You have 140 characters and a maximum of 5 seconds to engage a new follower. How do you do that? This is the challenge presented to every marketer and entrepreneur who joins Twitter seeking new leads for their business. Twitter is the social network of short messages, powerful words, and a very fast flow of new messages, making yours disappear beyond the viewable limit of the screen in less than a minute.
This is a difficult challenge and it is critical to learn how to master the art of tweeting. It has become as important part of marketing communications and it should be a must-have skill for every marketing manager or self-made entrepreneur. At a first glance it sounds simple: keep it really short, use an URL shortening service and you’re done. Not really. It is not so simple. Your tweets need to be short, indeed, but they must be memorable. Otherwise, the magic 5 seconds pass, your follower will see other interesting tweets on their Timeline and your message is gone in less than 60 seconds.
So, how can you become a master in the art of tweeting? Here are a few recommendations:
1. Learn from Notable Mistakes
This is one of the most powerful ways in which you can learn what not to do on Twitter. Mistakes are costly in the online world and, as everyone has found, from hapless teenagers to worldwide corporations, what is posted on the internet stays on the internet forever. The biggest caveats to steer clear of, as painfully experienced by major brands, are the following:
- Asking the World Wide Web to Name Your Products: it may seem engaging and investing people with power over your products, but this initiative can backfire painfully. The UK polar research authority found out when they asked followers to name a multi-million Euro research vessel equipped with the latest technology. The winning name? Boaty McBoatface. No further comment needed.
- Using Trending Hashtags without Understanding what They Refer to: a lot of things and events become trending hashtags on Twitter, including tragic ones. Before you grab the latest hot hashtag and post it with a catchy commercial message, check out that it is not related to a terror attack, hurricane or social issue. If you do want to join the tweeting trend, make sure you create an appropriate message, and do not try to turn it into a promotional tweet. A pizza restaurant network found out this the hard way when they promoted their products with a hashtag created for women in abusive relationships.
- Granting Anyone in Your Company Access to the Twitter Account: a British entertainment group forgot to revoke Twitter access rights to a number of employees which were laid off. The resulting cascade of tweets is nothing short of embarrassing for the brand.
2. Try to Limit Your Tweet to 100 Characters
It is not just the fact that everyone likes round numbers (no one will actually count your characters), but short messages with punchy words used as hashtags are always more efficient as attention grabbers. It is also a visually compelling way of sharing a tweet. If you don’t think it is enough to share your message, note that this sentence has 100 characters. You can certainly convey an attractive and powerful marketing message in a sentence this long.
3. Don’t Share Only Headlines and Links
Falling on the other side of the Twitter barricade, there are those businesses which always seem to tweet a headline followed by the shortened URL. That headline is not enough to make people click or tap on the link. They need a reason to do so. Compare the difference between: “Top Rules for Safety at Work: URL” and “Are Your Employees Safe at Work? Find Out Here: URL”.
In the first instance, you can see an informative headline. In the second, the person reading the tweet is addressed directly, becoming personally involved and interested in reading the article.
4. Customers Questions Should Receive Quick Reply
If, among others, you use Twitter as a customer care platform, then you need to treat it as one. This means that every tweet in which you are asked a questions about your products, payment and delivery terms and conditions should receive an answer within a maximum of 24 hours. This means that you may need to hire someone to keep browsing your incoming tweets and prepare the answer, or relay the question to the competent person in your organisation.
Tweeting for business is not a game. It is fun when you are doing it right, but it must always remain professional and tailored to fit your brand image and fulfill your marketing goals.