As one of the largest social media platforms in the world, Twitter is brimming with marketing opportunities. And memes. And the kind of internet arguing that can only take place in 187 threaded tweets. But mostly marketing opportunities. OK, yeah, it’s mostly memes.
Anyway, those deep waters can seem intimidating at first glance. With posts limited to bite-size chunks of 280 characters or fewer, marketers must find a way to balance relevancy with brevity and connect with users in just a few short sentences if they want to stay afloat.
With creative strategies and hard data on your side—and, let’s be honest, a few well-placed memes—you can clear up the Twitter marketing confusion and transform the platform into one of your best marketing tools.
How Effective Is Twitter Marketing, Really?
In the same quarter, 134 million monetizable active users (users who can see ads), or nearly the equivalent of Russia’s population, logged onto Twitter every single day.
For marketers, those statistics represent a wealth of promise. With millions of users interacting with the platform on a regular basis, Twitter marketing opportunities are nothing if not abundant. This applies not only to US-based marketers, but to international ones too—about half of Twitter’s revenue comes from users based outside the US.
Most importantly, effective marketing on Twitter gets measurable results. In 2016, 40 percent of Twitter users reported making a purchase after seeing a related ad on Twitter.
If one of your primary goals is to gain exposure and attract new customers, you’ll also be glad to know Twitter users are all about finding what’s fresh. Twitter is the number one platform for discovery. Of Twitter’s user base:
- 79 percent of people enjoy discovering what’s new;
- 53 percent are more likely to be early adopters of new products; and
- 26 percent spend more time viewing ads than users of other top social media sites.
Users won’t be wooed by just any type of brand, though. Brands are more likely to influence Twitter users’ purchase decisions if they:
- offer moderately priced products with some premium benefits;
- have a good reputation;
- are well-rated;
- are authentic; and
- are involved in social issues and movements.
Composing tweets that resonate with users is easier said than done, though. What can you do to genuinely connect with your Twitter audience?
Craft a Twitter Personality
No matter your organization, you have a target audience defined by a shared set of needs, wants, demographics and more.
This audience is your North Star in the uncertain seas of Twitter marketing (and all types of marketing, really): Your brand’s Twitter personality should be crafted to appeal to your audience, as should every tweet you publish.
Keep in mind that while they shouldn’t be polar opposites, your Twitter personality doesn’t need to exactly match your organization’s overall personality. Take the Denny’s Twitter account for example: While the brand’s general personality is friendly and casual, its Twitter personality amps things up with some seriously hilarious (and sometimes bizarre) tweets.
Its tweets are designed to resonate with a target audience of millennials and members of Gen Z, and have proven to be wildly effective:
Of course, this doesn’t mean your brand’s Twitter personality needs to be silly and full of memes, too—the best approach for you will ultimately depend on the preferences of your audience.
For example, an audience made up of urban professionals between the ages of 18 and 30 might respond best to a funny, hip and easygoing personality. On the other hand, an audience composed of suburban parents between the ages of 30 and 45 might favor an approachable, knowledgeable and compassionate personality.
Unsure how to start shaping your brand’s Twitter personality? Create audience personas to help guide your decision.
Capitalize on Trends
Since Twitter users are exceptionally focused on the new and now, you stand to benefit from participating in the platform’s endlessly rotating cycle of trends. In fact, 38 percent of users rate brands’ involvement with events and trends as important or very important.
Fortunately, Twitter makes it easier than nearly every other platform to see exactly what people are talking about at any given moment. Right on the Twitter homepage, you’ll see the “trends for you” section in the right-hand sidebar.
Twitter uses an algorithm to determine what to include in this section, which “identifies topics that are popular now rather than topics that have been popular for a while or on a daily basis,” and by default, selects topics “tailored for you based on who you follow, your interests, and your location.”
By clicking the gear icon in the upper right corner of the section, you’ll be able to toggle personalization and location-based trends on or off. If you’re outside the US or marketing to non-US residents, you can also change the location you wish to see trends for:
To view a more extensive list of trends, click the Explore tab in the left hand navigation menu:
There, you’ll have the option to look at trends categorized by topics like fun, entertainment, news and more.
If you see a trending topic with strong tie-in potential for your brand, don’t hesitate to jump on it. Short on inspiration? One of the easiest ways to start participating in Twitter trends is by using hashtags for holidays.
You’re not limited to major holidays, either—refer to a site like National Today to see a slew of upcoming holidays, from the obscure to the famous. It’s not uncommon to see the hashtags for such holidays reach Twitter’s trending page, which is why many brands join in. Take Burger King’s International Tea Day tweet, which celebrated with a riff on the slang phrase spilling tea:
One of the biggest advantages of participating in Twitter trends is the ability to get tweets in front of potential customers who are totally new to your brand.
Get with the Times
Just as tweeting about trending topics can help engage users, so too can tweeting about current events people care about. Even if they’re not present on the trending page, timely topics show your audience you know what’s going on in the world and have something unique to contribute.
One tweet from Adobe shows how it’s done. In the midst of the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, the software company linked to an article in which creative professionals explained how they collaborate on projects while working from home:
Similarly, the Vogue Twitter account took a break from its usual coverage of celebrities and luxury fashion to show readers how to pull off DIY haircuts during quarantine:
Creating relevant tweets can help you avoid losing followers too. Roughly 45 percent of consumers will unfollow brands that post irrelevant content on social media.
While you can get a good sense of which current events people are talking about by browsing your own social media feeds, it may also be helpful to check the top news stories from various authoritative outlets:
You can also get news stories personalized to match specific areas of interest by using apps such as:
Get Involved in Social Movements
Think this sounds risky? We don’t blame you. More than a few major brands have made a widely publicized faux pas or two. One of the most infamous missteps occurred in 2014 when DiGiornio inadvertently used a hashtag about a very sensitive subject to market its frozen pizzas.
The fact remains, though, that Twitter users want brands to speak up for the causes they care about. Users think brands can become more culturally relevant by:
- giving back to the community (58 percent);
- supporting social issues that benefit everyone (47 percent); and
- donating to charity (44 percent).
So as long as you avoid any particularly controversial topics (and learn from DiGiorno’s mistake by always checking what a hashtag is about before using it), incorporating social movements into your Twitter marketing strategy can help users view your brand as one worth supporting.
Skin care brand Olay demonstrated just how impactful brands’ charitable efforts can be with the February 2020 launch of their “Make Space For Women” marketing campaign, weeks after the first all-woman spacewalk.
Olay’s charitable donations were the centerpiece of its campaign, which debuted with a star-studded Super Bowl commercial. For every tweet and retweet using the hashtag #MakeSpaceForWomen, the company pledged to donate $1 to Girls Who Code, a nonprofit supporting girls and women in computer science.
The campaign was a resounding success, with one of Olay’s tweets on the topic boasting approximately 13,000 retweets at the time of this writing:
While few brands have the resources to launch a charitable hashtag campaign with a Super Bowl ad, all brands can benefit from supporting good causes everyone can get behind.
Social media has made brands and their representatives more accessible to the public than ever before. While the consumers of decades past could only get in touch with brands via phone, handwritten letter and eventually, email, today’s consumers need only type out a quick comment on their social platform of choice.
This new standard has caused consumers’ expectations of brand responsiveness to skyrocket. In a 2018 survey, market insight data firm Clutch found 76 percent of people expect companies to respond to social media comments, and 83 percent think that response should come in a day or less.
Your Twitter responses don’t always have to be serious, though. The Wendy’s Twitter account is a prime example. The brand’s tweets are beloved for their comedic and lighthearted nature, and its responses to users are no different:
Other brands like Salesforce take a more traditional (but no less effective) approach to responsive marketing on Twitter:
Of course, no brand could be expected to respond to every tweet thrown their way. What matters is taking the time to reply to users on a regular basis, whether it’s to say thanks, offer advice or crack a joke.
But what if a user doesn’t want to engage in a casual conversation, and instead uses Twitter to make a complaint or bring up a customer service issue? Don’t worry, such a situation is just another opportunity for your brand to stand out.
Users who receive customer service via tweet are willing to spend up to 20 percent more on an average-priced item from that business in the future. The faster the reply, the more users are willing to spend.
By the same token, poor customer service is a major driving force behind users’ decisions to unfollow brands. An astounding 49 percent of users unfollow brands on social media because of subpar customer service, and 69 percent of people who sent negative tweets say they feel more favorable when a business replies to their concern.
To ensure users’ customer service experiences go smoothly, you might want to enable some of Twitter’s built-in customer service features.
Other than that, all you need to do to build customer loyalty and better connect with your audience is sit back, relax and start chatting.
Involve Your Audience
People love to participate, and it’s not hard to see why. We’re social by nature, and we love to feel like our voice is making a difference, no matter how small.
To that end, your brand could benefit from inviting audience participation. This can be as simple as using Twitter polls, which allow users to vote for their preferred option with one tap.
On the National Football League’s draft day, Hot Pockets used the feature to pool its followers about their favorite Hot Pockets flavor:
Other companies encourage users to create their own content with a custom hashtag, boosting brand exposure in the process. Target’s #TargetPets hashtag is a perfect example:
Or, you can offer followers a personalized response based on their input like Netflix did:
No matter which approach you take, your followers are sure to enjoy the chance to make themselves heard and connect with your brand on a more personal level.
Embrace Hashtags (Within Reason)
But hashtag overuse is real. Twitter recommends using one or two hashtags per tweet, and independent studies reinforce their advice.
TrackMaven’s 2016 report The Best Hashtag Strategies for Social Media found tweets with just one hashtag get the highest engagement, earning an average of 90 interactions each. Tweets with two hashtags come in second, with an average of 80 interactions per tweet:
So choose your hashtags wisely. Remember, you’re creating tweets for humans, not bots, so the most popular hashtags may not be the best choices for you.
Instead, focus on the hashtags most relevant to—and frequently used by—your target audience. If you run a digital marketing agency, for example, you could use the hashtag #MarketingTips when posting, well, marketing tips. Using that hashtag on a tweet without including a tip, however, would be counterproductive.
Or, you can create your own hashtag and launch a Twitter marketing campaign around it like Olay did with their “Make Space For Women” campaign. Just remember to keep Twitter’s 280-character limit in mind when creating your tag.
A custom hashtag can be particularly useful for events too. Whether you’re hosting an event or attending one, using the official hashtag will make it easy for attendees to see and interact with your tweets.
Get on the Video Bandwagon
If you think tweets are all about text, we’ve got some news for you: Video is big (like, really big) on Twitter, and you can use it to get a huge boost in engagement and brand recognition.
Tweets with video get 10 times more engagements than those without. Video tweets are especially popular on mobile, with 93 percent of video views coming from mobile users.
If you want to start shooting videos for your tweets, there’s no need to whip out your wallet just yet. Plenty of brands have found success with low-budget videos, typically created for a younger mobile audience. Steak-umm gets consistent engagement by tweeting its TikTok videos, many of which are filmed by employees at home:
— Steak-umm (@steak_umm) April 6, 2020
If you do choose to invest in video content for your Twitter marketing strategy, you might take inspiration from brands like IPSY, which uses videos filmed by influencers to showcase its products:
We could watch this video 100 times for @camilacoelho’s killer liquid liner skills alone. What #beautychallenge do you currently face? @farahbrushes @benefitcosmetics @ciatelondon @tartecosmetics @etatlibreorange
|| #IPSY #IPSYGetThatGlow pic.twitter.com/51Tt6RGv4e
— IPSY (@IPSY) May 23, 2020
Or, if you’ve got the resources to spare, you can really go the extra mile and create professionally produced videos like Airbnb:
From a boot, to a wagon, to a Russet potato, join the community of people who have reimagined what a house can be.
— Airbnb (@Airbnb) March 10, 2020
Want to boost the reach and engagement rates of your videos even more? You can promote your tweets with Twitter Ads, and Twitter thinks you’ll probably be happy with the results:
- Promoted tweets with video save more than 50 percent on cost-per-engagement than their all-text counterparts.
- Video Website Cards deliver double the click-through rate of standard mobile video ad benchmarks.
- Video Website Cards increase user retention by more than 60 percent.
Whether your Twitter videos are shot with a smartphone in your living room or by a camera operator in a studio, they’ll have the potential to generate more engagement and exposure for your brand.
And even if you can’t or don’t want to create original videos, you can still benefit from users’ love of visual content by using GIFs. Tweets with GIFs receive 55 percent more engagement than those without.
Schedule Your Tweets
So you’re staying up-to-date on trends and news, responding to your followers, providing high-quality customer service, finding the perfect hashtags and creating visual content. Whew! Who knew that juggling class at clown school could be applied to a Twitter marketing strategy?
To relieve day-to-day pressure and keep things organized, schedule your tweets in advance. This will have the added benefit of giving you more time to connect with users on an individual basis rather than constantly trying to think of what to tweet about next.
Twitter supports native tweet scheduling for all users as of May 2020, making it easier than ever before to set up posts ahead of time.
— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) May 28, 2020
If you have Twitter Ads set up, you can schedule and manage tweets from there too. With Twitter Ads, you’ll have the added ability of being able to choose whether you want your scheduled tweet to be organic or Promoted-only.
Alternatively, you can use a social media management tool to schedule tweets (and all your other social media posts) from one central location. Some widely used options include:
Take to Twitter like a Duck to Water
Effective marketing on Twitter is a long-term habit, not a one-time chore. Once you get in the swing of things, though, it’ll become second nature.
With the right strategies and tools, you can learn how to engage with followers, create relevant and timely content, adopt a unique brand personality, and deliver high-quality customer service, 280 characters at a time.
Screenshots by author / May 2020