Twitter can be overwhelming. It’s especially intimidating for rookies. Between the infuriating pace and cryptic abbreviations, Twitter has a learning curve. (Twitter’s management team is aware of this barrier and is taking steps to make it more user-friendly. So don’t worry, you’re not alone! It’s objectively difficult.)
Twitter can also be very powerful for B2B marketing. It provides validation that you and your brand are trustworthy and relevant. It can increase your reach and sometimes even drive traffic to your site (i.e. paid media / promoted posts). But the first step is to dip your toe in the riptide current, and engage with others in your industry.
How, exactly? Here are a few tips for sustaining a healthy, effective Twitter habit.
First, Check Your Mindset
In many ways, using Twitter is like attending networking parties in “real life.”
Keep it in balance
A few networking cocktail parties now and then are great. You meet new contacts, you learn what other companies in your industry are up to. But you can’t go out “networking” every single night. You end up perpetually hung over, can’t keep up with your real work, and risk earning a reputation as a troll for free drinks.
Same goes with Twitter. If you’re on it all day, you burn out, and get diminishing returns after a certain point. So stay sane, and don’t get addicted or succumb to the FOMO.
Respect the social graces
You wouldn’t walk into a crowded room and immediately blurt out why your company is so great, that you just launched a product update, and check out this blog post!
Instead, you’d approach a group of people who are chatting, listen for a while, ask a few questions, complement someone on their snazzy shoes, and make small talk.
You build rapport and, when the timing is right, you offer an interesting tidbit that moves the conversation forward. Sometimes it’s about your business, sometimes it’s not. Again, when the timing is right, you might even introduce yourself and talk about what you’re working on.
Likewise, you can’t just set up an account, immediately tweet out your blog or website, and expect an audience to respond. No one is listening to you yet. You have to earn it—by being social first.
Social networking—both online and IRL—is very much about building trust over the long haul. It’s important to have this frame of mind when getting started on Twitter.
Now, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty.
Create a 5-Minute-Per-Day Routine
1. Check Your Notifications
From the menu (top of screen in your browser, bottom of screen in the mobile app), select Notifications to see who’s recently followed you, or who has favorited or re-tweeted your tweets.
Qualify users to decide if you want to follow back.
- Hover over the account names to read users’ bios and stats.
- Is the bio relevant to your industry?
- Is their “following” number in relative proportion with their number of “followers”? (I look at this ratio to spot fake accounts.)
- Are they followed by someone you already follow?
- Does this seem like someone you’d like to listen to?
If so, click Follow. They may or may not follow you back. Don’t take it personally!
2. Check Your Mentions
Still under the Notifications menu (by browser only), click Mentions to see who has tweeted at you, or about you. These are higher-quality interactions than following and favoriting.
Retweet and/or reply to these tweets.
Again, follow accounts that pass a quick quality check.
3. Check Your Direct Messages
Direct Messages (DMs) may be from someone seriously inquiring about your services, or asking a private follow-up question about something you’ve tweeted. Try to respond to these promptly, as you would any email.
Many DMs are auto-messages, which I have mixed feelings about. Done well, they can be cleverly entertaining, helpful for getting to know the user, and/or offer a valuable resource like a whitepaper. Too often they just point you to the user’s other social media accounts.
Feel free to ignore the generic auto-DMs, which are usually obvious.
4. Search for key terms relevant to your industry
Running searches regularly helps you to find new content to share with your followers, and find other users who are having conversations you’d like to join.
Scroll through your search results and engage with tweets you find insightful, entertaining, or interesting. A favorite on Twitter is similar to a “like” on Facebook, and a retweet is similar to a “share”. Again, qualify and follow users you’d like to hear more from.
For lesser-used, highly targeted terms, search results may be a few weeks or a few months old. Some content is evergreen and would be ok to revive. Some tweets will have a shelf-life, especially if it’s related to an event or news item, so use your judgement when retweeting.
Keep an eye out for hashtags and click through to see if they turn up rich discussions. Save a search if you stumble upon good results from a random term that you might not recall easily.
(By browser only, in your search results > More options > Save this search.)
And that’s it! This process greases the wheels and gets you started. Once you get the hang of it, this sequence should take you about 5 minutes.
Pro tip 1: Set up a daily recurring calendar appointment for your 5-minute Twitter routine.
Pro tip 2: Download the Twitter mobile app. Check notifications and run saved searches while you’re standing in line for coffee, waiting out a muted commercial break, or riding the train. (Please tweet responsibly! Don’t check your feed while driving. No, not even at red lights. #distracteddriving)
To really master this channel and see tangible results in the form of referral traffic to your site, you’ll need a comprehensive content strategy.
“No matter what type of business you are in, your focus must be on the quality, rich content for your business before you ever start trying to master Facebook or Twitter.”
– Mark Schaefer, Five Ways to Calm Down and Not Be Overwhelmed by Social Media Change
Pro tip 3: Most of your Twitter activity should be engaging with others (mentioning, favoriting, retweeting, replying), especially when you’re just getting started. Shoot for a 5:1 ratio = 5 tweets about others for every 1 about yourself. This isn’t a direct sales platform, so even the self-promoting tweets should offer value, like directing people to read your blog post, or download a whitepaper.
Pro tip 4: Set up a Google Alert for news relevant to your industry or target audience. Create a rule to siphon the alerts and other industry newsletters into a subfolder. Once a week, check this folder for interesting articles to schedule via Hootsuite or Buffer over the following week. Look up the author’s twitter handle and include it in your tweet.