Twitter, like Facebook before, has become such a ubiquitous part of our world that nearly everyone, from tech-savvy teens to web-weary senior citizens, knows what tweets are and how they’re used.
But, despite the tens of millions of users that Twitter boasts, and the billions of tweets that go out on a weekly basis, it still represents something of a Bermuda Triangle for marketers at every level.
That’s because, even though tweets are great for promoting breaking news, new web content, or amusing comments and pictures, businesses are still struggling to find followers and capture attention on a regular basis. The sheer volume of tweets and users makes it hard to cut through the noise, and to move the needle past “slight interest” and over to “real engagement.”
And so, it shouldn’t be any surprise that companies are having trouble finding the right balance between promotional tweets and everyday messages, or that they aren’t sure how to use direct messages and Twitter favorites.
To help you in your efforts, here are three great tips from the Kayak team to get more from Twitter in 2013 and beyond:
1. Ditch the Direct Messages
In theory, Twitter direct messages – which basically serve as personal tweets from one party to another – seem like a great concept. In practice, though, they have a lot of shortcomings that render them pretty ineffective as a means of communication, much less marketing tools.
For one thing, direct messages can’t be saved, stored, or placed in folders the way emails can, so any attention you get is going to be fleeting. What’s more, most direct messages are ads, so even if you’re sending a legitimate idea or inquiry, the recipient is likely to ignore your note or mistake it for spam. And finally, because direct messages are easiest to respond to with other direct messages, any follow-up or feedback you get will have to be compressed into 140 characters or less, which isn’t always ideal.
2. Try Twitter Favorites
For all the problems that come with direct messages, Twitter favorites (and Twitter Lists) can be useful. By allowing you to mark tweets with a tiny star (or sort them into a personal list of your fav’s), you can note a great piece of content for others in mere seconds. And, marking someone’s tweet as a favorite is a great way to get them to notice you and your messages, and possibly have them follow you in return. (On a side note, we’ve observed a slight shift recently towards favoriting over following. Something to keep an eye on.)
It’s also worth pointing out that the converse is true, as well. If your social media campaigns are strong enough, you might be able to get others to mark your tweets as their favorites. When they do, there’s a good chance that their followers will notice, which helps you increase your reach.
3. Use Twitter Efficiently
It’s always dangerous to follow any set rules or ratios when it comes to using social media, but one basic guideline we like to stick to is giving at least six to ten information or insight tweets for everyone that seems promotional in nature. In other words, don’t turn your Twitter feed into an unrelenting source of ads.
Even though Twitter is changing, and the opportunities for marketers are getting bigger and more varied, it’s still something most people use to find things like news, photos, and even humor or celebrity gossip. If you bury them under too much marketing, they’re going to tune you out and take their attention elsewhere.
When it comes down to it, success in Twitter marketing really comes down to paying attention to your audience, being respectful of others and their time, and not coming off as another marketer who is running campaigns on a pure numbers strategy. Engage followers like their actual humans, using the tools that make the most sense (rather than the ones that are easiest or most overused), and you can separate yourself from the pack.
If you are interested in learning more about engaging online, please check out our training program for marketers.