Almost anyone these days can throw together 140 characters and call it a tweet. But to use Twitter for maximum business impact there are many tried and true content sources ready to be used.
In this post I’ll introduce practical ways to use good content for your tweets, everything from A to Z.
Think about the questions your customers and prospects asked you this past week. Or maybe there are the repeat questions you’ve already answered on the FAQ page of your website.
To get started, create a list of questions, and answer them in your tweets one by one—paying particular attention to the most relevant at this time. For example, focus on seasonal questions, current rates and discounts, promotions and sales or commonly asked how-to’s in your business and industry. Save the list and add to it as you go along. What you don’t use this week may make even more sense a few weeks from now.
#2: Behind the Scenes
Anne Handley refers to this type of content sharing as the “insider’s view of your company,” where you have the opportunity to share updates about the projects and work you’re currently involved in. You can also use behind the scenes as an opportunity to welcome a new client or feature any other newsy development. Give readers or followers an inside look at your company.
#3: Case Studies
Dust off those case studies and offer them via your tweets for immediate download. Another option is to repurpose the material by pulling out 140-character messages that will wow your Twitter followers.
#4: Daily Deals
Use tweets to announce a daily deal you’re offering or one you’ve signed on with Groupon (or another daily deal site) by pushing out a message to gain optimal attention (e.g., “Today $6 general admission ticket to Museum of Science and Nature—up to a $12 value.”)
When you’re hosting or attending an event, you can send out a tweet to let followers know about it. Perhaps your company has a booth, so you might send out multiple tweets during the event to let know conference attendees where they can find you.
These types of tweets are the one-liner statistics that impact your industry or are current events and newsworthy for a variety of reasons. They demonstrate your company’s commitments and interests, and add personality to your business.
Customers may be new to Twitter, blogs and social networking sites. You can use your tweets as a way to educate them about the process and integrate your blog posts with your Twitter messages. Tweets themselves can be teaching tools about social media marketing.
Hashtags consist of using the # symbol followed by subject words; e.g., #followfriday. They help organize information and make tweets more searchable. They’re commonly used at conferences and live events. You can search hashtags to see what people are talking about. It’s also useful to do an advanced search on Twitter using hashtags as one of the search operators.
Twitter messages don’t need to be confined to single 140-character messages. An interesting way to use tweets is in conversations via Twitter interviews. Cindy King’s informative post offers 7 Steps to Successful Twitter Interviews.
#10: Joint Venture
Good Twitter content consists of certain netiquette—giving credit where credit is due by retweeting, or by using other mechanisms such as the word “via”— indicating that you came across the information somewhere else and are now writing about it, too. Twitter is naturally viral and as long as you “pay it forward” and think of Twitter as a joint venture, your tweets will become an important component of your social media strategy where you won’t simply be pushing out messages, you’ll be conversing with others and building your social network.
Web content (and print content for that matter) has always been about the use of keywords. Twitter is no exception. Good Twitter content makes use of relevant words and messages. Make a list of keywords that best describe your business and industry. Use these words as you compose your 140-character posts. Think quality over quantity. Make every character and tweet count!
#12: Live Events
Tweeting about live events fits Twitter like a glove. The immediacy of getting out messages about start times is particularly useful in the business world, especially when you’re at an in-person conference or hosting a live webinar. Sending out follow-up tweets about an event is also a great way for webinar hosts to answer questions that may not have been fully addressed during the event.
In a recent post, 5 Ways to Get the Support of Social Media Influencers, Sam Rosen discusses the importance of memetic content. He writes, “No Fear is a meme. The Red Bull Flugtag is a meme. It’s something that people can identify with, make their own and share with others.” Think of the possibilities of short memetic-type tweets. If you have a tagline that speaks to people and gets your company and brand noticed, you can further expand its reach by including it in a series of tweets.
The point being that tweets can have a theme to them. You can extract messages from larger bodies of work and group them together in an ongoing series.
Twitter has been instrumental in helping break important stories about local and global events. As Greg Sandoval writes on CNET news, “One-quarter of all Twitter posts include a link to another piece of content, such as a news story or video. Twitter has 190 million unique monthly visitors, so that’s a lot of content zooming across the platform.”
Want to announce important company and industry news? There’s great potential for getting the message out there on such a large platform and you can do it very simply and cost-effectively by pressing the “Tweet” button.
Using opinions in tweets is a good way to make it possible for your customers and followers to get to know more about you and your company. Opinion tweets can be seen as brief editorials. For example, if your product is environmentally friendly, you can create green-oriented posts that reflect issues beyond your product. It’s important to convey the image you want to be known for.
As the saying goes, "Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words," or in this case, sometimes a picture is worth 140 characters!
Let’s face it, there are times when a photo is more effective. One industry that uses photos a lot is real estate. How nice it would be for people looking at homes not only to hear about an open house happening in their neighborhood but also to see a photo of the property?
Josh Catone describes five ways to share images on Twitter:
1. Twitter image sharing services
2. SMS or email
3. Brightkite or FriendFeed
5. Encoded Tweets.
Business tweets can also be inspirational. They can motivate and influence thinking by using some of your favorite quotes.
* There are websites that categorize famous quotes by topic, and by Googling “quotes,” you’ll find thousands of sites to choose from.
* You can also use a quote from a book or magazine article you’ve been reading.
When planning your tweet, leave extra room for characters so you can be sure to give credit to the source.
To keep up with the flurry of information on a given topic, you may find it helpful to use a variety of tools to manage the influx of tweets. For example, on TweetDeck you can have a number of columns open to follow groups of people, see direct messages sent to you via Twitter, and organize by topic. That way you can stay ahead of the game and compose the most real-time tweets possible.
#19: Share Links
Many blogs and online news services offer integration with your Twitter account so you can share the link of the article with your followers as you read it. This is one of my favorite uses of Twitter. On the occasions when you come across a link you’d like to share and there isn’t a Twitter share widget already integrated for you on the web page, you can copy and paste the URL into a number of URL shorteners such as bit.ly or tinyurl, and add a few words about why you’re tweeting out the link.
Got a product-related tip? A useful tidbit of information you’d like to share with your customers and followers? People are often looking for quick and easy solutions to manage their time and be more productive. Why not share some of your useful tips with them?
#21: Updates and Announcements
Updates and announcements from your business can be categorized as good to know, better to know and need to know. The Red Cross, for example, uses Twitter to broadcast important messages about emergencies and relief efforts.
When in doubt about what to microblog, think about what will add value to your audience today. What makes you the go-to company or service provider for your customers? Value tweets will remind them of why you’re an invaluable resource.
#23: White Papers
Ah, white papers. A list of content ideas for Twitter would not be complete without mention of white papers. Michael Stelzner, Social Media Examiner’s founder, is the author of Writing White Papers. White papers provide value to your readers and linking to them is an excellent cost-effective promotion tool. Why not get the word out on a frequent basis about your white paper offerings? Twitter makes it possible.
#24: Christmas Gift Ideas
If you’re a B2C business, you can use Twitter to give customers ideas about Christmas gifts and keep your products before their eyes through the holiday shopping season. With Twitter, you can continue to promote your products up to the last minute that they can be shipped in time to guarantee Christmas delivery.
Twitter can be used to link to a YouTube video. Videos are especially viral and people love them. For example, here’s a great YouTube video by Mari Smith on Twitter Hashtags.
You could tweet, “Checkout video on Twitter hashtags, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aAHitI26MmE”. (As discussed above, you can save on character real estate by using a URL shortener.)
#26: Zippy Writing Style
Twitter messages need to make the best possible use of 140 characters. This is where writing style comes into play. Good tweet content is not only useful in terms of all the types covered up to now. What makes a good tweet stand out is how the message is delivered. In other words, tweet lively and entertaining messages.