There is a whole sea of blog posts out there telling you how to tweet and what to tweet and when to tweet, but the common theme among them is that they rarely provide actionable specifics. In this post, we will try to give you an idea of what you should tweet about in a way that encourages your business to develop a plan of action.
What are Users Tweeting Now?
To get started, let’s look at what individuals and companies are already tweeting about. A recent eMarketer article revealed that all tweets on Twitter as of August 2009 could be broken down into the following categories:
- Pointless Babble (also known as the “Sitting in my chair now!” tweets*) 40.55%
- At Replies (@TwitterUser) 37.55%
- Retweets (RT @TwitterUser) 8.70%
- Self-Promotion 5.85%
- Spam 3.75%
- News 3.60%
Unfortunately the three types of tweets that give Twitter a bad name (the pointless babble, self-promotion, and spam) account for more than half of all tweets, leaving the beneficial and insightful aspects of Twitter (the replies, retweets, and news) in the minority.
What Should You Tweet?
As a business, you will need to make sure that you use your Twitter account correctly. But how? What should you tweet about? There is no one “right way” to approach tweeting on behalf of your company, but here is a good model to follow:
- At Replies 50%
The bulk of your company’s Twitter presence should be focused on opening up and maintaining a dialogue with your current customers, potential customers, current partners, and potential partners. Twitter is, after all, a communication tool. The more you reach out to address these groups, the more you’ll benefit from your Twitter account. Remember to reply to other users to add value to the communication, not just to give the appearance that you promote open dialogue.
- News 22%
Tweeting industry-specific news is a great way to establish yourself as an expert in your field. This tactic not only provides your followers a convenient way to stay informed about your industry and your company’s place in it, it also shows them that you are enough of an authority to distinguish between important/relevant industry developments and unimportant/irrelevant ones.
Finding industry news is not always easy, but if you consistently deliver, your followers will reward your efforts by telling others about you (through “follow Friday” recommendations and offline word of mouth).
- Retweets 20%
A great way to establish relationships is to retweet others. Retweeting lets the original poster know that you value the information they’ve provided and that you believe it will benefit others as well. It’s human nature to want to be appreciated and respected, and the retweet is the Twitter way of displaying these sentiments.
- Pointless Babble 5%
Calling it “pointless babble” makes it sound, well… pointless. But a company can actually use babble to positive effect. An individual’s babble provides followers no real value because no one really needs to know that you just walked into work, or that you are at the grocery store in the canned foods aisle. A company, however, can use babble to give followers a glimpse into its culture. It’s okay once in a while to tweet something like, “Having a Halloween party- the zombie just ate all the chips!” Occasional fun tweets like these give your company a persona that can help endear you to your followers.
- Self-Promotion 3%
Let’s face it: you’re running a business; you sell things; you want people to buy said things. As long as you do so sparingly, you can promote those things on Twitter. Let your followers know a few times per month what promotions you’re running or what new items you’ve added to your site. Some companies think that promoting themselves relentlessly will result in more followers and more fervent customers, but the opposite is actually true. By promoting your company less you will draw more publicity when you do promote yourself.
Think about it this way: if you follow a company that tweets five times a day about how great they are, how much you need their products/services, and what daily specials they are running, how likely are you to tell anyone you know about their tweets? If, however, you’re following a company that has only participated in conversations with satisfied customers and posted industry news for the last three weeks, how will you feel when they suddenly tweet about a 10% off special? Are you more likely to retweet it and email your friends and coworkers about it?
- Spam 0%
You should never spam your followers. The most common types of spam are auto-direct messaging followers with promotions and information on a regular basis, and programming responses to tweets that mention your competitors’ names or certain phrases that pertain to your offerings. Some companies even spam by sending @ replies to the same user over and over. Spamming customers is always wrong, and you will definitely lose followers if your actions seem spammy in any way. You can also be reported and have your account suspended or removed, so don’t risk it! Say no to spam.
*If you didn’t get the “Sitting in my chair now!” reference, you absolutely have to watch the classic snarky Twitter video “Twouble with Twitters”
-Kate Pierce eCommerce Specialist