Twitter may not appear to be as trendy as other social media channels but it’s certainly not to be underestimated as a business tool, says Barry Ashmore.
REGULAR readers will know that, in a changing media landscape, I often cite social media as a highly important part of the marketing mix. When I’ve written about the benefits of social media, I’ve tended to focus more on LinkedIn, as many believe it to be a more serious networking platform for businesses. Consequently, Twitter has never really had a look in, which is why I’m pleased to change that.
At the end of last year, StreetwiseSubbie was invited to exhibit at the first CFJ Online Flooring Expo, which took place in July. During our discussions, the expo organisers explained that, as well as being published in Contract Flooring Journal (CFJ) exhibitor PR and room information would also be heavily promoted on Twitter, and other social media.
Like many specialist contractor businesses, StreetwiseSubbie has a Twitter page, which can be found at @streetwisesubbi (no e), as well as Facebook and LinkedIn pages.
In the weeks prior to the expo we posted heavily on social media, and on Twitter in particular. Over the three weeks running up to the show, we wrote about 40 different ‘Tweets’ and these were set up to automatically to appear every hour for 12 or 13 hours a day.
The result of this was that impressions (post views) increased dramatically, visits to our Twitter business page increased on a similar scale and new followers from flooring contracting and other specialist contracting business also grew.
As the expo was a new, untried initiative, I asked publication social media manager, Harriet Whitaker, to explain their approach:
‘Digital platforms are on the rise and it’s crucial the flooring industry catches on to this. At CFJ, we have several platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn that we use to post out industry news, articles, videos, and event information daily to keep the flooring industry engaged with the current trends. An example of this was the expo, which, without social media, we wouldn’t have been able to inform the industry of the event.’
According to CFJ, 806 visitors attended in total, from across the flooring industry.
Five keys tips for using Twitter effectively
Although Twitter may not appear to be as trendy as other social media channels, it remains one of the major lead generation and traffic outlets for many businesses. Here are a few pointers to help flooring contractors get the most out of Twitter:
Your profile page
Success on Twitter starts with your profile page. It’s important visitors to your profile can grasp immediately what your account is about and what they can expect. You should use your ‘bio’ – the summary of what your business does and your benefits to customers – your header image and company logo to present your ‘elevator pitch’.
Your ‘bio’ should use a short and catchy description of your business and contain one or two relevant hashtags that’ll link a visitor back to your website. The image size for your header should be 500px deep x 1,500px wide.
It’s from this information that a visitor will decide if they wish to follow your page and what beneficial information they can expect to read. StreetwiseSubbie uses its profile to offer a free ‘how to get paid’ white paper download to visitors.
Who should you follow?
Your aim with Twitter is to develop the number of businesses that follow your feed. A good place to start is your own customer base and you can use the profile search box to find and follow those that have a page. Each one you follow will be sent a message to say that your feed is following theirs.
Another good start would be to visit the Twitter page of your competitors and then have a look at who is following them.
You can also search for people who tweet about your products and business sector, and follow the accounts you are interested in. You can search using company names, hashtags, and keywords. You can also check out their followers and see what you can learn about these. Following is easy – just click the ‘follow’ button.
Don’t make the effort too onerous, just search for and follow a few people each day. And don’t forget to occasionally give your new followers a shout out on your feed to say ‘thanks’.
Posting on Twitter
Now it’s time to start tweeting, using content and information that your followers want to see. It’s important your Twitter account focuses on providing value to your target group.
Business information; employee developments; new products; changes in working hours and new contracts are among the many things you can choose to tweet about, and as long as you believe your target audience is interested in what you have to say, and that it’ll be of benefit to them, then post it. You can also look at flooring industry posts for ideas.
To forward-plan, maintain control over what and when you post, and to ensure a steady stream of information on Twitter, I’d recommend you create a content calendar. This can take the form of a simple ‘Word’ or ‘Excel’ spreadsheet, where you create your post wording, list website links and hashtags, the images you use to illustrate it, and the posting date, and use this to maintain a schedule of live and archived tweets.
Don’t be afraid to repost content at different times of the day (or night) as tweets have a very short lifespan and your followers won’t necessarily see posts the first time they’re published. A quick tip here is that you can reuse text, change the headline and the image, and you have a new post.
Regarding frequency, more is better, but do what you’re comfortable with to maintain steady activity, perhaps starting with, say, four posts a day and see what this delivers.
Hashtags are simple headings that are used to link posts in groups by subject matter. Your posts may normally only be seen by your own followers, but by introducing a hashtag – a word or phrase preceded by the # character – your post will be linked into wider conversations.
For example, the hashtags #CFJ Live Expo and #onlineflooring were regularly used by CFJ and exhibitors promoting their presence at the show. People who clicked these hashtags would then be able to access an entire feed showing all Tweets featuring that hashtag. Hashtags extend the life and potential exposure of your Tweet.
There’s no limit to the amount you can use – just ensure they’re relevant and their inclusion doesn’t result in you exceeding the 280 characters allowable in a tweet.
In your Twitter account there’s a link to analytics. The stats here will show you instantly how your posts have been performing over the preceding 28 days. The data will also tell you which were your best-performing tweets.
Over a given period, you can see how many tweets you’ve posted, the number of impressions achieved, how many people visited your profile, how many have mentioned you in their posts and how many followers you have.
If you have ‘Google Analytics’ on your website, then you can also find out how many visitors were sent to your website from Twitter and other social media platforms.
Useful tools for social media
Here’s a summary of one or two useful tools you can use to research, create, schedule, and distribute tweets:
Content: ‘Feedly’ is an app that lets you read your favourite blogs and newspapers all in one place. This could be a good way to source more general news content.
Images: A good image will give you a professional look. Should you have no quality images of your own, there are some free image sites available. Two popular ones are ‘Pixabay’ and ‘Unsplash’.
If you want to make your content more visible, you can use a free tool, such as ‘Canva’, to overlay text on your images.
Don’t forget, you can also upload very short videos, or link to longer ones hosted elsewhere, eg, on YouTube. On average, tweets with images receive 150% more retweets than those without.
Post writing and scheduling: ‘Hootsuite’ is a popular app that enables you to link your social media channels and write and schedule the distribution of your posts. You can also shorten long links with a single click. Unfortunately, Hootsuite is no longer free, but Twitter does have a scheduling tool.
‘Bit.ly’ is a free tool that enables you to shorten long web links so they minimise the characters required to post the link.
I hope you find this short guide useful. As ever, if you need help setting up your social media pages, or anything else relating to social marketing, give us a call or send an email using the contact details below.