1. Research before customer engagement

Know how your customers use Twitter. What are our customers saying about you or your industry? What can you add to the conversation to be heard and respected?

2. Identify your ‘Twitter Goals’

  • Build an audience to share your blog posts/offers/competitions
  • Increase brand awareness
  • Develop an archive of tweets available to Google
  • Don’t sell – share

3. Utilize profiles

You can either use a branded profile for your organisation, or you can opt to create a more personal profile that unites your own personal brand with that of the company – or of course you can combine the two. You may benefit from the multiple personalities that are encapsulated by it’s corporate message and individual authors, which ties in with the blog personalities perfectly.

Branded profiles are great, for example, to discuss industry news, competitions, offers and news. Personal profiles are more beneficial to leverage the employee’s personal community or to have a more human presence. Good for reviews, opinions and starting discussion and encouraging retweets and links – particular to specific audiences.

4. Grow your Twitter equity and credibility

To be a successful brand on Twitter, you need to build credibility and equity (similar to a blog). This means developing a reputation as a trusted source of information, being seen as an expert in a particular area or being interesting and amusing to your target audiences.

You probably won’t succeed in building the your Twitter equity by pushing out one way marketing messages. Ask questions, be personal, and engage people naturally within the Twitter community. Without this no one will listen to what we’re tweeting because it’s of no real interest to that audience.

A good suggestion is to follow the 80/20 rule: 80% of your tweets can be conversational and about 20 percent are directly about your brand – with links to specific posts or pages. This has been found to help build customer engagement and improve link click-through rates.

5. Tracking

Track the usage of twitter in order to identify what is working and what is not. Twitter will only form a small part of your overall marketing strategy but it needs to be kept an eye on in order to be of benefit. Monitor the success of retweets and replies as well as follower numbers and review what style of tweet and account is proving the most beneficial.

6. Don’t get too complicated – less structure is better

Twitter use can seem disingenuous or inhuman if you are too structured with your approach. This is a sure fire way of putting off your target audience. You can spot obvious marketing tweets a mile off and run away screaming.

The Twitter conversation will change and evolve over time, because the community that will follow you will help shape what you will say and how you respond to them.

7. Listen and observe before tweeting

Spend some time seeing what you target audience talk about and which style tweets they respond to. Do not just crack on churning out blatant marketing messages. Engage by responding to tweets from the audiences first, which will encourage them to follow, read and respond to your tweets.

8. Be authentic. Be believable

Authenticity is the primary rule when using social media. Your brand needs to be trusted, speaking honestly and be believable. The brand will only become believable after you have established trust among those in your community. Once trusted by the followers for giving impartial, interesting and honest advice you are much more likely for people to listen to you about the more commercial aspects of your business.

9. Track, measure, react and iterate

Don’t spend forever theorising and planning before getting started. Sometimes it’s better just to launch a product or initiative, track it, measure the results and then react and adjust accordingly. This is the very nature of the web. Learn as you go along.

10. Don’t just strategise: get on with it.

Don’t be afraid to make small mistakes. Learn and react to them. Spend too long editing, sensoring or refining a message and you’ll be late to the conversation, at which point you’re no longer leading, you’re simply sheep jumping on a bandwagon.

By spending too much time worrying about what you need to say and how to say it, you will miss priceless opportunities to pose, answer questions and create brand affinity with customers.