13 Tips To Boost Your Twitter Engagement, Win Fans And Get Leads

13 Tips To Boost Your Twitter Engagement, Win Fans And Get Leads
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Twitter can be a challenge to navigate because on its surface it’s so simple and straightforward: post something with 140 characters or less and you’re done.

Unlike Facebook where you have the ability to run contests, promotions and open a storefront… Twitter is still essentially about those 140 characters.

Even the Twitter profile page is pretty simple. Its recent move to be more Facebook-esque should look familiar: a cover photo and profile photo. There’s a small space for some bio information and that’s about it.

But aren’t the simplest things often the most deceptively difficult to master?

Sometimes mastering a tool or strategy is a matter of trial and error. Sometimes you get to benefit from other people’s trial and error. So assuming you’ve already decided that Twitter is the place for you and your business, here are some tips for improving your business’s Twitter engagement so you can start turning followers into leads and customers.

1. Know Your Audience

I bet you’ve heard this one before! But the truth is that the only way you can engage people in a positive way is if you know who you’re engaging in the first place. Long before you get to “try Twitter marketing” on your to-do list, you should have a customer profile and know things about them like their age, gender and profession. And you should know things about them like what they want out of life and what bugs them on a regular basis.

Knowing your audience will help you craft your message. It will also to some extent help you figure out who you are – or who you’re going to be online.

Now, there are people who will tell you to be true to yourself – the “authentic” crowd, if you will. But if you’re doing business you need to be authentically business-oriented. Maybe you’re a riot at a party, but that may not translate to your online business audience.

When you know your audience you can choose your approach and decide what your Twitter “personality” will be. Will you be helpful, geared toward answering questions and customer service? Will you be funny and entertaining, practical or inspirational?

Maybe some, all or none of the above! It’s up to you to decide how you want to approach Twitter and that will depend on who you’re addressing.

2. Stop Selling

Sounds counterintuitive, after all you’re on Twitter to generate leads and sales. But to be successful at it, it has to seem as if you’re not actually doing that.

I don’t mean be deceptive. I do mean share more than just post after post about your products and services.

I’ve followed those companies who do nothing but send out “buy me” tweets. And I’ve unfollowed them, too. It’s annoying. It’s boring. It’s pushy.

To a large extent, if you want to succeed at any marketing you also have to be an entertainer. And I don’t know many people who are entertained by nonstop advertising.

Instead, improve your Twitter engagement by interspersing promotional tweets with content that will amuse, entertain, help, inspire and entice your audience. Curate content that will be useful or fun for them. Share links to news stories, events, photos or blogs (that aren’t your own!)

Yes, you can share your own blogs and company-related information even when you’re not “selling”. But make sure you’ve got a good ratio of “other” content to “me” content.

There’s no perfect ratio. Some people tell you to share 1 promotional tweet for every 10. Some tell you to follow the 80/20 rule. It really depends on your audience and how often you’re tweeting. Even if you start by aiming for 1 promotional tweet out of every 5, that will give you a starting point that you can test against.

3. Start Conversations

If you’re “doing social” you’ve got to be social. Think of Twitter like a cocktail party (without the getting drunk and dancing naked on the piano part). If you walk into the room and you don’t know anybody, you could stand by the door and hope someone stops by and talks to you. Or you could walk in, listen to what’s happening at a nearby table and jump in.

Set up a keyword search so you can listen to what other people are saying about things related to your products, services and industry. When you hear something relevant or interesting, that’s your cue to make a comment, answer a question or even ask a follow up question.

Yes, this does require social skills!

And you don’t have to limit yourself to conversing about related topics, either. If you’re listening to your followers and one of them mentions chocolate chip cookies and you love chocolate chip cookies, why not join in and share the cookie love?

The point is that you’re putting yourself and your business out there, getting noticed, being part of the conversation and building relationships. That may not get you a sale today but it will begin building opportunities for the future.

4. If You’re Going To Auto DM, Make Sure It’s Amazing

I would prefer if every human being and business on the planet would think of the DM (direct message) more like a “private message” to use only when one wants to converse personally and directly with another human being.

Alas, since that’s not going to happen any time soon, think of the auto DM as your first impression. Someone has invited you to their party by opening the door (following you) so what’s the first thing you’re going to do when you step inside?

Scream, “Follow me on Facebook!”?

Start spouting about the amazing, FREE secret that you’re going to share?

Try to sell them a watch? (from recent personal experience…)

For the sake of your social life, I hope not. So don’t similarly embarrass yourself in a DM.

Better yet, don’t DM (automatically) at all, but if you must, then think long and hard about why you’re doing it and what you’re going to say. Asking someone to download your free whatchamacallit or sign up for your amazing webinar is just an ad and it turns a lot of people off.

Best DM I ever received: (paraphrased) “Thanks for following! Do you have any tweets you’d like me to share with my followers?

Worst DM I ever received: (not paraphrased) “Thanks for following, Jan! Visit my blog at…” (You may have noticed that’s not my name.)

5. Put Your Links In The Middle

Most of us add our links at the end of our tweets, sort of like punctuation. We make our comment then append the link “for more”.

Whatever the psychology… whether we’re ok with the comment and don’t need the “more”, or we see the link tacked on as sort of spammy (mid-tweet links imply that more human thought has gone into it than just shooting off a link), links at the end of a tweet tend to get a lower clickthrough than links in the middle.

As if working with 140… no, 120… no, 100… characters was not challenging enough, now we’re compelled to split those up into even smaller chunks!

When you can, follow this guideline: opening comment, link, closing comment. Track your clickthrough rate to see if one method works better for you.

6. Vary Your Content

People respond better to variety. Some studies have shown that the clickthrough rate on links increase as their frequency decreases.

That means that if you post 10 tweets in a row with links, you’re likely to end up with a lower clickthrough rate than if you had posted 3 tweets with links interspersed by 7 without. (And that’s just an example so no, you don’t have to follow those numbers!)

It takes a bit more thought and creativity to come up with content that isn’t piggybacking on something else, but if you want your links to get more attention then make ‘em special.

7. Tweet Often

Twitter is its own animal. While posting 4 or 5 times a day may irritate people who get your updates in their Facebook feed, it may render you nearly invisible to your Twitter audience.

I only have a few thousand followers and I split them carefully into lists so that I can keep track of everyone. But there are days when even that doesn’t slow down the barrage of information streaming through my feed. Ask my dear husband Ralph. He’ll tell you how sometimes I don’t even answer tweets from him! (It’s because I never saw them. Really.)

Imagine when you have many thousands of people to track.

If it’s easy to miss important tweets, it’s going to be very easy for your audience to miss the not-so-important ones… that’s right, yours. And mine. And every other business vying for eyeballs.

If you think that posting once or twice a day… forget once or twice a week!… is going to yield results then stick with Facebook. Otherwise put on your thinking cap and start being creative because you’re going to need a lot of content.

I find I get the best Twitter engagement when I post consistently, up to several times per hour. Come up with a schedule that includes at least a couple of tweets per day and then keep going.

8. Remember That Just Because You Have The Weekend Off Doesn’t Mean Twitter Does, Too

Remember how I said to post a few times per day? Yup, that means per day. Not per weekday.

Social activity on many fronts spikes during the weekend. But many businesses take a 9-5 attitude about everything.

To succeed at social, break the 9-5 barrier and post every single day. In fact, I might go so far as to say vary your schedule so you can post more of your content on weekends and less on weekdays. This isn’t a rule that works for every industry, but try it out and see what happens.

This is where automation can come in handy because you’re probably not going to be sitting in front of your computer monitoring your social accounts all weekend. Unless you’re a big enough company that you can afford a 24/7 team, you’re just going to have to make do.

Schedule your posts ahead of time so you can consistently be in front of people and remember, if people do engage, you’re going to want to get back to them no later than Monday first thing!

9. Don’t Use 140 Characters

Part of engagement comes in the form of retweets. If you want your tweets to be retweeted then you need to leave room for people to do so. Some Twitter apps append the retweeter’s handle to the tweet, taking up precious space. Sometimes people like to comment or add hashtags with their retweets.

For me personally, I’m not a huge fan of the generic retweet. I like to throw my two cents in, even if it’s just to say “great read!” I can’t do that if all 140 characters have been used. And trust me, most people are not invested enough to make the effort of editing a tweet down to fit.

If you want to improve your odds of being retweeted – especially with a comment – then aim for no more than 120 characters.

And as if that’s not putting a crimp in your grammar, some studies have shown that tweets at 100 characters or less get the best engagement rates. Remember, Twitter is a fast-moving hodgepodge of symbols, abbreviations, links and information. The quicker you can grab someone’s attention with the least demand on their mental faculties, the better off you’ll be.

10. Use Hashtags

Sparingly.

Hashtags can be a great way to highlight keywords or get in front of people who may not be your followers but who monitor those hashtags.

But too many can make your tweet look like an unreadable mess. One hashtag is good. Two hashtags is ok. More than 2 is pretty much the kiss of death.

And whatever you do, never piggyback on a trending hashtag unless you know for absolute sure what it means or you may just end up being the next #Cairo backlash. Look it up.

11. Share The Love

If you want people to engage with you then you’ve got to be engaging. One way to show love on Twitter is with the retweet. Twitter is a very “this for that” ecosystem. Many people won’t follow you unless you follow them back. Others are only as generous with the retweets as you are toward them.

To show that you’re paying attention and to get attention in return, it helps to rewteet and mention your followers regularly.

Yes, do be mindful of what you’re sharing. Stay on target by sharing content that’s relevant to your brand and purpose, not randomly choosing a “retweet of the day”.

You can also share others’ content, including things like blog posts. When you do, be sure to credit the author by adding “via @mytwitterfollower” at the end. That little word (via) with another tweeter’s handle can also increase clickthrough rates.

Give a little love, get a little back. With some attention you can begin to build your relationships and your social currency.

12. Share Personal Information But Don’t Get Personal

If you’re tweeting as a business, you’re probably using your business logo instead of a personal photo. That can distance you a bit from your audience. People like to do business with people, so be sure that you’re not hiding behind a corporate identity.

You can mitigate this by including “personal” tidbits about your company and employees. No, not how long they just spent in the bathroom, but when someone is having a birthday. Or when someone has reached a special goal or accomplishment. Share achievements and fun moments.

If you integrate your Twitter account with your Instagram account then post links to photos from around your office, events you attended or other points of interest. Even though photos can’t be seen in your tweet itself, people love to click through to see them.

Keep it about your business and be mindful of posting content or photos that may be construed as embarrassing, inappropriate or offensive. If you wouldn’t post it on your website or blog then think twice about posting it anywhere else.

13. Don’t Listen To Me

Twelve fabulous tips later I want you to forget everything I just told you and figure out how to raise your own engagement levels.

That means start with something, test it, try something new and test again. If you post 5 times per day and hemorrhage followers then don’t listen to what I said about posting more often. If you follow a 1:2 promotion ratio and rake in the sales then forget what I said about staying away from promotional tweets.

The truth is, these are guidelines but there are no rules. Guidelines can help you get started but it’s through your own trial and error, testing and trying again that you’re going to find your sweet spot and turn Twitter into leads and sales.

Oh, and if you don’t? Then maybe Twitter just isn’t the place you need to be!

Got any Twitter engagement tips? What works for YOU (or doesn’t)?

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Carol Lynn Rivera

Carol Lynn Rivera

Carol Lynn is a content creator and marketer who has been in the business of digital marketing since 1999. Along with her husband and business partner Ralph, she owns and operates both {Web.Search.Social}, a consulting and marketing services business, and Rahvalor Interactive, a web and creative services production studio. On any given day Carol Lynn will wear the hat of project manager, consultant, social media manager and content marketer. Her true passion is writing, whether it’s web content, a blog post, email campaign or social status update. When she's not writing for customers, {Web.Search.Social}, or her own blog, she's planning her early retirement to Barcelona as a famous and wealthy novelist.
Carol Lynn Rivera
Carol Lynn Rivera
  • http://twitter.com/kateupdates Kate Finley

    I love your tip about sharing the link in the middle of the tweet. I’d definitely try that and see if I notice a difference. Great post!

    • http://twitter.com/CarolLynnRivera Carol Lynn Rivera

      Thanks! definitely give it a shot – in a noisy world, every little thing we can try to get better results is worth a shot. Would love to know if you any change with that.

  • clarestweets

    I agree with every tip except #13. Every twitter junkie needs to listen to you. I especially like the point about having conversations. I’ve had more fun in “twitter wars” than I can say and gained new insights into those I’m following. I also agree on DMs. I almost always stop following someone who DMs unless as you say its amazing.

    • http://twitter.com/CarolLynnRivera Carol Lynn Rivera

      Haha, thanks Clare :) I had a very lengthy Twitter conversation on my last post with someone who thought I was being too “absolute” – which is totally not my style so I want to make sure everyone knows they get to do their own thing!

  • Adrienne

    Hey Carol,

    Okay, you need to take your own advice about the shorter headlines. Girl, yours are so long I can’t get them all in the tweet some times. I had to laugh about this one although you do have amazing headlines.

    I agree with you on all counts. I’m not big on putting the link in the middle though but adding something to the tweet to make it stand out is always best.

    Having conversations with people on Twitter is how you’ll get more people to notice you. Oh and the sharing too!

    Great list and I’ll definitely be spreading this one around. Especially on Twitter.

    Have a great weekend Carol.

    ~Adrienne

    • http://twitter.com/CarolLynnRivera Carol Lynn Rivera

      lol, point taken! I know my headlines are sometimes really long – ok, a lot of the time – and that’s something I am going to go back and fix! I have lots of advice and I have to remember to take it, too :)

  • http://twitter.com/LogAllot Sonia Winland

    These are great tips and I love the one about adding the link in the middle. I will have to try that one out. One of my pet peeves is too many hashtags. I barely use them myself, and go crazy when I see more than 1 on a single post. But something I try and do is post stuff I know will be useful and close to my niche. I don’t talk about Food or Pets, so I won’t retweet posts that don’t have any baring to my niche. I figure if they follow me it is for a reason and my tweets about pets might make people question reasons for following me.

    Either way, you have to take great care in what you tweet and give back. I am so honored to see retweets of my work and I do the same for others.

    • http://twitter.com/CarolLynnRivera Carol Lynn Rivera

      Adding the links in the middle can be really hard, because you have to be super short on both ends. But why not give it a shot and see if it works, right? I’m on your side about hashtags. One is about all I can take and to be honest, I personally don’t find them useful. I really never followed a hashtag unless it was for a purpose, like a twitter chat. Sometimes people goof on them and make up funny ones, which is just fun. But more than one and I find I don’t read the tweet. I’m like you too, I feel great when someone retweets something I posted. That’s a nice kind of recognition!

  • http://www.bringbackdesire.com/ Ande Lyons

    Carol!

    I am a HUGE Twitter fan as a SoMe platform for business… and your post is one of the BEST tutorials on how and why to use Twitter. Anyone reading this will easily be able to scale and create a successful outcome via Twitter.

    Special thanks for the tip on placing a url in the middle of a tweet – I had no idea! I had not heard the minimum hastag rule before… will definitely take that into consideration!

    My personal brand @AndeLyons is where I hangout most on Twitter… while still using my business @BringBackDesire daily for sharing the Love.

    I especially love rule #13… how refreshing to have an expert remind readers to find out what works best for them and their strategy. LOVE IT!

    Cheers!

    Ande

    • http://twitter.com/CarolLynnRivera Carol Lynn Rivera

      Thanks Ande, I’m really glad you found this helpful and thorough. The thing about Twitter – and all marketing stuff – is that there is always an exception to the rule. I’ll say “put the link in the middle” and 10 people will tell me why that doesn’t work for them. So these are ideas that people can try to see if one thing works better than another. Many times they do – sometimes they don’t! Experimentation is key. And it’s work… which is why it’s a lot more challenging that just throwing out a few words. Look forward to checking out your tweets… let me know if any of the new things work for you!

  • http://twitter.com/uncommonchick Lakesha Brown

    #s 3, 7, and 11 are my fav things to do on twitter – start conversations (even butting in on some), tweet much, and sharing…and then your last tip of not listening to you is hilarious! I’ve found that though there can be general guidelines like these out there, everybody needs to find their own rhythm, their own style, and pay attention to who they’re following and who’s following them as that determines how they are successful using twitter.

    Lastly, I don’t thing many people do the Auto DM in an amazing way (hence, I’m #TeamNoAutoDM) so I suggest to people not to use them for real. :-)

    • http://twitter.com/CarolLynnRivera Carol Lynn Rivera

      I like jumping in on conversations too. Sadly there are people who never bother to respond! That’s kind of frustrating, but I guess it narrows down the people worth talking to. I like to throw in that caveat with just about everything that you don’t need to do what i say – you just need to do what works! That may or may not be the same thing. You’re right, people have to find their own style. Thanks for your thoughts!

  • http://twitter.com/SylvianeNuccio Sylviane Nuccio

    Those are very good Twitter tips. Until now I’ve seriously neglected Twitter, but I’m starting now, finally to be active with it.

    A blogger friend just introduced me to a great tool to get rid of all the unfollowers and I am tweeting happy since then tweeting about how I love this tool and how I love to get rid of those people not nice enough to follow me back. I was shock to discover that some people I actually know didn’t even followed me.

    I played with this on Saturday morning for about 45 minutes and I’ve got a nice bunch of followers just by doing that.

    I think that trying to sell on Twitter or any social media is stupid. Anyone should know better and know that nobody likes that. I’m shocked that some people are still doing this.

    I’m trying to follow all your twitter tips, they always make a lot of sense.

    • http://twitter.com/CarolLynnRivera Carol Lynn Rivera

      I enjoy Twitter a lot. It’s probably my favorite place to be. For me, I like having so many people to talk to, such a variety of opinions, you never know who you can meet. Plus I like how short it is, so nobody is writing long stories, just simple conversations. I check my unfollows, too, and ditch people who don’t want a conversation! I hope you like it too, and if you have any questions let me know. There are plenty of tools and things you can use.

  • http://twitter.com/suejprice Sue Price

    Hi Carol these are great tips. I like the idea of putting the link in the middle.I have been hit and miss with with Twitter but am getting back to being active. I of course use it to syndicate.
    I love these tips. thanks
    Sue

    • http://twitter.com/CarolLynnRivera Carol Lynn Rivera

      Try it, let me know if it works! You can never tell sometimes what will hit.

  • http://www.mayura4ever.com/ Mayura De Silva

    Hi Carol,

    I’ve been following your Twitter tips for business accounts I read other day ;) I’m happy with the results, yet more to go with.

    Ah… When I follow back some folks I’ve got nasty auto DMs. Errr… I always feel it’s always about promoting but not saying “Hi” to me. I love their tweets running on the stream, but that DM feels bad about ‘em even I like ‘em very much Carol.

    I’ve seen stats about the engagement with 100 or less chars and very true about hashtags. I’ve been filling the space with hashtags as much as I can add when I tweet on my personal profile. But now I’m not though. However I’m still figuring out my audience but love engaging and small talk over there when I can :)

    I haven’t try out adding links in middle but I’ve noticed that the tweeting time always matters for better engagement. The days I tweet more I get more followers but when I’m not, I see they are going back. In my experience most of ‘em were brands and bots, but people too. However the people seems to stick with me there :)

    Now I gotta try myself out and see how they will work out. Especially adding links in middle and being in the 100 char limit ;)

    Further, I’ve started to engage with new faces as they have shared a blog post of mine or RTed my tweets. I mean, when I reach to thank ‘em, they tend to talk back and start the conversation going. I’ve found that it was always one of the best way for me to find interesting people ’cause the ones who talk back seems always on alert and tend to talk much on Twitter ;) You too?

    Thanks for another great post about Twitter Carol :) You must show up often as I rarely see your links on Facebook to come here. Well, not an excuse :D lol…

    Happy Holidays with effects on images ;)

    Cheers…

    • http://twitter.com/CarolLynnRivera Carol Lynn Rivera

      Hi Mayura,

      There are lots of Twitter tips to keep us busy, so we have to keep trying different things to see what works best!

      I agree with you about the DMs. Mostly they are a bunch of junk. People want to give you something “free” or they want you to subscribe tot heir blog. I ignore them all the time.

      Adding the link in the middle is not as easy to do. I’ve tried it here and there but it really does make it tough to think of how to split up what you want to say.

      As for saying thank you, I try to do that as much as possible and you’re right, it does get people to talk back and you can usually start a conversation.

      I enjoy Twitter a lot. Facebook, not so much! I usually use Facebook for posting personal pictures that my friends might like, or just for checking on on people who I’m in a group with. Otherwise it’s just a big mess of stuff I don’t care about. But Twitter is more fun to talk to people, meet new people and find good information.

      See you Google+, too!

      • http://www.mayura4ever.com/ Mayura De Silva

        That’s very true Carol :) I did try adding ‘em middle after the post but not easy as we speak though. If the hashtags comes next to link and end the tweet, it counts as link in middle too? :)

        Ha ha… Google+ was always better for conversations ;) Well I actually meant that I didn’t see your new post notifications much on Facebook ’cause Facebook is my feed reader :D lol… That’s why :) See you on Google+ dear.

        Cheers…

        • http://twitter.com/CarolLynnRivera Carol Lynn Rivera

          Good question! I guess it does, right? Well, try it out and let me know if you get any results :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/ross.mann.777 Ross Mann

    Social
    media is currently the fastest growing method for marketing, especially for
    directly engaging with potential customers. With engaging content, pictures,
    and the sharing of the company’s videos and blogs, social media will keep our
    client’s brand or product in front of consumers who are ready to buy both now
    and later. Remember, social media is about just that: being social. I’ve been
    using socialbakers, hootsuite and socialkik to increase my followers and
    fans.

  • http://www.phifoundation.org/health-benefits-of-green-tea.html Chuck

    Carol, you are an amazing writer. I read a lot of articles and this one is a work of genius. I turned off my Twitter DM. Everyone I followed was giving me an automated message. I try to keep it to 2 hashtags but sometimes use 3 so I need to work on that. 13. Don’t listen to me. That is an awesome way to end a list to help people to be creative.

    • http://twitter.com/CarolLynnRivera Carol Lynn Rivera

      Hi Chuck, thanks for the kind words, I appreciate it! I’m glad you found this helpful.

      I know what you mean about the DMs. I get so many that sometimes I miss the ones that matter.

      As for “don’t listen to me” – the best I can do, or anyone can do for that matter, is offer ideas and suggestions. But the best results are always the ones you get when you try things out and see what works!