If you want to keep up with Social Media development you have to read, learn and listen to opinions every single day. A great opportunity to hear about new trends is attending the Search Marketing Expo (SMX) which is taking place right now in Santa Clara. And of course we want to share what we learned there.
Right now, everybody is talking about Twitter, Facebook as well as YouTube and Social Media Channels in general are handled as the future of the internet. But what exactly can you do with Twitter if you are a smaller business. Read what the experts say:
Moderator of the “Twitter Marketing Tactics” session is Danny Sullivan from Search Engine Land and speakers on the panel are Kelly Gillease (Viator), Adam Sherk (The New York Times) and Chris Silver Smith (KeyRelevance).
First up is Kelly Gillease, Marketing Director with Viator Travel who gives some insights how to start as “Twitter Virgin”. Here are some of her thoughts:
- Try to get the brand name as username
- Start following people
- Engage in conversations
- Promote Twitter on your Website
- Have events like “Travel Thursday” where travel sites are recommended or “Follow Friday” where interesting Twitter Users are recommended
- Personalize your Twitter Page
Most people/businesses are afraid to start tweeting so the most important thing is to loose the fear and just start saying something. Also, don’t feel forced to tweed every day something brand new but rather promote and utilize content you already have on the web like blog posts, reviews, images, press releases, news and awards. Of course also email communications like Newsletters can be posted on Twitter and so help support the email marketing campaigns.
Good ways to gain followers on Twitter are deals and promotions. Customers like little incentives and promotions as ‘reward’ for following a company and probably even retweeting the companies’ posts.
Twitter is a great way to put a human face to a company and connect with customers. However, every business should follow a line. If they are a serious brand, they should stay serious on twitter. If it’s a fun brand they should follow their image and tweet about fun things.
The next speaker is Adam Sherk, Search/PR Strategist, Define Search Strategies.
The main focuses of his presentation are news sites and he breaks down the News-Twitter users in four groups:
- “Just the news”
Major brand profiles like CNN Breaking News who just post headlines and a link on Twitter, without really connecting to people. This resembles RSS Feeds and very often they have multiple profiles to reflect the sections in the newspaper itself. (Sports, Breaking News, etc.)
- “More Personality”
News and Magazines with a little more personality like InStyle and Dailycandy who have editorial driven Twitter accounts with just one main profile instead of multiple ones. They answer to user comments and are interactive.
Twitter account with a branded persona, like Chicago Tribune with “Colonel Tribune”. Even though these branded personas are a great way to connect on a very personal level a company has to think carefully about using a platform like Twitter with an avatar like this – it needs to match the company image.
- “Writers and Reporters”
Writers utilize their Twitter Channels to connect with people. The newspaper itself does not have influence over the content they are posting but it gives the paper a very personal touch.
Twitter Lists are a great way to interact with audiences because it is an opportunity for Twitter users to get the information they are looking for at one place. However, they are not useful for smaller business. Followers of lists stay most times in the hundreds, even for big businesses like the NY Times.
Ways to utilize the Twitter for Search Engine Optimization
- Think about keywords – Keywords do matter on Twitter. Use them in Tweeds and of course in the username if possible.
- Watch trending topics and tweet about them. Example: earthquake in Haiti. The keyword Haiti is going to show up in Google’s and Bing’s real time search.
The last speaker in this session is Chris Silver Smith, Director of Optimization Strategies, KeyRelevance.
Twitter Account Set Up
His advice before opening up a Twitter account is to sit down and work on the following three basic issues:
- Develop a marketing strategy
- Think about the time investment that is needed
- What’s the goal?
Chris says that the username should always be the brand name if somehow possible and to target desired keywords with additional accounts. The profile description can be used to hold keyword rich text and the location reinforces local ranking.
It is important to use a simple and professional background that reflects the business. In case a background with additional info like a phone number is used, the designers need to be very careful. Depending on screen size and browser the background might be cut off and look unprofessional. Also, it doesn’t make any sense to put a URL or other Social Icons in the background because it frustrates the user if they can’t copy/paste or click on the icons.
Getting the most from your tweets
- Allow Retweets: A short username and a max of 120 characters allow easy retweets.
- Use the Twitter search to discover what consumers want. Example: Use the search to look for “cheap hotels”. If you find users that ask for cheap hotels you can send a customized response.
- Interact and communicate with consumers
- Include a Call to Action
- Customize your tweets with icons like hearts and smiles but be careful not to overdo it (and they may not work on mobile phones)
- If you don’t have the time to tweet regularly use automated updates from blogs and RSS feeds
Conclusion: The key take aways here are that business have to put some thoughts in their Twitter strategies if they want to be successful. The goals as well as the amount of time that can be spent must be laid out first. The next step is to create a keyword rich user profile and last but not least: don’t be afraid to tweet but throw yourself in the pool of posts.
Contributed by: Birgit Bauer, Milestone Internet Marketing