SME's guide to TwitterIt wasn’t too long ago when, upon hearing the word ‘tweet’, the only image that would spring to mind is that of a bird chirping in its nest. But, all that changed back in 2006 when Twitter hit the social scene.

Twitter is one of social media’s biggest players. It offers a platform for businesses to market their products and services, reach out to prospects and boost exposure. The channel facilities B2C engagement, helping to connect brands with consumers. There’s no doubt all of this is important to you as an SME owner.

And there’s also another big plus: it’s free! A basic Twitter account costs nothing to set-up. You’ve also got the option of paying for advertising, which you might want to trial if you’ve got some cash to spare.

According to the latest stats, Twitter has an average of 304 million monthly active users. That’s 304 million users who could potentially check out your business page. Sold?

Of course you are. But don’t be hasty, now. When it comes to Twitter, there’s a wrong and a right way to approach things. The wrong approach would be signing-up and tweeting continuously, like a chick desperate for its morning worm. The wrong approach would be to do something like #hashtag #every #single #word #in #every #single #post. Because that would be #extremely #irritating.

Winning at Twitter means engaging your target audience early and retaining their interest. Master of the network, SocialBro, found that businesses lose on average 15% of their followers within three weeks through failing to engage early on. Don’t make this mistake.

SocialBro, an analytics and management platform for Twitter, created an essential checklist for SMEs looking to join Twitter. Here’s what’s on the list:

1. Creating a profile

Once you’ve created an account, the next step is building a strong business profile. The first thing to tackle is your company bio. You’ve only 160 characters to play with, so make every word count! The bio should mention your name, industry, and the products and/or services you promote. If you’ve got space to explain why your company is unique, and/or add useful information such as location and opening hours, then by all means do.

Next, you need to pick two images that visually represent your brand, one for your profile picture and the other for your header image. Logos work well as profile pictures, says Twitter, as they help your brand become recognisable and prove your credibility; images of people also work well, too. These pictures should be original and high-quality – for maximum impact, SocialBro recommends 1500 x 1500 pixels for the header image and 500 x 500 pixels for the profile image.

And finally on the profile front, you need to make sure all additional sections are filled in with details such as your website URL and business location.

2. Tweeting

Now, you’re almost ready to start tweeting. But before you do, you need to establish a tone of voice that suits your business and industry. Is it best communicating in a formal, professional manner, or would you prefer to be more ‘chatty’ with your audience? Choose one and stick to it – consistency is key.

Tweets need to be regular – scheduling app Buffer recommends three times a day at least. And speaking of Buffer, this is a really useful tool for scheduling tweets in advance, saving you time and relieving you of any weekend posting.

Then, you need to think about hashtags. A SocialBro and Hubspot study discovered that business tweets which include hashtags stand a 33% greater chance of being re-tweeted. But, as I mentioned earlier, that isn’t an invitation to go hashtag mad; only industry-related terms and phrases should be preceded with a #.

3. Listen in

So, who’s talking about you and what are they saying? It’s time to find out! Twitter is a great way to gain consumer insight on your brand. You should regularly monitor @mentions of your business, and join in with the conversation when appropriate. You need to actively engage in ‘social listening’ to find out what your target audience is talking about; there are many tools that can help you do this, such as Hootsuite.

4. Engaging with your audience

SocialBro recommends outlining the characteristics of the users you want to engage with on Twitter. You should create a list for each ‘group’ and make sure you actively target people within those groups. Twitter’s free analytics tool will help you gain valuable audience insights, allowing you to better target your posts.

When engaging with users, not all posts need to be product-related. Find out what other content your target users enjoy. This might include fun facts, funny pictures and top tips – don’t be afraid to mix things up!

5. Marketing your business

Remember, your efforts on Twitter must be aligned with your overall marketing strategy and business objectives. Again, this falls down to ensuring you are consistent. For instance, the messaging and imagery on Twitter should match the messaging and imagery used on other communications, such as direct mail. Being consistent helps your brand become recognisable and will help improve the user-experience, too.

And one last thing: don’t forget to monitor your progress. That includes key metrics such as follower growth, leads and website visits.

Need assistance getting to grips with Twitter? We can help. Here at M2 Bespoke, we can take control of every element of your social media strategy, management and delivery. Give us a call today to find out more.