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The Marketer
Analysis and trends

15 Twitter tips for brands

05 March 2012

Get your Twitter strategy on track with our tips from social media gurus

1. The rules still apply

“The fundamental rules of marketing remain the same – right message via the right channel to the right audience at the right time. Twitter hasn’t changed this,” says Amplifier head of strategy and insight Paul Spiers. “Integrate Twitter into your core marketing strategy. Don’t let it be a renegade to your positioning. Agree your expectations of ROI from the outset – brand awareness, thought leadership or sales, for example. It will mean clearer measurement at the end. Social media is never truly social when it comes to business. Maintain your brand and business objectives.”

2. Go Twitter fishing

"Make sure that your tweets always carry a 'hook' for conversations and give followers an invitation to engage with you,” says Jargon PR managing director Simon Corbett. “Ask questions and start debates, you will also find that this increases your number of followers. You can then aim these debates and questions at selected networks and lists to encourage people in your network to tweet with each other. Doing this creates a stronger network and builds relationships around you.”

3. Think before you hashtag

“Hashtags are great, but think long and hard about how they might be used before implementing them. Excessive use of hashtags distracts from the message of the tweet, undermining the thought that went into it,” says Treacle PR consultant Helen Down.

4. Go multi-channel

“For Twitter to be turned into the high-impact channel of engagement that it can be, it should form part of a holistic, multi-channel approach. Rather than using the platform in isolation, integrating Twitter with other digital channels, such as web, e-mail and mobile, allows marketers to engage customers in meaningful dialogue as part of a co-ordinated marketing approach,” says Responsys senior marketing director Simon Robinson.

5. Filter

“It’s tempting to stream a Twitter feed about a brand or a particular hashtag directly to your brand’s website. If you do this, put a filter in place to avoid streaming profanities or inappropriate content,” says eModeration head of community Blaise Grimes-Viort. “Twitter is a great way to interact with your audience during live events. But again, filter tweets that are seen publicly to make sure they are appropriate for your audience.”

6. Have a face

“Don't use Twitter solely as a broadcast channel. Put a face to the Twitter feed; people are more likely to interact with a person than a faceless logo,” says Yomego managing director Steve Richards. “Know why you're tweeting and what you want to achieve by it. You might want to share and access information, or use Twitter for customer services, or offer prizes and incentives. Tell people what to expect, and stick to it.”

7. Benchmark

“There is currently a lot of ‘noise’ on Twitter made of up 16-year-old Justin Bieber fans, automated accounts and spammers, therefore it is really important to be able to benchmark how influential a Twitter account really is,” says Return on Digital chief executive Gary Levine. “Ideally the account should have at least 25 per cent followers to followed people, there should be at least one tweet per week and, for real influencers, a link to a blog or website. We also use Klout.com as a rough way to score how much influence a Twitter account holds.

8. Optimise

“Twitter is extremely time sensitive, so optimising times when the greatest number of followers see a tweet is critical; retweets are even more important to make the content truly viral. Businesses should monitor whether followers are more likely to click shortened URLs versus branded URLs, and drive traffic to other networks and the open web – tweets cannot hold much content, but they can take users to websites that do,” says Buddy Media Europe managing director Luca Benini.

9. Get listed

Do not underestimate or ignore the power of lists. “Being added to a marketer’s list, perhaps discipline-specific or sector-specific, can increase substantially the number of followers you have as well as directing your tweets at potentially interested parties that have opted to follow the list,” says Artisan Marketing Communications spokesperson Rob Baker.

10. Find a balance

“Accept input from all departments when putting together your social media strategy; your IT department may want a blanket ban and your HR team may be over-cautious but you need to find the balance that works for your company,” says Golley Slater PR’s Matt Appleby. “The first obstacle to overcome is the different perception of privacy that individuals have throughout your organisation. A senior manager will have entirely different privacy boundaries compared to a young graduate who has grown up with social media.”

11. Offer value

“Tweet content such as videos, pictures and links to relevant industry articles. Offer your followers something valuable,” says Global Dawn marketing manager Anna Fogg. “Be strategic about the tone of your company tweets. Speak in a voice that best represents your brand.”

12. Be memorable

“If content is King, then quotability is Queen. It’s important to be memorable, useful and develop a sharing strategy that works for your customer base,” says Lewis PR head of social media Dean Russell.

13. Keep content fresh

“Ongoing creativity is needed to make a meaningful impact; branded content needs to be kept fresh and must be able to capture people’s attention instantly. Keep persuasive and insightful online conversations going to maintain consumer engagement,” says Stylus chief creative officer Ryan Ross.

14. Get comfortable

“Set up a personal profile and start following individuals that relate to your business and people who have the same interests as you. Understand the language used, how people retweet or use hashtags, investigate what content is shared and so on. Once you are comfortable with Twitter at a personal level, then it’s time to think about how your business can use it,” says DBD Media head of social media Jonny Rosemont.

15. Forget the numbers
“Stop worrying about the numbers and focus on engagement. Many people are obsessed with the number of followers, whereas in actual fact it’s meaningful conversations that make the real difference and where brands should be concentrating their efforts. This means fostering retweets with relevant and interesting information, identifying influential users and engaging them by responding to and retweeting their posts,” says Haygarth head of PR Tara Munday.

"Make sure that your tweets always carry a 'hook' for conversations and give followers an invitation to engage with you"

"Twitter is extremely time sensitive, so optimising times when the greatest number of followers see a tweet is critical"

"If content is King, then quotability is Queen. It’s important to be memorable, useful and develop a sharing strategy that works for your customer base"

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A great demystifying twitter account - I think its all about having a strategy and being clear - and knowing how to make twitter work! Thanks

Catherine Carlyle (22/05/2012 11:10:50)

This was great info..thanks

Grady Soine` (27/04/2012 18:43:57)

That's a really useful article! I've already linked my Twitter account to Klout :D!

Charlotte Pitchford (14/03/2012 23:30:49)

Being on Facebook i have noticed this phenomenon of numbers and little engagement, as well as the inability of users to effectively understand social media language in communications. Twitter being highly involving, and more for business-to-business, i believe these require a careful strategy for greater brand building, long term relationships and results.

takere nestor (10/03/2012 18:12:35)

Very useful thanks

Marina Hodgins (07/03/2012 12:46:44)

Thanks - really useful quick reference from a range of experts.

Sue Craddock (07/03/2012 12:01:48)

Helpful and insightful tips I will definitely be implementing. Thanks for this

shile Ismaila (06/03/2012 17:49:17)

Nice summary - will certainly use the tips shared!

Stephanie Rice (06/03/2012 16:57:26)

A nicely presented reminder of the key points of one aspect of digital marketing. In answer to your comment Lisa, I couldn't find anything written for the SME market so I am writing a book on that exact subject now, due to be published in the next few months.

Carl Corrigan (06/03/2012 15:47:35)

Very useful and informative piece... especially for small businesses as well. It would be interesting to understand more the role Twitter plays for marketing within small businesses vs Facebook/blog/tumblr etc.

Lisa Merrick-Lawless (06/03/2012 14:23:04)