So, you’ve heard me rant about Twitter. Some of you even went out and set up accounts, good work! So now what? What do you actually do with Twitter once you’re on there? Why does it matter?
Well, Twitter became even more important this month. Deals were announced with both Google and Microsoft to include Twitter posts — tweets — in search results. So, before long, when someone searches for your company they might also see what people are saying about you on Twitter. In my book, everything in search engine results matters big time, period. Twitter also matters because it gives you another outlet to stay connected with your clients, donors, peers, etc. as well as to attract new ones.
Tweeting seems really simple. Twitter seems really simple in general, at first. It is a simple concept: write little messages no longer than 140 characters. In theory each tweet should answer the question: What are you doing? Dead simple. But, actually doing this well gets complicated. You’ll need to balance the amount you want to communicate with the amount of room you have, and still write something readable. You’ll also need to stand out — catch people’s eyes. You’ll want to elicit a response from the reader as well, e.g. click your link, reply to you, or just empathize with you. Finally, you have to provide actual value in your tweets. A few examples should help.
Bad Tweets – I’m making these up, to protect the guilty.
‘Buy our great widgets at http://www.example.com’
This kind of self promotion only works when someone has just said to themselves “Wow, those are some nice widgets, and I do need some new ones.” On Twitter these types of give-me-your-money tweets are a sure fire way to be ignored — with sort of an exception for non-profits, see below. If you want to get shoppers through Twitter, you’ll need to talk about benefits and provide useful content. Really though, traditional selling doesn’t apply here. Don’t pitch people. Instead, talk to them, and engage with them. Join the conversation.
‘I just posted a new article at http://www.example.com’
Unless you’re famous, and everyone just loves to read everything you write, this kind of tweet will do nothing for you. If you want someone to read what you’ve just posted online tweet it with a strong headline, call to action, and link: ‘Meaning of Life Discovered – Learn the Truth at http://www….’ Okay, that’s a little over the top, but be sure to give people a reason to click.
‘I’m stuck in a meeting.’ or ‘I’m brushing my teeth.’
Okay, everybody brushes their teeth, and everybody goes to meetings. This is what’s called life-casting, it very literally answers the question: What are you doing? You might be thinking this kind of tweet has no place in your marketing plan. Guess what though, when you do it right it shows off your human side and gets people to relate to you at a more personal level. Just be sure to add some actual personality to the mix, e.g. ‘I’m brushing my teeth and dancing to my new Righteous Brothers CD!’
Good Tweets – These are actual tweets, with links to their tweeters. (The @ sign denotes Twitter user names. I’m @PGrandstaff.)
It wasn’t easy to find a good example of a tweet used to sell a product. Most people doing this don’t do it well, and even this one from Amazon isn’t perfect. This tweet is promoting a toy recycling truck, made from a composite recycled plastic and sawdust material. They tie the eco-toy theme in with their new Frustration Free Packaging strategy, and give a link. What’s really excellent here is the link. It doesn’t take you to a product page on Amazon, it takes you to a page all about this toy, Amazon’s efforts to save the environment, and an interview with the toy’s creators. Perfect! You’re not going to make a sale in 140 characters, but you are able to grab the reader’s attention and build some curiosity. Satisfy the curiosity on the linked page, and build up desire for what you’re selling. Then, you can try to make a sale or get their contact information. Whatever you do, keep these types of tweets to a minimum.
This tweet came from an Iranian activist, and provides a good example of how non-profits can pull off blatant ‘selling’ on twitter. It’s totally different to come right out and ask for money when it’s being done selflessly. This example was also particularly powerful in the context of this person’s other tweets, which have detailed countless human rights violations in Iran. The call to action, ‘Save the girls,’ is awesome, but I think I would have opened with it since not everyone has heard of this organization.
This tweet yielded over 500 clicks. It has a compelling headline. It appeals to our need to beat the competition. It implies easy to digest information (just Three Ways!) Then it links to an article that’s well written, informative, and delivers on the headline’s promise. The only thing lacking is a call to action.
“My son, 6y/o, asked me for the first time today how my DAY was . . . I about melted. Told him that I had pizza for lunch. Response? No fair!”
This is a great example of life-casting done right. It’s personal, but universal enough for anyone to relate to. It also tells a complete story in 140 characters, impressive. Mixing a few tweets like this in with your normal strategy will make your humanity shine. In turn, you’ll really stand out from the crowds of faceless product pushers.
Okay, obviously there’s a lot more to Twitter than just tweeting well. However, tweeting well is probably the single most important thing to understand if you want to make this social media outlet work for you.
Stay tuned for next month’s conclusion, where I’ll get into more of the nuts and bolts of Twitter. For now, get on there and start tweeting. All the knowledge in the world won’t do you a bit of good if you don’t use it. Don’t worry about getting lots of followers, or knowing all the ins and outs. Just try to put some quality tweets out there and let the rest grow organically.
Are there any lessons about tweeting well that you’ve learned the hard way? Share your experiences below.
This post first appeared in my monthly small business newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will get the next installment weeks before it appears here, on my blog. So, sign up today to keep ahead of the curve!