Twitter Starter Guide
- Our Quick Start Guide -
Welcome to the Buy Followers Guide’s Starter Guide to Twitter. We’re going to take you from the very basics of what Twitter is, so that you have a solid foundation of knowledge, to discussing Twitter Strategies, briefly discuss Twitter management tools and conclude with a summary of everything learned.
Part One: What is Twitter?
To start at the beginning, Twitter is a micro-blogging service that allows users to send out short messages called ‘tweets.’ The term ‘micro-blogging’ refers to the traditional long form blogs of several hundred words. The reason why Twitter is called a ‘micro-blog’ is because every tweet, or blog post, is a maximum of 140 characters long.
Each tweet sent out will have some text with the 140 character maximum, you can include a link, a photograph, and something called a hashtag, in every tweet you send out.
What are the Parts of Twitter?
There are two basic parts to Twitter: your Tweet button and your newsfeed. Your tweet button is over on the left hand side and looks like this before you click on it to enter a tweet:
Once you click on it the box expands to include a tweet button and room for your text:
The camera button is for you to enter a picture. The circle with the triangle at the bottom allows you to add your location. The number ‘110’ is indicating that I have 110 characters out my 140 left. The tweet button is what you push when you’re done composing your message and want to send it out!
Your Newsfeed is located on the right hand side. This is the constant stream of new tweets from the people you follow. Starting out on your first day this will be empty. Mine looked like this when I was writing this:
Along the top you will see other icons. We’ll start at the left and work right:
- The first one is the ‘Home’ button.
- The @ shows your recent interactions with other Twitter users.
- The # shows a newsfeed that is personalized for you.
- The icon which kinda sorta looks like a person takes you to your own stream of past tweets.
- The Twitter bird doesn’t do anything, it’s a logo.
- The search button will let you find people and tweets by keywords.
- The envelope takes you to the direct messages that will be discussed later.
- The gear will let you change your settings
- The last button on the right pops up a new tweet window for you to send out a message.
These are always along the top of your Twitter page so that you have fast access to all of them right when you need them.
The last two parts of the Twitter homepage are along the left hand side under your tweet button. They are called the ‘Who to follow’ and ‘Worldwide Trends’ section:
The first finds people with similar interests and displays them for you, choose to follow them or push the ‘X’ to never seem them again here. The ‘WorldWide Trends’ shows you popular phrases and hashtags being used all over the world. You can change this to your country, city or have ‘Tailored Trends’ by clicking on the ‘Change’ button.
What are Hashtags and what are they used for?
A hashtag is any word, or series of words, with ‘#’ at the beginning. As an example, if I wanted to hashtag the word ‘twitter’ it would be #Twitter. What hashtags do is link conversations. This is important because 500 million tweets go out on an average day on Twitter. Without the ability to link conversations it would be one big mess!
If I were to hashtag the word #Twitter, and then send it out, or tweet it, the word #Twitter would show up as a clickable link within my post. Clicking on that hashtag link will take me to all other tweets which have also posted a tweet with the hashtag #Twitter in them.
Hashtags are used for many reasons. Businesses can use them to link up all of their conversations about a certain product so consumers can read everything said about it on Twitter. People can use them to have conversations on Twitter with other people who are interested in the topic. Events can use them to organize conversations amongst everyone who comes to the event.
Knowing what a hashtag is, and how to use it fully, is the most important thing you can do when learning about Twitter. Before you even send out your own first tweet, take a look at other businesses in your genre, click on their hashtags and see what they’re doing with them.
What are Retweets, Replies, Mentions and DMs?
A retweet is when someone finds your tweet interesting and shares it with their followers. This ends up exposing you to even more people than just your own followers, increasing your reach and finding you new followers as it is likely that the followers of the retweeter have interests similar to theirs. You’ll see the retweet button on tweets in your Newsfeed along the bottom of each tweet:
Replies are when someone has something to add to your tweet. It can be a question about what you said, a general comment or just saying “Cool!” Replies are how you build a community around your Twitter account. When someone has something to say to you, talk back to them and build that personal connection. Look at the photo above and see that it is also along the bottom.
Mentions are tweets with your, or someone else’s, username in it. Every Twitter username starts with the @ symbol. If your handle is @randombusiness, and someone has a question that they want to pose with you publicly, and they want to make sure that you see it, they will mention you in one of their tweets by using your username.
For example, if someone has something to say to your Random Business, they could say something like this: “Been having problems with my new product from @randombusiness, won’t work. Advice?” They’re deliberately calling you out and letting their followers know that there’s a problem – you have to step up and help or you’ll lose face. Customer service on Twitter is covered in Part 2 of this guide.
Direct messages are the private communications between you and one of your followers. All of the standard reasons why they would use this, instead of a public tweet, apply. They have something to say and want it to stay between the two of you.
Who do you Talk to people on Twitter?
There are a few common etiquette tips that will help you fit in. Twitter has its own set of unspoken rules like any other conversation or clique of people.
First, Twitter is not where you go to send out endless pieces of bland advertising. People go on Twitter to get away from traditional media, to get away from being advertised to. In short, they go on Twitter to get away from you! With that in mind, you have to speak with them in a way that isn’t the same old, same old.
The tweets that you’ll be sending out will follow the general theme of sharing information. Instead of sending out a tweet that says “The products we have are awesome, you’ll love them!” it would be more appropriate to say something like “Our products have this great feature that other users have loved, an article that explains more: linktoarticle.com”
The whole point of Twitter when it comes to marketing, and any other social media site, is the idea of value added marketing. You have to give something to followers in order to gain and keep their attention. The sloganeering of old will not work.
Joining conversations with other people
When it comes to speaking with other people, the most basic thing you should think about is this: “Would I say this to a random person on the street if I overheard them saying it?” If the answer is ever “No, they will think I’m crazy or rude” then it is time to think about what you’re doing and whether you should say it.
If you were to come across a tweet related to your business that you wanted to comment on, through a hashtag, the search button, or any other way, you wouldn’t go “Hey, our business does that too and we’re the best in the industry at it!” That will be ignored, probably made fun of and doesn’t pass the ‘on the street’ test.
A better approach to speaking with people on Twitter would be “We have worked on something like that and we solved it for @acustomer with this product.” No slogans, no overt promotion, just talking about experiences that are related to the conversation – exactly what you’d do if you overheard someone say it on the street.
Part Two: Twitter Strategy for Business
You need a plan to succeed on Twitter, just like anywhere else that you market. We’ll look at a basic plan and everything else you need to gain followers, drive sales and make full use of Twitter
Daily Twitter Marketing Plan
We’re going to look at this as if you only use Twitter on its own, without any use of the Twitter management tools discussed in Part 3.
1. Plan your posts for the day
Plan what you’re going to say, what content you’re going to send out of your own and what content from others you’re going to send out. This can be determined ahead of time during a weekly sit-down and planning session.
The general rule to follow is that you should tweet out no more than 50% of your own content. When you send out your content, have a plan for what links will be in it (hopefully back to your website) and what hashtags you will use to link it with other conversations.
2. Share the content of other users
This doesn’t have to literally be sharing other people’s tweets all the time, although that should be an aspect of what you do. This can also be sharing research from knowledgable people in your industry; send out the link and make a comment. You can also talk about recent events that are related to your business; tweet out a link to a news article and get people talking.
The benefit of this is that when you tweet out content from other people, and give them a @mention, they are likely to retweet your message. You both with as this exposes you to more people who likely have similar interests and it gives them free content to share with their followers.
3. Address all messages sent to you via mentions or direct messages
People on Twitter expect quick replies. Twitter moves faster than any other social media platform. Start every day by answering your direct messages and mentions.
When you do this, try to be personal. Social media is about just that – being social. No one wants a robot response: express sympathy for problems, solve them as best as you can and get some good internet karma going your way.
4. Speak with your brand evangelists and get a conversation going
There will be a group of people who LOVE your business or product, and they will talk about you every chance they can. These are your brand evangelists, speak with them directly, give them a @mention and it will keep them interested, tweeting about you and singing your praises.
Something to think about: these people will be doing a large chunk of advertising for you, send them some insider information or a free giveaway when they really impress you.
5. Look for new followers
Even if you’re successful and getting all of the Twitter followers you want, you still have to look for new ones. You can find new ones by:
Asking your brand evangelists if they know people who are interested
Finding people who are in a similar industry and looking through their followers
Look through a hashtag that is within your industry and see who is using it
How you can get these followers is by following them. They’ll be notified of this, check you out, and give you a follow back if they are into you. Finding just five people a day to follow can result in around 150 new relationships that you could start every month.
6. Unfollow inactive users and spammers
With all of the following that you’ll do in the above step, and the inevitable moving on of users who no longer use Twitter or your services, it is good to purge your inactive users. Twitter is too big of a platform to waste your time and space with people who are not participating, or not participating appropriately.
Your Twitter plan should include a group of relevant followers that are engaged regularly with your content. Commun.it, mentioned above, is a great tool to use for the purpose of finding out who isn’t interested any more.
Effective Calls to action
Calls to action are the statements that you make to your followers to get them to do something. Not only does it help drive your business goals to have effective calls to action, but your followers also expect it – it lets them know what the point of your message is quickly.
Twitter is a platform which only lets you use 140 characters per message you send out. Consequently, you will have to streamline your calls to action. The simplest, and most often used, sound something like this:
“Retweet if you agree” – to get people sharing your tweets. Sometimes shortened to “RT if you agree” for space.
“Follow link for more” – for when you have a link you want people to go to, commonly to your own website with more of your content.
“Reply with questions/comments” – if you want to start a conversation, let people know you’re available and interested.
To go back to the ‘people on the street’ analogy, this would be the equivalent of talking to someone on the street and saying “what do you think?” once you have had your say. People appreciation and recognize when you care about what they have to say. Be sure you’re not just giving lip service – follow up with those who have something to say and thank those who share.
Customer service on Twitter: Dealing with complaints, mistakes and negative tweets
It is going to happen: you are going to say something that offends someone inadvertently, or someone is going to attack you with a complaint. Dealing with both of these situations is the same.
With both you will want to publicly address the issue. Take responsibility for you mistake, or the person’s anger, and apologize. Do this publicly, ideally on the actual tweet which they have sent out so that anyone who saw it can see that you care. For an angry customer, it is very important to address them publicly so others know that you will fix problems.
The next step is to ask them to speak with you privately. This can be over a direct message, or you can give them an email address to speak with you on. The key is to get away from public discussion to ease communication flow and to avoid airing your dirty laundry in a public space. As long as people know that you’re going to do something, they don’t need to know the blow by blow. Your normal customer service takes over here, do the same things you’d do for someone in your store or talking to you on the phone.
Twitter is supposed to be fun!
Who do you think is going to get more attention:
The account that sends out nothing but statistics
The account that sends out fun facts, makes jokes and encourages lively discussion
If your answer is ‘1.’ then you’re in the wrong line of business coming onto Twitter as a marketer. If you truly engage with your Twitter followers you will be taking that word ‘engage’ literally, as in you must be engaging.
Being engaging on Twitter comes down to being either funny and witty, or informative and still kinda witty. Keeping up with the conversation in Twitter involves a good deal of humor. If you’re in a serious business by all means be serious, but everyone has a lighter side to their business that you can share.
Examples of businesses on Twitter having fun, and getting recognized for it, include this creative use of Twitter, math and an infographic from @SmartCarUSA. It all started with this tweet from a random user:
Smart Car responded with such a thorough sharing of (hilarious) information that it turned all haters into fans:
That ‘pic.twitter.com’ linked to this infographic:
That message received 53 retweets in less than an hour, and I’m still talking about it now over a year later! When was the last time you made advertising with that kind of staying power?
Let’s take a look at how @Domino’s Pizza nailed it in one post replying to another random person:
HILARIOUS! If the language is a little risqué for your business that’s understandable, until you realize that they’re making fun of the guy for saying such a thing in the first place – and showing their followers that it’s ok to have a laugh.
The last example is from a company that can not take itself too seriously: Charmin toilet paper. What could you talk about when you make a product for an activity that people don’t talk about? Anything! Have fun or pack it in! They constantly send out single tweets that are funny without any explanation or other interaction needed:
Their #tweetfromtheseat is their own hashtag which links their funnier tweets, and has other Twitter users joining in on the fun. This is a perfect example of a business that uses humor and connects their related tweets with a hashtag.
To summarize this last point on Twitter strategy: if you’re not funny, not entertaining and not getting your followers engaged and laughing or participating along with you, you’re wasting your time and should hire someone else to manage your account!
Other Strategies for gaining Twitter Followers
You can gain Twitter followers in a number of ways. Here are some ideas that will help you get retweets, keep your followers engaged and get you noticed:
Giveaways and Contests – Facebook restricts this, but Twitter lets you do your thing. Tweet out to your followers what they could win and how they can win it, and you’re sure to get retweets, mentions and your community engaged.
Promotions – This can work like a virtual coupon. Sending out a message that says “Tweet us a message and you’ll get $5 off your next purchase” is sure to get a response. Budget for it like you would for any other promotion.
Sneak Peeks – Have a new product coming out that people are anticipating? Give them a little tease that shows them something, but not everything. This will build curiosity, get people retweeting with “what do you think this is” messages and act as pre-launch advertising.
These are traditional marketing techniques, but with a 21st Century upgrade. We didn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater with Twitter marketing, we just took the baby out of your sink and put it in a community bathtub with water constantly running through a powerful filter.
How’s that for an analogy?
Part Three: Tools To Manage Your Twitter Account
There are a number of third party apps that make managing your Twitter account easier. Each will have their own specific use, you can determine which one will be useful for you.
Hootsuite – Manage multiple social media accounts at once so that you have one dashboard, and one login, for all of your social media accounts! A search feature finds people that mention chosen keywords that you determine. This is useful for finding those who mention you without using an official @mention. You can schedule your tweets in advance. Their geo-targeting features allow you to find people within a specific region, and their ‘ow.ly’ link shortener uses fewer characters and tracks your click-through information.
Tweriod – Helps you determine when the best time is to send out your messages by analyzing the habits of your users.
Twitpic – helps you share your photos and video, a favorite of photo journalists and those in image heavy industries.
TweetReach – finds out interesting reach and effectiveness statistics about your tweets such as how many times it was shared, who is sharing it and where they are (great for geo-specific market targeting), as well as tracking any links within your tweet across other social media platforms.
Buffer App – Another multi-platform app which allows you to schedule tweets, and has the Buffer Bar which makes it easy to share websites that you are on with the click of a button. Also features powerful engagement tracking so that you know what your audience likes.
Tweetdeck – You can track multiple accounts, customise what you see in your feeds by setting up columns of information for your tweets, mentions, direct message and so on (exactly how Hootsuite is set up) along with a URL link shortener and tweet scheduling.
Be aware that with Tweetdeck is owned by Twitter and they continually change it to better align it with their own goals. As an example, once Twitter bought out TweetDeck from its original developers, it removed the Facebook, LinkedIn and Google support that it once had, they once made it so you had to have a separate Tweetdeck account from your Twitter account, changed it so you can now only use it from a desktop (no mobile support) and they removed the popular deck.ly feature.
If you’re looking to use Twitter seriously, or if your account blows up in popularity, you’ll need to use one of these apps to keep up. Take a look at each one, read around some more on their features and see if one will help you.
Part Four: Conclusion, summary & other thoughts
Twitter is a tremendous opportunity for businesses of all industries. As of January 1, 2014, 645,750,000 active users were on Twitter, with 200 million of those signing in and using it every month. The odds are very good that someone is either looking for you specifically, or looking to speak with someone like you – better yet, someone may be on Twitter who doesn’t even know that they want to speak with you yet!
With all of those people out there using it you may be worried that you can’t have your voice heard. With a peak of 143,199 tweets per second, it can be tough. Taking the time to follow the strategies above, and applying them every day, will build your Twitter community, give you a voice that people pay attention to and build your following.
If you’re worried that your business doesn’t seem like it would be right for Twitter, take a look at the success of Charmin if you feel that your business doesn’t work for a social media marketing approach. All you need to be is creative, engaging and informative – just the qualities that helped your business become successful in the first place, right?