Although still deemed as “fluffy” by many B2B marketers in the electronics industry, social media marketing is an essential activity.

Aside from contributing to your search engine optimisation efforts, it is often used as a tool for keeping up-to-date with the latest news, and has the potential for distributing your messages far beyond the limits imposed by email marketing.

This post is designed as a checklist to ensure your Tweets maximise their reach and engagement with your followers, as well as those outside your direct connections.

Best practice for Twitter - a B2B perspectiveHow to increase your Twitter followers

It’s obvious. The more followers you have, the more chance that your message will be seen, engaged with, and potentially reach others that aren’t directly following you.

Many social marketers simply follow as many people as possible, with the hope of gaining a return follow, and unfollow those who don’t reciprocate.

A follower strategy enables you to target relevant followers and can be achieved in a number of ways:

  1. Analyse competitor(s) followers (using Followerwonk or a similar tool), and follow those that may be relevant to your business.
  2. Encourage organic growth by including “follow” buttons prominently on your website and email communications; include Twitter ID in employee’s email signatures.
  3. Upload mailing lists (containing email addresses) to see if customers / prospects / suppliers / partners are already on Twitter.
  4. Undertake bio searches, targeting keywords and filter by geographic location (if appropriate). Tweetadder contains various search tools to help pinpoint potential followers.
  5. Promoted Tweets can be used to target both current and potential followers by keywords in timeline, interest, geography and device. Promoted Tweets in timelines that asked for a follow increased follows by an average of 258%. Follows increased by an average of 86% when the same call to action was included in Promoted Tweets in search.*

What are the best timing and frequency of Tweets

Timing is everything. This isn’t email where your posted content sits in the recipients inbox waiting to be actioned as and when time permits. You need to time your activity to coincide with the time when your followers are ready to digest it.

  1. There are numerous tools for Twitter to help analyse the times of day when your followers are most active – Tweriod and Followerwonk are two I’ve used and recommend.
  2. If you have geographically diverse followers, and Tweet regularly, consider posting the same Tweets at different times of the day to match your followers time zones.
  3. After you’ve run your analyses and determined the times that are most likely to get the most engagement, run tests. Firstly, try to schedule posts for that time, then for additional live engagement, go on and respond/ retweet during those times.
  4. Twitter recommends tweeting 3-5 times per day for business. This is obviously a guideline, and you need to take into account things like your audience and your intent with each tweet. However, it is a delicate balance – too many tweets per day and your company will bombard user newsfeeds to the point that people will unfollow you. Not enough tweets and you will get lost in a growing sea of companies trying to influence users through Twitter.
  5. Many studies have determined Tweets during “busy hours” (8 a.m.-7 p.m.) receive 30 percent higher engagement than Tweets posted at other times, but test what works for you.

How to increase the reach of your Tweets

Hashtags and mentions can help increase the potential reach of your post: hashtags are helpful for organic searches and can be treated as a form of SEO – yes, Twitter is also a search engine; mentions are useful to appealing to the sycophantic nature of social media. Social media participants like recognition. By massaging their ego, you will be more likely to gain their brand advocacy.

  1. Research, identify and use appropriate hashtags within your posts allows you to tap into a wider conversation. Properly tagging your content helps it be discovered by users searching for information around a given topic.
  2. Use a maximum of two hashtags per tweet. Hashtags are a useful way to get your tweet out to people who are actually interested in its main subject, but too many hashtags in a single post can be overwhelming.
  3. When referencing other companies in your Tweets, be sure to use @mentions to encourage them to re-tweet your content – as this will be seen by their followers.
  4. “Promoted Tweets” (a form of paid-for advertising) can be used to target both current and potential followers by keywords in timeline, interest, geography and device.
  5. Leverage your employees. Many will have followers related to your industry. Asking them to become brand advocates is an easy way of expanding your corporate reach.

How to increase engagement with your followers

Engagement is easier if you’re using Twitter as a customer service tool, but if you’re using it other purposes – thought leadership, brand development, and / or lead generation, it becomes more difficult.

  1. Providing a psychological reward is key to establishing and maintaining social relationships. Good behavior should be rewarded by re-tweeting, favourite their Tweet, and/or responding directly. Use monitoring tools to be alerted when your brand is mentioned and respond promptly.
  2. Identify key targets – those with a higher social authority / influence – and segment into lists. Monitor Tweets from these lists and prioritise interactions with these accounts.
  3. Favorite a key target’s Tweet and they’ll be notified and gratified. Use @mentions to encourage them to re-tweet your content – this will be seen by their followers.
  4. Tweets that explicitly ask people to download accompanied by a link increase URL clicks by an average of 13%. Tweets in search that feature this call to action also increase clicks by an average of 11%.*
  5. Use photos and videos. According to research by Search Engine Watch, a linked photo results in 120 percent increase in engagement and 350 percent increase in clicks for a tweet. It is preferable to direct upload photos although this can be difficult because it means you can’t preschedule your photo tweets (e.g. when using tool like Hootsuite) as these photos are not going to show up on your profile.

How to improve the quality of Tweets

An unrelenting torrent of Tweets that link to your latest press release is unlikely to inspire and engage with even your most ardent fans. Providing consistent and frequently updated content is key, and by providing a variety of content from numerous sources keeps your Tweets interesting, and also positions your company as a thought leader in your industry.

  1. Use a mixture of curation and creation to generate enough content to Tweet several times per day.
  2. A 10-4-1 ratio is a general guideline to providing content. For every 10 Tweets with links to third-party articles, Tweet four times with company updates or blog posts, and one link to a target landing page.
  3. Search for industry relevant news stories and use tools such as BufferApp to automate sharing of industry relevant news at appropriate times for your followers
  4. Re-tweeting others is a best practice in terms of relationship-building on Twitter. If you re-tweet others, they are likely to return the favour in the future. This grants you exposure to their network, as your tweet will appear in their newsfeed.
  5. Keep your tweets between 120 and 130 characters.  While tweets can be up to 140 characters long, keep them slightly shorter so that people can retweet and add a comment.

*Source: Twitter blog post (Tweet tips: Most effective calls to action on Twitter)