Social Media for B2B Marketers: Twitter

Welcome to the second installment in our series introducing B2B marketers to the basics of social media marketing. Last week we covered LinkedIn, with Facebook and Google+ to come in the next two weeks. We’ll address how to set up an optimized profile for each and begin building a social presence for your business. Join us for our webinar on Wednesday, April 10 to learn how to develop a social media plan for your B2B business!

A recent study found that Twitter is the top social network for acquiring B2B leads. The microblogging site allows you to interact with people all over the world who you may not otherwise come into contact with, letting you reach out to a potential audience of millions. The public nature of the forum lets you build your brand and your industry network, and the 140 character limit makes you really refine your messaging. Here’s how to create your company profile and communicate your brand to the Twitterverse:

Setting Up Your Company Profile

Go to www.twitter.com and sign up to create your company profile. When choosing your username, try to pick something as close to your company name as possible so that your profile can be easily found and your brand identity is clear to anyone you interact with. Using your own name or the name of one of your products isn’t a good choice, since people who don’t know your company very well may not know that those are associated with your brand.

  1. Profile and Design

    Next, you get 160 characters to write your biography in the Profile tab. Many people will decide whether to follow you based on your bio, so make sure to describe what your company does including any well-known products and relevant keywords.

    Include your company name, location, website, and upload your logo as well as a header image that reflects your brand. Then, use the menu to the left to customize your profile and settings.

    In the Design tab, add a background image and colour settings to align your Twitter profile page with your brand.

  2. Account, Password, Mobile, and Email

    These tabs allow you to set up your preferences. You can decide most of them for yourself, but a few are worth mentioning:

    Under the Account tab, there is the option to protect your tweets, meaning no one will be able to follow you or view your tweets without your permission. If you want, you can choose this option for a little while as you get used to the platform and build up content, but as a general rule this option doesn’t make sense for a company page. The goal is to attract followers and spread your brand message, which is impossible if your account is private.

    You can add your Twitter account to your mobile phone if you are often away from your computer or think you will need to post tweets outside business hours. Just make sure not to confuse your business account for a personal one if you have both of them set up on your phone!

    Email notifications allow you to receive emails whenever certain events occur, to save you having to always check back in with your Twitter account. At the least, you should set up alerts when someone retweets, replies, or direct messages you so that you can act on those engagements. Beyond that, it’s up to you whether you’d like to receive emails or not.

  3. Apps and Widgets

    Over time, you may sign up for apps across the web that allow you to sign in with Twitter. These apps will request access to information from your account, so be sure to double check before allowing any of them. Some apps will send out tweets from your profile or otherwise make use of your information in ways that you might not want for your company account. You can check what apps are connected to your profile under the Apps tab, and revoke access to any app at any time.

    The Widgets tab enables you to create a feed of tweets and post it to your website.

Setting Up Your Lists

Once your page is set up, you can begin following other people and brands. The tweets of everyone you follow will appear in your home feed.

“Wait a minute,” You might ask, “Once I follow a lot of people, how will I get any valuable information from all that noise?”

This is where Twitter Lists come in.

Go to your own profile page by clicking “Me” in the top menu, and choose the Lists tab from the sidebar. You can set up as many lists as you want to organize people however you like, and then click on each one to view only the tweets from people in that list. Aside from the obvious benefit of organizing your Twitter feed, there are two other things that make lists extremely valuable:

First, you can make them private. This means you can create a list of customers or prospects without airing it to your competitors, or create a news feed without giving up all of your sources. Public lists are a great resource for your followers, since you can direct them to other Twitter profiles that are relevant for them, but private lists allow you to use Twitter for intelligence gathering.

The other great thing about lists is that you can add people who you don’t follow. This means you can keep an eye on your competitors without giving them the benefit of adding them to your account.

You can also use this feature to receive the tweets of a lot more people than you are following while you build up your own followers. As a rule of thumb, the number of people you follow shouldn’t exceed 20% more than the number of people who follow you. This is because an account that follows a lot of people without having many followers tends to look like a spammer. As more and more people follow you, you can increase the number of people you follow.

Promoting Your Company on Twitter

Once you’ve created your profile and built out your lists, it’s time to begin engaging with people and promoting your brand. The following are some tips, guidelines, and general rules of etiquette to maximize the effectiveness of Twitter for your business.

  1. Listening

    You’ve set up your lists, which will let you sort tweets by customers, prospects, industry connections, and other people of interest, but there are several other ways you can search for tweets around particular topics and create conversations around them:

    • Use the search bar in the top right to look for tweets that contain particular words, phrases, or user handles. You can search for your product, company, or industry terms to find tweets that you may be able to answer.
    • Hashtags are words within a tweet preceded by a # symbol. Every hashtag becomes a link, and when clicked it will return a list of recent tweets that include that hashtag. This is useful if you want to find other tweets about a topic, or you can include hashtags in your tweets to join the conversation. Just make sure that your hashtags are specific and relevant to what you have to say.
    • In the lower left corner of Twitter, the Trending window lets you know what phrases and hashtags are the most talked about right now. You can set your trends by location to see what is most popular in your area, or choose tailored trends to see what’s being talked about that is relevant to your location and who you follow.
    • Click on a trend to see current tweets about it, or include one in your tweets to join the conversation. As with hashtags, you only want to include these if they are relevant to what you’re saying.
    • Click “Discover” in the top left to see the recent tweets and actions of the people you follow, suggestions of who to follow based on your activity, and find people based on your friends or categories.
  2. Sharing

    Twitter is all about sharing information and engaging with others, so it’s a great place to promote content you’ve produced or material from others that expresses your brand or that your customers might find useful.

    • Tweet links to your blog posts, reports, webinars, videos, and other materials you’ve produced to educate and engage your target market. It’s a great way to promote your content to people who may otherwise never have found it, and it helps drive links to your website.
    • Retweet others’ tweets or post links to blogs, news articles, and other online information your customers might find helpful. Include the source’s Twitter handle to give them credit and maybe start a conversation with them.
    • Share links to stories and news that help reflect your brand personality. For example, if you’re a tech company you could post about tech news and new gadgets, even if they aren’t related to your company. This content will be interesting to your target market and demonstrates that you’re up-to-date with what’s going on in the tech world.

    When tweeting links, it’s a good idea to use a link shortener like bit.ly or ow.ly to reduce the number of characters your link takes up. You only get 140, so make all of them count!

    In fact, it’s best to only use 120 characters in your tweet if you can, so that others can retweet them and include your handle.

  3. Promotion

    It’s tempting to talk a lot about your products and services on Twitter, but as a rule you want to keep your promotional tweets to a minimum. Nobody wants to watch a TV channel that only airs ads, and no one will follow you on Twitter if you only talk about yourself.

    The 80/20 rule is often applied here, meaning that 80% of your tweets should be useful content, news, retweets, and conversations and no more than 20% should promote your products and services.

  4. Insights

    Click “Connect” in the top left to see who has followed you, retweeted, or favourited one of your tweets. These are the people who are interacting with your brand, so return the favour by sharing their tweets or commenting on what they post.

    While Twitter doesn’t offer in-site analytics, you can sign up for a social media management tool such as Hootsuite or Sprout Social which offer analytics reporting on your Twitter and other social media profiles.

    Twitter lets you reach out and engage with millions of people, and it’s increasingly popular for B2B communications. It’s a great source of industry, competitor, and prospect information as well as a way to stay involved with your customers and network. So, create your profile today and use it to promote your content, engage with customers and prospects, and start conversations around your brand.

    Next week’s post will discuss how to use Facebook for B2B marketing and relationship building. If you have a question or want to provide feedback, feel free to contact us or leave your questions in the comments.