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The Starter Guide to Twitter Marketing for Beginners

The Starter Guide to Twitter Marketing for Beginners

Home Blog Social Media The Starter Guide to Twitter Marketing for Beginners

Twitter is a place where anything can happen.

With everything being public, brands can theoretically reach out to any user if they send the right with the right message, at the right time and the right way.

However, it seems like the social network has become a bit of a paradox for most marketers.

For the longest time, Twitter was seeing exponential user growth year after year.

Now, in the last few years, everybody has been saying that it’s going down, and yet, most marketers say you should use it to increase your brand’s online awareness.

So should marketers still focus their efforts on it?

Well, with 320M+ monthly active users (MAU), Twitter is one of the most interesting social media platforms to be active on for businesses.

Guide-Twitter-Marketing-monthly-active-users-2019

Source: social media platforms(2019)

Twitter is also a place where fans, users, and clients get to talk about your brand, also publicly. A great opportunity for brands to knit strong relationships with their audience. 

Innocent drinks is pretty good at this.

Guide-Twitter-Marketing-bigknit-conversation

On the other hand, the Twittersphere is also where a lot of rants about brands, products, and services happen. 

For this reason, it’s quite easy to put brands on the spot, especially is you use the right hashtags. 

This means that anyone can publicly share information about your brand and seriously hurt your credibility.

But brands can not afford to have other voices speaking for them in the public space. For that reason, brands not only need to be on Twitter, but they also need to master the platform.

From setting your brand’s tone, using Twitter to help achieve your marketing objectives, to safeguarding your company’s credibility – this guide will help you with everything you need to market your business on the social network.

Instagram Engagement Report 2020

How to Set Up Your Brand on Twitter

Before you set up your account and tweet up a storm, you need to step back and ask yourself: ‘What are you trying to achieve on Twitter?

Chances are that it won’t become your revenue generation channel. But it can become a strong source of awareness for company news, your latest offers and/or pieces of content.

In order to reach any marketing goal, what you first need is a completed profile.

Complete your Twitter profile

To build a strong Twitter marketing strategy, you first need a perfect profile. 
It is not a challenge and yet, it is essential to make your brand look professional and, therefore, more appealing to your clients and prospective clients.

Here are recommendations to follow:

  • Pick a @Handle (16 characters max): the best handle is your brand’s name. If it happens to be already taken, play with underscores “_” or add relevant words. As an example, the online bank Revolut added the word “app” to its Twitter handle.
Guide-Twitter-Marketing-Revolutapp

Now, unless it’s part of your brand’s name — like @n26 —, never add numbers to your twitter handle if it’s not available anymore

@Revolut034, @Apple845 or @Innocent09, …. adding numbers can affect the credibility of your brand on a social platform.

  • State your brand’s Name (50 characters max): simply write your brand’s name (Twitter allows name duplicates, so you won’t be bothered here). You just need to make it shorter than 50 characters.
  • Write a powerful Bio (160 characters max): other users will see your bio if they visit your profile, or hover your @handle if it appears on their feed. Use it to explain the purpose of your brand with clear and simple words. We also advise that you insert relevant #hashtags in your bio so that you can be found more easily when users look for it using the search bar.
  • Select a Location (30 characters max): The Moon, Mars, the Grand Canyon or somewhere in the middle of the Pacific, … this can be anything. While it’s fun to dream, it’s also more important to mention where your office(s) is (are) instead.
  • Insert a URL (100 characters max): insert your website’s URL.
  • Mention your brand’s launch date

Now, while appearances are not as important on Twitter than on a social platform like Instagram, a strong profile will only stand out if it also looks good.

Use right-sized visuals

You know the old adage, “a picture speaks a thousand words”?

Well, a beautiful picture certainly speaks even a couple more words. 

On social media, the visuals you share need to be perfectly sized, or you’ll show the world that you either don’t know how to be better or, worse, that you don’t care for your visitor’s visual comfort.

We listed all you need to know about the sizes you should keep in mind when sharing content on Twitter.

Guide-Twitter-Marketing-image-sizes
  • The recommended size for your profile picture or logo: 400x400px— displays at 400x400px on click— displays at 135x135px on your profile page— displays at 50x50px on your feed— displays at 40x40px in the recommendation feed(right side of your screen).
  • The recommended size for your header picture: 1080x360px— displays as screen capacity on click— displays at 540x180px on your profile page
  • The recommended size for feed images: 510x290px— displays as screen capacity on click— displays at 510x290px on your feed
  • The recommended size for your links: 540x180px — displays at 510x290px on your feed

Why it matters: While colors are very subjective and should be subject to A/B testing, pixelated and wrongly sized visuals have a high potential to lower your engagement rates.

How to design the best Twitter visuals

Rest assured, you don’t need to be born a designer to create high-quality visuals for Twitter. 

Here are two tools that we recommend and regularly use ourselves to create the visuals we share.

If advanced tools are not your cup of tea, a tool like Canva is ideal for you. Canva is a very user-friendly web tool that lets you work from a lot of existing templates and formats.

guide-twitter-marketing-canva

Now if you want to create more advanced visuals, you can use a tool like Adobe Photoshop.

About that, you can download our Twitter Images template for free right here.

I personally use Photoshop most of the time. It’s not necessarily better, but it’s a matter of habit. Remember that the best tools are the tools that you feel the most comfortable with.

What’s a good engagement rate on Twitter?

The engagement rate is a key metric to monitor. It shows how your audience responds to your content, and especially whether or not they share it.
For this reason, high engagement rates are a prized possession, and many marketers work hard for even small improvements.

Now, the median rate across all industries is 0,048% — according to the Rival IQ. So, don’t expect most of your followers to click, like, retweet and/or comment on your tweets. What this means is that generating leads on Twitter is hard.

With that being said, all industries don’t see the same engagement levels.

To calculate your engagement rate, divide the number of interactions with your tweets(clicks, likes, retweets, and comments) by your total amount of followers.

Nowadays, Twitter is vastly used as a customer service platform. Rather than seeking high engagement, many brands mostly try their best to help and satisfy their prospects and customers.  

140 vs. 280 characters: What’s the ideal tweet length?

Since December 2017, Twitter users can write tweets containing up to 280 characters (that’s twice as much as what was allowed before that — 140 characters). 

Does this mean that you should only write long tweets to generate more engagement with your audience? 

Not necessarily. 

In fact, it seems that tweets between 71 and 100 characters are those generating the most engagement on the platform. Now, if you include a link in your tweets — as you should if you want to drive traffic to your website —, the sweet spot is in fact between 94 and 123 characters.   

Guide-Twitter-Marketing-retweet-lenght-tweet

Source: Track Social.

This does not mean that you shouldn’t write tweets over 100 characters. 

Because you should, especially if you have a good story to share. 

Here, what the data really shows is that you shouldn’t write tweets under 20 characters as it seems that they trigger very little engagement.

Bottom line, there’s no lengthy tweet, only boring and lengthy stories. 

Should you use hashtags on Twitter? And if so, how? 

While it’s now very common to see Hashtags on social networks likes Instagram, Facebook and even LinkedIn, it all started with Twitter

Their purpose is to group conversations to help users find more content on topics that matter to them. 

Clearly, they have caught on, and they are here to stay.

  • But are they really useful for Twitter marketers? 
  • And do they really contribute to increasing engagement on Twitter nowadays?

They do, to some extent.

How to use hashtags

By grouping same-topic conversations, your posts, therefore, become easier to find for Twitter users. And the easier they are to find, the more likely it is that people will engage with them

Right? 

Again, not necessarily. 

According to our latest Twitter Engagement Report, using hashtags does not appear to increase Twitter engagement. 

Here’s the result we see here @Mention from our last 2000 tweets.

Guide-Twitter-Marketing-engagement-hashtags

Source: Mention.

It turns out that the median level of engagement goes down as the number of hashtags used goes up.

Let’s take an example to illustrate “why” this happens.

Guide-Twitter-Marketing-dont-dos

Would you engage with this tweet? I know I wouldn’t.

It’s messy and I don’t understand what I’m expected to do.

So, instead of using a ton of hashtags to put your tweets on the map, use relevant hashtags that your target audience is following

Here’s an example from a retirement house in the UK, announcing that they knitted 5,400 hats for Innocent Drinks’ #BigKnitevent.

Guide-Twitter-Marketing-bigknit

They don’t have a high following (420) and yet, they’ve generated 3 retweets and 12 likes, giving them a 3.57% engagement rate.

Something that you can also do to put your brand on the map is to create your own hashtags.

Create your own hashtags … if relevant

This will only work if you have something that your audience would love to hear about.

Therefore, we definitely recommend that you — at least — create your own hashtags when organizing a conference, a TwitterChat, a webinar, or launching a product or services for example.

@Tag users when relevant

What you read above about hashtags also applies to tagging users.

The more users your @tag, the less engagement you’ll generate.

What you need to do, however, is to tag other accounts when the content you share involves them somehow.

guide-twitter-marketing-mutual-help

By doing so, you’ll increase the chance that they engage with your content and, therefore, increase the likelihood that their audience becomes yours too. 

Note that you can either @mention users in your tweet and work within the 240 characters limit, or tag up to 10 accounts on photos. 

Guide-Twitter-Marketing-tag-users-twitter

Here are a couple of examples to follow when it comes to tagging @Other_Accounts on Twitter.

@NintendoAmerica having fun with @Xbox…

Guide-Twitter-Marketing-xbox-nintendo

Source

… or @AvosFromMexico using the Super Bowl 2019 to catch up with @BublyWater.

This type of interaction showcases the fun and conversational side of your brand to your audience. Besides, not only it contributes to increasing engagement with your brand on social media, but it also opens the door to brand new audiences who may have not heard about you yet. A win-win.

Let’s now see what type of content you should post on Twitter.

Instagram Engagement Report 2020

Insert links in your tweets to drive traffic

Don’t feel obligated to insert links in each and every tweet you post. 

If your objective is to generate awareness, likes, and retweets, it’s okay not to insert any link in a tweet.

If however you just wrote a new blog post or have an exclusive offer to put forward, you should absolutely include links in all of your tweets.

With that said, I analyzed our performance @Mention over the last 3 years on Twitter, and the odds are clearly playing in favor of not adding links in your tweets if you want to generate more engagement.

Guide-Twitter-Marketing-engagement-links

Source: Mention.

Posting videos for Twitter

Video is definitely one of the best formats to trigger engagement — regardless of the social platform it is living on. 

Here is the performance we see at Mention over the last two years on Twitter.

Guide-Twitter-Marketing-engagement-tweet-image-video

With that said, Twitter is not the best platform to consume video content. The historic focus of the platform on snacking content reflects the types of videos you can post. 

Not the ideal platform to post videos

Here are the limitations you should consider when working with videos for Twitter.

  • Videos up to 2 minutes and 20 seconds max.
  • Maximum resolutions of 1920 x 1200 and 1200 x 1900(no 4K here)
  • A maximum frame rate of 40 frames per second (FPS)

Try not to post anything under 30fps as the quality will then drop drastically.

If you’re having a hard time picturing what a video under 30fps looks like, here’s how. 

Always add captions

You have to consider that all your viewers won’t be in the perfect conditions to watch and enjoy your video content.

Some will be at work, unable to use earphones, some will be sitting on a bench next to loud construction work, and some of your viewers could also have hearing deficiencies, making it harder to appreciate video content.

There are essentially two ways to do this.

  1. Via Twitter Media Studio

Twitter Media Studio is the control center hiding behind your Twitter account. 

There, you’ll find information on your videos, photos, and scheduled tweets, as well as useful Twitter analytics of your account

guide-twitter-marketing-menu-media-studio

To add subtitles to a video, head to your Library.

  • Select your video
  • Click on subtitles
  • Add your file.srt
guide-twitter-marketing-add-captions-video

While this is very practical, it means that you already have put together a caption file (or srt).

The Social Media Examiner did a great tutorial about that. Find it here.

  1. Use a submaker software like Kapwing

If, just like me, you don’t know how to create a file.srt, you can use a tool like Kapwing.

Here’s an example of a video from Buzzfeed on which I added subtitles on using Kapwing. 

It took me about 5 minutes to understand how the platform works and add 20 seconds worth of subtitles. So, it does take time, but the comfort it brings your users in invaluable.

Notes: you can create videos without a watermark if you create a free account, which I didn’t do here. We’re aware of the typo 😅

If creating video content is too much of a challenge based on your current resources and set of skills, how about GIFs?

Create GIFs for Twitter

I don’t think that GIFs (pronounced JIF, for Pete’s sake) need any introduction, but just to be sure, here’s a quick definition: GIFs are very short clips made of a series of images

Here’s one.

guide-twitter-marketing-gif-definition

GIFs are one of the best ways to grab the attention of one’s audience on social media nowadays: 

  • They’re animated: our eyes love movement.
  • They’re not as heavy as a video: therefore, they will load fast on mobile devices, even on a low signal.

What’s more, I find them quite useful to create short tutorials. I personally use them a lot when sharing “How-To” content.

One easy – and free – way to create gifs is via Giphy Capture.

Guide-Twitter-Marketing-giphy-gifmaker

If you know your way around Adobe Photoshop, you can also create your GIFs using the Timeline tool.

Guide-Twitter-Marketing-Photoshop-gifmaker

The maximum upload size for a GIF on Twitter is 15MB. To keep your GIF files as low as possible, keep them small (try not to exceed 640 x 400) and short.

Note that Twitter also allows you to post gifs natively from the platform.

When tweeting, simply click on “GIF”, type the keyword(s) you’re looking for, and select your Gif.  

guide-twitter-marketing-gif-making

Now that you have a good idea of what to post, let’s discuss timing.

When should you post on Twitter

The right answer is: when is your audience engaging with your content.
In fact, there is no magical formula that will give you the best time to post for your business and market. 

The best way for you to pinpoint the best time to post is to experiment. Schedule posts at different times and benchmark their performance

Now, we’ve found universal times to post by analyzing social media engagement using Mention (we also compared it with studies from CoSchedule and HubSpot to ensure that our data pool was actually representative:

Guide-Twitter-Marketing-best-time-to-post

Once you’ve identified the best performing times for you to post on Twitter, your best chance not to miss the sweet spot is to schedule your tweets.

How many times should you tweet in a day?

The lifespan of a Tweet is 20 to 25 minutes. And if it doesn’t generate much engagement, it will be lost in Twitter’s Abysses before you know it. 

We found @Mention that it’s best to post 5 to 7 tweets a day to keep your audience engaged with your content at strategic times during the day.

This is something you can do using Mention.

Besides, the more you plan your social media posts, the more you have time to deal with more important things, such as jumping on live conversations as they happen.

Follow the trending topics

When you click on a hashtag or manually search for it, you’ll be taken to a result page showing — at first — the top results that Twitter’s algorithm picked. 

See for yourself, but the best chance you have to appear in the top results is to combine text, visual (either image, gif or a video) and a trending hashtag.

Of course, you can rely on Twitter’s Trending Topics(TT)to find trending hashtags. TTs give you opportunities to jump on trends and events as they are happening.

But so do millions of other users. 

Now, more often than not, the trending topics are either completely irrelevant for your business and audience, linked to political scandals or worse, to tragedies. 

We find that the best way for brands to identify trends that are relevant to them is to use a social listening tool.

Social listening will show you what’s being said on social media, without you having to go looking for it.

Experiment with Twitter Chats

We’re all trying to get more followers on our social media channels. But the right way to approach this challenge is not towards quantity, but quality. The question you should be asking yourself instead is: “how to get more engaged followers?

One way to do it is obviously via engaging content.

What we have found very efficient over the last couple of years are Twitter chats. While we don’t host one at the moment, we love the format, and we know our core audience does too.

Twitter chats are a great way to federate your community around the topics that collectively matter for you, and them.

Here’s an interesting format to follow: 

Weekly 30-40 minutes Twitter ChatPick a hashtag – could be #[YourBrand]TWChat and use it for each tweet you post.

  • Introduction (5min): Introduce the topic of the day(we recommend that you stick to one central topic for each occurrence of the Twitter Chat) and say hello to those interacting with you. Also, you must remind the attendees to use your #[YourBrand]TWChat to join the conversation.
  • Ask 1 question every 5 minutes: This should leave you time to discuss answers with the audience – and it leaves time for the audience to post interesting comments and comebacks! For the best results, we recommend that you schedule your question tweets in advance.
  • Conclude the chat, announcing the topic for the next one(if you have one):  At this stage, you must get back to all those who joined your event. Doing so, you’ll increase the likelihood that they’ll come back next time.

Download our [Free] Twitter Chat Cheatsheet.

Join a couple of Twitter Chats

If you’re not accustomed to the Twitter Chat format yet, participate to a couple of them and see how they are administrated!

Chances are you’ll learn things, network, and have fun.

Use Twitter Bookmarks

Twitter bookmarks can be very useful to save content for future references. 
It’s something I personally use a lot as a content marketer when I’m browsing Twitter while commuting for example.

If I find an interesting tweet that I’ll be able to quote in a future piece of content, I automatically add it to my bookmarks. 

Here’s how to do it. 

Click the Share Icon under a post, click Add Tweet to Bookmarks, and that’s it!

guide-twitter-marketing-starbucks-bookmark

Use Twitter Lists

Twitter lists are convenient to filter Twitter’s noise and put the conversations that matter to you and your brand in one place. 

To create a list, click on Lists on your menu, then click on the icon in the top-right corner of your screen.

Once your list is created, you can add any Twitter user to it, directly from their profile. 

Here’s how to add them

guide-twitter-marketing-create-a-list

Now, I personally don’t use lists as Mention does a much better job to identify key content that’s valuable for me as a content marketer, and to Mention’s brand.

Create Twitter Ads

If your resources and budget allow it, you can also promote your tweets to get more eyeballs on them. 

I have to say that Twitter Ads’ interface is very user-friendly. 

When creating content for a new ad, you’re being asked — in a very clear manner — about what you’re trying to achieve.  

Guide-Twitter-Marketing-twitter-ads

You can then target Twitter users based on their age, gender, location, the device used, OS version and personal interests.

Note that, from experience, Twitter is not the best platform to get high engagement rate, but you’ll definitely get a lot of eyeballs on your content.

Make use of Twitter’s Direct Messages

The last feature we’ve decided to highlight in this guide are Twitter’s Direct Messages (DMs).

DMs are extremely useful for brands. 

On the one hand, they allow you to reach out to brands and influencers you’d like to work with. On the other hand, it’s a privileged and private communication channel with your audience.

A lot of brands encourage their clients and users to use DMs if and when they raise a complaint. It’s a win-win situation. 

  • The client gets to talk to the brand without having to share information publicly.
  • The brand takes heated conversations off the public eye as soon as possible, therefore limiting the risks of potential backfires.

Here’s an example of two brands — USPS and Target — trying to get a conversation off the world’s feed.

Guide-Twitter-Marketing-twitter-USPS-Target
Say, what’s a great following/follower ratio?

There is no perfect ratio.

Now, if you want your account to look as good as possible, you should always try to keep your followers count higher than your following. 

Neal Schaffer wrote an interesting piece on the matter, saying the ideal ratio is the one that’s as far as possible from 1:1.

Should you use tools to gain followers? 

There are lots of tools out there that promise to increase your Twitter following. While you may see your following increase significantly, your engagement rates will drop.

Having a lot of followers is useless if they don’t engage with your content. The best way to grow one’s following is to share content that resonates with your audience. 
Instagram Engagement Report 2020

Time to step up your Twitter Game

There you have it, folks!

If you follow the recommendations of this guide, you will see your audience and your engagement rate grow significantly over time!

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Clément René

Clément is Content Marketer for Mention. He creates content to help brands manage their online reputation strategy. If not behind a screen, you can find him reading books in Parisian cafés or exploring the city with his dog.

Content Marketer @Mention