Guest post from Josh Gallant, Digital Marketing Strategist.
In case you haven’t heard, long-form tweeting now exists.
That is, if you consider 280 characters to be long-form. If you’re comparing that number with the 140 character cap of old, new-school tweets are going to seem like oversized college textbooks.
Am I the first person to jump on the trend and write about the new character limit?
No, I am most definitely not.
Pretty much everyone that creates content and uses Twitter has beat me to the punch. They’re all jumping to answer the most popular question across the internet recently. That question everyone’s asking typically looks something like this:
“How can I BEST use my 280 characters to maximize my tweets?”
Well I’m going to give you an answer you probably haven’t seen yet. How can you utilize all those characters, you ask? Simple…
Ignore 140 of them.
This is a guest blog post from Josh Gallant, Digital Marketing Strategist.
Why is Twitter still relevant?
I can think of 328 million reasons why.
Any platform with that many monthly active users is one worth utilizing. But you’ve figured that one out already — that’s why you’re here.
The real question here is how can you make sure your Twitter game is always on point & at its best.
How can you make sure that your followers are reading your tweets?
How can you increase the chances of retweets on each post?
How can you create content that stirs up conversation on Twitter?
And how can you consistently deliver value and watch your followers grow?
The first thing you need to understand is actually quite simple…
Twitter users are people too.
They’re real people who like to have real conversations with other people. The goal isn’t just a massive amount of followers — The goal is a massive amount of engaged followers. You want as many people as possible who all can’t wait to share whatever content you’re tweeting out.
So how do you actually pull that off?
Start with these six pro tips on how you can keep your twitter followers engaged, backed by research and a ton of trial and error.
Let’s get to it…
1. Understand Your Audience
First thing’s first, you have to know what your followers are into.
Your chances of successfully building an engaged following on Twitter skyrocket if you take the time to understand what your typical follower looks like.
The best way to get started is to ask yourself three questions:
What are they interested in?
Find out what topics make them want to smash that retweet button. Content marketing basics, graphic design inspo, photography tips, modern day hip hop… Figure out what they love, then give them exactly that.
If you’re trying to keep your followers engaged by sharing content they genuinely don’t care about… Good luck with that.
How do they like their content?
Get a feel for what really catches their eye. Maybe it’s quick videos, long-form, value packed blog posts, or podcasts. Find out what form of content they like most, then keep feeding them what they’re looking for.
Where are they and when do they want to hear from me?
Sure, maybe you live on the east coast of Canada like me, but if your followers are out in Los Angeles or way over in Dublin, you’ll need to tweet based on their watch, not yours.
Also, different industries call for different posting schedules. If your followers are pure hustlers (like the Hustle & Grind crew) working their 9-5 during the day and hustling at night, tweeting in the evenings may bring you better results.
Use the info in the Audiences section of your Twitter Analytics dashboard. To get there, head to analytics.twitter.com and click ‘Audiences’ in the menu at the top of the page. Your followers’ interests and demographics will be right there for you to look at.
2. Set Up Your Profile the Right Way
Anytime a Twitter user happens to come across your profile, you don’t want to waste that opportunity.
First impressions are massive. Just like meeting someone in person for the first time, you’ve only got 7 seconds to wow someone and make them like you (or follow you in this case) — maybe even less.
Key in on a few things and you’ll be nailing each and every first impression…
Show your face.
According to a study done by HubSpot, Twitter users with a profile picture have 10x more followers than those without one.
Everyone loves a friendly looking face.
You don’t need to look like a corporate executive dressed to the nines in your Twitter picture. If anything, that could cause people to dislike you if they’re feeling intimidated. Aim for a friendly-looking candid close-up. Look like the type of person you wouldn’t mind having a cold conversation with at a cocktail party.
Don’t forget to smile… 😁
Don’t waste your cover photo.
When someone makes their way to your Twitter profile, the biggest piece of graphic real estate is your cover photo. With that said, far too often Twitter users are wasting this opportunity to market themselves even more by slapping any old photo in there, or even worse — Leaving the dreaded blue rectangle.
As nice as a beautiful landscape or city skyline is to look at, it’s not doing a whole lot to help boost your brand.
“Would you rather engage with a company that has a header image featuring a dozen of their happiest employees working together on a cool project, or one that relies on a plain blue rectangle to do the talking?”
Like Lindsay says, it’s a great place to feature your big happy team, or promote whatever it is you do, like Netflix does when they release something new:
Even if you’re not a company, you can still boost your personal brand by using an image that ties back to you. Tell the people what you do, or just show them how much of a fun person you are, just like Daniel DiPiazza of Rich20Something & the one and only Gary Vaynerchuk are doing:
Write a killer bio.
Short and sweet. You’ve only got 160 characters so get in, tell them what you do and why you matter, then get out.
Keep in mind, your bio shows up right under your name in the search results on Twitter, and in the description in a google search. This means if someone searches for a keyword, your name could pop up as long as you worked that keyword into your bio.
While there’s not much information available on how the ‘Accounts’ section of Twitter’s search actually works, it seems to be a combination of influence and relevancy to the search terms. If those keywords are in your bio, you’re giving yourself a much better chance of getting noticed.
Quick example: I just did a search for ‘Entrepreneur’ and here’s what I found:
Entrepreneur Magazine is first (understandably so), but 4 of the 6 top results don’t even have ‘Entrepreneur’ in their name. They’re just highly influential in the entrepreneurial space.
3. Don’t Just Take — Engage With Them First
Nobody likes the person who’s all about promoting themselves and nothing else.
Don’t be that person.
Twitter isn’t just a place to dump all your links and hope the traffic starts flowing. It’s a community of real people who want to engage with other real people. If you just drop in every now and then to tweet boring links to your content, then jump out until you do the same the next day… Good luck.
If you want engaged followers who like everything you share, you need to engage with them first.
Now I’m not talking about those cookie cutter auto-responders you see from time to time. None of that “Awesome post! Check out my page!” BS that everyone hates.
Retweet what they’re sharing, reply to their tweets, ask them questions, then follow up and keep the conversation going. Have real conversations with people. Show them you care about them and give them a reason to care about you too.
4. Tweet Often at the Ideal Times
How many times should you tweet each day?
If you’re looking for the one liner — Tweet as often as you can.
There’s no one-size-fits-all number of tweets you should share each and every day to maximize your engagement, but a study done by Quick Sprout found that a solid goal should be to aim for about 15 tweets per day.
“15 tweets a day? Ain’t nobody got time for that…”
Don’t worry, they also say that at least half of those should be curated content or retweets, so you don’t necessarily have to create 100+ personalized tweets each week.
Still, finding enough relevant content to share can be tough. You most likely don’t have the time to bounce from blog to blog looking for A+ content to share. The best way to keep your Twitter feed full of great curated content is with a tool like Crate.
You can set up multiple Crate’s that find you popular, valuable content for just about anything you’re looking for. From there, you just share your favourites straight to your Twitter feed and watch the retweets roll in.
If 15 each day is still too much, scale it down a bit for now. Aim for at least 5 quality tweets per day. As you get more comfortable crafting them, start to up the frequency. Eventually, it’ll just be part of the routine.
The more your followers see your name associated with valuable content, the more credible you become to them. Get in front of them often, give them something worthwhile, and watch the engagement numbers climb.
What is the absolute best time to be tweeting?
I wish I could say something simple like “Hey, just tweet every weekday at noon and you’ll be golden.”
The truth is, there is no universally ideal time to tweet. It all depends on your audience and your specific niche. It very well may be that weekdays at noon are one of the best times for engagement and clicks for you. That might be when your followers are active and ready to hit retweet. Or maybe it’s on the weekends after 9pm. Each audience has their own preferences.
The best way to understand when you should be tweeting is to do some research and a whole lot of testing.
Scope out a few of the major players in your space & use what you find as your starting point.
When are they tweeting the most?
When are they getting the most engagement?
Are they sharing links all day or just at certain times?
What about graphics and videos?
If you don’t much competition to research, you can use online analytics solution Kissmetrics’ Science of Social Timing findings as your starting point. They found a few common trends that typically span across multiple industries:
- The highest percentage (6%) of retweets happen around 5pm.
- Click-through rate (CTR) is highest midweek and on weekends.
- CTR is also highest at noon and at 6pm each day.
Until you test your way to an ideal posting schedule, aim for lunchtime and the early evenings, and don’t be afraid of the weekend. As a matter of fact, engagement rates are actually 17% higher on the weekend.
Of course, keep in mind your followers may not be in the same timezone as you. Sure you’re tweeting at 5pm local time for you, but maybe that’s 7am where they are.
Understand your audience and always be testing. Over time, that ideal posting schedule will come together soon.
5. Take Advantage of the Features Available
Twitter isn’t jam-packed full of flashy features, but there are definitely a handful that you may not be utilizing just yet.
Retweet your own tweets.
“What? You can do that?”
Yes you can.
If you have a tweet that got some solid traction, you can give it a second wind by retweeting it yourself a few days later.
It’s not the be-all-end-all way to master Twitter and become a social media superstar, but it’s a quick and easy way to extend a tweet’s lifespan.
Sure you can only plug 140 characters in each tweet, but what if I told you there was a way around that cap with threads?
THREAD: Why Britney Spears is better than Beyoncé pic.twitter.com/GyW1o4EHCZ
— ɔiᴎoɔi (@thottybey) April 1, 2017
A thread is a string of multiple tweets attached to each other. When someone opens one of the tweets, the others are attached as replies and tied together with a bar like this:
To create one, just tweet something — It could be a sort of cover tweet saying there’s a thread attached (like the Britney vs. Queen Bey one), or it could just be the first tweet from the thread. Then reply to your own tweet with the next post in the thread, then reply to that tweet, and so on.
If someone opens up any one of these tweets, they’ll see the full thread, effectively “beating” the 140 character limit.
Use live video.
Much like Facebook and Instagram live, Twitter has its own platform to stream live video on called Periscope.
Live video is still a new trend. Not too many people have figured out how to use it effectively and consistently. Live video creates an in-the-moment feeling that lets anyone who watched say it was a ‘you had to be there’ type of thing. It’s a chance for you to provide exclusive value that encourages your followers to stay active and engaged so they don’t miss the next one.
A recent study by Twitter shows live video around an event increases brand favorability by 63%.
You may not be live streaming any events, but that number goes to show the impact live video can have on your brand amongst your followers. If you can find a way to utilize it, you won’t be sorry you did.
With new followers, there’s a sort of fear attached to your content and their retweet button. They know you’re interesting, that’s why they followed you, but they don’t know how legit the content you’re sharing is, so they’re hesitant to share it and engage with it.
That’s a barrier that can be slowly broken down by using polls.
Like this one on who has the best offense in the NFL:
Trick question, obviously it’s the Oakland Raiders.
Polls are quick, simple ways to encourage engagement. Your followers don’t have to commit to a full retweet or reply, all they have to do is take a few seconds to choose an answer. Once they get used to engaging with you, the retweet button becomes much less frightening and all the sudden your face is in front of their followers too.
(It also doubles as some solid research if you can ask the right questions.)
6. Understand What NOT to Do
Of course, part of keeping your followers engaged is understanding what you should NOT be doing on Twitter. You can understand exactly what your typical follower looks like, have a perfect profile, and share your tweets at the best possible times, but dabble too share into the DON’Ts of Twitter and not get the results you’re looking for.
So what are these Twitter faux pas?
DON’T post tweets without a photo/video/link
What even is a plain text tweet?
Keep your tweets rich.
DON’T be in sales mode all the time.
We already talked about this earlier. If people think you’re just on Twitter to sell, your follower count will surely reflect that.
People want to be entertained, educated and engaged with — not just sold to. Become a resource for value first, then the sales with start to make themselves.
Sharing curated content is the easiest way to get started here. If you sign up for a Crate account, you’ll get to go through a full walkthrough on how to efficiently find curated content and share it with your followers.
DON’T pile on the hashtags in every tweet.
You should absolutely be using hashtags. They help connect your content to the people who are looking for it.
What you shouldn’t do though, is use too many hashtags.
According to research done by Buddy Media, tweets with one or two hashtags receive 21% more engagement than tweets with three or more hashtags.
On top of that, tweets with three or more hashtags actually see a 17% decrease in engagement from tweets with zero hashtags.
Hard to argue here. Try to use one or two hashtags in as many tweets as possible.
Now Over to You…
Alright, now that you’ve got a good understanding of how to keep your followers engaged, it’s time to get the ball rolling.
Start with the first two sections. Identify your typical follower and optimize your profile. After that, start connecting with your followers on a person to person level. Find a way to start conversations around their content and begin creating real relationships.
From there, commit to sharing content your followers will be genuinely interested in. Sign up for Crate and make the content curation process even easier on you.
The Twitter landscape is constantly changing — We all need to be ready to adapt along the way. If you have any extra engagement tips to share, drop a comment and let me know.
Don’t forget to give this post a share to pass on the knowledge… ❤️
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