7 tips for maximizing Twitter as a marketing and engagement tool

Facebook may have the most users, but Twitter is the best for connecting brands to their followers.

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Facebook may have the largest number of active users, but no platform is better at connecting brands and their followers in real time than Twitter. Unfortunately, very few marketers understand how to properly leverage Twitter. Sound familiar? Well, you need to revamp your approach and focus on engagement.

Why Twitter matters

The value of Twitter lies not only in its reach, but also in the strength of individual interactions on the platform. Consider the following statistics as curated by analytical marketer Craig Smith:

  • There are an estimated 1.3 billion registered Twitter users;
  • Of the 1.3 billion accounts, roughly 100 million are active on a daily basis;
  • 34 percent of users that log on to the platform do so more than once per day.

While all of these statistics show the volume and reach of Twitter, let’s look at a piece of data that should excite the marketer inside of you. According to a comprehensive survey released by Edison Research, 49 percent of monthly Twitter users follow brands and companies. How significant is this? Well, consider that just 16 percent of social network users across all platforms follow brands.

This means Twitter users are three-times more likely to follow brands than Facebook users. But they aren’t just following — they’re actually using Twitter to research and engage. Around 42 percent say they use Twitter to learn more about products and services, 41 percent provide opinions on products and services, and 19 percent seek direct customer support.

When you combine all of these numbers with the fact that 51 percent of Twitter users make more than $50,000 per year, you can begin to understand the immense value lying beneath the surface of this seemingly innocuous platform.

How to increase engagement with Twitter

As a marketer, your goal should be to tap into the strength of Twitter as more than a marketing tool. Sure, it’s a great platform for disseminating advertisements and getting your brand name in front of people, but the only way to maximize its value is by leveraging it as a tool for engagement.

The issue is that many marketers don’t take the time to make engagement a priority. They’re too worried about focusing on quantifiable metrics like impressions and follower counts to zero in on individual interactions.

If this sounds familiar, you can rest easier knowing you aren’t alone. However, it’s imperative that you do something sooner rather than later. Let’s take a look at some expert advice regarding simple ways to increase engagement on Twitter.

1. Know when to post

Maximizing engagement is all about tweeting at the right time. Typically, there’s a 12-hour window within your audience’s time zone where most users are active. Tweets between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. receive 30 percent higher interaction.

If you want to further narrow down your timeframe, you can use this tool from Tweriod to see when your tweets will get the most exposure based on a number of different factors related to your audience.

2. Ask for a retweet

As social media scientist Dan Zarrella explains, “Traditional marketers and sales people have known for years and years that if you want someone to take a specific action, you have to actually ask them to take that action. But for some reason when we made the shift to social media, it suddenly became ‘uncool’ to use calls-to-action.”

It may seem strange asking for a retweet, but it’s not necessarily inappropriate on Twitter. Users understand the value and place for retweets, so as long as the content is conducive to retweeting, you should see some action.

In fact, you could see a big response. According to this infographic from HubSpot, tweets specifically asking for followers to retweet receive a retweet rate 12-times higher than those that do not. And when “retweet” is actually spelled out (versus abbreviated to “RT”), the retweet rate is 23-times higher than average.

You don’t want to ask for retweets in every post — you’ll come across as pushy or needy — but an occasionally well-placed request will produce some nice returns.

3. Use the proper tweet length

Twitter has a character limit, but don’t try to use every last character you’re given. Research shows that shorter tweets receive higher engagement on average than longer tweets. The reason is that users tend to scroll quickly. Longer tweets overwhelm, whereas a brief tweet can be consumed in a matter of seconds.

Any time you send out a tweet, ask yourself if it can be shortened. Don’t simply abbreviate words with internet slang and acronyms, though. Users find these tweets difficult to understand, and unprofessional when coming from a brand.

4. Adjust your vocabulary

Speaking of vocabulary, did you know that some words resonate more with Twitter users more than others? According to research, tweets with the words “top,” “follow,” and “please” are more likely to be retweeted. Other phrases and words that see a lot of engagement include “check it out,” “new blog post,” and “free.”

5. Consider automating engagement

When it comes to Twitter activity, one of the biggest excuses is that there simply isn’t enough time to find the right users and engage them. If this is an issue for your brand, then it wouldn’t hurt to consider automating engagement to streamline the process.

There are a number of social media lead generation tools on the market – Socedo is one that comes to mind – that enable marketers to flag prospects and then automatically engage their social profiles using customizable processes and workflows. When compounded over hundreds or thousands of individual prospects, this saves hours of your time each week.

6. Properly respond to complaints

Many customers use Twitter to consult with brands about issues they’re having. You’ll see this in a lot in service industries, such as with airline companies. When customers have delayed flights, bad experiences, lost luggage, and other related issues, they’ll frequently tweet at the airline. There are positives and negatives to this.

The negative is that people can publicly see the complaint, which may slightly damage their reputation. However, the benefit is that this gives the brand a chance to publicly respond and make amends.

Tools like Cyfe allow you to monitor brand mentions to react in real time to customer engagement. As Ann Reuss from Cyfe explains, “Listening and monitoring online for reactions of your customers, competitor’s customers and potential leads is imperative. When you monitor, you understand what makes them tick or happy then you can be proactive about creating your services/product to cause a positive experience associated with your brand.”

Your brand may not get as many complaints as a larger brand in a service industry, but don’t shy away when they pop up. Properly responding to complaints in a head-on manner can spin a negative interaction into a positive one. 

7. Use interactive polls

Over the past year, Twitter has released a new feature that allows users to create polls. While anyone can use the polls, there’s tremendous opportunity for brands to benefit from them.

Not only are polls interactive and fun for users, but they are also surprisingly versatile. You can use them to simply ask an interesting question, or they can be used to gather feedback and consumer research. Study what some other brands are doing and look for your own opportunities.

Start engaging your customers

As a brand, it’s important that you use Twitter as more than a marketing and advertising tool. When maximized, Twitter can effectively increase customer-brand engagement.

Keep these tips in mind and look for other strategies and techniques for building strong relationships with users.

This article is published as part of the IDG Contributor Network. Want to Join?

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