Successful businesses and brands have figured out a way to take advantage of the 140-character marketing tool to promote their businesses and increase brand awareness. The good news is that you can also leverage Twitter to drive targeted traffic to your site or promote your products and services. Twitter has now passed has over 255 million monthly active users. The Twitter Timeline views reached 157 billion for the first quarter of 2014, an increase of 15% year-over-year. You’ve got to be making the most of Twitter. But simply tweeting about your business isn’t going to cut it.

If you’re not seeing immediate growth on Twitter for your business, don’t give up. These are tips and tricks (many of which remain unspoken by the people at Twitter) you should be using to reach a wider audience on Twitter. I assume your Twitter account has: the right image that represents you or your business, a few hundreds if not thousands of followers (it takes a while to get thousands of followers but thanks to a steady stream of tweets, you can do it), an awesome description of what you do, a concise bio that includes targeted keywords and communicates the purpose of your business or services and finally business location and a direct URL to your website.

#1. You’ve got to have a purpose.  Every successful marketing or promotional campaign has a purpose, followed by realistic goals that are set to accomplish that purpose. What do you really want from Twitter? Do you want to increase awareness about your business, increase customer engagement or generate leads? That should be obvious right from the beginning. Define your purpose and then establish goals that will help you fulfil that purpose. Who are you targeting? What kind of followers are you striving to attract who can engage with your content and subsequently share what you tweet?

#2. Stop promoting, it pays to educate. Most people on Twitter are looking for information that educates, entertains, inspires or motivates. If you are not sharing content around those topics, you are likely to be ignored. Don’t run constant promotions or yell into your timeline about your products or service. It isn’t going to work in your favor. But if you have something to giveaway (discounts, promotions, coupons), you can shout about it. Don’t just update your timeline during sales campaigns, customers may begin to feel you’re only after what’s in their wallets, not their hearts. When a promo ends, keep talking to fans and followers and make sure you’re timeline is filled with content that’s not trying to just sell something.

Most successful tweets are geared towards the full benefit of the follower. Craft your messages in a way that respects the readers time while gently calling attention to your campaign, if you have to. Remember, your followers turn to social media for education, fun and relaxation, not a sales pitch.

#3. It’s all in the #hashtag.  If you use hashtags well, you will be able to reach greater percentage of your audience and engage in conversations around specific topics you choose. When choosing your hashtag, make sure it is something unique and specific to you or your business, so that it doesn’t get mixed up in other conversations going on. Custom hashtags should be short, easy to pronounce and spell and give users a better idea about the topic of the conversation or tweet stream. You can even use the same hashtag in multiple social channels for consistency purposes. Search for the hashtag before you use it to see if other people are using it and what they are saying about the topic.

Hashtags are amazing for boosting the exposure of your Tweets. A Tweet without a hashtag will only be seen by your followers, whereas a Tweet with a hashtag can be seen by anyone on Twitter. Yes, anyone on Twitter that searches for the hashtag that you used can find your Tweet. The question you have to ask yourself though is, which hashtag should I use in order to reach the most people and achieve the highest level of engagement? You can test the popularity of hashtags you want to use by the amount of results that show up when you search for it using the Twitter search bar and by the time and date of the Tweets.

#4. Business is personal, make it personal. Show the human side of your business to attract and retain followers. Provide the right mix of business and fun. Ask interesting questions related to your industry and some related events that are trending. This keeps your fans interested and related to your company’s niche. Some of the most successful brands use Twitter as a customer service platform to listen and respond to customer feedback and to share the company’s story. Check out JetBlue and KLM Twitter timelines for inspiration.

JetBlue uses Twitter as a customer service platform and has a team in place to monitor and respond to customer questions, compliments, and complaints. To engage its 1.8 million followers, the company also shares discounts and deals, travel tips and pictures from passengers. KLM Interacts with the customers in real-time where necessary and also shares deals, travel tips, hotspots in popular cities recommended by passengers with its 1.09 million followers.

Twitter isn’t just for big brand. Any business can find a place on the platform—the key is conversation. How are you growing your Twitter follower count? What works for your business on Twitter?

Image courtesy, Bakerella (Flickr).


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