by a certain percentage or greater engagement with a particular audience.
2. Know the Twitter audience and your audience
The audience always comes first. Always. So, you need to answer two main questions to figure out how to be effective on Twitter: Who is on Twitter? And, is this part of your audience?
Some brands may just not succeed on Twitter simply because it is not where their audiences are or it's not where their audiences will go to engage with them. However, others can thrive on the channel.
If there is a viable audience on Twitter for your brand, then you will have to start to understand how the audience wants to be engaged, how they want to be talked to, and what type of content they want to see. Some ways of doing this are by seeing who the influencers in your market are and how they are operating. Consider things like what they are sharing and what they are saying. You can also see what type of content is being shared the most and research who comprises the audiences of popular accounts in your field.
One last tip is sometimes it's necessary to think outside of the box. An example of this can come from advocacy organizations. An advocacy group may want to influence a politician, but a target audience could be the politician's staff members, who are most likely in an entirely different demographic than the politician.
3. Determine what your competition is doing
Just as important as figuring out your audience is figuring out what your competition is doing on Twitter. By determining what your competition is doing, you can not only start to understand what may be effective topics in your market, but also topics that are not being addressed. Additionally, there may be audience needs that are not being met that you can leverage to provide value over your competition. By running a competitive audit, you'll be able to see what others are doing, how crowded the market is, how large certain brand voices are, and what these brand voices are - all in order to inform your own brand's strategy.
4. Identify your value
With having research on your audience and competition complete, you'll be able to understand the environment you're working within and where you can add value. Your value will be the brand voice that you use on Twitter to speak to your audience and separate yourself from the competition. It will also help establish what type of account you'll run and what type of content you'll promote. Some examples of accounts can be content curation, original opinions on industry news, original discoveries, industry expertise, or some sort of combination of these different elements.
A good place to start is to sketch out what your content promotion mix is going to look like. For instance, will it be 100% curation to help people who don't have time to read up on all of the industry news or will 50% of your posts offer tips and tricks, while 50% are from topic experts at your organization?
Also, conducting research to see what topics are popular or what questions people are asking in your market can help shape your value identification. By understanding your brand value and formalizing your content mix, your brand will be consistent and audiences will seek out your content by understanding the value it provides them.
5. Understand what it takes
As I mentioned at the very beginning of the post, brands frequently create social accounts without fully understanding what it takes to maintain them and quickly lose the momentum they had when first launching. When establishing a Twitter account or reinvigorating one, you should have a long-term maintenance plan in place. Some aspects that need to arranged in preparation are:
- Posting frequency
- General social and competition listening
- Content curation
- Image curation
- Post scheduling
- Performance tracking
6. Know and use best practices
Lastly, embrace the proven best practices to keep your Twitter account operating and your brand looking strong. These include the following:
- Think of audience first, "what is the so what?"
- Use short & direct copy
- Use images & media
- Shorten links
- Don't overuse hashtags
- Space out posts through scheduling
- Recycle content
- Stay consistent
- Test & track
- Schedule around day/time/topical triggers
- Always attribute originators of content
- Be authentic, don't go for cheap "wins" that are off brand
- Engage with and promote others when it fits your voice