How to use Twitter

Twitter can be great for small businesses when it’s used in the right way!

Too many small business owners decide they don’t have time for Twitter so they automate everything, spewing out sales messages and never showing up in person to engage with anyone. The result is everybody shouting and no-body listening. 

Would you like to be “the expert” in our weekly Q&A sessions? Get in touch if you’ve got expertise to share! 

The people who take the trouble to be interesting, engaging, and actually talk to people cut through the noise and attract a great network of people who help each other.

We asked Drive member Lenka Koppová to guide us through some ways to enjoy Twitter (it can be great fun!) and to make it work for our businesses.

Lenka helps small businesses to navigate through the world of digital marketing by to use social media for customer service, community building and brand awareness.

This is a compilation of the live Q&A in the Ask the Expert hour in the Drive Facebook Group.

Should you be on Twitter?

Lenka Koppová Twitter is a really quick and transient platform. You need to engage with people first to get any benefit out of your time spent there.

Before you start, think about if you really should be using Twitter – is it the right platform for you & your business?

If so, then what’s the goal of you using the platform, what do you want to achieve and what you need to do in order to get the results you want?

These could be differnt objective to using other social media platforms.

Having a plan helps to get the best out of each platform.

Follow me Twitter iconAuto DMs Yes or No?

Nicky Peters When I follow people, I sometimes get an auto response private message in Twitter, is this easy to set up as I think it could be very valuable?

Lenka Koppová There are two perspectives on Auto DMs on Twitter. The majority of people will tell you that they hate auto DMs and that it’s a reason to unfollow that person. No matter how much you try, auto DMs never will be authentic, because you haven’t established the relationship yet. The second group of people will tell you that no matter how annoying auto DMs are, they work! They drive a lot of traffic/leads to your business. It’s really easy to set up auto DMs, there are many 3rd party apps that you can use for free. For me, it’s a question of ethics.

Content and timing

Louise Frayne Do you have some criteria for deciding what you will retweet?

Lenka Koppová I think that’s really individual. All your content should be relevant and timely. There’s always evergreen content that you can reuse all the time, but it’s also important to add some fresh, timely, real-time content into the mix to keep the right balance. I’m a big fan of reusing content in different forms and keeping your ‘assets’, e.g. blog posts, articles, interviews, videos etc., useful for as long as possible – it can save you a lot of time and energy!

Karl Gjertsen I’d like to know as a general rule how often we should post articles.

Lenka Koppová The answer is – it depends! There are many factors playing a role in deciding on the ideal frequency. At first, you need to know what your resources are (time, energy, money, etc) to be able to put together a clear content & scheduling plan. It’s also important to know what your audience actually want to learn from you. For some, frequent short posts work best, for others long form articles once a month will be enough. Twitter is a fast paced network so the posting frequency can be higher than on Facebook/LinkedIn. You can also repeat the same content (not the exact wording) more frequently. But as I said, it depends!

Worry less and tweet more!

Emma James How closely related to your business/target client should shared content be? I struggle to find interesting articles, but wonder whether that’s partly because I’m looking for a perfect match. Slightly linked to this, is there a rough cut-off time as to when it’s no longer relevant to share something? If I find something that could be shared but it’s a few days after it was published I feel like it’s already too late, but now I’m typing this I can almost you hear you telling me to worry less and tweet more!

Lenka Koppová I love that you’ve answered yourself, Emma! You’re right, Twitter is really a fast paced platform, so the rule ‘quality over quantity’ doesn’t apply 100% here. Of course, your content needs to be relevant, but sharing it a few days later (or repeating it several times) doesn’t matter because not everyone checks Twitter every day (or a few times a day). It always depends on your audience/target market – what they want to know, what they like to read, what they struggle with? Always think ‘is this adding value to them’?

Dawn Giesler What is the general rule towards the ratio of other people’s content to your own business? I read about 80:20

Lenka Koppová Content balance is really important for social media success. The 80:20 rule says that 80% of what you share should be education, entertainment, engagement and only 20% can be self-promotion. It goes hand in hand with the main ‘social media rule’ – more social, less media! You should always focus more on providing value, engaging with people, building relationships and trust – because if you do that long enough, people will come to you without any need to try to sell yourself! Twitter  (or social media in general) isn’t a promotional platform where you can broadcast your message and shout out loud how amazing your products/services are, it’s an online networking platform designed to help people build new relationships.

Dawn Giesler Thanks that answers my next question about twitter etiquette & the relevance & importance of mentions & RT.

Lenka Koppová @mentions and RTs are a crucial part of Twitter. Twitter is the best online networking platform and all networking should include 1-2-1 conversations, replies, sharing each other’s ideas etc. That doesn’t mean that you should only RT! You need to keep a balance between posting your own content, curated content from others and RTs. You want to motivate more people to share your content and the best way to do that is occasionally share theirs – as long as it’s relevant to your audience.

Twitter birdCatz LOLs

Zarine Jacob Does what you post need to be ALWAYS related to your biz? I’ve heard that cat posts generate lots of views.

Lenka Koppová It needs to be somehow related to your business. Sharing cat/puppy/baby videos that have nothing to do with your business won’t work. It needs to be relevant, connected to your business, industry, your own personal interest, a tone of your brand etc. It doesn’t mean that you can’t share fun and light-hearted posts, entertainment is an important part of social media content, but in needs to be done with a reason.
Cat pics may get more views but if those people aren’t interested in your business it’s a pretty useless activity.

Zarine Jacob I like Emma James comment: worry less & tweet more!

Lenka Koppová Exactly! Social media, in general, is a lot about experimentation. That doesn’t mean that you don’t need a plan! You should always start with a strategy before you jump into posting, but be flexible with the tactics you use, don’t be afraid to try new things and always watch what’s working and not working.

Its all about your audience

Jo Bryant Is a good strategy to mix up sharing info in my field, info on what I’m doing and new info that might help others in my field? Or can I use it to share funny or clever puppetry that I find for a light-hearted approach? To do it all would take ages! Also do I need to use bit.ly links?

Lenka Koppová Ideally, you should be sharing a mixture of different content – tips & tricks, industry information, business updates, motivation, fun, conversational tweets, questions. People love seeing the real face behind the business, authenticity is really important on social media. You can show people what’s going on behind the scenes, what are your interests and passions. Be real, be human. It doesn’t take that long if you plan everything in advance and then schedule it. If you’re using Buffer/Hootsuite to schedule your tweets, these platforms will automatically shorten your URL. You can also use bit.ly to do it manually. It looks much better and it helps with analysing your results.

Emma James I realise it depends what you’re aim is, but do you have an idiots guide to analytics? What are the key things should I be looking for, for example are likes better than retweets, etc?

Lenka Koppová It all depends on your goals/targets. Generally (really big generalisation) you want more engagement and a bigger reach. Link clicks, shares, retweets and @mentions are really good metrics to watch. The number of followers doesn’t matter because what you want is an engaged community rather than a huge fan base who doesn’t care.

Alicja Wawrzyniak What content is better for my interior design business – visual or opinions?

Lenka Koppová It all depends on your audience. There isn’t ‘one fits all’ suggestion. For interior design, it will be definitely a lot of visual content, but also tips & tricks, case studies for before & after. You should always share a mixture of different content, don’t forget to listen and ask questions and check your analytics regularly to see what’s working. Each company, target market, niche, audience is different.

Even Twitter is a really visual platform. You can share graphics, infographics, before & after photos. Plus you can include a link to your blog post where people can learn more. The best way to use Twitter is to engage in conversations, listen to what people need, what are their questions, struggles, pains – and then be the solution!

Analytics should always refer to your goals. That’s the only way you’ll know what to watch/measure and if it’s working.

Dawn Giesler What is the general rule about using # / CTA / bit.ly links? Should EVERY tweet have a Call To Action?

Lenka Koppová I’d say that CTA should be only 20% of your shared content. It’s self-promotion and you don’t want to spam people with too much PUSH for promotion. Every tweet should add value to your audience. If you offer advice, share tips & tricks, respond to questions and genuinely care about your audience, you’ll build a relationship and create a community around your brand – then you won’t need any (or many) CTA to actually drive traffic/leads/sale because people will PULL for them on their own.

#hashtags need to be used sparingly on Twitter, it’s a different platform than Instagram where you can use a lot of #s. On Twitter, I’d say max 2-3 hashtags per tweet, ideally used as a part of the sentence instead of putting them at the end. It’s important to do hashtag research beforehand to understand how and why are people searching for certain topics. I like using www.hashtagify.me for that.

FAQs

Ann Hawkins Favourite questions that come up all the time are about Personal v Business Profile. Face v Logo. Time of day. Using automated bots. Do you have to follow everyone who follows you.

Lenka Koppová Personal vs. Business is a big question for small businesses. I’d say no matter what you choose, always make sure to come across as a human. As I like to say, there’s no B2B or B2C there’s only H2H – human to human. there’s always a real person dealing with you in the business and that needs to come across. I’d say that it’s easier to build a personal brand with a real face as it’s easier for people to connect. A personal brand is always more authentic and trustworthy.

Time of the day – depends if you run a local or a global business. Generally, it doesn’t matter that much, because people use Twitter differently than Facebook. On Twitter you search topics on purpose, you visit lists and hashtags that will have relevant information. You’ll see lots of infographics about ‘the best time to post’ but it is individual. Twitter or 3rd party scheduling tool will be able to tell you when YOUR audience is more active and you want to post at this time, but don’t limit yourself to these times. Experiment with different days/times and you’ll be able to reach a broader audience this way.

Automation is a big topic. Never automate engagement, that doesn’t work, but you can automate posting and scheduling which can save lots of time!

Twitter List Magic

Ann Hawkins Would you say a few words about using Twitter lists, Hootsuite etc please.

Lenka Koppová Twitter lists are an amazing tool that makes using Twitter so much easier and more efficient. You can create an unlimited number of private & public lists and segment your audience. Using Twitter lists means that you don’t need to follow everyone to stay aware what’s happening (and you shouldn’t follow everyone!)

Here are some suggestions for a few great lists everyone should use:

Your competition – private, keep an eye on them

Potential customers – private, try to engage with

Current & VIP customers – private, keep them happy and engaged

Networking – public, collect people you’ve met networking, but no need to follow them if their business isn’t relevant to yours

Influencers – public, influential people in your industry you’d like to establish a relationship with

Topic specific – public, for sport, music, art, news and other interests

Having Twitter lists help with content curation – finding interesting posts to share, and with engagement – all the people you actually care about are in one place.

(See @DrivetheNetwork members list!)

Management platforms like Hootsuite/Buffer are necessary to stay sane on Twitter. They help with planning & scheduling content, they have great built-in analytics. I also love Tweetdeck for listening and participating in Twitter chats.

Dawn Giesler Can you please just expand a little on Tweetdeck? What’s the best way to find out what’s going on in your market & then delve into a conversation

Lenka Koppová Tweetdeck is a separate Twitter app (browser version only), that is really similar to Hootsuite but is 100% free. It allows you to schedule posts, but mostly it allows you to set up a variety of stream where you can easily watch different searches. You can use it to watch different hashtags, keywords, websites, activity in lists. The biggest benefit of this app is real time refreshing and having everything in one place. At first in can be a bit overwhelming, but it’s super helpful once you get your head around.

If you’re near Cambridge UK, and would like to learn more about social media, meet like-minded people and have great conversations, Lenka runs a monthly Social Media Meetup. It’s an informal evening of Q&As and a friendly chat. You can find more info about the next one here: https://www.meetup.com/Cambridge-Social…/events/240758512/

What you can do right now

1) Follow @DrivetheNetwork on Twitter.

2) Subscribe to the Drive members list

3) Use the attendance list for each event to connect on Twitter before you meet.

3) Every time you see a Tweet from Drive it will be about a member or an event so please RT it!

4) Use the hashtag #DrivetheNetwork

5) Talk to each other on Twitter – remember everyone’s network gets connected that way and you never know who you’re going to meet!

Connect with Lenka @LenkaKopp and carry on asking questions and learning how much fun Twitter can be!

Find out more about Lenka’s Social Media services www.lenkakoppova.com 

Ann Hawkins