The problem with Twitter is finding ways to cut through the noise. One study a few years ago classified more than 40 percent of tweets as “pointless babble.” To avoid becoming part of the background noise, tech marketers should focus on providing useful information, labeling it appropriately, and making it easy to share. Here are five tips to improve the content you share via Twitter:
Paradoxically, one of the reasons Twitter drives so many clicks is because of its 140-character limit. You can’t say much in a tweet, so people need to click on a link to find out more. That means you must make your tweets provocative, but not mysterious. Look for conflict, humor, and human interest. Compose your tweets in a way that sparks curiosity.
Guy Kawasaki writes nearly perfect tweets, such as, “17 food facts that will change your world” and “Siri, what does the fox say? 15 secret Siri commands .” These posts tell you exactly what you’re going to get when you follow the link, but they are just cryptic enough to make you want to learn more. He also makes generous use of labels such as [infographic] and “video:” so readers know exactly what they’re in for.
Avoid tweets like, “You just have to look at this!” No one has time for guessing games, and half the people will think you’re on a phishing expedition, anyway.
CME Group (formerly the Chicago Mercantile Exchange) has more than 750,000 Twitter followers because it envisions a higher purpose for its Twitter presence as a newsfeed. CME Group, which provides valuable information about the commodities business, doesn’t care where the information originates. In this way, it acts like a media company.
You can do that, too. If you discard the “not invented here” mentality and position yourself as an advocate for your customers’ success, you will earn both trust and loyalty. Follow the 9:1 rule: 90 percent of your tweets should contain useful advice that helps your target audience succeed, regardless of where that information resides. The other 10 percent can be promotions—people will easily tolerate a plug for your company when the rest of the feed is so useful.
Hashtags are valuable because they get your social media content in front of people who aren’t necessarily following you. Choose tags that will get you the most targeted audience possible and minimize wasted time. The #cloud hashtag has a huge following, but it’s a mix of many technology topics along with meteorological discussions. #CloudComputing has one-fifth of the activity, but you’re a lot more likely to find IT professionals using it.
Try following some hashtags that are relevant to your industry for a few days to get a sense of who is using them. Use up to three per tweet, but no more than that. Hashtags.org can show you relative activity for various hashtags.
You will be tempted to use all the space Twitter allows you, and sometimes, you will need it. However, stopping 30 characters short of the limit makes it easier for others to retweet you and add their own comments. It also makes your tweets easier to read in general. Take a page from Kawasaki and make your message short, clear, and linked to further information.
Even if your content isn’t that unique, your voice can be.
“Hyperlinks are blue because it was the darkest color available that didn’t blend with black text. #DidYouKnow pic.twitter.com/6Qb8UhxCDc.”
That’s a tweet from Intel. The tech giant keeps its 2.86 million followers guessing with an offbeat mix of gee-whiz tech, fascinating facts, and humor like “Don’t drop an old computer tower on your foot, it megahertz. #NerdPun.” Groan!
You don’t have to be funny to be distinctive. General Electric focuses its tweets on innovations in its core markets of infrastructure equipment, health care, and gigantic machines. It also uses a lot of photos from its archives. Econsultancy delivers a rat-a-tat of dozens of quick-hit facts, advice, and news related to its public relations audience every day.
All of these companies have fun sharing information they know their audience will find interesting and amusing. And when you think about it, why would you want to keep such information to yourself?