It’s all the rage. All your competitors are doing it. Heck, your neighbor kid is doing it. And now your company wants you to do it: Twitter.
I think it’s safe to say that Twitter isn’t really a fad anymore. It’s become a part of the fabric of communication, and, as a marketing professional, you can’t ignore it anymore.
I won’t lie: Twitter is a pretty big commitment. You have to commit to being consistent, and to joining the conversation. But that doesn’t mean it has to be your only job, or a huge time-suck away from your other marketing initiatives. Your job is to initiate positive interactions with your customers and potential customers, and Twitter is actually a pretty efficient way to do that.
Here are 5 tips to make your Twitter time really count:
- Monitor when your brand is mentioned. Sometimes your Twitter stream can get a little overwhelming, and monitoring your mentions can help you be sure you haven’t missed an obvious opportunity for interaction. “Mentions” can mean several things. When someone puts your brand’s Twitter name in his post with an @ symbol in front of it, he is mentioning you. It can also mean someone just dropping your brand name in a post without the typical @. If you’re looking for @ replies and mentions, it’s easy to find them. They’ll be at http://twitter.com/replies, or, if you’re using a desktop Twitter application like Twhirl or TweetDeck, you can set up tabs to monitor your @ mentions. You can also set up searches for your brand name either in a Twitter desktop application, or using a separate web application, like TweetBeep.
- Invite your company to participate. You may choose to share your Twitter login between several people and all monitor and respond. Or, if you have one person in charge of your brand Twitter account, make sure the rest of your company knows about it, and encourage them to monitor and respond to conversations about your brand, too, using their personal Twitter accounts. It’s a good way to get your team-mates involved, and to build a voice for your brand.
- Kill two birds (or three, or four) with one stone. Look into options that allow you to post to several places at once. Chances are, if you have a Twitter account, you also have a Facebook Page, or a website, or a blog, or all of these. There are lots of ways to integrate your Twitter stream into your website and your blog. For example, ask your web developer about adding a Twitter stream widget to your blog sidebar. There are also several programs out there, including Ping.fm and many desktop Twitter applications, that allow you to simultaneously post to your Twitter, your Facebook Page, and lots of other social networks.
- Analyze your success. Social media is notoriously difficult to analyze, but it can be done. When you think of Twitter “analytics,” it’s not the typical website-style “how many hits did we get?” type of analytics. But there are ways to tell how you’re doing. Keep track of your @ mentions and conversations, month over month. If you notice your numbers slipping, try to engage your followers more regularly. Use a link shortener that provides analytics, like bit.ly. Notice which links are the most popular, and formulate hypotheses as to why. Monitoring your Twitter stats will keep you efficient, and also relevant to your followers. Keep in mind, though, that the value of your Twitter conversations is mostly in the relationship-building, and you may not be able to assign a value-per-click to your Twitter data.
- Have fun! In a lot of ways, Twitter is unlike any other marketing you will do. You get to interact with people in real time, and see your results from that interaction immediately. The built-in efficiency of Twitter means you’re not waiting for click-throughs or call-backs or mail responses. It’s fun! Enjoy it!
Twitter doesn’t have to be a huge, scary time-suck. Use it wisely, and you’ll never regret your decision to jump in!