Brand Reputation

Twitter fundamentals: A marketer’s guide

If you’re new to Twitter, and considering it as part of your social media marketing strategy, we’re here to help. This guide to the fundamentals of Twitter marketing will walk you through the significance of Twitter, essential terms and definitions, creating a business profile, and some tips for increasing your reach and engagement. Our aim is to equip you to integrate Twitter, one of the world’s most dominant social media platforms, into a quality social media marketing plan.

Founded in March, 2006, Twitter’s initial value was as a method of sending and receiving text message updates to groups and the world at large. Over time, celebrities and news outlets got onboard, and the platform grew and flourished. Twitter is unique for two linked characteristics: brevity, and speed. The 280-character limit on messages keeps content digestible, and the ease of publishing short tweets makes Twitter a favorite for news and current events. Think of Twitter as a social network for connecting with friends AND a search engine to see what’s going on in the world.


Twitter’s appeal for marketers and businesses

When you consider how many people use Twitter – 330 million monthly active users – the appeal for businesses and marketers is obvious. However, it’s important to manage expectations based on what Twitter is used for: 42% of Twitter users use the platform for entertainment. Promoting business content on Twitter may not make you the next viral sensation on the platform, but there are nonetheless terrific opportunities for achieving your marketing objectives. 

As you start to sketch your social media plan template for Twitter, consider the broad range of marketing objectives you can achieve on Twitter, including: 

  • Increasing traffic to your company website by posting links on Twitter
  • Generating leads through social selling
  • Increasing customer satisfaction by providing customer service on Twitter
  • Building a sizeable, engaged following on Twitter to raise brand awareness
  • Networking with industry experts and thought leaders. 

How to create a Twitter account for your business

The best way to learn is by doing, so let’s get started by creating your Twitter business account

  1. Choose your profile and header photos: Your profile photo is a 400×400-pixel image that will represent your brand and appear every time you post. Using your logo as the profile photo is a great way to increase brand awareness. The header photo is a larger billboard (1500×1500 pixels is recommended) that appears at the top of your profile. Choose something that embodies your company, such as a team photo or the office space. It’s good practice to refresh your profile photo every few months or so, particularly if it can help draw attention to campaigns or events that you want to promote.
  2. Choose a display name and account @name: Your @name is connected with everything you do on Twitter. In 15 characters or less, choose an @name that reflects your business. Your display name should also reference your business. It can be up to 50 characters and you can change it at any time.
  3. Write your company bio: You only have 160 characters here, so you want to concisely convey your company’s unique value proposition. Complete all the fields here, including a link to your website, location, and store hours (if applicable). 
  4. Convert your account to Twitter for Professionals: To this point you’ve created a standard Twitter profile. When you switch to a professional profile, you’ll enter an additional flow allowing you to choose a business category and select a “business” account. A professional profile allows your business to appear distinct from the general Twitter user. 

When using Twitter for business, there are a few additional profile settings to explore. First, ensure that your profile is “public” rather than “private” for maximum exposure. In your notification preferences, it’s a good idea to opt for push notifications when someone mentions or follows you.


Twitter-speak: terms and definitions you should know

Before we dive into how to use Twitter for beginners, let’s take a look at some key terms you are sure to encounter, starting with the most commonly used: 

  • Tweet: A tweet is a message posted by a Twitter user. Not sure how to tweet on Twitter? Simply start typing in the text box with the words “What’s happening?” Tweets have a maximum of 280 characters and can include embedded links, images, videos, GIFs, polls, or emojis. A “pinned tweet” is one that a user has chosen to sit at the top of their profile. We’ll explore some expert tips for how to post on Twitter in a following section.
  • Retweet: A retweet is when someone shares another user’s tweet with their followers. It’s a way of sharing things you find interesting or newsworthy with your network.
  • Feed / Timeline: Your feed or timeline is the stream of content you see on your profile. The “For you” tab includes a variety of content relevant to your interests based on Twitter’s algorithms, and the “Following” tab shows the most recent content from accounts you follow.
  • Follow: When you view other Twitter profiles, you’ll see an option to follow them. Tweets from accounts that you follow will appear in your feed.
  • Follower: A Twitter account that has chosen to follow you, meaning that your tweets will appear in their feed.
  • Handle: A Twitter user name, beginning with the @ symbol
  • Mention: When you include the @ symbol followed by a Twitter user name in a tweet, it will tag or mention them and include a hyperlink to their profile.
  • Like: Likes determine the popularity of content. You can like a tweet by clicking the heart icon underneath it.
  • Hashtag (#): A hashtag is a term or phrase preceded by the pound sign (#). It’s a way of categorizing a tweet by topic. When someone clicks on a hashtag they can see all other tweets tagged with that hashtag.
  • Thread: Connected tweets relating to an original tweet. You are viewing a thread any time you look at other Twitter users’ comments or replies to a tweet.
  • Direct message (DM): DMs are private messages sent between Twitter accounts. 
  • Trending / trends: Your Twitter home page will have a box showing some of the most popular hashtags of the moment. 
  • Twitter blue: A paid subscription option to have your account verified, which provides a blue checkmark as a symbol of authenticity.

Best practices for Marketers on Twitter

With your shiny new Twitter account set up, the next challenge is how to get followers on Twitter. Start with these steps: 

Step 1 – start following: The first and most important step is to get in there and interact with others. Search and find prominent voices in your industry and follow them. You may be surprised how many will follow you back. Scan the Twitter accounts that your competitors follow to add to your list. 

Step 2 – interact: Now that your timeline is displaying recent tweets from accounts you follow, jump into the conversation by liking, commenting or retweeting. This is how to gain followers on Twitter through simple daily habits. 

Step 3 – drive the conversation: You’ll want to create a content schedule that incorporates your annual campaigns, but before you go deep on that you should define and document the following: 

  • Your Twitter voice: Twitter is less formal than a platform like LinkedIn, so you might benefit from injecting more personality and less corporate-speak into your tweets. 
  • Your target audience: Have a clear persona in mind that maps to your ideal target customer. Create content that is designed specifically for them.
  • Your media mix: Plan to experiment with images, video, polls and links to learn which drive the best engagement.
  • Your use of hashtags: Hashtags can increase the reach of your content. Also consider a unique branded hashtag for your company that you can include in your tweets.

Step 4 – analyze and optimize: Use twitter analytics to assess the effectiveness of your content strategy. Some important metrics to monitor include:

  • Top tweets – your tweets that drove the highest engagement
  • Engagement – retweets, follows, replies, favorites and click-throughs
  • Impressions – the number of times your tweets appeared on your followers’ timelines
  • Hashtags – frequency of use by your audience

Step 5 – pilot Twitter’s advanced features: Once you’ve got the basics down, consider whether some of Twitter’s additional capabilities could boost your content marketing effort. Twitter live chats are a great way to connect with an engaged audience and share expertise in real-time. Chats can be conducted through text-based tweets, live audio through Twitter Spaces, or live video using Twitter Live


The importance of social listening on Twitter

Twitter moves quickly, and it’s all-too-easy to get left behind and miss important conversations and opportunities to interact. Social listening platforms like SentiOne Listen can automate scans of Twitter activity and send you alerts or notifications for activity or events that are important to you. With a social listening platform you can monitor Twitter for phrases related to your brand, your product category, and your competitors. Most social listening platforms are capable of sentiment analysis, which lets you know at a glance whether tweets or comments are positive or negative. 


Give your brand a boost with Twitter ads 

Twitter advertising is a great way to extend your brand’s reach. People spend 26% more time viewing ads on Twitter than on other leading platforms. There are two broad categories of ads available: promoted tweets and Twitter ads.

With promoted tweets you can amplify your existing tweets and have them appear in the feeds and search results of a target audience you wouldn’t normally reach. Users can interact with your promoted tweet the same way they normally would, including liking or retweeting it.  

Twitter ads function more like a typical online display advertising campaign. You can choose from different objectives including app installs, video views and website conversions. Twitter’s ad platform offers a wide variety of audience targeting options.


Never miss an important tweet with SentiOne Listen

How does Twitter work for marketers who have a huge daily workload? Automation is the answer. SentiOne Listen automates the scanning, analyzing and reporting of Twitter activity that’s important to your business. The platform includes a powerful layer of artificial intelligence to inform and support your social media strategy. For more information or to book a demo, visit SentiOne.