So you have a great website, an established Facebook presence, and maybe a LinkedIn profile: what’s next? Maybe you’ve considered using Twitter as a way to expand your online social presence. It’s a tricky platform, so it’s important to make sure you understand it before you sign up and starting tweeting blindly. Here are a few important things you can learn from other brands that are succeeding on Twitter.

1. Consistency is Key.

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If you don’t have time to set aside every week for building and maintaining a Twitter following, you’re going to crash and burn. At the very least, you’ll look pathetic when your Twitter account has been dormant for several months because you no longer have time. It’s better not to tweet at all than to tweet poorly.  You need to have at least an hour every week to spend researching what you want to Tweet, and then Tweeting it. Now, you can schedule Tweets to save yourself some time, but if you schedule too many you’ll look like a robot.

Pittsburgh Magazine (@PittsburghMag) is a pro at consistently updating their Twitter account with helpful content. They tweet at least every day, and most of the time it’s multiple times a day. This doesn’t mean you have to be glued to your mobile device to do Twitter right, but it does mean you can’t ignore it. If you’re a small, local business – once a day might be sufficient for you. But if you’re a larger corporation, you may want to post multiple tweets a day. 

2. Curate Excellent, Relevant Content.

This seems like a no-brainer, but when you look at the Twitter accounts of different brands, it’s apparent that its not obvious. Here’s what you want to do.

Screen Shot 2013-07-10 at 3.43.27 PM– Vary your content. Yes, you want some tweets that promote your brand, but you also want tweets that are pure informational content for your users.  Check out what JetBlue Airways does – here’s an example of two different tweets in the past few weeks. One is promoting their getaway packages with a link to where you can make a purchase.  The other is pure engagement with their followers, asking them to guess what the picture is of.  JetBlue does a great job on Twitter and is consistently ranked as a top brand on Twitter.

– Be professional, but in a friendly-informal way. It’s a 140-character limit per tweet, so using some abbreviations is OK, just not poor grammar. Twitter is about having a conversation with followers, but it’s not like sending a text message to your friends.

– Come up with original content. Don’t just post the exact same things on Facebook and Twitter. You need to give people a reason to follow you on BOTH Facebook and Twitter.

 

3. Measure Engagement, not Followers.

Of course you want to have lots of followers. It’s no good tweeting to empty space. But, you want to have the right kind of followers. You want to have followers that will re-tweet your message to their followers and reply to your message and then follow through.  You know who is really good at this? @GoLancasterPA! They have awesome engagement and most of their tweets are replies to people tweeting about Lancaster.

Another thing to consider with engagement is whether you can use your Twitter account as a customer service tool. If people tweet their questions, complaints, and problems to you – are you able to answer them? Lots of companies do this and it creates considerable customer loyalty.  A few months ago a friend of mine tweeted about a problem she was having with her CamelBak water bottle. Within a short time a customer service rep had tweeted back a solution, which worked. My friend is now a lifelong advocate of CamelBak.

4. Get Started

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If the thought of taking on another social media responsibility makes you cringe, consider getting professional help involved. I’m not talking about your teenage neighbor who is always tweeting from her iPhone. Someone who knows about social media and how it works for businesses can help you come up with a strategy for starting out, gaining followers, creating content, and figuring out what on earth a hashtag does.