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Ecommerce | Social media

Top Tips for Twitter Triumphs

image: twitter bird logo
Not all tweets are alike; those that adhere to this advice are more profitable

When promoting your business via social media, you may be giving Twitter short shrift. After all, Instagram and Facebook are flashier and considered more "fun." But according to Twitter's Customer Insights 2016 report, nearly two-thirds of the 5,450 people surveyed said they'd discovered a new small or midsize business (SMB) on Twitter. Even more impressive, nearly 69% made at least one purchase from an SMB thanks to Twitter.


Of course, simply tweeting "Buy our fabulous products" every day is not going to win you many followers, customers, or sales. But these tips should:



Follow the 4-1-1 Rule or the 70-20-10 Rule. These rules apply to social media in general to ensure that you vary the type of content you share. You don't want all, or even most, of your tweets to be hard sells. Marketing agency SkyWest Media defines the 4-1-1 Rule as running four content-related posts and one soft promotion such as news about a store opening or an upcoming event for every hard-sell promotion with a call-to-action. Similarly, with the 70-20-10 Rule, 70% of posts should be "focused on adding value to the community," 20% should share content from other parties, and only 10% should be blatantly sales-focused.


Of course you don't have to hew strictly to either formula. The point is to make sure you don't appear to be using Twitter (or any other social platform) solely as a self-promotional tool but rather as a means of engaging with your audience. And speaking of engaging...



Interact with and respond to your audience. Perhaps you read about the Tesco customer who, when using the loo in his local store, found there was no toilet tissue, so he tweeted to Tesco regarding his dilemma. One minute later a Tesco employee monitoring Twitter responded, found out which store the customer was in, and had an employee deliver a loo roll. If you're not a huge corporation like Tesco you probably aren't constantly monitoring your social media channels (then again, you probably don't often have customers in similar situations either). But you should check your feed and search for your brand on Twitter several times a day to see if customers have questions or complaints, and then you should respond—nicely and helpfully, of course. Twitter is not the place to be defensive or snarky.


Many consumers use Twitter as a de facto customer service channel. You should have in place a few scripted responses for complaints about products or deliveries that direct the unhappy customer to a service agent—for instance, "We're sorry you're unhappy. Have you reached out to customer service at [phone number] or [email address]? I'm sure they'll help!" Then give customer service a head's up.


A happier sort of interaction is when someone compliments your company. Here you'll want to not only respond but also to retweet...



Retweet when appropriate. What's appropriate? A thank-you from a satisfied customer. A flattering write-up in a magazine or on a blog. An article relevant to your audience—if you sell skincare products, an article about the advantages of clay in facial masks might apply. Retweets like these satisfy your brand's need for content-related and soft-sell posts to complement your promotional posts. And in the case of retweeting customers, it shows that you are listening to and appreciate them.


When retweeting, add a comment to humanize your brand and provide context. If a customer tweets "Love my new lamp from Your Store," you could add something along the lines of "We're so glad to hear it! Why not show us how you're using it?" If you're retweeting an informational article, such as the one about clay masks above, try something like "We knew clay masks work, but it's great to have proof."



Add images when possible and appropriate. And if you have relevant videos, even better. Tweets with images are far more likely to be retweeted, or used on other social media such as Pinterest, for that matter.



Develop and use hashtags—wisely. If #NationalSugarCookieDay is trending and one of your colleagues brought in a big batch of sugar cookies, go ahead and take a picture of your team digging in and add a comment such as "Keeping our staff sweet on #NationalSugarCookieDay," so long as it's not distracting to your brand. (If you sell, say, medical devices, this may not be appropriate.) Also, in its white paper "Choosing the Right Social Media Platforms: Twitter," marketing automation solutions provider Marketo suggests that you "develop hashtags and use them to help promote and track social campaigns [and] events and connect with prospects and customers."


Two caveats: While Marketo cites research that shows tweets with hashtags receives receive twice as much engagement as those without them, it also notes that "tweets with more than two hashtags showed a 17% drop in engagement."


A greater potential danger is inadvertently using a hashtag—either an existing one or one that you've created—that means something far different to what you think it means. One example was when frozen-pizza brand DiGiorno tweeted "#WhyIStayed You had pizza" to jump onto the trending "WhyIStayed" bandwagon. However, the hashtag actually referred to domestic violence and was being used by people who were explaining why they stayed in abusive relationships. More recently, women's apparel brand Dorothy Perkins created the hashtag #LoveDP —but "DP" is known by many as slang for a particular sex act.



Add links to your comments and comments to your links. Another stat cited by Marketo: Tweets with links are 86% more likely to be retweeted. But posting a link, whether to a sale you're running or to a blog post about a product you sell, will be far more effective if you add some context. Instead of posting the link "" and a screen grab of your advert touting half-price air-conditioners, introduce the link with a brief comment in keeping with your brand voice—say, "It's easier than ever to stay cool with our air-conditioner sale: Save 50%" followed by the link and the image.



Remember that shorter is usually better. Just because Twitter now allows you 280 characters per tweet doesn't mean you should aim to max out on length. For one thing, tweets with fewer than 100 characters receive 17% greater engagement than longer ones, according to Marketo. For another, shorter tweets leave room for people to add their own comments when retweeting—and the more retweets you receive, the greater your exposure.


author: Zilan Yuan

Zilan Yuan

Zilan Yuan is a freelance writer specializing in marketing and design and editorial assistant of Your Commerce.


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