Posted by : Amitha Amarasinghe Saturday, March 20, 2010
Using Twitter for promoting brands is becoming very popular, with more and more brands wanting to get onboard with Twitter. Why do some brands become so successful on Twitter platform, while some others gravely fail with their Tweeting adventures? I’ve observed few brands that I follow on Twitter, and listed down seven Twitter best practices used by winning brands. Interestingly, those brands which embarrassingly failed on Twitter did not adhere to most of these Twitter best practices for brands.
Here we go! The list of things you should know when Tweeting for a brand.
One: Focus on quality, not quantity
I have seen many brands becoming overly obsessed about the quantity of followers, and blindly follow thousands of irrelevant people with the hope of some of them will follow their brands back. This is the typical approach of Twitter spammers.
Successful brands on Twitter, always managed to avoid this cheep tactic of attracting followers, and focused on more genuine ways of attracting followers. If you are a Radio station in Bangkok, having followers based in USA never going to take you anywhere near success, on Twitter. In contrast, having just Thai nationals to follow your brand can create enriched conversations, within the small community around your brand.
Lesson here is “do not bulk follow irrelevant Tweeters, with the hope of getting some follow back love”.
Two: Expect for rudeness, but don’t be rude
There is one important lesson a brand manager should learn before stepping into any social media marketing activity for their brand. You have to know that social media is two-way (interactive), compared to the traditional media you may be using for promoting your brand. When you put a commercial on TV, a viewer can’t tell you back “that’s bullshit! Your brand sucks”. But on Twitter, they can. They can tell that loud enough to be heard by many of the other potential customers, who are following your frustrated customer. But, when dealing with such rudeness you have to be very careful not to respond to rudeness with rudeness. The reason is, you represent a brand with its own identity which is independent from your identity and personality. What you say on Twitter represents your brand and if you use the wrong words, the followers associate such words with your brand, which might lead to bad repercussions.
Three: Know who are following you on Twitter
Point number three, links to the first point in a way. Once you defined your target audience and targeted them to follow you on Twitter, you have to constantly monitor who are actually following you. You hardly can control who’s following you on Twitter, unless you have made your Tweets private (which is counterproductive if you are Tweeting for a brand).
Take a break-down of people who follow you on Twitter, and analyze the changes regularly.
Here are some areas that you can look into, when analyzing your follower base. You don’t need to get exact answers to these questions, with % accuracy. Just scanning through your followers’ list will give you a general idea to which position you stand in each of these areas.
What percentage of followers do you have, geographically located in a place where they can buy from you? (if you are a global online business, this is not a problem)
What percentage of followers, which can be categorized as spammers?
It is easy to identify the spammers. One method is, to see if the number of people they follow is way too larger than the number of followers they have for themselves.
What is the ercentage of your followers who never tweeted for last days?
This again is a matter of quality over quantity. You might have or followers but if % of them never retweet, or never even login to their Twitter account, the whole purpose of having them as your followers is lost.
How many people are following your followers in average?
If you have followers, who are connected to more people following them in average; you are more likely to be in advantage than having followers who are connected to people in average following them.
Do this analysis regularly, to maintain the quality of your followers. If you researched the net, you will find some helpful Twitter API tools to solve some of these problems.
The lesson! Tweeting to people who are not in your target audience, is a waste of time and energy. Therefore, know your followers well and make sure their profile matches your target audience. You have to define your target market first (basics of marketing) and make sure your Twitter followers represents that target audience.
Four: Don’t shout on Twitter. It’s not the Sunday fare
Your brand is not the only one competing for your followers’ attention. They are not only following you, but also following a considerable number of people they know, and may be some other brands as well. When you Tweet asking for a response from your followers, they might not immediately respond you, due to various reasons. One mistake most failed brands did on Twitter, is to “shout to get attention”.
Using excessive upper case letters in sentences, and tweeting the same thing over and over again is treated as “shouting” on Twitter.
Most failed brands took the approach of airing TV commercials on prime time, when tweeting for their brands. They believed “repetition” will eventually yield them responses, which is a wrong assumption. Repetitions on Twitter (Tweeting the same thing for several times within a short time span) may cause annoyance among some of your followers who already noticed your tweet, but didn’t want to respond. Many tweeters for brands become impatient when they don’t see immediate responses from their followers, and keep re-tweeting the same thing over and over again. Be patient! If you have picked the right audience as your followers, and if your Tweet in interesting enough, you will see the responses coming in good numbers.
Five: Encourage engagement
Use Twitter to keep your followers engaged with each other, and with your brand. Twitter sometimes can be boring for many people, when they don’t see opportunity to be engaged with other users. If you see a conversation building up between two users, join in the conversation with some helpful information. Ask interesting but simple questions from your followers, and encourage people to create conversations. As discussed above, the secret of keeping your followers engaged with your brand is to attract as much as relevant followers to your brand.
Six: Listen more, and talk enough
Sadly enough, most brands come online for just to talk about themselves. You will notice this by looking at the number of people they follow. I’ve seen some brands, which follow zero people, while having a considerable number of people following them back. This is ok for a celebrity on Twitter, but for brands? I believe this is still a questionable area whether is it the right thing to do. In a way, this conveys the message that the brand. On the other hand this conveys the message; you are not willing to listen to other people. While it is your democratic right, not follow anyone on Twitter if you wish; it is a good idea that you follow back some of your followers, to keep listening to them. Following too little people can be a sign that you are not ready to listen to others (customers, in the case of a brand).
Seven: Measure your Twitter presence regularly
The last point is important, because everything that you do for your brand must get measured and evaluated to see if the effort you put yields result at the end of the day. If you are tweeting for brand building, number of re-tweets you earned is a good measure of exposure. You can measure the number of @ mentions about your brand, as another indicator of your success. Number of followers you have is an important measure too, but as Erick Schonfeld quiet rightly put it “it's not how many followers you have that counts, it's how many times you get retweeted”.
The followers-friends ratio is another good tool for you to get an idea about your proceedings on Twitter. Your TFF Ratio (Twitter Follower-Friend Ratio) is the ratio of your followers to friends (or people who you follow). The higher the ratio, the more Twitter heat you pack.
I believe these seven hints; will make at least a little help when you start tweeting for your brand next time. However, it is not an easy job for tweeting for a brand. Resource allocation is the most common problem for many businesses, when initiating marketing campaigns on Twitter. It is always important to have a dedicated person to manage your Twitter account with at least one hour a day to engage with the followers, and two more hours to research about Twitter marketing tactics.