Working as I do with professional firms I’m often asked or challenged on the true effectiveness of twitter and other social media platforms. For the purpose of this blog I’ll focus on twitter as it is the most frequently quoted cause of confusion, frustration and anxiety.
Yes, I did mention anxiety. Managing partners, Managing Directors, VP’s & CEO’s are more than aware of the phenomenon that is twitter but few can put their finger on what it is doing for their business.
In the beginning it seemed simple. Create an account, charge the marketing team with tweeting about the wonderful services on offer and sit back and wait for the results. And wait they did, the wind whistling through the trees whilst tweeters tweeted in an increasingly desperate fashion hoping upon hope that someone would tweet back.
Aware of competitor firms growing large follower networks and seemingly becoming the popular point of contact the business owners call the marketing team to account. “Where’s our ROI?” “Show me a spreadsheet of time and cost vs return.” “Why do Bloggs & Co. have five times the followers of our account?”
In a panic and under pressure the marketers fail to deliver the key financial justification for continuation and are forced to concede defeat.
Ok, perhaps an extreme example but the story will have a ring of truth for many. The demand for results, analysis and business owner frustration that the firm is failing to match others or capitalise on this new medium is a very common experience.
What is the answer? It’s not as simplistic as suggesting that having an account and sending the occasional tweet will eventually deliver results but time is a factor and it takes more than you might think to build a truly effective twitter channel.
Here are a few suggestions for those grappling with twitter and losing the fight;
- Revisit the plan (or if not already created draft one) focus on what you want to achieve and keep the objectives modest.
- Think about the membership of your network, who do you want – followers with special interests, local to your office, commercial, personal or both. Search for your targets and start following them.
- Consider targets for follower count (you want to aim for 500+ if you’re a medium sized regional firm). Set a target for the number of re-tweets of your content and measure its reach.
- One example of measurement – aim to achieve a Klout score of 30+ within 12 months. (see Klout.com)
- Create content such as regular blogs that feature key individuals and services. Make this regular and not too heavy – 400-500 words is enough.
- Don’t delegate the generation of your tweets or blog content outside of the business or to anyone not qualified to comment effectively on behalf of the firm. Your network will soon realise if you do have a 3rd party or unqualified communicator and it can hamper responsiveness.
- Profile, use a photo, ideally of a real person in the business – people follow and interact with people.
- Ensure the profile copy is clear and impactful with a hint of personality.
- Make sure you visit the account at least twice a day and check the timeline for contributions from your network. Re-tweet frequently when you see good links, tweets.
- Don’t make your tweets all about work, consider the interests of your network and show off your personality…be careful to avoid controversy and making or supporting offensive messages.
- Manage your network as its grows through using lists to segment specific groups.
- Feed back to the business owners on a regular basis, be proactive and keep them informed as to network growth and interactions.
- Get creative, build in special offers, competitions, quizzes and above all have fun with it.
Managing the expectations of the management team and business owners is all important. It can be hard trying to convince an analytical driven leader that they need to invest resource in something that can be quite so hard to quantify. As a marketer I fall into the camp of wanting to measure marketing activity and in all circumstances you should strive to analyse the impact of your efforts. Twitter apps are available to measure any number of actions but don’t get lost in analysis. Keep the focus on the big picture of building the business brand and connecting with your network.
Traffic visiting your website through tweeted links will be one clear indication of reach as will comments or feedback from network members.
As I’ve referred to before by way of analogy, twitter is very much like a broadcast channel. Decide on your audience the type of output you want to produce and the viewing figures you’d like to generate. Remember very few of us would want to tune in to a channel that is 100% or even 50% advertising so keep the balance fresh and entertaining.
If you would like more specific help with developing your social media strategy or simply making your existing activities more effective please drop me a line.
David Laud – i2i Business Solutions LLP e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org