Twitter is the beating pulse of pop culture, international news, politics, and so much more. Businesses of all kinds have turned to Twitter to accomplish a wide variety of marketing goals, PR objectives, and business functions.
Since its debut almost 15 years ago, Twitter has evolved from a platform for individuals to publish their every thought into a sophisticated marketing tool that empowers businesses to create instantaneous engagement.
Don’t be deceived by its seemingly simple interface. Between the platform’s unique user characteristics, exclusive lingo, and recent changes to the platform itself, effective Twitter marketing requires thoughtful strategy.
In this article, we’ll cover what makes Twitter unique, the most important updates for marketers, how to optimize your profile, and 12 Twitter marketing tips for 2020. Keep reading to learn everything you’ll need to successfully market your business on Twitter!
Terminology: Navigating the Twittersphere
First things first, we’ve assembled a list of key terms for any Twitter newbies out there. If you’re new to Twitter, keep an eye out for these terms.
- @mention: This is the Twitter version of “tagging” someone. “Mentioning” someone by their Twitter username in a tweet or direct message will send that user a notification. @Mentions allow users to hold conversations.
- #hashtags: You probably already know that hashtags categorize content into categories or topics. On Twitter, users can search for content by hashtags. Trending topics are also identified and organized by their hashtags.
- Bots: Officially defined as “a social networking account powered by artificial intelligence.” Twitter bots can be spammy, helpful, or downright strange.
- Crank tweets: These refer to intentionally misleading tweets, named after good-old-fashioned “crank” (prank) calls.
- DM(s): Direct messages (DMs) are private messages between two users. DMs can only be sent to users following you.
- Timeline: This is a list of tweets, constantly updated. Users typically see their home timeline first, which is a list of tweets from accounts and topics they follow. These are also sometimes referred to as “feeds”.
- MT: Modified tweets (MTs) refer to retweets someone has changed in some way. Think of this as paraphrasing information and giving credit to the original source.
- PRT: Partial retweets (PRTs) are similar to modified tweets, but more specifically signify that the re-poster has removed some of the original idea, usually to save space and/or add additional comments.
- Reply: Replies are responses to a tweet another user has tagged you in. Normal replies are public, unless it’s a direct message (DM).
- RT: Retweets are a major form of engagement. A “RT” at the front of a tweet indicates that the user found the content valuable enough to share with their own followers. Sometimes users put “via” to give credit to the original posted instead of “RT”, but both phrases mean the same thing.
- Trolls: “Trolls” refer to people who abuse Twitter by spamming users, posting inflammatory content, or otherwise creating conflict.
- Tweet: This is the name for the 280-character-or-less Twitter posts, which can be accompanied by GIFs, videos, images, and web links.
- Trends/trending topic: Any topic that a large number of people are tweeting about at the same time is labeled as “trending” on Twitter. Users can easily access trends, typically personalized based on interests, location, and accounts following.
If you are already building social media presences on other platforms, you might be wondering what makes Twitter unique among the growing pool of social media networks.
Twitter users are distinctively quick-moving, trend-savvy, and value honesty and authenticity. Businesses that can meet user needs and expectations will be rewarded with loyalty, web traffic, and sales.
Continue reading for more information on what distinguishes Twitter from other social networks, and what it means for marketers.
- Quick as Lightning
As you probably already know, Twitter moves faster than any other social media network. A Tweet has an estimated half-life of 18-24 minutes. Comparatively, an average Facebook post will continue to earn engagement for up to 5 hours, and successful Instagram posts can “live” up to 48 hours.
The key takeaway here is that no single Tweet will be seen by all, or even most, of your followers. Twitter is incredibly noisy; there’s lots of content to compete with. To avoid being lost in the digital cloud, your strategy should reflect Twitter’s rapid pace (more on that later).
- Short & Sweet Twitter is known for its brief content—280 characters can be pretty limiting. It’s important that content is brief so users can quickly move through their timelines and then decide where to continue reading. Twitter’s character limit forces marketers to simplify messaging, often rewriting social posts for Twitter (which you should be doing regardless, by the way).
- Intimacy & Immediacy
Twitter also allows businesses to have direct one-on-one conversations with consumers, either through DMs or replies. On Twitter, businesses can engage directly with followers and customers in real-time, answering questions, celebrating shared successes, and participating in industry discussions. The conversational nature of Twitter naturally lends itself to more personal connections.
In addition to this sense of intimacy, Twitter is inarguably the social network of immediacy. It’s “what’s happening.” People flock to the platform to observe and participate in the local and global conversations as they shift from hour to hour and even minute by minute. This discovery-focus means that Twitter users meet content in a receptive mindset, allowing information to be more efficiently stored into long-term memory.
Businesses that keep up with both users and trends can leverage Twitter into a powerful marketing asset to grow brand awareness, deepen customer loyalty, and humanize their brand.
- Keepin’ It Real
Today’s consumers expect more from businesses than ever before. The vast majority of all consumers report authenticity as highly important when selecting brands to support. At the same time, over 50 percent of consumers feel that less than half of brands create authentic content (Slackla.com). Almost a third of millennials reported that they’ve unfollowed a business on social media because their content felt inauthentic.
Twitter’s character limit encourages users and brands alike to be direct and honest when sharing their brand voice and unique selling proposition. Even the most unorthodox methods have found massive success. For example, fast-food chain Wendy’s is unafraid to make harsh jokes at the expense of competitors, and those jabs pretty frequently go viral.
- Keep an Ear to the Ground
Twitter is a great place to gather customer feedback and offer customer support.Customers frequently visit Twitter to share their experiences (good and bad) with products, services, and businesses. The platform has long served as a speedy, informal avenue for customer support.
Businesses that lean into Twitter for customer service reap the rewards; Twitter reports that customers who receive responses to customer service requests are willing to spend 3-20% more on an average-priced item from that business in the future (business.twitter.com).
Customer support and tweets offering feedback are both amazing opportunities to practice social listening, which involves tracking, analyzing, and responding to conversations about your brand on social media.
Twitter can help reveal major flaws or common complaints. Any tweets from customers offering (positive or negative) feedback on your business should fuel improvements and future business strategy.
Twitter is an exciting opportunity to directly respond to customers and improve your business, both essential business activities in 2020.
- Spy on Your Competitors
Competitor analysis on Twitter can range from familiarizing yourself with your competitors, to a full-blown research into competitor strategies, followers, and content.
The information gleaned from a Twitter competitor analysis can (and should) inform your own Twitter strategy. Make sure you’re competing while standing out. You can even collect complaints and suggestions directed towards your competitors. Reaching out to users to offer your products/services as a solution is a great way to generate leads.
Regardless of how you use competitor research to grow your business, Twitter is one of the best resources for gathering this valuable data.
As you can see, Twitter is a social network entirely its own.
Now that you understand what makes Twitter unique, let’s discuss recent and upcoming updates that will inform your Twitter marketing strategy.
Twitter Updates: Past, Present, and Future
Now that we’ve covered the Twitter basics, let’s examine recent changes.
Twitter is a business in its own right, so it’s constantly updating to improve user (and advertiser) experience. Those improvements often have major effects for brands, marketers, and advertisers.
- “Monetizable daily users” (mDAU)
Unlike other platforms, Twitter has recently changed how it counts and categorizes its daily users. Rather than simply counting monthly/daily active users (like Facebook and Instagram), Twitter’s mDAU metric measures Twitter users who access the platform that are eligible to view ads.
This metric is actually much more helpful for businesses and marketers, regardless of whether you’re running Twitter Ads. In fact, categorizing users this way has revealed that despite monthly active users declining, monetizable daily users (mDAU) have regularly increased over the past 2 years.
Among other things, mDAU helps businesses understand how many users are seeing branded content, which is still relevant whether or not you’re running Twitter Ads.
- Bye-Bye, Bots
Everyone hates bots, especially the social media platforms unintentionally hosting them. Twitter is working hard to remove fake accounts, inactive accounts, and “trolls.” We can expect to see a majority of these “worthless” accounts removed, which will increase transparency across the board.
For those of us building our Twitter presence organically, it also means we’re less likely to accidentally pick up spammy, ingenuine followers. If you’re marketing yourself organically, you probably won’t even notice the small follower loss.
On the positive side, it means that follower counts will more accurately reflect an account’s following. When we’re only examining real, active users, our engagement percentages are likely to increase since we know exactly how many people we’re delivering content to.
- Follow Topics
Towards the end of 2019, Twitter gave users the ability to follow topics (not just user accounts).This is a huge boost to discoverability, since users can now see relevant content from accounts they’re not following directly in their timeline. This is somewhat similar to Instagram’s “follow hashtag” feature.
Marketers should be excited about this feature, as it provides invaluable opportunities to reach audience members who aren’t following your account (yet). If you use hashtags wisely, this feature will probably help grow your reach and following.
At the end of 2019, Twitter’s VP of Design and Research, Dantley Davis, shared the five features he was most excited to see implemented in 2020. You can see his Tweet here:
As of now, these improvements have yet to be implemented, so we can only speculate exactly how these changes will affect users and businesses.
However, it’s pretty easy to see how these new features will give users more control over their privacy and experience.
The last feature listed in the tweet (“tweet this only to…”) is a version of narrowcasting. Narrowcasting would be a first step towards private conversations and groups, similar Facebook groups.
While Facebook groups are amazing places to reach your audience, research also reports Facebook groups are frequently fountains of fake news, conspiracies, scams, misinformation, and other undesirable communication. Many have already criticized Twitter’s plan, fearing that narrowcasting will replicate the same harmful results as Facebook groups.
For marketers, the feature will allow brands to target content to specific followers. Businesses with multiple audience segments and customer personas will probably find this feature extremely helpful for tailoring their content and strategy to different audience segments.
Twitter evolves quickly, responding to the feedback of its vocal users. Keep these recent and upcoming updates in mind as you begin Twitter marketing.
Optimize Your Twitter Profile for Success
If you’re just setting up your Twitter account now (or if you’re just getting serious about Twitter marketing now), the first step is to optimize your profile to be easily discoverable and enticing to potential new followers.
Tweets are short, and your most recent tweets won’t always be the most reflective of your business, your Twitter presence, and the value you bring to your followers.
That’s why these seven parts of your Twitter profile are crucial. Let’s work through them now, step by step.
1. Banner / Header Image
Your banner (or header) image takes up the most space on your Twitter profile, and is often the first thing users notice when they visit your profile. Don’t waste this valuable Twitter real estate. Create a graphic that accurately represents your brand, personality, and value proposition.
Our tip: Don’t just upload any image. It looks obvious and sloppy when a banner image doesn’t fit into the predefined 1500 x 500-pixel ratio. If you need help editing or creating your banner image, you can use a free online graphic design program (like Canva or Adobe Spark).
2. Profile Picture
Your profile picture should be consistent with the images you use on other social media networks.
Since your profile picture appears next to every tweet, reply, and message you send, using your logo as your profile picture can improve brand awareness and recognition.
Our tip: Make sure your logo isn’t awkwardly cropped, off-center, or incorrectly scaled. Your logo should be clearly visible and take up the full available space. Profile pictures always appear as circles, so ensure your logo still works with the corners trimmed. Two or three-toned logos are the easiest to identify when they’re shrunk down in timelines.
3. Profile Name
This one is fairly simple—your Twitter name should simply be your business name. Twitter limits you to 20 characters, so if your business name is too long, you’ll have to find a way to shorten or abbreviate it without confusing readers.
4. Create a Twitter “Handle” (Username)
A Twitter handle is an account’s unique username. Your handle is distinct from your profile name (created in step #3).
Keep your social media usernames consistent across all platforms, so people can easily find your other profiles.
Our tip: With over 330 million accounts as of 2019, finding a truly unique Twitter handle closely matching your business name might require a few tries.
Adding numbers to make your Twitter handle unique might seem like an easy solution, but it reads as unprofessional and can confuse people searching for your business. If you need to distinguish your Twitter handle, consider adding your industry, location, “HQ”, or a call to action (“@GetCodeless”).
5. Write a Killer Bio
This is probably the first copy that users will read (after your profile name) so make the most of these 160 characters. This is not the place to be vague or lackluster.
Our tip: Write a brief, value-driven bio that finishes with a call to action leading users to the next desirable step. Your bio should tell users (1) why they should follow your Twitter account and (2) where they should go next to interact with your business.
6. Trackable Link
Twitter only offers one space to include a link, so it’s once again important to be strategic.
Including a trackable link (like those provided by bit.ly or ow.ly) will allow you to see how many clicks the link receives over time and information about who is clicking on your link.
7. Pinned Tweet
Pinned tweets are any tweets an account has “pinned” (saved) to the top of their profile. Since it’s not a required profile element, many businesses forget to take advantage of this feature.
Pinned tweets are great ways to share more about your brand story or highlight any current promotions. In the example below, teenage magazine Seventeen promotes its latest digital cover.
Our tip: Remember to update and change your pinned tweet often. These should reflect your most current new products/services, promotions, or any seasonal messages.
As your business grows and evolves, don’t forget to update your Twitter profile. Your Twitter presence should always reflect “what’s happening” with your business.
Feel free to change your trackable links and pinned tweets with different campaigns. Your bio and banner image can even be tweaked for new promotions, but we recommend only changing your profile picture if you’ve done a complete re-branding.
Now that you’re set up for success, let’s dive into our 12 Twitter marketing tips for 2020.
Twitter Marketing Strategy & 12 Tips for 2020
1. Build a Data-Driven Strategy
Your Twitter strategy should be based on thorough audience research, a strong brand mission and vision, and an understanding of Twitter itself.
It can evolve over time, but your Twitter marketing strategy should identify your target audience, goals and objectives, content ideas, posting schedule, and measurement metrics. Follow our steps below to help you get started.
2. Be Found with #Hashtags
If you’re not using hashtags, you might as well not be on Twitter. Tweets with hashtags earn twice the engagement rate as those without. Hashtags are also the primary way to increase reach and help users discover your profile.
Use influencers, trends, SEO keyword research, and competitor research to determine which hashtags to use.
Generally speaking, data shows that tweets with 1-3 (highly relevant!) hashtags perform the best.
3. Post Advantageously
Let’s circle back to the average half-life of a tweet: approximately 18 minutes. What’s more, a tweet reaches 75% of its potential engagement in under three hours. That’s fast.
Since engagement influences where and how your tweet is displayed to your followers (see #6), it’s critical to post when most of your audience is online and engaged.
The best Twitter posting times will depend largely on your unique combination of industry, niche, and target audience. You can start with industry best practices, which is generally between 12-6 pm EST.
From there, track tweet performances over time through Twitter’s free Twitter Analytics tool or another third-party social media tool. Identify when your tweets earn the highest engagement rates, and focus in on those times. Once you’ve identified the best posting times for your business, you can use TweetDeck from Twitter to schedule your tweets.
Continue to refine your posting schedule over time. The more you post, the more data you’ll have, allowing you to really zone in on optimal posting times.
4. Create Great Twitter Content
What works best on Instagram or Facebook is not always what will work best on Twitter. When creating your Twitter content, keep the following guidelines in mind.
Get to the point. Twitter doesn’t give you that much space and Twitter users don’t have much patience, so leave the flowery language at home and say what you need to say.
Be helpful. You want your followers to actually read and use your content, so they’ll think favorably about your business and products. In order to do this, create content they’ll find helpful. Look back on your audience research and offer relief to their pain points, cater to their interests, and answer their questions.
Curate content. Twitter allows you to share third-party content, via retweets or link sharing. Find, categorize, and share high-quality content your followers will find relevant and valuable. Curating content like this provides value to your followers, builds relationships in your industry, and helps generate content.
5. Drive Engagement with Multimedia
You’re probably already aware that the power of multimedia continues to rise across all social media platforms. Twitter users love to watch videos, and most of them want to see more videos from all kinds of accounts (celebrities, brands, and fellow users). Most importantly, multimedia drives engagement and conversions better than text-only tweets.
As you manage your Twitter account, include multimedia whenever possible. Instagram images can work, although for the best results we recommend re-formatting graphics to fit into Twitter’s rectangular aspect ratio.
6. Work with the Algorithm, Not Against It
Hundreds of millions of tweets are sent every day, and Twitter uses an algorithm to determine which tweets to show where in a given user’s timeline or search results.
Similar to the algorithms used by Facebook and Pinterest, the Twitter algorithm aims to serve users content they’ll find relevant, useful, and engaging. Spammy, aggressively promotional posts are punished.
Focus on the content that your followers will find helpful or inspiring, and find ways to achieve your marketing goals without making them feel constantly “sold to.”
7. Strike Up Conversations
The most successful Twitter accounts focus on starting and participating in conversations. Conversations drive engagement while humanizing your brand.
This can take multiple forms. If someone has a question that your content can answer—tweet them your answer (and a link to your content!). If an industry influencer asks a question—send a thoughtful response. If you’ve noticed an upcoming industry event or current trend—ask your followers what they think about it.
People feel more valued when brands converse with them directly. It also shows others that you’re an active, caring member of your online community, which consumers appreciate.
8. Respond Quickly with Social Customer Service
As we mentioned previously, Twitter has emerged as the go-to platform for social customer service.
Social customer service is an incredibly cost-effective way to increase customer satisfaction, resolve potential (and real) PR issues, and build trust.
Since all replies and tweets are public, responding thoughtfully to customer frustrations or complaints improves brand reputation and builds trust.
Addressing complaints head-on is so much better than leaving negative comments in the Twitter-verse to be read by everyone—including competitors and potential customers.
9. Tweet Frequently
Between the sheer volume of tweets sent globally and the Twitter algorithm, you should expect only a small percentage of followers will see any given tweet.
The solution to this problem is to tweet often. Unlike Facebook and Instagram, where you can easily lose followers by overwhelming them with too much content, Twitter users have a much higher threshold.
Marketing software company CoShare recently compiled research from 14 trusted sources and discovered that data supports an average of 15 tweets a day for optimal results. That might sound like a lot, especially if you’re used to posting about once or twice a day to Instagram and Facebook.
First of all, you can (carefully) re-purpose tweets—after all, there’s no way all of your followers saw it the first time around!
If you’ve got a really strong piece of content, repackage its best parts into other content formats such as infographics, livestreams, quote images, SlideShare presentations and blog posts.
In fact, you can even re-tweet the original piece of content, with a new frame. As long as you mix up your messaging and call-to-action, it will still feel fresh.
Secondly, the 15 recommended tweets a day includes retweets, so you don’t have to create each tweet from scratch.
However, we recommend that you add some kind of value to most of your re-tweets. Adding even a brief comment ensures that you’re still sharing your brand voice and creating a unique presence.
10. Influence the (Micro-)Influencers
11. Monitor Yourself & Competitors
Track your brand/company keywords through Twitter Analytics to see what users are saying about you. Celebrate successes and address complaints. Leave no reference to your brand un-acknowledged, regardless of whether or not a user has @mentioned you.
Also, follow your competitors. This gives you easy access to their current marketing efforts.
Finally, track a few competitors’ brand/company keywords and be on the lookout for any complaints or suggestions. If you can solve a problem or answer a question better or faster than your competition, you’re likely to earn a new lead or follower.
12. Measure Results
If you aren’t doing tracking and measuring your results, you simply aren’t marketing strategically. Tracking and measuring your results are vital to evaluate your success, learn the content your audience prefers, and identify areas for future growth.
You don’t need sophisticated social media software to measure and analyze your results. Twitter Analytics is free to all business accounts, and includes a wide range of data points.
For those just getting started, we recommend tracking tweets with high engagement rates to identify trends in best posting times, content types, and hashtags.
Ready, Set, Tweet!
Twitter offers valuable opportunities to research your market, engage directly and immediately with your audience, and build your brand. The platform has come a long way in its 15+ years on the scene.
Focus on building meaningful relationships with competitors, influencers, and audience members alike, and your Twitter presence will support your success—one 240-character tweet at a time.
After you’ve perfected your Twitter marketing strategy, consider applying everything you’ve learned about your audience to run powerful Twitter Ads.