As a marketer I strongly believe that if you’re in business, you have to be on Twitter: especially if you want to be part of a global conversation. There are other social sites you must be on too (LinkedIn), but it’s about being where your customers are, and Twitter should be viewed as a cornerstone communication channel for corporate and personal brands alike.
At Novus Asia, the ‘conversations’ we are part of include: content marketing, storytelling, the brand editor and design. So it is critical that we are part of the game wherever those conversations are happening. To put it simply, whatever the discussion, those conversations are happening on Twitter.
A warning though. Having set up six Twitter handles (at least), I know what’s required to get a new one off the ground organically (versus paid). It takes focus, time and commitment: you’ve got to be ready to put in the effort for the long haul.
So with a little trepidation in my heart, I recently helped launch the @NovusAsia handle for Novus. We’ve already launched our Facebook page, LinkedIn page and Google+ page, so the finale (for now) is Twitter. Do please follow these social profiles if you’re interested in what Novus Asia is up to. Thanks!
Since I’m going through the process again right now, and because I appreciate that a lot of people struggle to get started on (or sometimes even understand) Twitter, I thought the steps we’ve taken might be useful for others starting their Twitter journey. If you are, whether as a brand or individual, we wish you the best of luck.
Here’s eight tips for a quick start:
- Fill in your profile, including a great 160 character biography. Your logo or photo is critical: those grey eggs look sad and unprofessional. And of course, your banner image, website and country. It only takes moments, so make sure it’s complete. Then, go back and perfect it later. We’ll be making changes to what we’ve done already, but we have a solid starting point that looks professional.
- Build your followers by following others. First up, your employees: follow everyone in your organisation who is on Twitter, and add them to an employee list (see below for more on lists). If you’re part of a massive organisation, start small, then build. Also, make sure that you alert your colleagues to the handle, so that they can follow you — if you’re a social business, you can get this message out quickly.
- Follow the leaders in your field from around the world: the people considered the best at what you do. In particular, follow your clients and business partners. You want to keep up to date with what they’re all saying. Then as a brand, joining in that conversation should be your ultimate goal.
- Follow your competition. Why? For one, it’s a great way to know what they’re doing on Twitter. You can track the conversations that they are owning, so that you can begin differentiating your brand. Plus, you and your competitors are collectively waving the flag for your industry: so sharing a leadership position on some issues may be important too.
- Search the hashtags common to your field. If you don’t know where to start with followers, search the hashtags that apply to your field. In our case these include: #Content #ContentMarketing #BrandEditor, #Design #B2BContent #B2CContent #QualityContent #PersonalBranding #AsiaContent #Marketing #FutureOfContent #BetterWriting – to name a few. Having identified your key industry hashtags, read the Tweets shared by people using the hashtags common to your brand: follow the people or businesses that resonate. Take note of these hashtags, and focus on the most popular.
- Company hashtags for your posts are critical. A priority, if you haven’t done it already, is to define your company hashtag: ours is #NovusAsia. This hashtag must be included in all of your brand’s social media outreach, across platforms (except LinkedIn, which doesn’t yet use hashtags).
- Define the common hashtags you’ll include in every tweet. Again, for us: #NovusAsia #ContentMarketing #BrandEditor or #Design are regular hashtags we use to get the right attention from people interested in what we do. Get into the habit of including between one and three hashtags at the end of every tweet. This is how you grow your followers, because people interested in your brand can find you. Remember, it’s all about visibility.
- Examine Lists: Once you identify top players in your field, click on their profiles and look at their lists: see the image for where lists appear, in the red circle. For example, I’ve set up “Content Leaders Worldwide” as a list for Novus Asia. I went through a content event site and identified top speakers in the industry. I followed them (and the relevant suggestions Twitter offered) and added them to my list. Now that we’re following them, it will take time to build credibility with this community and get them to follow us back: however, as many are outside Asia, Novus can help share the Asian perspective on our industry. Any thought leader on Twitter has lists, and equally, they’re added to lists. A key learning for people unfamiliar with Twitter is: lists are your greatest friend, and best starting point.
Once you’ve done all of that, start Tweeting. What do you Tweet? Follow @NovusAsia on Twitter to get one idea of how to grow a brand new handle organically. We won’t be paying to attract followers at this point, though of course, that may change too.
You also need to determine how often you’ll tweet. We’re committed to between two to three each day, which we see as a minimum for a communications-based brand. For other social sites (LinkedIn, Facebook), one or two posts each day is okay: but in the case of Twitter, to be effective, it needs a little more volume AND active participation. That, of course, is where the commitment comes – finding the time to engage and the content to tweet.
The next thing to remember about this is that visibility isn’t the sole purpose of Twitter. As a tool, this is also your news desk to the world: brands and individuals have never had the speed-to-market with their messages as they do now. Follow newsmakers beyond your immediate industry segment too: you never know the ripple effects their actions might have on you. Follow news sites: in an environment where change management is critical, instant news channels are a major asset. And you can always opt out, should one handle become tiresome.
Bonus tip: it doesn’t have to be your content you share on Twitter. You can, and should, share great content that the industry leaders you’re following are sharing, as long as it’s connected to (and complimentary of) the conversation you want to be part of. That also gets you followers, as they’ll appreciate the support.
Building organically is definitely a work in progress, and a commitment for the long haul. Do please share with me any other great starting tips you’d have as well? All tips and advice welcome.