5 Rules Of Engagement For Brands On Twitter

February 27, 2012
Twitter for Business

Tweeting is easy they say. It only takes about sixty seconds to create a profile then write a one or two sentence post. And, once you’re in there are all kinds of built-in features prompting you to “follow your interests” and “connect” with others. For brands, the question isn’t one of complexity it’s positioning and how to connect with the RIGHT people. The more daunting thought is how on earth to stuff all that marketing messaging into 140 characters or what to say at all. Before you go too far down the rabbit hole there are tried and true best practices, or rules of engagement so to speak, that you can use to build a foundation. Before you post one more time read these five Twitter tips and you’ll get better results.

#1 Build Relationships

Twitter is a tool for connecting with customers, employees, and strangers – all the people who have or have the potential to build your brand. Note the keyword “people”. Twitter is a place to be personable so it is important for your brand to come off as real and genuine. Rather than thinking about approaching Twitter as a “brand” think of it as “the people behind the brand”. To build relationships you’ll have to dig deeper into your communications strategy to go beyond advertising messages. Find time each day to focus on relationship-building activities like following others, retweeting, replying and mentioning others in your tweets to provide them with well-deserved recognition.

#2 Tweet Often

Twitter is a fast moving communications platform. People tend to follow hundreds of other Twitter profiles. Uber users who are influential (the people you really want to get your messages in front of) follow thousands of others. People read and respond to tweets in real-time, meaning your content has a momentary shelf life. The average number of tweets of successful profiles range between 5-10 per day or more. These can consists of unique posts, retweets, mentions, and replies with others. Plan your content and topics around seasonality and the marketing calendar. You can source topical content and write copy you know is coming up in advance. The other 60%+ of what you are doing should be sourcing fresh, real-time content to retweet, feature and develop conversations about on a daily basis.

#3 Engage Your Audience

What does this mean exactly? Engagement. It’s definitely one of those marketing buzz words and it doesn’t mean to ask your customer to marry you. Although that’s what attempts at direct selling on social media can feel like. Engagement is just a term to describe metrics that show people are spending time with your brand or content. Engagement metrics can take on a different context depending on the marketing channel. On Twitter it means retweets of your content, clicks on your links, and conversations with your brand. Twitter can be thought of like live chat or text messaging. When you tweet “Have a good weekend.” and someone replies “Thank you. I will!” they just engaged. Having two-way conversations with your audience is important to doing Twitter right. It will require you take off your marketing hat and put on your cocktail dress (or tie). Loosen up, have fun, be a human. That last part should be easy, you are human right?

#4 Be Modest

Talk about others more than you talk about yourself. I didn’t make this up; it’s practically a golden rule in social marketing. While PR is a common company objective, people following your stream will get a little tired of seeing self-aggrandizing talk. Sure, you can toot your horn once in a while just keep the ratio down. After all, the most effective way to get people to believe the merits of your brand, product or company is to hear it from others. When others say positive things retweet them and thank them. Find ways to generate conversation that aligns with what your brand stands for but isn’t a bunch of product talk. If you’re still at a loss for what to talk about refer back to rule #1 or keep reading to #5.

#5 Provide Value

Much like in life, the more you give the more you get. On Twitter providing value reaps the benefits of brand affinity, customer loyalty, and positive word-of-mouth. Effective Twitter marketing will require you doing a little footwork to really, truly understand who your audience is. If you have developed brand personas it’s a good time to make use of them and to validate your assumptions. Investing in a good listening tool and testing topics with your audience will also go a long way in developing a successful content strategy. Whatever it is you decide to say make sure it passes this test: Does it benefit my audience? If the answer starts with “yes because my product does x, y, z” please re-start at rule #1.

In summary, Twitter is all about following interests. For a brand this translates to engaging its audiences around THEIR interests. Follow these rules of engagement and you’ll be off to building a strong foundation on Twitter for business.

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