Twitter is a unique beast, digital warriors. Set apart from Facebook and Google+ by its sheer volume, Twitter is rough, rapid, and relentless in its potential to either drown you in a deluge of trivial blips, or yank you by its fickle hand to the top trending topics. At 500 million tweets a day (that’s enough to fill 72 olympic-size swimming pools!), bland messages will be ignored, stranded on lonely digital islands where “Buy Now!” and pointless hashtags echo like the crashing waves of crazed dehydration. You must withstand the flood with humor, engagement on every scale, smart visuals, and some insider tips.
Reach out and Tweet me
Turns out that when people ask you questions on Twitter, they expect a response. Quickly. Check your notifications frequently so you can answer questions, resolve issues, or just let your fans know that you’re listening. Respond frequently, so long as you don’t sound negative or canned, and don’t forget to search your brand name. Around 30% of tweets about a brand don’t actually use that brand’s handle. Services like TweetDeck and Hootsuite will let you monitor activity more closely than Twitter’s web or mobile notifications.
Tap into the hive mind
Another way to engage with people is to join the conversation around broadcast events. Debates, sports, the Oscars, and Game of Thrones are all opportunities to contribute to the cultural party with funny observations. Major broadcast events trend big, so join in. Twitter is not a welcoming forum for advertising, so don’t step in with “If only LeBron James had some of our Tony’s Beef Jerky!” because nobody wants to hear that. If there’s nothing related happening on TV, check for whimsical holidays like World Smile Day:
Ain’t no follow back girl
Interacting with brands on Twitter is a great way to fuel community, even with simple shoutouts, faves, and retweets (listed in order of increasing big dealiness), but it can be surprisingly political. Retweets are public endorsements, and some people spend an unsettling amount of time — in back alleys, eyes darting in their black trenchcoats — negotiating mutual retweets. It can broker helpful, relatively informal partnerships, but just be careful about transparent or zealous networking efforts.
You are 1 in 500 million each day, which is probably overwhelming and makes tweeting sound futile for someone trying to grow their brand. Relax, yo. Everything is fleeting. Yes, there’s a chance that your fans could miss a lot of your content — despite their love for you — but unlike Facebook, Tweets are smaller, less visual, and easier to scroll past if they’re redundant. A few in-case-you-missed-it tweets can be useful and, more importantly, not annoying.
Hone your tone
As is the case for other social networks, Twitter is not a free advertising platform. It’s all about relationships. It behooves you to curate content that is both interesting and related to your brand. Keep it personal, keep it light. Be a good sport if the occasional troll dumps all over you, and don’t get defensive. Haters gonna hate. It’s a place of brevity and informality, so you needn’t worry about spelling and impeccable linguistic construction in your 140-character world. Speaking of that infamous limit: keep your own handle short (since it takes up characters when people talk to you) and don’t waste words with a crowd of handles, links, and hashtags. Those tweets are hardly readable, almost guaranteed to be ignored.
Most don’t think of Twitter as a very visual platform, but its recent design shifts suggest a future focus on images. Don’t be late to the game on this one. You should unify your social media channels with your brand’s visual elements. Logo or face in the profile pic, coordinated brand colors, the whole shebang. As always, posts with images get more traction than boring ol’ words, so keep your eyes vigilant for perfect photo ops. Think that’s enough? Wrong! Your picture might not even be seen if you don’t have the right street smarts. Follow Twitter’s dimensions and make sure all of your image shows up. Think that’s enough? Wrong again! With a few image-sharing services, Twitter doesn’t even show an image preview in your followers’ timelines. Not to worry, everything shows up fine when you share with PicMonkey (just sayin’).