Using Twitter — A Quickstart Plan for Your Business
For some people, starting and engaging in conversations with their target audience are natural. They may come up with ideas very quickly and what they come up with usually are interesting. People may like them a few seconds later after talking to them. On the other hand, others prefer some kind of structure when it comes to using Twitter because content ideas flow in at a time but none an hour later.
Whichever type you are, the following article may help you create an organized effort to achieve your business goal with Twitter.
Want basic guide on how to use Twitter? Here is my others post about twitter for business (with ideas about how to use Twitter for your business).
Why Do You Need a Twitter Plan?
A Twitter plan is much like a checklist. As part of my collection of checklist is a list of stuff I’d like to bring in my backpack for a 3-day weekend, if I’m going out of town. It helps me pack easily and quickly while still gives me flexibility. I can even choose which backpack to bring with me.
The checklist is just a reminder.
It doesn’t make any sense at all to automate all tweets. That would spoil the fun part, not to mention that people will find that you are not real. A Twitter plan, on the other hand, helps you deliver your tweets while still allows you to be spontaneous and interact with your followers.
Another big thing about Twitter plan is its ability to save time and keep your productivity high. Twitter is addictive. It is easy to check what others are tweeting every minute. I should know because I still am easily distracted if I don’t remind myself throughout the day. And I know I’m not the only one.
Just like email, it can be unproductive if used improperly.
With a little structure, you will be able to keep your Twitter account active but still get your work done. If at all, you should at least create a tweet plan to make content appear more regularly. This notifies people that you are there. Every tweet is an opportunity to reach your audience.
My Personal Plan on Using Twitter
I got this idea from blogging. If I organize my blog content and schedule it in a way that there never can be a week without a new update, there should be a way to do the same with Twitter. But perhaps on a daily basis instead of weekly.
Fortunately, with the help of various Twitter tools, it is now possible to do so, plus more. My plan consists of four major components:
- Content production. Read on to find out when you may produce content for Twitter up front.
- Tweet plan. Messages and content plan, including schedule of when I’m going to tweet.
- Auto Twitter message. As with email marketing, welcoming your followers and quickly introducing yourself are important to establish an initial impression.
- Twitter monitoring. Not only do I use Twitter to reach out, but also to scour the Twittosphere for interesting tidbits about something I care to track.
As new tools become available, certainly this plan is going to change in the future, but for now here it is.
Before going in depth with each points, let’s back up a step and start from the beginning.
Understanding Your (Future) Followers
Who you attract depends no your Twitter strategy. If you promote your Twitter account in a blog that talks about rose gardening, and you tweet frequently about that topic, you are going to attract people with the same interest.
You may think this is obvious but I often notice self-proclaimed social media experts who talk about their hobbies more than business. Tweeting personal life may establish a bond between you and your followers but too much of one topic is going to attract people with that topic more.
And if your short bio show something different, visitors may be even more confused.
It is important that you are clear about your goal and purpose of participating in Twitter. If you are going to use Twitter for customer service, perhaps providing tips about how to use your product is the way to go. Asking your followers how to improve your product is also a great way to encourage participation. The type of content certainly is different from photographers.
Understanding your followers is key.
1. Micro Content Production (Tweets)
Content production is the easiest part. You can find content of all types online. And if you are an avid RSS reader, finding hundreds of content worth sharing every day is easy.
The question is, what should you tweet about? Refer to my previous post on Twitter tutorial for micro content ideas.
For evergreen content, you should start allocating some time to produce it. Tweets can be scheduled nowadays. Frequent updates are necessary and with scheduling, you will save a lot of time thinking and producing content when it is time to update.
If you think about it, idea generation can be quite frustrating especially when you have to do it several times a day.
2. Tweet Plan
This may sound odd to some twitterers. Isn’t Twitter suppose to be spontaneous?
It is, but for delivering valuable content, I prefer to do it regularly in bite-sized chunks. Like blogging, it is more effective if you update twice a week rather than eights posts a day and then none for the rest of the month.
Without proper planning, if you struggle every time to come up with content, you are less likely to do it. So, capture it while it’s hot and push the content down the scheduling engine. Again this is appropriate for evergreen content or something that must happen at a certain time. (You have schedule your blog post at a specific time and want to notify your followers about it.)
When you start out, you don’t have to tweet every hour or so. Start with 3-7 tweets per day. If you plan it strategically, those tweets allow you to cover various media and both deliver good business- and personal-related content mix.
Out of those, perhaps you can only schedule one or two tweets, but that doesn’t matter. Once you do it, basically you can forget about it. At the very least, even when you are away, people will see your tweets.
3. Auto Twitter Message
Unlike scheduled tweets, automated messages are not public tweets. They are direct messages. When someone follows you, Twitter has an option to notify you about it.
You may choose to visit their Twitter profile, and choose either to follow back or not. Of course, you may send personal message to them just to start the conversation. Be cautious when including your URL in the first direct message, as people may think you spam them.
Generally if you don’t know how to pitch your URL, you should focus on relationship building first. You have as many tweets as you want to promote your site or blog later.
TweetLater allows you to send automated thank you notes to new followers or if you so choose, follow them back automatically. You can also ask the Twitter tool to send you email digest periodically for the @replies you received.
I didn’t use the latest feature, because I’m an RSS addict. Here’s what I mean.
4. Twitter Monitoring
Many twitterers fail to include this into their Twitter plan, but you should. In fact, even if you don’t plan to participate and communicate actively in Twitter, you should not disregard Twitter for brand monitoring.
If you have been monitoring the blogosphere, add twittosphere to the mix. Otherwise you are missing an entirely different world.
The good news is, you can use Twitter Search, feed the right keyword into the Twitter search engine and grab the RSS feed out of it. Subscribe to the feed with your favorite news reader. Mine is Google Reader. Now you could never miss a single conversation about you in Twitter.
Additionally, using the right Twitter client, you will be able to interact (@reply and direct message) with people who follow you but you decide not to reciprocate. After all, you can only handle so much information, but you want to be able to respond to tweets that you think need to be addressed. (Read my article on how to twitter for tips on choosing the right tools for new twitterers.)
Using Twitter is not as simple as signing up and tweets whatever that comes to your mind. For personal use, that may be what you do but you need a more strategic and organized plan if you want to use it for business.
At first the number of things to do may seem overwhelming. They are. But if you tackle them one at a time, avoid frustration by coming up with content ideas up front, produce evergreen content, use the right tools to schedule your tweets and send auto welcome message, you have saved a lot of time.
It also makes your Twitter experience better.
Finally, no matter what your purpose is in using Twitter for your business, remember that marketing through social media is about interaction and relationship. This may sound obvious but unfortunately it is not commonly practiced. Many marketers focus on broadcasting their message out (sounds so Web 1.0) but ignore the feedback from their followers.
Don’t let this happen to your business. Interaction is a must, relationship is the pillar. Even though if you take it to your blog — and answer questions there — you can later post a link to your blog post from your Twitter account. And your followers will appreciate your response.
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