You know your business can’t just wing it on Twitter, you need a strategy. But how do you get there? A lot of social media advice revolves around confusing, high-concept buzzwords: There are only so many times you can be told to “listen” and “engage.” Concrete advice can be hard to come by, and while this guide won’t tell you what you need to tweet, it will provide you with the real questions you need to ask in order to craft a Twitter strategy for your business.
1. Choose Your Audience
Who do you want to reach on Twitter? Be specific and limit your scope to the demographic you really need; trying to reach everyone isn’t a great strategy. If you’re a B2B company, for example, you’ll probably want to reach other businesses and the people that represent them.
Here is a quick example: Look up at least 10 of your customers on Twitter (a quick name search on Google () can turned up their Twitter profiles). Once you’ve found some, look at who they’re following and who they talk to. These people could also become part of your audience. Look at how they describe themselves and what terms they talk about. Use those keywords and terms to find like-minded people.
The goal here is not to find everyone you’d like to interact with (that would probably be next to impossible), but to find people who might fit into your audience. Try to pay attention to who has influence in your audience. For example: who are people talking to, about or retweeting? Who do they seem to ask for advice? Once you have a decent group, move on to step two.
2. Understand How They Speak
It might sound like I’m giving you clichéd advice to “listen,” but clichés exist for a reason. You need to understand how your audience talks, what they like, and what they share. Below are some solid steps to get you started.
- Look up what people are saying about your company. Are they saying good things or bad things? Are they asking for advice about what product or company to choose? Are they giving feedback about their experiences after the fact?
- Do the same for your competitors. Note if your competitors are jumping in or influencing any of these conversations.
- Notice the way your audience talks. Are they generally formal or informal? This will be very different depending on the companies you are tracking and the people you attract. It’s always good to match the tone of your audience.
- Look at what your audience shares and retweets. What kinds of links and articles do they like? What kinds of terms and ideas get them excited or annoyed?
- Note any hashtags or other ways your audience connects. Look up those hashtags to see if they have any real traction (if they’re all spam or if people are really using them to connect).
3. How Much is a Twitter Lead Worth?
This is a bit more theoretical but it’s an important step that many companies forget. The reason you’re involved with Twitter isn’t just to say you’re there, it’s because you’re looking for a good return on investment. So what is it that you’re after? It might be as concrete as sign-ups and sales or as ephemeral as buzz and brand awareness.
Depending on your goal, try to figure out how much each person is “worth.” This almost certainly won’t be an exact number, but you should get a general idea. For example, if you’re doing B2B sales and a sale is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, you’re going to have a very different strategy than a company with millions of users that makes its money from advertising.
4. Set A Goal and Track It
Setting a goal is just the start of your strategy, you also need to track it with metrics. Choosing metrics does not just mean tracking your follower count because the count isn’t always a totally accurate measure of how many people are paying attention to your account.
There are obviously different approaches depending on the size of your fan base. If you have a large audience, you might not be able to put a lot of time into each lead. Your overall goal will likely be about brand awareness and creating buzz for your company. You should consider metrics that capture overall influence such as retweets, blog posts and clicks.
If you have a targeted audience, each lead probably carries more value. You overall goal will likely be to generate new leads. You should consider metrics like sales, email sign-ups, @messages, direct messages and clicks.
5. Define Your Approach
The language you use to tweet and what you choose to share should be targeted towards your audience. This means you should be thoughtful and accurate, not false and calculating. For example, if you’re trying to reach knitting mothers, you’re going to using a very different style of language than if you’re trying to reach hip hop aficionados. Below are a few main questions to consider:
- How formal or informal do you want to be?
- Should you include buzzwords or hashtags?
- How much effort should you put into reaching out to specific followers or finding new ones?
- What kind of links and content should you share?
- Can you do any special offers or campaigns on your account?
- What’s the style of your company? You have know your company’s message and define its personality. Your followers will appreciate the authenticity.
Any Twitter strategy is a perpetual work in progress. Just deciding that you need a strategy is an important first step that will have you thinking about what and why you tweet. The key is to keep experimenting: Twitter is ever-changing and to succeed on it you need to be flexible, but you also need to know where you’re headed.