A beginner’s guide to Twitter
With 317 million monthly active users [source: Hootsuite] and over 500 million Tweets sent each day (that’s 6,000 Tweets every second! [source: Brandwatch]) Twitter is one of the most popular social media platforms worldwide.
From hashtags to emojis, RTs to followers...Twitter can seem like a whole new world with it’s own language. So where to begin? In this guide we are going to talk through the basics of Twitter to get you started and help you understand best practice:
- Who should I follow on Twitter and how do I get people to follow me?
- But what do I tweet?
- What is a hashtag?
- What tools can I use?
Who should I follow on Twitter and how do I get people to follow me?
So you’ve joined Twitter and you have your profile all set up. Now what? Without any followers no one will see your tweets so the first step is to build your audience.
Following the right people
From a user perspective Twitter is an endless stream of information you can intake. The aim is for Your feed to be constantly updating with user-generated content that is of interest to you, so the first step is to follow other users who are of interest.
For personal users this could be celebrities, your friends, bands you’re interested in etc. as it’s more of a tool to intake news. But for businesses this could be other organisations similar to you, key people in your industry or news outlets, as you want to use Twitter as a marketing tool. Remember, once you’ve followed these organisations, you aren't given the opportunity to not only retweet their tweets but also tag them in your your own tweets so it’s a great way to build relationships. By following the right people, hopefully, they will be more encouraged to retweet your tweets and share your content to their followers, thereby increasing your reach even further.
At this early stage it’s also worth thinking about your target audience and who you want to see your tweets. Is it peers, new customers, prospects? This will help determine the type of content you post later on so it’s good to have this set as soon as possible.
Building your audience of followers
When you have followed those you wish to follow they may follow you back, but with Twitter it’s more likely you will need to earn your followers. This means to begin with you will have fewer followers than you are following, but with a steady increase in activity this can change.
The best way to gain followers is to be active, engaging and post relevant content.f you’ve got a website or other social media profiles then you’ve already done some of the hard work creating content so it’s key to let people know about your profile. This could be through:
- Newsletter - a short announcement story and a Twitter icon in your footer linking to your account
- Email sign off - a link to your profile from a text link or icon
- Website - use that short announcement story again and add Twitter to your site footer. You can even go a step further here and add a feed to your website if it’s relevant.
- A quick email - drop a few quick emails around to let your contacts know.
- Other social media profiles - post about your Twitter adventure on your other social media platforms and invite people to join. A word of warning here though: be careful not to link up the profile. Cross-posting can sometimes be a bit off-putting to an audience!
But what do I tweet?
Now you’ve attracted your base audience the number one question is ‘what do I tweet?’ And the answer is...relevant, engaging content. But what is that?!
It sounds like it could be anything but the first thing you need to remember is that you are tweeting for your audience, not for yourself. It needs to be something they might find interesting, especially as we want them to comment and share the post. So for a business it could be a new product launch, an event coming up, a piece of news in the industry with your opinion shared, new team members; it all depends on the type of audience you want to build.
Here at Liquid Light we have a lot of peers on our Twitter page so we will post industry news, our opinions on the tools and software we use, and cool new things we’ve seen. We also like to use Twitter to keep up to date with our clients so we share new functionality we’ve created, new project launches and stories from the office to show our clients we are human!
Here’s a couple of tips to bear in mind while tweeting:
Twitter has a short character length of 140 characters, so every character counts! Remember using images and links will use up those characters, so make sure you say what you want to say succinctly.
Image vs text
Tweets with images receive 18% more click throughs, 89% more likes, and 150% more retweets [source: Brandwatch] so be sure to think about this when tweeting. If there is a relevant image or logo be sure to add this, alternatively, you’ll always be able to find a meme or GIF to can throw in – if appropriate! This all creates something people can interact with while raising your brand awareness so it’s a win-win situation.
Although sharing links can take up space,Twitter will now automatically shorten them for you.
Try not to structure your tweet so your link is next to the hashtag. Twitter will automatically turn the link and hashtag a different colour to show the user they can click on it, so having them next to each other can dull that effect.
Getting other Twitter users to retweet your content is not only great for your own brand awareness, but it can also be used to drive new traffic to your website. Remember that it’s also a great idea to retweet other people’s tweets and share their content with your users(as long as your users would find it interesting) because it’s a good way to form relationships with other Twitter users.
Direct messaging is also available on Twitter so you can use this as a tool to get in touch with people, however we wouldn’t advise doing this too much as it can appear spammy and be annoying. It can be a good channel for contacting organisations relevant to you though and starting the conversation before moving it to email, phone etc.
What is a hashtag?
Hashtags are a tool you can use to attach your tweet to a topic and a user can then use to search for tweets related to those topics. So, for example, if a user was interested in climate change, they might search for #climatechange or #sustainableenergy to see all relevant tweets that appear.
From a content perspective, these are written into your tweet as part of your sentence so they should not feel just put on the beginning or end. We’d also recommend a maximum of around 3 per tweet, as you don’t want to be using them unnecessarily. This is however a guide so if you feel more are needed then it’s not a problem.
The thing with hashtags is not to be too broad, but also not to be too specific. If it is too broad then you have no chance of competing for visibility; for example a broad topic would be #web. Whereas if you are too specific they can almost be redundant as no one will be searching for that topic e.g. #webdevelopmentinbrighton.
As well as the hashtags you use, trending hashtags will show you what is most popular on Twitter that day and present you with a great opportunity to tweet to a new audience. For example, on a Monday a trending hashtag is usually #mondaymotivation, where people share motivating quotes, images, stories etc. so you could get involved with that. You can tell what these are by logging into Twitter, as they will appear on the left-hand side of your news feed and update throughout the day. You can also aim to start your own trending hashtag that is unique to you, perhaps at an event you’re running. Here you could ensure any tweets you tweet end in your hashtag and also ask your attendees to use this and tag you when they are tweeting.
What tools can I use?
Social media content is consumed all hours of the day not just within your business hours, and there are several tools available that can help you schedule your tweets throughout the day. For businesses this can be extremely useful as they make it possible to dedicate a short time to it each day or each week and rely on tweets being sent out automatically.
Some are dedicated specifically to Twitter but some platforms branch out and allow you to schedule different content over many platforms. Depending on what suits you here’s a few to consider:
So that’s Twitter in a nutshell. Time to log in, become active on your profile and start building your community!