How Your Brand Can Engage with Your Audience on Twitter

Twitter is a go-to social network for many companies, as the 140-character message limit provides a great platform for short, sweet, and direct communication. You don’t have the space for extensive messages, which means embracing succinctness is an essential part of your Twitter marketing experience. Over time, you build up a following and populate your feed with plenty of relevant accounts as well. Now that you have a strong Twitter foundation, how do you engage with your audience to keep them interested?

Customer Support

Twitter is a popular customer support channel for many companies. As one of the largest social media sites, consumers expect the businesses they patronize to be a part of the community. When they have problems with a product or service, they aren’t going to turn to phone or live chat for their first support outreach. They talk on Twitter about their experience. If you catch the consumer early on in their social media rant, you can address their problem before it becomes a major PR issue. In many cases, turning an angry customer into a satisfied customer creates a significant amount of brand loyalty for your business. Over time, your biggest adversaries turn into your biggest advocates. You can’t buy marketing like that, and all it takes is staying on top of your Twitter account. If you have social media managers handling the account at specific times, make it clear when customers may get a response. A customer waiting a few hours for a response is less upset if he knows when to expect a response.

Behind the Scenes

Want to show your customers some of your company’s personality? Use Twitter for short slice of life looks at your business, from pictures to overheard quotes. You separate yourself from the companies that stick strictly to business, which is especially valuable if you want to establish yourself as a trendy company that’s relatable to your audience. Make sure to ride the line between approachable and unprofessional, however. The informal nature of Twitter makes it easy to slip into a too familiar approach with customers.

using twitter for customer service

Social Listening

Social listening tools are your best friend when it comes to driving Twitter engagement. Not everyone knows about your brand’s account on Twitter. Instead of engaging with you directly, they use related keywords and hashtags, or don’t tag you in their messages. Social listening tools scan Twitter and other social networks to see who’s talking about you. You can jump in on the conversation and add your input or provide help for an upset customer. Some of our favorite listening tools include SproutSocial (our main dashboard as well), Mention, and Hootsuite.

Building Connections with Influencers

Go beyond your own followers and look for your industry’s influencers. Track what they post on Twitter, when, and the kind of response it gets. You want to form connections with these influencers, making yourself and your brand known to them. They may tweet about your company or contact you directly for other opportunities. Never underestimate the possibility of securing native advertising with influencers either, as this is a growing field.

Own Your Hashtags

Establish unique hashtags for your business and make sure you keep up on them. You don’t want so many hashtags that don’t make sense for your company, especially if you have a hard time tracking multiple hashtags. Keep the conversation in your brand name or relevant events, and look for trending hashtags you may provide valuable input on. You don’t want to take advantage of tragedies or disasters by jumping in and trying to be clever, but many other trending Twitter hashtags give you reach to a wide audience.

Leverage Live Event Marketing

Live event marketing gets plenty of popularity, especially with B2B companies. You don’t just get the benefit of the event for in-person attendees. You can also utilize this event for social media marketing. Sit your social media managers down in live sessions and presentations and have them live tweet with the event hashtag. You can also use event-specific hashtags to help attendees connect with each other for networking and after-event entertainment. You might not have the resources to live-tweet everything yourself, but promoting the hashtag helps encourage attendees to do so as well.

Social media marketing is more than posting a few articles here and there on your Twitter account. You need to actively engage with your audience to keep growing, making the best use of those 140 characters possible.

How to Create a Social Media Marketing Plan – From Start To Finish

 

When someone first attempts to create social media marketing plan it can be quite challenging. Just like any other type of planning it’s important to know where to start and what is important enough to be included. If you’ve never done it before it may feel both exciting and overwhelming. Maybe you already know what should be done and why, but you’re just not quite sure how to put your knowledge and thoughts into an effective plan. In this article, we will put together an easy-to-follow, step-by-step blueprint that will help you get started. If you are ready to build your social media marketing plan, the following is a lot of the information you’ll need.

Social Media Marketing Plan

From start to finish, here is an overview of how you can build a social media marketing plan. Here’s what we are going to cover:

Step 1. Choosing the right social networks

Step 2. Filling out your profiles or company pages completely

Step 3. Finding your voice

Step 4. Selecting the right post strategy

Step 5. Analyzing and testing

Step 6. Automation and engagement

Step 1. Choosing the Right Social Networks

There are various social media networks that currently exist. The truth is, many are quite similar in some ways. However, each network has its own policies and regulations, style, and audience. You should only choose social networks that would contain your target audience and would fit your strategy.

You do not have to join every single social network

It’s not about how many social networks you are on, it’s about WHICH networks you are on. You should only join those that make sense. For example, if you are marketing to businesses you may choose a social network like LinkedIn because it is more focused on a professional audience.

How much time can you dedicate to posting?

You will not have to spend all day every day posting on your social networks, but you will need to start with at least one hour a day. Once you have gotten the hang of it, you can use tools like Hootsuite to schedule posts.

What resources do you have available?

Do you have any employees who are social media-savvy? Social networks such as Instagram and Pinterest rely heavily on image posts while networks like Linkedin and Google+ are focused mainly on higher quality content. If you do not have someone who can create images or high-quality content you may consider outsourcing.

Where is your target audience?

Which social network will allow you to reach your target demographic? If you have absolutely no idea you can look into a survey conducted by Pew Research which breaks down the demographics of various social networks.

Step 2. Filling out Your Profiles or Company Pages Completely

Having a complete social network profile ensures that your branding is cohesive and gives off the impression to your audience that your company is not only professional but is also serious about engaging with them. Things like cover photos, avatars, and bios must be complete and have up-to-date information. Profiles and company pages will need two things, images, and text.

Images should always be consistent in order to ensure your audience will always associate them with your brand. Your avatars and profile pictures should match, as should your cover photos. Here is a great link that will help find the sizes for social media images--it is kept updated by SproutSocial.

Your text areas will be the bio and info section, which should include what your company offers (services, products, etc.), some keywords to help your audience search for you, and should avoid buzzwords. Check back regularly and update whenever necessary.

Step 3. Finding Your Voice

Now that your profiles have been set up you may be excited to jump right in and start posting, but before you do it’s important that you determine what you want your company’s voice to be. In order to determine that you will need to come up with some marketing personas. Having a marketing persona will help you maintain a constant voice, so here’s what you need to ask yourself:

  • If my brand was an individual, what type of personality would it have?

  • If my brand was an individual, what type of relationship do they have with my customers?

  • What type of adjectives describe what my company’s personality is not?

  • Who are my competitors? How is their company similar to mine?

  • How do I want my customers to view my company?

Once you’ve answered all of these questions you should be able to create a list of a few adjectives that best describe the tone and voice of your company. Create a voice that is appealing to your customers, that way customers will be happy to become brand ambassadors.

Step 4. Selecting the Right Post Strategy

How many times should you post each day? How often should you be posting? What time should you post? The truth is, it depends. These questions can only be answered with time because what works for one company may not work for others. That is because your audience may respond differently than that of another company. Until you begin posting you will not be able to determine what exactly the right time is to post or the number of posts share. Here’s some information that should help you at least get started:

What should your company post?

Images seem to work best. As your look around your streams next time you log onto Twitter or Facebook, you’ll notice quite a few images posted. That is because images get more clicks, “likes”, shares, and views than another type of posts.

Facebook photos get up to “53% more likes, 104% more comments, and 84% more click through”, according to HubSpot.

Twitter conducted a study that looked into over 2 million tweets from across various industries and found that photos get about 35% more retweets, videos get 28% more retweets, Quotes get 19% more retweets, hashtagged posts received 16% more retweets, and posts that included a number in them received 17% more retweets.

Now that you understand what has gotten the best responses you can put it all together into a social media marketing strategy. When you first start posting you may want to post the same updates across all social platforms until you are better familiarized with what works where. Just remember some social networks, like Twitter, have a limited word count.

How often should your company post?

This really varies from industry to industry and platform to platform. You can start with 2 to 3 posts a day on Twitter, once a day on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram, and continue to increase every week until you are satisfied with the response from your audience, or until you notice that your engagement has dropped due to oversharing. You can then adjust accordingly. If you share good quality updates there’s a good chance that your followers will love your updates and that means you can get away with sharing more posts.

When should your company be posting?

This, again, will vary on your audience, which means you’ll have to monitor your posts to see what time gets the best response. If you are just starting out and you still don’t have much of an audience to gage you can use the following information which was published by SumAll, who combined research from websites like Search Engine Watch, Visual.ly, and Social Media Today. Here’s the breakdown by social network in EST:

Facebook – Between 1 and 4pm as well as between 2 and 5pm during the week.

Twitter – Between 1 and 3pm during the week.

Tumblr – Between 7 and 10pm during the week as well as 4pm on Fridays.

Linkedin – Between 7 and 8:30am as well as between 5 to 6pm Tues through Thurs

Google+ – Between 9 and 11am during the week.

Instagram – Between 5 and 6 pm during the week as well as at 6pm and 8pm Mondays.

Pinterest – Between 2 and 4pm as well as between 8 and 11pm weekdays, and anytime weekends.

Step 5. Analyzing and Testing

The more posts you share, the more you’ll be able to gauge what content, timing, and frequency works best for your company. How will you be able to determine that? By using a reporting tool. Most established social media networks will provide basic analytics, but it’s much easier to have a single analytics dashboard that will monitor all of your social profiles. Analytics reporting tools will often break down the engagement and performance of posts into views, likes, clicks, comments, and shares.

In order to shape your social media marketing strategy into a successful one you’ll have to use your reporting tools to analyze your posts. Here’s how you can gauge your efforts:

Collect your data and set a benchmark

After about a month of posting on social media you should look into your reports and find the average number of likes, shares, comments, and clicks per post. This will allow you to set a benchmark that you can use to compare on a regular basis as your followers and engagement increase.

Try something new

Now that you have reporting tools and a benchmark you can try new types of posts to see how your audience responds. Will videos get you better click-through rates? Can a contest get you more followers? Don’t test multiple things at once. By testing one to two things at a time you will be able to better gauge the response.

Check your stats

After you have done your testing for a few weeks it’s time to compare the results to your benchmark. If you had success then obviously you should add it to your marketing strategy, if not get rid of it and try something else.

 

Step 6. Automation and Engagement

Now that you have a basic idea of how to put a marketing plan together you’ll have to get familiar with tools that will help you maintain those profiles.

To remain consistent create at least a month’s worth of posts and use a tool like Sprout Social to schedule the posts ahead of time. This will ensure your posts go out every day at the same time without you having to put everything down to publish a post.

It’s important that you also understand that social media networks will require engagement from the company as well. If someone messages you, tags you, or comments on your post it’s essential that you respond. Set aside a bit of time every day to follow up with social media conversations.

Tools like Mention make it easy to keep the conversations going because they monitor social media platforms for any mention of your company and then sends you an alert if it finds anything.

We’d love to answer any other questions you may have or hear any additional tips you have on creating a great social marketing strategy!

Now it’s time to get focused and get busy! We raise our coffee mugs to your success!

 

Twitter Lifts the 140 Character Limit on Direct Messages

 

It has  just been announced that Twitter will lift the 140-character limit on direct (or private) messages! If you are feeling rather verbose, you can now tweet 10,000 characters in a direct message to someone. (It doesn’t mean they will read more than 140 of those characters though) Now this can be great news for brands who handle a lot of customer service issues via Twitter, or any of us wanting to take a conversation and go deeper than 140 characters will allow.  This can be bad news for all of us who are already sick of spam messages that are under 140 characters.

Facebook is allowing your friends to not only message you privately but now they can click on “VIDEO CALL” and ring your computer. Perhaps social media sites are trying to tell us something. Is brevity no longer king? I doubt it.

There is no word on the street that Twitter will lift or expand the character limit on all tweets just yet, but it does seem that it’s about time. After all the original purpose for the 140-character limit had to do with those same limits on SMS text messages (anything over 140 characters converts to MMS message). So perhaps we will follow Facebook and Instagram and allow us all to be a bit more chatty soon, but the more I think about that, the more I think they might want to keep those birds in the cage!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. How can you see using the expanded messaging for direct messages?

If You Write it They Don’t Necessarily Come: How often should you promote a blog post or other piece of content?

If You Write it They Don’t Necessarily Come: How often should you promote a blog post or other piece of content?

It chaps my hide me when I see a company spend lots of energy (and money) creating great content, whether that is a blog post, a survey, a video, or even an event they are putting on, and then they send one tweet out, or promote it one time on Facebook, and then wonder why they are not getting the response they wanted.

You may think the work is finished when you put the last period on your blog post, or when you click “Publish,” but your work BEGINS when you finish creating your fabulous content, whatever form it takes. So where can you promote your content and how often do you need to send out a promotional tweet or post? Is there an overkill level? Each platform has a different requirement.

Here are 8 places to promote your content and a sample of how often to do so:

Twitter

Twitter is a fast-moving stream of content. Most people will only read what was posted in the last 10-15 minutes, so you will need to post here more often to let people know about your content. Let’s say you publish a blog post on Monday morning. Send a tweet out letting people know about it. Schedule another post to go out Tuesday around noon, perhaps rewording your tweet to promote it to those lunch-time readers. You can create another post to go out each day at different hours and you will not overload your followers. Be sure you are posting other content as well, so your Twitter feed isn’t filled with only your promotional posts. After week one, continue promoting that blog content at least a couple of times a week and then as you have more content in the cycle, perhaps it gets circulated once a month.

Facebook

Facebook friends and fans may not want to see your blog post promoted every day, so perhaps you send out a post and then pin it to the top of your page for a few days. Two days after your Facebook post promotes your new blog content, you can ask a question of your audience and link back to the original blog content. On Saturday morning you might want to remind those weekend social media consumers of the great content they may have missed. After that, put it into your monthly circulation of content to bring out with a new question or angle on the original post.

LinkedIn

On LinkedIn, you definitely want to promote the new content the day it drops, through a status update and perhaps drop it into your groups with a question to get a discussion going. A week or two after the original post shows on your website, add it as a post on your LinkedIn profile (if it was written by you, of course). This is a great way to showcase your writing and your expertise in a way that stays in a more prominent place since your status updates pretty much disappear (they can be viewed by going to a person’s recent activity, which most people don’t know how to find.)

Email

Don’t forget about your email list. This is a great way to stay in touch with those who have subscribed to your newsletter or email marketing lists. Send a short note to let them know you have new content on your site that they might be interested. Add a short preview of the post with a photo and link to your post. You can even post a short teaser in your email signature and link to your blog post.

Instagram

Use the photo from the blog to create a cool graphic with the link across the bottom of the photo. Instagram does not allow clickable or “live links” to be placed in the content area of your photo, but some people will change out their website link in their Instagram bio each week to highlight the blog post. You can also create a short video teaser for your blog post and let people know the link to find it.

Pinterest

Be sure to pin each of your blog posts to a Pinterest board and link it back to your website. This requires you to have a great photo in each blog post in order for people to want to pin and share it.

YouTube

Just like creating a short Instagram video, you can create a short video clip to load onto your YouTube channel letting people know how they will benefit from your blog content. I have also seen people read their entire post on video (using a teleprompter so your audience doesn’t see you reading) and they embed the video at the end of the blog for those who would rather watch and listen.

Podcast

Just like creating a video of your blog content, you can create a version of your post for people to simply listen to. WordPress and many other blogging platforms have a plugin that allows you to embed a player under your post to make it easy for your listeners.

What other ideas can you come up with to promote a blog post or other piece of content? Do share your thoughts and questions here in the comments area.

If you are realizing you need help getting your content out to the world, contact us today! It’s what we do best. (Shameless, I know!)

Need a checklist of activities to help you get on track with your social marketing?  Here are 10 Daily Activities to Do Each Day for Your Social Marketing

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