How To Use Twitter For Business – Basics, Pro Tips & Tools To Make More Sales
Twitter is a difficult case for an e-merchant. You can achieve good results only if you have a very thoroughly planned strategy.
From the very first steps we’re going to walk you through the stages of how to use Twitter for business: how to create your user profile, how to find your audience, what kind of topics you should look for and how to make posts, how to find influencers and build a group of followers, and what kind of extra tools you can boost your performance with.
Even though the significance of Twitter among social platforms has somewhat decreased by now, it still has 317 million users a month according to the data for January 2017.
Some statistics about how people use Twitter:
- Content on Twitter is public, registration is necessary only for tweeting, for doing some activity – for this very reason the site is visited by 500 million people a month without logging in.
- However, altogether they reach over a billion of internet users taking into account the embedded content as well.
- Most people use the platform through their mobile, 82% of the users to be exact. (This is relevant because of speed: instant communication is what’s the most important on Twitter.)
- In the case of video displays the share of mobile devices is even more significant, 90%.
- An average user is followed by 208 people, however, 391 million of the users don’t have any followers. (Of course there’s a difference between the user accounts and the accounts of actual people that are operated by them.)
All right, you know some data – still, you cannot be sure whether your audience is in fact on Twitter, whether they actively use the service, in other words, whether there’s any point in investing more energy in the platform.
Once you know that, you have to determine how you’re going to communicate with them, what kind of strategy, what sort of approach you should choose.
According to the 2014 research of PewResearchCenter, six archetypes of the discussions taking place on Twitter can be identified:
- Polarized crowds: larger groups, the members of which talk about larger topics, and who have arguments with the members of groups with contrasting opinions. Such divisive discourses typically develop around political subjects, when so-called echo chamber structures may develop and clash against each other on social networking platforms.
- Tight crowds: active discussions of professional communities, of crowds clustered around hobbies, of current events, for example conferences belong here. There are no outsiders here, the participants are all the members of the given crowd.
- Brand clusters: discourses organized around products, brands, celebrities or events, which have diverse and numerous participants, the discussion follows a lot of strands, clusters that are independent of each other.
- Community clusters: events of global significance typically develop such patterns, with several smaller and larger participants, with a great deal of isolated groups, which all tweet about the same topic.
- Broadcast networks: similarly to traditional media, they are usually clustered around news portals or influencers dealing with news. News are published and then the users tweet, discuss and comment them.
- Support networks: these are groups of customer relations, like when you create a given account specifically for communication with the crowds. Brands, companies are present here just like media, governmental organizations or even religious groups.
Monitor what kind of discussions your audience takes part in and in what sort of crowds it is active in (later you can read about some analytical tools that will help you with that), and shape your communication according to that.
Before you start using Twitter, it’s worth contemplating about what your goal is with that.
There are countless social networking platforms for you to help you to build your brand, to sell or to publish content – we’ve already dealt with all of the biggest ones on this blog.
Twitter also has its own characteristics, so you should start with monitoring how your audience behaves here.
If for example, they like asking questions from each other and from shops they buy goods from, you can position yourself as a resource of information. You can share useful pieces of content, you can deal with customer support issues and so on.
Twitter, like most of the social networking platforms, has its own language, its own customs, which you have to use instinctively.
Of course, the most important thing is that you can write tweets of maximum 140 characters, which is mainly what makes the whole thing special.
This may seem few, but you can express surprisingly many things even in a couple of tweets – all you need to think about how important a role this platform has gained in politics in the last few years.
In case you want your published messages to be found easily, you’ll have to use hashtags, before which character # has to be put.
You should invent your own hashtag to build your brand and your audience with.
If you want to address someone publicly, if you want to draw their attention, you can mention them, in which case you have to use the person’s name and the character @ before it in the message. According to the default settings, the other party receives a notification that they have been mentioned in a tweet.
You can retweet others’ tweets – when, let’s say, one of your clients shares a positive rating on your business, and this way it will appear in your own channel as well.
You can also mark messages you like as favorites, however, this makes much less sense, it‘s more or less the same as the like feature on Facebook.
Finally, you have the possibility of sending direct messages as well, but only to those who follow you.
You can also upload images and videos to Twitter, thus you can make your channel more colourful, you’re not restricted to 140 characters in case of these – and you can also advertise your content and your products more efficiently this way.
What you should keep in mind when setting your profile
The first step is building your profile.
Make sure it’s in line with the image of your brand.
- Header photo: upload something that can be associated with you right away, something that’s connected to your activity and that transmits the mood of your image.
- Profile photo: it’s recommended using your logo here – it is immediately recognizable and easily identifiable.
- „Handle”: in other words the name under which you are available on Twitter. This doesn’t necessarily have to be the same as your user name.
- Bio: describe what you do, even what the given account is used for (this is where you publish the news or where people can ask you questions for example).
- Your website: direct people according to the function of the account, you can refer to your blog here, the main page of your online store or a landing page.
Twitter is not the platform where you should accumulate content in the hope that it will bring organic traffic later on.
Your goal is to make people react to what you publish, which is what we call engagement.
The platform offers you few opportunities to “format” your messages, however, it’s good to know a few things.
Tweets including links are 86% more likely to get retweeted.
Use a link shortening application, for example Bit.ly, so that the URL itself takes up as few characters of your message as possible.
(At the same time, it’s worth using parameters for the hyperlink behind the shortened URL, so that you’ll see the traffic source in your analytics dashboard properly.)
Yes, you’ll have to be engaged in discussions
You have to understand that if your online store has its own channel on Twitter, its use for customer support purposes is inevitable.
Most users can find you most quickly here, this is where they can most easily ask you questions and send you messages publicly.
According to a study of Conversocial, the number of customer support type messages has increased by 250% in two years – users are more and more willing to use this immediate opportunity for inquiries or complaints.
This has a positive and a negative side as well.
Obviously, the positive side is that you can react to almost everything immediately – provided you have enough time for that. (That’s only one reason why it wouldn’t hurt having a social media manager in the team who can deal with such matters.)
Its negative side is that when you’re dealing with an indignant and disappointed customer, it may be difficult to handle the complaints here.
When you’re targeted by trolls, you can’t really hide the whole thing from the public, even though you may as well benefit from such issues with the help of communicating in a creative way.
This doesn’t only bring a 21% increase in engagement on average, but it also helps you in joining the appropriate discussions.
There’s for example Hashtagify.me that helps you find those who are currently the best, or the Keyhole, with the help of which you can follow hashtags (moreover, not only on Twitter but on Instagram and Facebook as well).
However, you should also bear in mind that while the effect of a single hashtag is this positive, if there are three or more in your tweet, engagement decreases by 17%.
Using images in the tweet can also increase engagement by even 50% according to the experiences – but you should keep in mind that you’re not on Instagram.
A little about topics
There isn’t really anything you can’t talk about on Twitter, but it’s worthwhile for you to determine what you will deal with exactly.
For example, it may be confusing if you’re sometimes having customer support type discussions when you mostly use your Twitter account for content distribution. You can create two dedicated accounts for these separately.
- Every now and then you can publish promotions, new product offers, but you should be careful with those. It may be worthwhile for you to make special offers to tweeters (just like to other audiences as well), for example to grant them individual promotional codes.
- Ask questions. You can enhance activity this way, but you might as well use it for research purposes if, for example, you ask your followers to describe in two words their experiences concerning you or your product.
- Ask for their opinions – about slogans, product names, logos, about anything they can give feedback on.
- Publish your recent pieces of content, show what you publish in other channels as well – for example blog posts, YouTube videos etc.
- Publish interesting infographics.
- The short, straightforward quotations also belong here – these may be testimonials, but you should avoid excessive self promotion. It should rather be useful or interesting, like the statements of industry experts or those taken from interviews.
If you have a brick & mortar business and an ecommerce store as well, you should check out the strategy of Home Depot.
They don’t use Twitter alone, but as part of a cross-platform strategy. They share recent content (for example in the field of “do it yourself”). They don’t only show the product but they also provide hints on how to use it. They share influencer and partner materials and the visuals are in the focus of almost all of their content.
Then there’s Arena Flowers. They sell flowers. Do you know what you won’t find in their Tweet-feed?
The company decided not to care about the relevant hashtags, keywords or product promotion. They simply want to gather a large and enthusiastic group of followers, and they achieve that with humour.
They simply forgot about their earlier strategy and they started uploading funny images and texts to their timeline.
And with this, they obtained 18,000 new followers within 1.5 years, they doubled the number of those who mentioned them compared to the same period of the previous year, and overall they reach as many people as a simple flower delivery service can’t even dream of.
When to tweet?
If it’s about topicalities, immediately.
On the other hand, if you use it in a long campaign, you should adjust the time of posting to user behaviour.
According to Wiselytics, the “lifetime” of a tweet is only 24 minutes, after that there’s very little chance that it will have significant impact.
Consequently, it has to be published when possibly most of the members of your audience see it because they are hanging out on Twitter in that very moment.
We could show you a great deal of statistics presenting different figures depending on various audience types.
The one thing that’s the same in all of them is that it’s better to post on weekdays than weekends.
One of the most preferred periods within the day is between 12 and 3 pm and between 5 and 6 pm – roughly that’s what can be learned from the data of Kissmetrics, HubSpot, QuickSprout and others. (You can find a great collection and infographics about that at HubSpot.)
If you want to be seen in social media, one of the most effective tools is finding the influencers.
But that’s not an easy task: there’s no list on Twitter about exactly what kind of people your specific audience usually follows.
Due to the high level of disorganization of Twitter and the great variety of users and content, it’s difficult to find the accounts you should follow or tweet, the ones who you should actively communicate with or where it’s worthwhile for you to appear.
We presume that you know who you’re competitors are on the market, that you’ve already done some marketing competitor analysis – you should start with finding their accounts.
Search for lists on which the influencers of your specialty field are present.
After a certain time Twitter will start automatically recommending you users similar to the ones you followed previously. Always pay attention to who you should watch according to the algorithm.
So you’ll need to resort to tricks in order to find the appropriate people. And you should remember that there may even be several dozens or several hundreds of them.
The simplest thing to do of course is to find listicles about the most influential tweeters in a given field, and to cherry-pick the suitable candidates from among those.
But you also have other options: for example with the Klear tool you can analyse the accounts on several platforms (in addition to Twitter, on YouTube, Instagram and even on blog platforms.)
To some extent it’s also suitable for finding the local influencers, since you can also set the country in addition to the category in the first round. And in the second round you can further narrow down the results, for example by influence or skills, or even by filtering out business accounts from the list.
The Little Bird application is also useful, which searches and ranks influencers as Google ranked websites ten years ago: according to the connections and relations between them.
The logic is the following: if you’re a well-known influencer, then it’s logical that a lot of other influencers will follow you. Little Bird is quite suitable for mapping the biggest names in a given field.
Besides, you can also use it for the monitoring of the most popular pieces of content, posted by the influencers. You can filter by country and you can even make reports if you have a subscription.
With the help of Agorapulse you can follow your chosen keywords and see all the tweets that appear for a given topic.
It has other useful functions as well, you can filter for example according to who are retweeted by the most people within a given time interval.
You can use a lot of tools as well, e.g. Audiense, BuzzSumo and Twitonomy can also be used for certain purposes – I recommend you trying these, to use even several of them at the same time, and you’ll see which is the most comfortable and most useful for you.
Unfortunately, the product cards are no longer available on Twitter, even though it was a great tool for the e-merchants to share extra information with their audience on top of the 140 characters.
However, you can use other types of cards.
If you want to run a campaign on Twitter, you should build the code in the relevant product pages and landing pages by which Twitter will know which information it’s supposed to “pull” to a given link – e.g. title, description, image.
The most useful currently available type is most probably the website card, to which you can also set a CTA.
Another tool that also deceased, and which was supposed to serve e-merchants, was the buy button.
The reasons for its termination are somewhat obscure. It’s clear that the focus wasn’t too strong on it, but the point is that you can no longer buy anything by clicking on a button placed in a tweet.
So what’s left?
For the moment, merchants can work with the various Twitter advertisements, which is not too much.
You can sponsor individual tweets, accounts or even trends, thus achieving higher reach. These are natively embedded into the timelines of the users.
If you want to build your brand, if you are publishing posts on the platform about a new product or action, these may be useful, but unfortunately they don’t help you to have a direct sales opportunity on Twitter, thus shortening the purchasing path.
Even though since 2015 there have been some rumours about the company developing product pages, we still don’t know any details about it.
If you promote your posts, they should be simple.
According to Twitter’s own surveys, the messages shorter than 120 characters perform 8% better, the ones shorter than 100 characters perform 18% better for engagement.
The tone should be direct, the users should feel that a human being is sitting “on the other side”, even if they see a company logo next to the tweet.
We’ve seen several campaigns where the employees of the customer support service – outperforming themselves – answered every single message concerning individual topicalities in a direct and funny way, and the reactions were almost unanimously positive.
Don’t want to be an influencer by all means, you should rather just join the discussions.
You shouldn’t want to shove your product off their throats. It’s more than enough if there is some kind of a link leading to any product page or landing page in only 20% of your promoted tweets, since the main goal here is engagement and brand building.
We have already mentioned some useful applications you can use for analysing Twitter, for monitoring your followers and for finding influencers.
In this subsection we are going to describe some really great tools in a bit more detail.
If you want a bigger, more engaged Twitter following, give Social Quant a try.
Think of them as your social media manager whose only job is to grow your Twitter account with targeted, relevant followers with the power of big data: they listen to Twitter for mentions of keywords you provide.
Then when they find accounts using those keywords, they run them through a proprietary algorithm to determine the best accounts to follow.
This way you have more time to engage and make stronger connections with the new followers you’re getting every day.
Here are some useful tips from David Boutin, Content Manager of Social Quant:
- We find the best keywords tend to be hashtags and the handles of big accounts your target market is engaging with on Twitter.
- The most important thing to keep in mind is the words/phrases/hashtags/handles your target market, and only your target market will be using on Twitter.
- Think past the common industry terms your competitors will be using also and really drill down what your ideal customer will be tweeting about and what accounts they are engaging with.
- We also recommend using rightrelevance.com and hashtagify.me to do research on influencers and hashtags that will make good keywords.
It’s also worth joining their Facebook group which happily helps you out should you have any queries: Twitter Marketing That Sells
If you’d like to make your Twitter activity more automated, you should take a look at this service.
The service was launched just recently – after thorough testing with the involvement of several influencers from their 2000+ member Facebook group called Twitter Secrets.
What is it for?
You can send out automated mentions and messages / DMs with the aim of transforming your followers on Twitter into customers – according to the tests, 10 times more efficiently than with some earlier methods.
Twitter tips for ecommerce store owners by Dripper / Luka Labrovic:
- Right after someone follows you, send them a tweet thanking them for their follow with a coupon code. Send out multiple (different) mention tweets over the first month after their follow to guarantee you get their attention.
- Do the same with Direct Messages on Twitter ‒ a lot of people don’t read them, but the ones that do are highly engaged and will check your store out and also start a conversation with you which in my experience resulted in lots of highly engaged customers.
- Put some effort into optimizing your cover image, profile image, bio and pinned tweet. This is the first thing your new & existing followers see. Your cover image should be relevant to what you’re selling and include a link to your business. Your profile image could be a logo, but a lot of people use a personal picture when they’re involved in Twitter chats. Bios shouldn’t include hashtags ‒ when people click them they will leave your profile forever.
- Pinned tweets should include something of value like a guide or something for free. Successful Twitter profiles get more than 5000 clicks on their pinned tweet in a month.
- Use Right Relevance to find out who your influencers are and start following their followers and doing what they do with their content strategy, but better.
- Tweet 60-80 times a day. Use SocialOomph to create ‘Queue Reservoirs’ of content that will circulate your best performing content on your account forever.
When you sign up for Dripper, they also provide a lot of Twitter tips like these in your inbox including a detailed walkthrough how to implement the tips above.
The best pieces of content are those that are tailored to your audience.
However, in order to get some ideas, to know what they really desire, you need to spend a lot of time on research.
That’s what Post Planner helps you with: it provides new pieces of content and thus ideas, by monitoring keywords, hashtags, Facebook and Twitter users.
It carries out big data analyses with the help of algorithms, and it predicts the level of engagement you can expect in the case of different individual audiences, which makes planning a lot quicker.
The algorithm even tells you when it’s most worthwhile for you to post.
You should definitely try Twitter.
You should survey your audience beforehand – read our article on segmentation, and if possible, also ask them whether they are using the platform, and if yes, what they use it for.
If it’s not good for anything else, you can direct part of your customer service communication here, and you can manage that easily.
Use the tools we showed you: automation, analytics will be incredibly useful, your Twitter account will operate almost by itself – you only need to make sure that you elaborate strategies and campaigns for it and produce valuable content.
Digital Marketing Manager
Gábor started working for AionHill as a Magento eCommerce project manager. After 6 years, he joined the restructured Marketing Team. His main responsibilities are content strategy and communications partnership management. Gábor has two kids, likes cooking traditional Hungarian meals and playing strategy and online role playing games.