Earlier this year, Twitter drew the attention of many by teasing that its character limit would rise by over 7000% to 10,000 – a major change for a platform centred around being brief. For now, though, it seems this idea has been put on the back-burner, with Twitter execs deciding to instead focus efforts on providing users with more characters without impacting the unique experience offered by the platform.
Social media giant, Twitter, celebrated its 10th birthday on Monday (21st March). To mark the occasion, we’ve put together our top ten tips for SMEs wanting to get the most out of the platform!
1. Make sure you can be found Twitter has come a long way since CEO Jack Dorsey posted his first tweet in 2006:
With 974 million accounts worldwide, Twitter’s ten-year milestone highlighted just how far it’s come in a relatively small space of time, but with so many people using the platform, how do you make sure your business is easily found?
A lot of it comes down to a searchable handle, i.e. your Twitter username. Strong SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is vital for your page’s popularity and making the journey to finding your account as stress free as possible.
This also applies for the bio section, as it’s a good idea to use appropriate hashtags within your description so anyone searching, for example ‘#Lincoln #Construction’, would come across your page.
Top tip: make sure your business name is included in the @ of your username. If you want to change your current @ handle on Twitter, simply go to the account settings tab on the top right of the page and change the username listed in your username field.
2. Clear branding First impressions always count, and it’s the same for Twitter! Make sure your profile looks as professional as possible by using a correctly sized logo and cover photo that doesn’t look distorted or blurry. You want your page to be visually appealing, as well as informative, to capture your audience’s attention.
Top tip: a picture paints a thousand words! Sum up what you do as simply and creatively as possible. Our @WeAreLava account is the perfect example:
3. Link to your website Make sure you add your website’s URL to your bio. This gives your audience the opportunity to easily research your services further with just the click of a button, which, in return, could win you new business, increase your sales and help you network virtually within your industry.
4. Upload photos You want your content to be as visually inviting as possible, when people are flicking through their news feed, an interesting picture or other form of multimedia is a sure way to make them stop in their tracks and delve a little deeper by clicking on your Tweet.
5. Use the lingo Twitter was created to be concise and snappy, so to get the most out of the platform, speak in its language. Tagging other companies in with the @ symbol and using appropriate #s will increase the reach of your Tweet and give you a more dominant voice when interacting online.
If you find where to use @ or # symbol’s confusing, a good rule of thumb is: @ = tagging other people in # = key words.
Top tip: use the search bar and type in either your company’s name or relevant keywords to see who’s talking about your business. This could open up an interesting conversation or help find Tweets where people have forgotten to tag you in!
6. Tweet regularly The more you post, the more familiar people will be with your product.
If you don’t have someone specifically in charge of your social media, it can be time consuming to post informative and engaging content whilst trying to juggle your other day-to-day jobs.
Top tip: write your social media content a week in advance (as well as on the day if you can!) This will free up time and ensure your page is always filled with interesting posts.
7. Be in the loop! The Moments tab on the top left of your screen is a useful new tool that Twitter has rolled out to make the platform a hub for news and information.
Top tip: is there something groundbreaking or newsworthy happening in your industry? Has someone written an interesting article commenting on the subject? Retweet it! This will keep you up-to-date in terms of news and creates the image of being proactive within your industry, as breaking and topical news topics will be featured on your page.
8. Be sociable Social media is meant to be sociable! If someone interacts with your business, try to make the time to respond, favourite or RT as a form of acknowledgement! This gives your business an approachable and friendly image that, in return, will increase customer loyalty to your brand.
Top tip: if someone Tweets a complaint about your business, reply politely and ask them to direct message you. This will stop your interaction from being in the public domain and will show the person complaining that you’re trying to resolve the issue.
9. Grow your audience Are you trying to grow the amount of followers you have? A good technique to increasing this quickly and with no costs at all is to follow other relevant accounts. From competitors, clients and local media to companies and figureheads in the area, people usually follow back, so put the time in and you’ll reap in the rewards.
10. Enjoy your account! When writing your social media content, try and think like your audience. Do you find the Tweet you’ve just written interesting? Would you click or engage with it if you weren’t connected to the company? Try to answer ‘yes’ to these questions and the energy will ooze out of your account, making it an exciting and enjoyable place to be. With these ten top tips, your Twitter has the potential to be taken to the next level, whether that’s in terms of increasing your followers or improving engagement with your audience. Twitter’s come a long way in a decade and we can’t wait to see the platform evolve even more!
Who ever said a bit of competition and debate wasn’t a good thing?
Over the past two months, there have been two major news stories centred around big companies going head-to-head with one another in public.
Just this week, Amazon and The New York Times have locked horns over an article written by The Times in August about the online retailer’s work culture. The story, which was a large piece in the daily paper, resulted in an Amazon VP drafting a 1300-word essay on Medium.com, refuting the article and claims made in it. From there, The Times Executive Editor responded with an equally long post to Medium and so on.
And less than two months ago, McDonalds and Burger King had a bit of a public tiff, which began when Burger King extended the olive branch in hopes of putting their ‘burger war’ aside and creating a McWhopper to celebrate Peace Day on 21st September. It all started when Burger King launched www.mcwhopper.com that included this:
What was the response from McDonald’s, you ask?
Kind of gruff, no?
So what can local businesses learn from Amazon vs New York Times and McDonalds vs Burger King. It’s that a bit of competition and debate can lead to some tremendous exposure. By making things public, all of the businesses involved were not only widely seen on Facebook and Twitter, but news stories flooded the internet from sources like Forbes, BBC Business Insider and dozens of other national outlets.
As a marketing expert, I think a bit of friendly competition and debate is great. Not only does it keep things fresh and interesting, but it also offers a new way of getting into the public eye.
For example, in 2012, after working with SO Festival – an East Lindsey / Skegness arts & culture event – for the previous two years, we knew that putting Skegness on the national news agenda would take a bold move. We recognised that we needed to do something that would provoke a reaction, capture media’s attention and bring other seaside towns into the debate about the need for coastal resorts to market themselves.
As Brighton and Blackpool both sit above Skegness in the tourism league tables, we decided to place these controversial advertisements in their local newspapers, the Brighton Argus and Blackpool Gazette.
As expected, the newspapers refused to run the ads, but ran editorials on the campaign that showed pictures of the shocking ads. The ads also spread via social media and the story escalated from a regional news item into national story, which ran for over a week, giving SO Festival organisers, East Lindsey District Council, numerous opportunities to explain the rationale behind the ads and to discuss the issues facing traditional seaside towns, whilst also promoting SO Festival 2012.
In the end, the campaign reached over 23 million people and contributed to a 15% increase in SO Festival visitors year-on-year as a result of print and online media coverage with The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Daily Mail, The Daily Express and Observer, as well as radio and TV coverage in the south, north east and Lincolnshire as well as national exposure on The Million Pound Drop, This Morning and The Wright Show.
So how can a bit of competition give your business a boost? Well it can help you:
• Generate press coverage you may not have otherwise received
• Boost your social media following if the campaign spreads or goes viral
• Get some word-of-mouth going about your business
But, wait! Before you step into the ring with a competitor or other public figure, here are some very important things to consider first:
1) Have a reason behind your campaign Slagging off your competition just for the sake of it is an extremely terrible idea. You’ll only make yourself look like an antagonist and bully. Make sure you have a deeper underlying reason for what you’re doing. Our SO Festival campaign wasn’t just created to boost awareness for an event; it helped broach the topic of talking about the issues facing traditional seaside towns.
2) Be light-hearted in your approach The more serious you are, the less people will relate to your campaign. The general public always love a bit of banter and competition in their personal lives – whether it’s with partners, family or friends – so they can relate when the companies they love do the same. But if you’re downright mean or rude in what you’re saying, you again risk earning yourself the reputation of being a bad guy and bully. Be clever and witty – but not malicious.
3) Don’t start a battle if you’re not prepared for war Some public tiffs fizzle out before the second party has time to rebut, but, in the case of Amazon and New York Times, both parties have gone back and forth numerous times over the course of a week – turning a small battle into a small war.
4) Plan your approach Think ahead and ensure you’ve ran through all the responses you might receive once you’ve launched your campaign. Do the positives outweigh the negatives? If so, crack on and go for it you’re comfortable. But if you can’t justify the campaign or if the negative consequences are far more than the positives, it’s best to leave the idea as just that – an idea.
So there you go. A bit of friendly competition can be good for business, but don’t take it too seriously and definitely think before you speak – or else you may have some serious PR firefighting to do!
There you go. I’ve said it. Right at the start of this piece, I’ve set my stall out..
You can’t say anything in 140 characters. It’s difficult to work creatively with images and video. It’s nearly impossible to find anything useful in your Twitter stream when you follow thousands of people in order to get them to follow back.
Okay, that’s a bit harsh. Twitter has its role. I use it a lot for getting news out, pointing people to websites and, in a personal role, for finding session plans for football training.
However, I don’t think I’ve ever managed to sell anything for a client via Twitter or have meaningful and productive engagement with people interested in my clients’ services. All of that is achieved by using Facebook.
Facebook, to me, is just simply better than Twitter from a marketing perspective. Facebook allows greater creativity. It provides better analytics. Yes, it’s a business, and given recent changes to Facebook’s business model, marketers are having to pay a little to reach people, but it’s worth it.
Let’s look at what you can achieve with Facebook.
You can post more than 140 characters – so you can say more.
You can upload images, videos and audio – that people can see immediately.
You have apps that can be embedded into your Facebook page – allowing you to sell tickets for events or enabling people to sign up to newsletters quickly and easily.
You can advertise effectively – Facebook allows you to target demographics, locations and interests in a far more comprehensive way than Twitter’s fledgling ad platform does.
You can evaluate your efforts – Facebook has analytics built in (as does Twitter to be fair).
You can reach more people – Facebook is still the largest social media platform in the world.
You can survive online with just a Facebook page, you don’t have to have a website – some companies I know only have a Facebook page. It’s all they need.
What all of these factors give you is greater scope for creativity. The more creative you are, the better the chance of creating engagement.
We’ve run several Facebook campaigns. Not so long ago, we used Facebook as the platform for our Hallo’win promotion. People received a pumpkin from us and were challenged to carve it, post their pictures on our Facebook page and then ask people to Like their pimped up pumpkin. The artwork with the most likes on 31st October won! Not only did this promotion get people engaged in a fun activity, but people shared our promotion with their friends.
Just last week, we set up a Facebook page for an event that we’re helping to organise. With just one promoted post, we directed 93 people to the box office page on the event’s website and generated 30 sales. Just as important, people are still sharing our post, so that one piece of marketing activity is continuing to deliver a return.
For that very same event, we’re also able to answer people’s questions, direct them to the event website and provide customer service all within an environment they’re comfortable with.
We also have a Twitter stream, Instagram and YouTube account set up for the event. Yes, we will push our news out in 140 characters and shortened links. Yes, we will publish photos and videos. All of these social channels have their place in our campaign but for me, the one social media channel above all others that I Like the most, is Facebook.
All Hallows Eve, traditionally the initiation of the triduum of Hallowmas, the time in the Christian calendar to remember the dead. Now, you are more likely to find people apple bobbing, scary themselves silly on spooky city tours or dressing up like a creepy (for creepy, read slutty) nurse and drinking red shots through a fake syringe.
Here at Lava, we know that Halloween is a great opportunity to create some great PR – just check out our Hallo’win pumpkin carving competition on Facebook. This tongue in cheek occasion can help all sorts of brands reach their target audiences in the run up to 31st October. You just need to log on to Twitter to see how many people have jumped on the Halloween bandwagon.
So, here’s the story. We send out our festive Christmas card and challenge everyone to make the enclosed origami Christmas Penguin.
William Wright, drivetime presenter at BBC Radio Lincolnshire, has a go and a very good go it is. He’s so impressed with his Christmas creation that he gives it a little mention on air (thankyou!) and Tweets a picture (@MrWilliam).
Next thing we know, a picture of Jeremy Vine posing with a Lava Christmas Penguin is Tweeted to us. Yes, that’s right! Jeremy Vine, BBC Radio 2 presenter! Amazing!
We’re not sure how the Christmas Penguin found its way from Lincoln to London – it is, as Mr William says – a bit of Christmas magic!