Twitter for 2015

Twitter is home to 271 million monthly users who are tweeting approximately 500 million updates on a daily basis. One of the unique facets of the Twitter network is that, unlike Facebook and LinkedIn, you don’t have to be connected to someone to talk to them. All you have to do is “mention” a person by tagging your tweet with their @username, and you can have a conversation with anyone on the network (with the exception of the estimated 11.8% of Twitter users who have private accounts). This makes Twitter a great customer service tool for consumers, particularly those who may have not had success resolving issues via traditional channels; which means it’s the perfect network for businesses to reach their potential and current customers. Twitter is also key for brands to create a personalized voice that relates to their customers.

As a leading social media firm, we’ve put this guide together so that you can find everything you need to know about Twitter to get the most out of this unique social media platform for your business, from creating a great profile to reaching people through Twitter Advertising.

Twitter Lingo

As with all social networks, Twitter has its own set of terms and acronyms that you need to know. Here are the most popular terms you will see throughout the guide and on Twitter itself.

Profile Terms

Zion & Zion Twitter Profile"

Zion & Zion Twitter Profile

Username
Your 15 character account name, which is used in updates to mention you. It is also what makes up your unique Twitter profile URL: http://twitter.com/username.
Bio
A 160 character description that you can add to your Twitter profile.
Cover Photo
A 1500px by 500px header image for your profile that represents your business.
Profile Photo
A square image of yourself, your logo, or another photo that represents your business, that appears next to your tweets and in search results.
Follow
The ability to follow another Twitter user’s tweets.
Follower
When someone follows your Twitter account, they are your follower.
Following
When you follow another Twitter account, you are following them.
Favorites
Twitter users can save updates to their Favorites lists by clicking on the star icon beneath each update. When you click on the Favorites link on your Twitter profile, you can see all of the tweets you have favorited.
Lists
Twitter users can create lists with up to 500 Twitter users. If you click on the Lists link on your Twitter profile, you can see the lists you have created, the lists you have subscribed to, and the lists that other users have placed you under.
Photos & Videos
The photos and videos box shows visitors to your profile the latest images and videos you have included in your updates.

Activity Terms

A Tweet

A Tweet

Tweet
A 140 character status update on Twitter that consists of text and links to web pages, photos, and videos. Tweets can be shared via Direct Message, pinned to your profile page, or deleted by the account that sent out the tweet.
Mention
When someone uses your @username in a tweet, they have mentioned you.
Retweet (RT)
When someone reposts a status update from another Twitter account, it’s a retweet.
Modified Tweet (MT)
Replaces the RT when manually retweeting, ONLY when you have shortened or modified the original tweet in any way in order to fit within 140 characters.
Embed
The ability to add a tweet to your website or blog using HTML code created by Twitter.
Hat Tip (HT)
When you share something that someone else shared, you give them a hat tip to acknowledge that they found it first.
Hashtag
A keyword or phrase you include with a #. For example, if you tweeted about SEO, you might want to add the hashtag #seo to give it more exposure beyond your followers. The hashtag is beneficial when users are searching for this phrase. Once searched, all recent or popular tweets including this hashtag will appear in its own newsfeed. Event planners use hashtags and take advantage of this customized newsfeed in order to keep attendees’ conversations in one conversation stream.
Follow Friday (#FF)
A tradition on Fridays where people recommend other users to follow using the #FF or #FollowFriday hashtag in a tweet.
Direct Message (DM)
A private message sent to another Twitter user. You must be following someone in order for them to send you a direct message.
Twitter Chat
A discussion on Twitter using a specific #hashtag to connect tweets to the discussion. For example, on Sunday evenings, bloggers come together to discuss various blogging topics in a chat called #blogchat.

Twitter Navigation

Home
Once you have logged into your Twitter account, the Home page is where you will see your newsfeed with updates from all of the Twitter users you follow.
Notifications
The Notifications page is a newsfeed of activity related to your account including new followers, new lists you have been added to, mentions of your username, favorites of your tweets, and retweets.
Messages
The Messages page is your inbox of direct messages.
Discover
The Discover page shows Twitter’s suggestions for you including interesting tweets, the latest activity from those you follow, people to follow, the ability to connect to your email to find more people to follow, and a list of the current most popular Twitter users.
Search Twitter
In this field, located along the top of your screen, you can search for keywords, hashtags and usernames. This is where you will find the stream of all users tweeting with specific hashtags. The username search does work, however you must know the exact username; Google is most helpful when searching for Twitter usernames.
Trends
This box appears on most screens throughout Twitter. It shows you the current most talked about topics on Twitter.
Who to Follow
This box appears on most screens throughout Twitter. It shows you the latest people you’re suggested to follow based on interests and Twitter advertising.

Now that you know the basics of Twitter lingo, let’s get into how your business can get the most out of using Twitter.

The Perfect Twitter Profile

When someone clicks on your profile within Twitter, they will see the following on their desktop browser.

Twitter Profile Desktop Version

Twitter Profile Desktop Version

On their mobile, they will see this.

Twitter Profile Mobile Version

Twitter Profile Mobile Version

Between these two views, it is apparent that the most important aspects of your Twitter profile are the following.

1. Your cover photo.
You can use this photo to represent your business, your most popular products, or your most popular services. No matter what you do, make sure that it is clean, professional, and can articulate your business’ unique selling point in a quick glance.
2. Your profile photo.
This image should be consistent with the rest of your social media profiles. That way, if someone is a fan of your business on Facebook, they will easily recognize your Twitter profile based on the matching profile photo.
3. Your profile bio.
Make your 160 characters count with a profile bio that shares your business’ elevator pitch. You can include one link in your bio and one link as your main website link to help visitors get to different areas of your website. When in doubt, you can also analyze your competitor’s Twitter bios to get an idea of what would work best.
Popular Accounts Bio Lengths

Popular Accounts Bio Lengths

Analysis provided by Rival IQ.
4. Your latest tweets.
When people visit your Twitter profile, their first impression will be your latest tweets. So make each tweet count. With Twitter’s latest option, you may be seeing a pinned tweet, which is chosen to stay at the top of the page.

As you are creating or revamping your Twitter profile, keep these four areas in mind as they are all a part of what visitors will see the first time they visit your profile.

Organic Twitter Marketing

Just like any other aspect of your online marketing, you should plan your Twitter strategy. To be successful, you should consider these three tactics.

Grow Your Following

Whether you have just created your Twitter account or you have been using Twitter for years, one of your goals should be to grow or continue to grow your Twitter following. There are several organic ways to do this, no matter what stage you are in. They include the following:

  1. Add a Twitter follow button.Add a Twitter follow button to your website. This button will allow your website visitors to follow you on Twitter with the click of a button and not require your visitors to leave your website.
  2. Use the Twitter retweet button.Use the Twitter retweet button within your content. It includes an option to recommend that people who tweet your content also follow your account on Twitter.
  3. Occasionally share your Twitter link to other social media audiences.For example, you might share a post on Facebook that says, “Hey, we’re on Twitter too! Follow us at http://twitter.com/zionandzion.”
  4. Include a link to your Twitter profile in your email signature.Services like WiseStamp allow you to create a professional email signature that includes your social links. If you are sending email marketing communications to customers, always have a twitter link button at the footer of your email.
  5. Include a link to your Twitter profile in your business newsletter.
  6. Participate in Twitter Chats related to your business. Being an active participant that provides great value almost always results in new followers. Find a Twitter Chat that relates to your business in this list.
  7. Use Twitter search to find people talking about a topic related to your business and chime in without being “salesy”.
  8. Follow people on Twitter that have the potential to be customers. Whenever they ask questions, answer them. Be wary of following too many users in one sitting as Twitter will limit you and/or mark your account as SPAM.
  9. Include a link to your Twitter account on your business card.
  10. Encourage employees within your company to have personal Twitter accounts and to follow the main business Twitter with their personal profiles.
  11. Look for other profiles where you have the option to link to your Twitter account. These profiles include Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Klout, most forum profiles, most author bios for publications, and similar.

For those considering purchasing Twitter followers, there are plenty of ways to do that too. The thing to consider is that paid followers will only inflate your numbers, or following count. Paid followers won’t likely engage with your status updates or purchase your products and services. The only exception is if you use Twitter Advertising to target audiences related to your business, which we will cover in the Twitter Advertising section of the guide.

Post Updates Regularly

The first, and most basic thing you must do on Twitter is keep your profile active by tweeting. Otherwise, people who come across your profile may think that the account (and possibly your business) is no longer active based on a lack of updates.

What to Tweet

Tweets can consist of text only, text plus a link to a web page, text plus a link to a photo, or text plus a link to a video. Effectively, you can include a link to a web page and a photo or video in the same tweet so long as you keep the total characters below 140.

If you’d like to post a URL and want to keep it short to fit within the character limit, there are URL shorteners on the web (we recommend Bitly). Twitter will shorten links to some extent, but URL shorteners that require a login will allow you to track analytics; i.e. click through rate, time of day, etc.

Tweeting Images or Links

Tweeting Images or Links

As you can see in the above example, tweets with images (and video) will stand out more on your profile and in the newsfeed compared to tweets with just text and links to web pages.

Most experts agree that 80% of your tweets should be interesting and engaging for your audience, and only 20% of your tweets should be about your business, products, and services. The 80/20 rule allows you to build a relationship with your audience and prevent your Twitter feed from being a non-stop sales pitch.

With these things in mind, here are some ideas of what to tweet:

  • Questions that invite user participation, preferably related to your industry.
  • Content from top industry publications (that aren’t competitors).
  • Links to your blog content, latest videos, presentations, infographics, etc.
  • Inspirational quotes from leaders in your industry (that aren’t competitors).

For the 20% that is about your business, products, and services, if you want to offer promotions, offer ones specifically for your Twitter followers. For example, instead of saying that today you’re having a 20% off sale, say that you’re having a 20% off sale exclusively for Twitter followers using discount code TWITTER20. This type of promotion will give you the chance to make your Twitter followers feel special and track how many conversions you make from your Twitter audience.

You may also want to create landing pages just for your Twitter audience. That way, when you send out a tweet about your newsletter, you can send Twitter visitors to a link that greets them as a part of your Twitter following. Sometimes, a little personalization goes a long way.

When to Tweet

When Neil Patel compiled data from several sources, he came to the following conclusions about the best times to post on Twitter for B2B and B2C.

When To Tweet

When To Tweet

Of course, the same days and times will not work for every business. Your best bet is to try FollowerWonk. This tool will analyze your Twitter audience and determine the best times to post in order to reach them.

The thing to remember is that not all of your followers are on Twitter looking at their newsfeed at the same time. And perhaps your most influential followers are on at different times from the majority of your followers. Therefore, you should tweet throughout the day in order to reach the largest audience possible.

How to Use Hashtags

As mentioned earlier, hashtags can help you join in on conversations throughout Twitter with users that may or may not be following you. It is recommended to search a variety of similar hashtags prior to choosing one to make sure that the conversations already built around those hashtags are something you (or your brand) want to join in on. For instance, if you are watching the Super Bowl and your team scores, before tweeting your excitement, look on your TV screen and throughout Twitter (don’t forget about the “Trending” section) to see what the official Super Bowl hashtag is. Overusing hashtags can look “spammy” and attract the wrong kind of interaction. You’ll get a lot more exposure by using one official hashtag as opposed to using multiple (and unpopular) hashtags. Not to mention, the more hashtags you use, the more of your very limited 140 characters you’ll end up using as well.

Monitor Your Brand

Thanks to the fact that most updates on Twitter are public and searchable, businesses can easily monitor their brand mentions on Twitter. You can’t rely on everyone who talks about your business to use your @username, so you need to save some branded searches on Twitter that will allow you to see all conversations about your business beyond your @username mentions.

A great way to do this is to search for your business name minus your username like this:

godaddy – @godaddy

This search will show you all of the mentions of your business that do not include your username.

Brand Monitoring

Brand Monitoring

You can save this search on Twitter or monitor it using Twitter tools like HootSuite or TweetDeck.

Brand Monitoring Using Saved Search

Brand Monitoring Using Saved Search

Depending on how popular your business is, you may find lots of both positive and negative mentions. Be sure to react to both by thanking those who love your business and finding out how you can help those that don’t.

Provide Customer Service

67% of consumers have used social media for customer service inquiries, and that number is likely to continue to grow. This is why you should keep an eye out for mentions of your business on Twitter in relation to customer service issues.

When customer service issues do arise, you have a few options. If it’s something simple that can be answered publicly, then do it. If you need more information, you can ask the person to email you and tweet your email address. When they do email you, after you reply, send a tweet to let them know you replied. This way, anyone following the same discussion will see that you’re still helping the person out.

The key is to offer an email address and not your usual customer service phone number. Why? Because someone who contacts you on Twitter likely does not want to contact you by phone, otherwise they would have called already.

Discover New Customers

Twitter search is a great way for some businesses to discover new customers. Web hosting companies, for example, could get a new opportunity to promote themselves on a regular basis.

Customer Discovery

Customer Discovery

There are also more indirect ways to promote your business. For example, look for people who are asking for advice on topics related to your products or services. The more helpful you are, the more likely they will be interested in purchasing your products or finding out more about your services.

The best approach is to think less about sales, and more about being helpful. The more helpful you are, the more responsive the person you are talking to will be.

Utilize Twitter Testimonials

If you are tweeting great content, sharing valuable advice, and providing excellent customer service on Twitter, you will likely receive compliments from those you interact with.

Twitter Testimonials

Twitter Testimonials

Favorite any tweets where people praise your business, your products, and your services and use them as testimonials on your website by embedding the tweets themselves on landing pages and other areas where you want social proof. It’s the perfect format as people will get the see the person who left the testimonial and verify it if they want to by clicking through to the tweet itself.

If you want to get more exposure for your Twitter presence, Twitter Advertising is the answer. Twitter Advertising offers a few options for ad objects. (Tip: If you utilize this feature, you’ll also be able to use it to schedule your organic content as well!)

Followers
Promote your Twitter account to gain followers.
Twitter Promoted Accounts

Twitter Promoted Accounts

Website Clicks or Conversions
Promote tweets using Website Cards that drive traffic back to your website and conversions for your business.
Twitter Website Cards

Twitter Website Cards

Tweet Engagement
Promote tweets for increased retweets, replies, and favorites.
Promoted Tweets

Promoted Tweets

App Installs
Promote tweets that drive visitors to your app.
App Installs

App Installs

Leads
Promote tweets using Lead Generation Cards that allow visitors to submit their email address to you directly on Twitter to join your newsletter, sign up for a free product trial, or get more information about your business.
Lead Generation Cards

Lead Generation Cards

Promoted Trend
Twitter also offers Promoted Trends, which allows you to get more exposure using a trending topic. This option, unlike the others above, is reserved for businesses with larger advertising budgets – the daily amount for this type of advertising is around $200,000 per day.
Promoted Trends

Promoted Trends

Set Up an Ad

If you have never used Twitter Advertising, you will need to set up your account by logging into your business Twitter account and visiting the Twitter for Business page. Once you are approved to use Twitter Advertising, you can follow these steps to set up an ad.

  1. Visit your Twitter Advertising dashboard and click the Create New Campaign button. Then select your goals – followers, website clicks or conversions, tweet engagement, app install, or leads.
  2. Enter the name of your campaign and choose whether it should run continuously or have a specific start and end date.
  3. For ad objectives other than Followers, you will be given the option to select tweets that you have already published or create a new tweet with information applicable to your campaign goal.
  4. You will then target your campaign for a specific audience. Targeting options include location, gender, language, devices, platforms, keywords, followers of your Twitter account or someone else’s, interests, tailored audiences, and TV targeting.
  5. Set your daily budget, maximum budget, and maximum spend per engagement.

Once Twitter approves your ad, it will begin to run immediately or when you have scheduled it to start. You can visit your Twitter Advertising dashboard throughout your campaign to review your campaigns analytics.

Twitter Analytics

Twitter users can learn more about their Twitter presence by reviewing their Twitter Analytics. This section will allow you to review the engagement audiences have with your tweets as well as a detailed breakdown of your follower demographics. As previously mentioned, URL shorteners will provide detailed analytics relating to your links. They are the most reliable for this metric of analytics at this time.

Twitter Analytics

Twitter Analytics

If you have created Twitter Cards for your website to enhance the way that shares from your website appear on Twitter, you will find data about how Twitter audiences respond to shares from your website using those cards.

Twitter Tools

While you can manage your Twitter presence solely using the Twitter platform, Twitter tools can help make the process smoother. The following are popular free and paid tools that businesses use to manage specific aspects of their Twitter marketing.

Buffer
Buffer allows you to create a schedule of when you want to send updates to your Twitter account (along with Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+). You then add updates to your Buffer, and Buffer sends them out at the next available times on the schedule you created. This way, you can set up all of your tweets for the next day, week, month, etc. at once and can focus on engaging with other Twitter users.
Commun.it
Commun.it. is a Twitter CRM tool that allows  you to see the most valuable members of your Twitter community and discover customers based on specific keywords.
HootSuite
HootSuite is a publishing tool that allows you to send and schedule updates to your Twitter account (along with Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+), monitor keyword searches, and view mentions and direct messages, all in side-by-side column view.
IFTTT
IFTTT allows you to set up automations for your Twitter account. For example, when someone tweets a link from your website, you may want to tweet a thank you to them. IFTTT allows you to do that and much more. Zapier is a similar premium service that allows you to automate Twitter activity on a more detailed level in conjunction with more business-specific applications.
Rival IQ
Rival IQ is a competitor research tool that allows you to compare your Twitter presence with your competitors to ensure that you are getting the most out of your Twitter marketing in terms of positioning and engagement.
SocialBro
SocialBro is a powerful marketing tool for Twitter that has features beyond just analytics and publishing. You can create custom Twitter lists from specific searches (great for customer discovery), upload your own customer email lists to find and connect with customers on Twitter, and much more.
SproutSocial
SproutSocial is a social media management tool that helps you manage Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ for your business.
TweetChat
TweetChat helps you participate in and manage Twitter chats by allowing you to pause the stream of tweets on the chat hashtag, tweet using the chat hashtag without having to type it in every time, and highlight important Twitter users in the chat.
TweetDeck
TweetDeck is a social media management tool dedicated to Twitter that helps you organize, publish, and analyze your activity.
Twitonomy
Twitonomy is a detailed third-party Twitter analytics tool that allows you to get insights on your tweets and followers, export and backup your tweets, monitor your profile, and much more.

These are only a few of the hundreds of tools devoted to Twitter. You can visit Buffer’s list of 59 free tools and apps to learn about more that might help with your Twitter marketing campaign.