By T/F/D digital guru Niall O’Malley
We’ve recently been working with our clients towards a new blueprint for integrated marketing. Naturally, at the centre of this approach is social media. It’s way past experimental stage – social media is now a fundamental part of how brands communicate with their audiences. Frequently, the first platform that brands turn to in order to perfect their social approach is Twitter. It’s faster and more constrained, so if it works on Twitter it usually can be scaled across other channels.
Our work with our clients is always different, but there are certainly some common principles that have emerged over recent years, which we always reaffirm:
1. Content: without a content pipeline, building social media communities grind to a halt. The good news is that, since the fundamental shift towards content marketing, community managers can syphon off B2B-focused assets from a central content pipeline e.g. research reports, videos and webinars, to provide useful social media fodder. In addition, these community managers can feed back into the central content stream to inform future development.
2. Smart slicing: Twitter Analytics provides a wealth of data, not just about your tweets but about the follower demographics, too. It will tell you their interests and break them down by percentage. Once you understand your follower interests you can create tweets that resonate. The more relevant the posts are, the more likely you’ll get engagement.
3. Timing: services like Tweriod predict what time your followers are usually online. It highlights the best time to post new content, so that tweets get better visibility and therefore have the greatest chance of engagement.
4. 280 characters: a year ago, Twitter increased its character limit to 280, which is valuable for brands to provide context. Twitter has confirmed that tweets that use more characters get more engagement. Why? Because you can add more information and more context. Do this, and the Twitter algorithm favours the Tweet.
5. Consistency: if you’re tweeting every day and providing value to your followers, Twitter’s algorithm will look kindly on the profile. If your tweets from the past week received engagement the algorithm will prioritise you further.
6. Profile: ensure your profile is up-to-date and you have all the relevant information (name, location etc.) filled out. The algorithm favours accounts that it deems credible, so do not be ‘spammy’ or post broken links, for example.
7. Develop a base: be highly specific with the accounts you follow. By focusing on a specific topic, over time those types of accounts will follow you back. Some users buy followers or use a bot to follow and unfollow to inflate their follower numbers. But the problem with this is tweet receive little engagement. Why? Because the majority of their followers are either spam accounts or irrelevant. The algorithm will penalise this, and it looks strange to real users too.
8. Engage with your followers: when people respond to a retweet or @repl, the algorithm will place any further tweets of yours into their timeline (provided they are following you). Engaging with other Twitter accounts ensures that the algorithm sees you as a contributor to the community.
9. Earned: listening services like Brandwatch can be used in combination with Twitter’s discovery service to identify high-value targets on Twitter to follow and design engagement strategies around. The parameters for identifying those targets should not be just around size of following, but rather relevance and propensity to interact positively with the content pipeline.
10. Imagery: ideally, every Tweet will include either an embedded image or video. To supplement the content marketing pipeline, free images are a cost-effective option if budgets are small. Some popular sources are unsplash.com and canva.com (they also have paid-for upgrade available). Do check the licensing of any images that you source through free sites however, as businesses have been caught out by using an image that they don’t have the right license for.
11. Timing: a new social media profile takes time to build cadence. Ultimately, the goal should be to publish at least four tweets per day, spaced evenly throughout the day or focused primarily on key hours for business people, such as the early morning and lunch hours. Make sure you keep a balance between promotional tweets and tweets about other people’s content. In reality, most high performing brands don’t publish at this speed, but it’s useful to agree on an ideal.
12. Paid: advertising is now integral to building a Twitter community due to the algorithm introduction in 2016. The advertising budget should be small but carefully targeted. The main difference between Twitter Ads and other social media advertising platforms like Facebook, is the high Cost Per Click (CPC). Cost Per Engagement (CPE) on the other hand is similar to other platforms. In addition to ‘follow user’ and ‘sponsored Tweets’ format, try the Video Website Card which consistently achieves higher click-through-rate than the industry benchmark for mobile video ads.
Marketing is evolving faster than ever, so we’re sure these principles will need revising over the coming months. Also, Twitter is going through a renaissance at the moment, so will naturally feel emboldened to build on that success with more feature releases and algorithm changes. However, what won’t change any time soon is its unique place in the marketing mix – nothing currently looks like replacing it.