The Complete Guide for Business
With more than 145 million active daily users, Twitter should be a part of your marketing strategy. It’s the fifth most popular social media network, and it’sis a gold mine of customer insights and opportunities to build your brand, drive sales and win fans.
But with 500 million tweets sent every day, you need to be strategic and savvy in order to win (and hold) your audience’s attention.
Intimidated by this fast-paced network? We’ve got everything you need to create and implement a highly effective Twitter marketing strategy that gets results.
Bonus: Download the free strategy guide that reveals how Hootsuite grew our Twitter following to over 8 million users and learn how you can put the tactics to work for your business.
How to create a Twitter marketing strategy
You should always approach social media with a plan of action, and Twitter is no different. Understanding how the platform works and how it fits in your overall social media strategy is the key to success.
So where do you start when creating your Twitter marketing strategy? We’ve outlined the components of a successful foundation below.
Audit your accounts
Does your organization already have an existing Twitter account, or maybe more than one? Your first step should be documenting all existing accounts, and which team member has been responsible for them.
Once you have your list, conduct a thorough review of all accounts. Collect information like:
- How often does this account tweet?
- What’s the engagement rate?
- How many followers does it have?
You should also audit brand compliance for existing accounts. Is the Twitter handle the same as your other social media accounts? Are your bio and profile picture on-brand? Did someone forget to update your header image after your 2017 Holiday Campaign, and now— whoops!— it’s advertising a promotion that’s several years out of date?
It’s a lot of information, but we’ve got a template for conducting a social media audit to make this process easy.
Once you’ve audited your existing accounts, you’ll have a baseline for your Twitter performance. This will help to inform the next stage of your strategy: setting goals.
Success on any social media platform begins with having clear, measurable goals. There’s no way to know if your strategy is having a positive impact on your business unless you understand what you’re trying to achieve.
You want to create SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound. So “going viral” doesn’t count. These goals should align with your high-level business objectives, and be broken down into measurable indicators of success.
For example, you may want to drive more traffic to your website. Translate that into a SMART goal by aiming to increase your average click-through rate. You can use your baseline click-through rate from your Twitter audit to set a specific achievable goal over a reasonable period of time (say, an increase from 1.5% to 2.5% in three months).
Check out the competition
Isn’t doing a great job its own reward? Well, sure. But admit it— you also want to leave your rivals in the dust.
So don’t forget to review the Twitter accounts for your industry competitors. Analyzing their social media can help you refine your own, by revealing weaknesses or gaps in their strategy, and ways that you can distinguish yourself.
You need to ensure your accounts are monitored and active, and that someone is replying to direct messages and mentions. Twitter conversations move fast, so it’s noticeable to your followers if you’re not checking in regularly, and a failure to be responsive and timely will damage your brand.
Busy accounts may need multiple team members monitoring them, like Vancouver’s Translink account. Individual team members sign their names, to provide a personal touch to their customer service.
Good morning! The TransLink Twitter desk is now open. Reminder that Customer Information call center hours are now 7am-7pm (temporarily reduced). West Vancouver Transit riders: Some service reductions/suspensions take affect today. Please visit https://t.co/u0TKY45jqf ^cm
— TransLink BC (@TransLink) May 2, 2020
But even if only one person is responsible for your Twitter account, you’ll still want to designate a back-up team member so that there are no gaps in coverage.
Ensure everyone is clear on their responsibilities. Too much coverage can provide its own problems, if multiple team members are trying to respond to the same tweets and offering redundant or conflicting answers. A social media management tool like Hootsuite can be helpful for assigning clear roles and responsibilities.
Check out our guide to social media collaboration for more tips.
You need a social media style guide to keep your communications clear and consistent. Guidelines also help you onboard new team members, and prevent mishaps and mistakes on social media.
Your guidelines should be shared with everyone on your social media team, and may include elements of your overall brand style guide, like your tone and details about your audiences.
But it should also be specific to how you use social accounts, including Twitter, with details like:
- Branded hashtags and how to use them
- How and where you use emojis
- How to format links
Every kind of conversation—good, bad, weird— happens on Twitter, so you want to be ready for anything. Criticism is inevitable, especially as your account grows, so you should plan for how to respond to trolls and manage a PR crisis. Remember, it’s much better to have those resources and not need them than the other way around.
Check out our tips for creating a social media style guide to help you get started.
Make a content calendar
Planning your content takes a little bit of time upfront, but ultimately saves you effort and stress later on. Trust us, you’ll be glad you did it when you’re not struggling to come up with a witty, original tweet for #NationalDoughnutDay at the last minute.
A social media content calendar is useful for aligning the content you’re posting on all your channels, and spotting possible gaps and conflicts that you can address. It also helps you Planning ahead helps seize opportunities for timely or interesting content, like sharing your sustainability practices on Earth Day, or celebrating your female founder on International Women’s Day.
When creating your calendar, consider:
- How often you want to post
- The best times to post
- Who should approve posts
A calendar can also help you assess your content and see if you’re sharing a balanced mix of tweets. You want to follow the rule of thirds (number 8 on this list): ⅓ of tweets promote your business, ⅓ share personal stories, and ⅓ are informative insights from experts or influencers.
However, you can’t set it and forget it. You still need to keep an eye on your Twitter account so you can reply to DMs and mentions and join conversations.
Worried about spending too much time on it? Don’t be— you can manage your social media in just 18 minutes per day.
Measure your impact
Once your marketing strategy is underway, you need to be regularly evaluating your efforts and checking your progress against those SMART goals you set.
But the data available to you can be overwhelming— there are a ton of metrics at your fingertips, including vanity metrics that aren’t always meaningful. So think about which metrics really matter. Getting a lot of retweets from a funny meme is great— but did any of those translate to conversions or sales?
Collecting meaningful data will help you demonstrate the value of your marketing efforts, and provide insights that will help you refine your strategy over time.
Check out our guide to understanding key performance indicators (KPIs) on social to get started.
11 Twitter marketing tips, ranked from easiest to most advanced
1. Complete your profile
Having an on-brand, professional Twitter profile helps you make a good first impression on new followers. Consider how each element of your profile helps to reinforce your brand and inform audiences.
- Handle. This is your account name, and it’s how audiences can find you on Twitter. Generally, you want your handles to be consistent across social media and include your company name.
- Profile photo. Your profile photo appears next to every tweet you send, so you want it to look sharp. Use your logo or wordmark, and make sure to use the right dimensions for a clear and crisp image.
- Header image. Your header image appears on your profile page, and you may want to update it more often than your profile photo. It can reflect current campaigns, provide information, or offer insight into your company culture.
For instance, digital agency Domain7, which emphasizes “people first” design, uses a team photo as their header image
- Bio. A Twitter bio is capped at 160 characters, so keep it snappy. Use a tagline, or get creative to show off your brand personality.
Wendy’s is well-known on Twitter for cheeky humor, and they make that obvious in their witty bio.
- URL. Most of the time, your company website should live here. But you may want to update your URL during special campaigns or events. Just don’t forget about it when the special occasion is over!
- Location. This may seem like a small detail, but providing a location makes your profile feel more personal and real to audiences. This is especially important for small businesses with physical storefronts, as you want customers to be able to find you offline. If you’re a global business, you might want to include your headquarters, like Nike.
2. Curate your feeds with Lists
Opening up your Twitter feed can feel like walking into a huge, noisy party with a million conversations happening at once. There’s so much going on that it’s hard to focus on any one topic.
That’s why lists are a helpful tool for zeroing in on the conversations that actually matter to your business. Lists are curated feeds from selected accounts, which allow you to tune in to relevant discussions or influential people.
You can make as many lists as you want in Twitter (well, up to a thousand— if you hit that limit, it’s time to log off!). And unlike the main feed, which is ordered through Twitter’s secret algorithm, tweets in your lists are arranged chronologically, which makes it easier to follow evolving issues and current events.
You may want to create lists of your competitors’ accounts, influential thought leaders in your industry, and your own team members. Remember that lists are public, so be thoughtful when naming them.
You can also subscribe to lists by other accounts. If an influential industry member has already made a list of accounts you want to follow, just subscribe to their lists:
- Navigate to their profile page
- Click the icon with the three dots above their bio, then select View Lists.
- You can see the lists they’ve created, as well as lists that include their account, and lists that they subscribe to.
- Click the list you want to follow.
- Hit Subscribe.
- To see all the lists you own, follow and appear on, click Lists in the left-hand menu on your Twitter home page.
Cultivating your lists may take a little time, ultimately they help you use Twitter efficiently and strategically.
For even more inspiration, here are nine great ideas for how to use Twitter lists.
3. Cultivate your voice to win fans
Twitter is a very chatty platform. Although you can (and should!) use images and videos, winning fans and connecting with followers requires an authentic, appealing voice.
Even if multiple team members share responsibility for your account, your tweets should have a consistent tone. While all brands (and their accounts) have a unique voice, there are a few commonalities among the best of them:
- Show personality. Your brand voice should be consistent across all your platforms, and communicate your brand values. Are you edgy? Funny? Inspirational? Bold? These qualities should be conveyed through your tweets.
- Be human. No one likes a tweet that sounds like it came from a robot or a script. Twitter users want to know there’s a real person listening and engaging with them from behind your account. Opt for plain, accessible language over jargon and abbreviations.
- Be original. Don’t tweet the same message over and over. Posting identical messages across your social media accounts is a big no-no. Each of your tweets should be unique, otherwise you’ll seem spammy.
- Be sincere. The goal of Twitter is not to attract followers by any means necessary; it’s to help you connect with customers and build trust with them.
Tip: Whatever your authentic voice is, make sure to spell-check it before posting. Unlike other social media platforms, there is no edit button on Twitter.
Still searching for your authentic voice on social? We can help.
4. Run a Twitter poll
However, one exception to this format is Twitter polls. Twitter polls allow you to pose questions and offer up to four answers to choose from. Polls are a great way to engage your audience, because they’re simple and fun. And if there’s one thing people love to do on Twitter, it’s express strong opinions about minor topics.
The City of Edmonton has reduced traffic on three roadways to create more space for pedestrians and cyclists. That’s our @EdmAMCBC talking point, so let us know what you think. Is this a good idea? Or a bad idea? Vote in our poll and comment to let us know why? #YEG
— Tara McCarthy ????????♀️ (@CBCradiotara) April 21, 2020
And they have benefits for you, too. Polls let you gather feedback and opinions, learn about customer preferences, tease product ideas, and more. They’re no replacement for in-depth research methods, but they do provide quick and useful insights.
5. Schedule your tweets for optimal post times
Take your Twitter strategy to the next level by scheduling your tweets ahead of time, rather than posting them manually one-by-one.
Scheduling helps you streamline the time you spend on social and stay on top of your content calendar. That way, you never miss sending an important tweet because your afternoon meeting ran late.
By scheduling your tweets, you can also take advantage of the best times to post and boost your engagement. These times are based on engagement for Twitter as a whole; your particular audience may be more active at different times. By measuring your performance with analytics, you can learn what times are best for you and adjust your posting schedule accordingly.
A caveat: you’ll never be able to schedule 100% of your tweets. You still need to be responding to mentions and joining conversations, which happen in real-time. But for content that you’ve planned in advance, like campaigns or links to blog posts, you can save yourself time with scheduling.
Hootsuite can help you here, with a bulk composer tool that allows you to schedule up to 350 tweets at once at optimal times.
6. Let’s get visual (for higher engagement)
A picture is worth 1000 words, which is especially useful on Twitter, where you only have 280 characters to work with.
Visual assets can help you communicate more with each tweet. Complement an informative tweet with a chart or infographic, or reinforce an inspirational message with a stunning photo. A video can help you capture and hold attention, ideal for product launches or campaigns.
Plus, adding images and videos to your tweets is a surefire way to boost engagement. Tweets with images get up to three times as much engagement, while tweets with videos get up to ten times as much engagement.
As a bonus, images (including GIFs) and videos don’t count towards your 280 character limit.
Tip: Ensure your videos are optimized for mobile, since Twitter reports that 93% of video viewers are watching on a handheld device.
7. Become a hashtag master
Hashtags are a feature on every social platform, but they were born on Twitter. And they remain an invaluable tool to boost your engagement and discoverability on the platform.
Understanding how and where to use hashtags on Twitter will make your content more impactful and help you reach new audiences who share your interests.
- Find the right hashtags. Use hashtags that make sense for your industry and niche. Checking out what hashtags are popular among your competitors can provide insight.
- Create a branded hashtag. This is a hashtag unique to your business, which can be used to collect and organize content about your brand. They’re ideal for promoting campaigns and finding user-generated content.
- Follow trends. Twitter’s Explore page displays the current trending topics, including hashtags. Joining these conversations will help new audiences discover your posts. Just make sure you understand the context, to avoid any embarrassing mishaps.
- Don’t overdo it. One to two hashtags per tweet is optimal.
8. Tune in with social listening
Twitter isn’t just about speaking— it’s also about listening. “Social listening” means paying attention to conversations happening on Twitter that provide insights into your customers and community.
Not only can you find out what people think about your brand and products, you can also learn from other trending topics and discussions. Social listening helps you to refine your messaging, build loyalty and trust, and address pain points and complaints proactively.
Some of the topics you should pay attention to include:
- Your business name
- Your competitors’ names
- Industry hashtags or buzzwords
- Relevant trending topics
Use Twitter’s advanced search tool to find out what people are saying. You can also use Hootsuite to set up streams that will monitor keywords, hashtags, mentions, and other important data.
9. Run an ad campaign
Once you’ve got a handle on using Twitter organically, it’s time to level up and run your first ad campaign.
Advertising on Twitter can help you grow your audience, promote your products, drive traffic to your website, and more. You can choose to promote your account to gain new followers, or promote individual tweets to boost engagement and campaign visibility.
Twitter Ads allows you to target your audience very selectively, and provides detailed analytics on campaign results and cost-per-action. As a result, you can reach the right people with your campaign and quickly learn what campaign messages are most effective.
Learn more about advertising on Twitter to learn how to launch your first campaign!
10. Use UTM parameters to measure your success
If you’re ready to get a little more sophisticated with your social media data and analytics, then say hello to UTM parameters.
These are short text codes that you can add to your links in order to hone in on traffic and conversions. They can specify the source, medium, campaign name, and more. You can add them directly in Hootsuite Composer, or through Google Analytics.
By capturing this data, UTM parameters show you exactly how people navigate to your website, which tweets are most effective, measure the ROI of your influencer campaigns, and more. They’re incredibly useful for understanding how your Twitter strategy (and other social media efforts) impact your business bottom line.
11. Expect the unexpected
As Picasso once said, “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” The greatest moments of Twitter happen outside the boundaries of normal or expected conduct, and taking a chance can lead to a huge payoff.
Vita Coco, a coconut water brand, triggered a tsunami of shock, awe and grudging respect when they responded to a dissatisfied customer suggesting he would rather drink a jar of pee than their product by offering to mail him exactly what he asked for.
— Vita Coco (@VitaCoco) May 15, 2019
This is pretty insane on the part of Vita Coco, but it worked! Even their critic had to admit they had impressed him.
And although coconut water is disgusting this is extremely funny.
— Tony Posnanski (@tonyposnanski) May 15, 2019
I’m not suggesting anyone start bottling their urine like Howard Hughes, but taking a risk on social can really pay off.
Of course, your own Twitter marketing strategy will be specific to your brand or organization. But following these 11 tips closely will get you started on the right foot.
Use Hootsuite to execute your Twitter marketing plan alongside all your other social media activity. From a single dashboard you can monitor your competitors, grow your followers, schedule tweets, and analyze your performance. Try it free today.