I hear it all the time. "Twitter? Is that still relevant? Shouldn't I be focusing all my resources on Instagram? Is anyone still on Twitter? Doesn't Twitter require all my attention so if I can't hire someone full time for it, shouldn't I just look elsewhere?" These are only some of the many questions I hear from entrepreneurs on a regular basis.
The bottom line is, so many businesses and entrepreneurs ignore Twitter and therefore, miss out on a tremendous opportunity to establish relationships, increase their brand awareness, and distribute their content to a wider audience.
Before we jump into how to use and how not to use Twitter, important to mention one very simple point. Yes, Twitter can take up a lot of time. You can have three full time people on Twitter and still not leverage it completely. But it is not all or nothing here. The more you put in, the more you get out.
So even if you can only hire someone part time, it is still worth investing in Twitter. And also? Just because you invest time in Twitter does not mean you should ignore the other platforms. You should try to reach your audience wherever they are.
Now that we cleared that up, here are three things brands do wrong on Twitter and the right ways to get started on the platform:
"You have two ears and one mouth. Use them in that ratio."
This point is crucial for your success on Twitter. Twitter is not a sales platform. Twitter is not a megaphone or a broadcast tool. Twitter is a listening platform on steroids. You can search for any keyword or phrase that people might be saying about you, about your competitors, about the market, and respond accordingly. Or better yet, you can not respond at all, but gather information, which will become crucial in defining your market and its features.
Use Twitter to listen, well before you even tweet anything. Listen to people, listen to brands, whether that be your competitors or other brands that are doing it right.
Too many people and brands hear some story about someone's tweet going viral, take to the platform, and begin spamming. "Hey, check out my new app. Would love your feedback." They tweet that same sentence three hundred times to three hundred different people in the hopes that some of them will bite.
Here is a news flash. Your tweets are visible to all, and when you tweet that to me, I see the two hundred and ninety nine other messages you sent. Then I use the block button and maybe even report you to Twitter for spam.
Listen twice as much as you talk. That is the strength of Twitter.
Know the tools and use them to your benefit.
There is a lot of noise on Twitter. Millions of tweets every day. Following it all is not only impossible, it is ineffective. Compartmentalizing is the name of the game. Use lists to follow certain topics or people. Use apps that help you follow those lists in an intuitive way. For example, in the actual Twitter app on iOS, there is no way to have a Twitter list as the main view. On Tweetbot there is.
The power of Twitter as a platform, is exactly that. It is a platform, with an ecosystem of developers who created tools to increase its usability. Twitter is not an app or a website. Learn the tools that help you up your Twitter game because using Twitter.com will never let you get the most ouf of the platform.
Think of it as a very large party of friends.
Twitter, as its core, is basically one big party. No one likes the guy who comes to the party, doesn't stop yapping and never listens. We addressed that above. But also, no one likes the dude who comes to the party for the sole purpose of selling/promoting something. You know who else no one likes at the party? The guy who has nothing interesting to say and who only focuses on one topic that is super controversial and who makes everyone else feel awkward.
Just like in that party, walk around, meet interesting people based on your interests, build relationships, establish trust, think how you can help each other in any way, and most importantly, be human.
Think about that party analogy some more and you will quickly realize exactly how to use Twitter. It is fairly simple. If you are about to do something on Twitter, ask yourself the basic question. "Would I do this at a party?" If the answer is no, then go back to the drawing board and remember your rule of thumb. "Be human."