How to Have Authentic Conversations on Twitter
- by Alyson Shane
Do you know how to have authentic conversations on Twitter?
If you're like most people, then the answer is "no." In fact, of all the social media platforms that our clients are the most familiar with, Twitter tends to come in dead last.
For most of our clients, Twitter feels intimidating and confusing, and not just because of the 280 character limit: the speedy nature of conversations and news, the ever-changing hashtags, and the nearly-overwhelming flow of information that makes Twitter so valuable as a social network can also make it... well, overwhelming.
However, here at Starling Social, we love Twitter because it allows us to connect with our client's audience and customers quickly and without a lot of the barriers that are present on other popular networks like LinkedIn and Facebook.
How to Have Authentic Conversations on Twitter
We like to think of Twitter as a big party: there are lots of people (users) hanging out and talking about different topics (hashtags). All guests (businesses) need to do is find the conversations relevant to their customers' needs and start talking.
Notice we say talking, not selling.
Twitter is a conversation platform above all else, which means users are there expecting to have conversations, not be on the receiving end of a sales pitch. This not only leaves a sour taste in a user's mouth, but since Twitter profiles are public by default, it means that other potential customers will see it, too.
With that in mind, today we're sharing some of our favorite ways to have real conversations on Twitter:
If you regularly go to events like conferences, workshops, and lunch & learns, you can easily create content before, during, and after each event.
Before the event, make a list of the speakers, sessions, etc. you're most excited for and tweet about the programming and activities you're looking forward to. During the event, "live tweet" summaries of highlights from the day, live videos, images, and quotes and soundbites from speakers.
Using the event hashtag in your tweets will show your Twitter content to other people who are either at the same conference or who are following along using the event hashtag from home or work.
This is a super-powerful tactic to extend your reach because it showcases your tweets to people who are actively interested in the content you're sharing.
Another tactic is to use Twitter Lists to keep track of who you've met. We recommend organizing your lists by a person's industry and their role, rather than where you met them.
You can also use Twitter to nurture relationships that start in person. When you meet a colleague or a potential prospect, connect with them on Twitter and engage with their tweets over the next few weeks.
Of course, a real relationship must be an authentic one, which means it's not enough to simply ReTweet and 'Like' a few of their tweets. You need to react to their content in a way that shows you're paying attention to who they are, not just what you want from them. This is a common mistake that a lot of marketers make, and it harms relationships as a result.
Twitter is most people's go-to for breaking news, and businesses can use Twitter to discuss breaking news in their industry.
We recommend by starting a Twitter List of reputable news sources from your industry and following their Tweets each day. Use their Twitter feeds to get a daily overview of the hottest news in your industry, and ReTweet or share your tweets with your company's reaction to the breaking news.
When you share breaking news, timing is critical. Make sure to share the news as soon as you learn about it; otherwise 2,000 other people in your industry may be talking about it by the time you get to it, and you lose the advantage of being first.
A 2018 HubSpot survey found that 54% of consumers wanted to see more video content from a brand or business they support, so we suggest shooting a quick video featuring yourself or one of your team members talking about the update and sharing your company's reflections.
If you have a copywriter, publishing reactions to newsworthy topics on your company's blog is a great way to generate Twitter content drive targeted traffic back to your website on an ongoing basis.
Twitter is the go-to platform for customers who want to connect with a company about a problem. This also means that for your customer service to work, you need to be as responsive as possible.
We like to handle customer service inquiries by applying the HEAT model of customer service:
H - Hear: We reply by reiterating the issue the customer says they're struggling with.
E - Empathize: We respond in a kind tone that shows we care.
A - Apologize: We apologize that they're experiencing the issue.
T - Take Action: We direct the conversation to Direct Messages. We do this for two reasons:
- Direct Messaging means our customer service issue isn't being discussed on our public Twitter timeline.
- Direct Messages have no character limit. This means customers can go into as much detail as they need. We then take this information and pass it along to our client so that they can take action.
If you run a B2C (business to consumer) company, we suggest using a plugin like Buffer's SocialChat, which allows customers to click a button to send you a private message via Facebook or Twitter.
Build Customer Culture
Understanding a customer's needs is more than about knowing how to get them to buy from you. Developing an authentic relationship means we need to understand what they care about, the kinds of content they relate to, and what makes them laugh.
Being armed with this knowledge means we can get creative with our content and use things like gifs, photos, and videos to create conversations with our Twitter followers and stand out from the crowd.
Again: Twitter is a conversation platform, which means that any content we create should be focused on starting a conversation.
If you're using videos, remember that Twitter videos start playing automatically and users are likely to have the sound turned off, so we recommend using tools like Twitter Media Studio or Videolocious to add captions, video titles, descriptions, and calls-to-action to get people to click on the link.
Increasing Engagement Using Twitter
As we've seen, Twitter offers businesses a variety of ways to have authentic conversations with their customers and target audience.
By being proactive with how you use Twitter, and taking the time to create content that interests your followers and creates conversations, you can build a thriving community around your business.
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