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Avoid A Twitter Fail With This Foolproof Guide

Social media marketing is certainly the way forward when it comes to getting a good online presence. In this post I’m specifically talking about Twitter but there are of course lots of other social networking sites out there and all can play a role in growing your online community so check back and read my other posts to get a fully rounded view of what you can do with social media marketing.

Personalise your profile.

There are actually lots of different ways you can make your company Twitter profile more personalised, which will result in more followers.

1. Twitter Profile Picture

Profile Pictures

Artwork: http://theoatmeal.com/comics/making_things

Using a photo of a staff member can be more effective in attracting followers than using your company logo. People generally place more trust on a person than a faceless logo. However, it’s important your picture is high quality and professional, rather than a snap from a drunken night out so choose wisely.

2. Choose The Right Header Photo

Ryan Seacrest's Twitter Header Picture

Ryan Seacrest’s Twitter is a great example of a header photo.

As well as your profile picture you can also now add a header photo (as of September 2012).  It’s important to bear in mind that your bio will appear over the header photo and the profile picture is also inset into the header photo so you may need to carry out some testing to ensure that the picture works with what else is there!

If your header photo is too light, for example, you may find that the bio text is too difficult to read. Make sure that what you do settle on for these photos will help potential followers to identify who you are and what the company is.

3. Personalise Your Background

Twitter Profile For Dropbox Showing The Background

A great Twitter background from Dropbox.

Take a few minutes to customise your own background. There are loads of free and cheap tools out there that can help you with this. With some, they will leave their logo/URL/watermark somewhere on the background, using a paid tool will avoid that.

Here’s some links to some free tools to create your own Twitter background :

A simple change of colour could be enough though so don’t stress too much about making a super fancy design. Remember that you can change your background if you want to reflect a current promotion or deal that you are offering.

You may notice that our own Twitter account (and the staff’s individual Twitter profiles) do not have a background image. We have trialled several and decided that a plain white background worked best to reflect the clean style of our website.

4. Write A Catchy Bio

And finally, the last thing you can do to personalise your twitter account is your short bio. It is definitely worthwhile testing a few different bios to see which one attracts the most followers.

5. Choose a Memorable Twitter Username

Choosing the right Twitter username can be challenging as not only do you have to compete with 500 million other Twitter users to get a great and memorable username but you also have to contend with the character limits that Twitter set. Try a few different usernames until you find a catchy one that relates to your product or business.

So far, we’ve covered the aesthetics and basic Twitter information. It seems like a lot to do but actually these things are very simple and, once you give them a little thought, should take no time at all.

What content should I be tweeting?

The content that you choose to tweet will impact significantly on the level of engagement that your profile achieves. Follow the tips below to get the most from your tweets.

1. Stir Up Some Debate

Twitter is a great forum to post contentious issues. Start a debate about something interesting that you have a passion for or a strong opinion on. Content that sparks argument and agreement between other Twitter users will help to ensure that your message gets out there.

2. Keep It Within The Law!

Whilst encouraging healthy debate on social media sites like Twitter can be a great way to attract followers, connect with customers and get your business out there, it is important to remember to keep it within the law. Posting racist comments online for example is not tolerated by the police and can (and has) result in a prison sentence for the offender – so keep it friendly people!

3. Share Your Life….

People will want to connect with you if you are: honest, insightful and funny. Feel free to tell anecdotes about your life and what goes on in your office. Do you have an office tradition to bring in cakes on your birthday? Slap a picture and short tweet – it will make you seem approachable and (dare we say it) normal.

4. …But Edit the X rated Bits!

However, if you’re a close knit bunch at work don’t be tempted to post pictures of your drunk Christmas party, it might give your followers a laugh but they won’t be so likely to choose your company’s services or products if you look like a bunch of party animals!

5. Motivational Quotes

Whilst I can admit that they are pure cheese, famous motivational quotes spread like wildfire on Twitter. This type of content seems to be the most often shared on Twitter via retweets. Granted, this does tend to work when you have lots of followers like celebrities do but you’ve got to start somewhere.

Getting ideas for this type of content is easy enough too, just search for “famous quotes by [insert name here]” and you will be presented with lots of ideas.   Ensure you post other tweets as well – overusing this type of tweet could make you seem tiresome so make sure to mix it up!

6. Follow The Right People

The best way to get your name out there is to follow the right people within your sector. For example, if your company is in the fashion sector you might initially follow other people in the same sector, profiles for designers, fashion magazines, retailers. So, you might follow “vogue” magazine. It is then absolutely worth checking out the list of followers to Vogue and following a lot of those people as well.

Lots will follow back, especially if you have ensured that all the initial set up steps are complete and your tweets are interesting. Bear in mind however, that some people have a LOT of followers so set yourself a time limit and get the job done or you could end up browsing through twitter profiles for hours!

7. Make Use Of RELEVANT hashtags

You may see that a particular hashtag is trending, perhaps one in your industry. If you do, take advantage of it and join in by tweeting using the hashtag. Ensure that you do not use hashtags inappropriately. Twitter’s own rules suggest that a maximum of two hashtags in a tweet is acceptable.

Also, bear in mind that by tweeting a trending or popular hashtag, lots of people may see your tweet so how you come across is important. Don’t be tempted to use an irrelevant hashtag in your tweet in the hope that you will get your name out there/get more followers.

Some big brands have done this to their detriment, for example, Habitat posted tweets about the conflict in Iran (back in 2009) using hashtags such as #Iran and #Mousavi, with the following tweet actually being nothing to do with Iran, but advertising a deal or special offer for Habitat.

Whilst anyone searching #Iran and #Mousavi, hashtags would certainly have come across Habitat’s tweets, not only did it not increase revenue for them, it actually caused an incredibly negative reaction from other Twitter users. So, be responsible and don’t piggyback on the popularity of a search term to advertise your wares – it will not work and could result in your brand becoming pubic enemy number 1!

If you’re not sure what a hashtag is, it’s a short string of words connected together with no spaces with a hashtag (#). So, why a hashtag? Hashtags allow your keywords to become searchable in twitter and allow your tweets to become classified to a specific sector.

In the example above if people were searching on twitter for news about Iran they would search #Iran and any tweets posted containing that hashtag will be displayed. You can find out what’s trending in the sidebar on Twitter or, for a more thorough view you can visit http://www.hashtags.org/ . There’s also lots of other great advice in the form of articles, a forum, search functionality and much more.

Tools & features to make the most out of Twitter.

As well as all the preparatory things you can do to your Twitter account, there are a whole host of tools you can use. Here’s a rundown of a selection of tools and how to use them.


1. Tweriod

Tweriod is a free tool that will help you identify the right time to tweet. Why is this important? You will notice when you sign in to Twitter that it displays a “timeline” of tweets from all the people you follow.

Some people are prolific tweeters so the timeline can be updated quite speedily with other tweets. Therefore, you want to ensure that you are tweeting when your followers are actually ON Twitter or they’ll miss what you’ve said! Simply visit Tweriod and get your free report, they’ll then message you on Twitter with the results. Then you can ensure that your carefully crafted tweets are posted at appropriate times.

2. Buffer/Twuffer/Tweetdeck

Buffer, Twuffer and Tweetdeck can all be used for scheduling your tweets. In order to keep your Twitter account plenty active, it’s wise to schedule “filler posts” that are just interesting information about your industry or sector to ensure that your presence on Twitter is nice and regular.

Here in our office we particularly like Tweetdeck but it’s really personal preference so have a go at one or all of them and stick with what you’re happy with.

One important point to note though, using a scheduling app is great but actually physically visiting Twitter is incredibly important for several reasons – one, it ensures that you keep up to date with what your competition is doing (as well as any other trends that are occurring that you would be oblivious to if you simply scheduled every tweet).

Two, scheduling your content in advance can be risky if your tweet is timed with a world disaster or other terrible news (although slightly unlikely, things like this have happened in the past so it’s something to bear in mind).

The ideal balance is to schedule some tweets and post others live. If you want to engage your followers, tweet live. If you’re just sharing information then scheduling is fine.

3. Triberr

A very simple one to describe! Triberr allows you to create a network of Twitter profiles that will automatically share each other’s tweets. This is a great way of extending your exposure on Twitter.

Bear in mind that if your business is fashion (sticking with my previous example) and you team up with Twitter users in finance or insurance, you will not be as likely to increase your followers.

4. Twitpic

Twitter users love seeing images. Twitpic is an app to help you share your photos and videos – a no brainer really!

5. Twitaholic

Twitaholic helps you to identify top performers in your sector – getting them to follow you and share your tweets and links is a great way to increase your reach throughout the twittosphere.

6. Tailored Trends

Instead of just seeing regional trends, Twitter’s very own Tailored Trends can help by presenting you with what is trending in your sector (this is chosen by the people you follow and your location).  However, the results can be incredibly misleading as whilst you might think something is trending, it is actually not at all. Try switching tailored trends on for a few days, then test it with Tailored Trends off and then you’ll be able to decide which way works best for you!

7. Best Of Twitter Notification features

Twitter also very handily emails you with “tweets for you” which, following on from the Tailored Trends point above will cover things that you might find interesting.

One thing to remember with tailored trends is that just because things are trending for your particular interests, they are not trending for everyone else worldwide!

I hope you have found this post informative. It’s a lot to take in but if you work through the list then you’ll find individually each step is really easy and WILL make a huge difference to any social media marketing campaigns you may want to try out.  Happy Tweeting!

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