James Gurd eCommerce Consultant

Advice for using Twitter to build an army of engaged followers is prevalent. Less is suggested for the ways to drive awareness of your Twitter presence using other communication channels.

If you apply the basic logic of acquisition and retention, you can use Twitter innovatively to engage your current followers but if you do nothing to tell others, how do you grow this channel?

This blog looks at six practical steps to pushing your Twitter presence. It’s not rocket science but good ideas shouldn’t be complicated…

1. Encourage your customers to retweet your content

Every blog, article or newsfeed should have a retweet call to action. You can use a free service like Tweetmeme (just add the code to the relevant web page) or develop your own javascript. 

Make sure that the structure of the RT is user-friendly (use a URL shortener), otherwise you’ll find people cancelling before sending. 

Look at the SEOptimise blog (or this blog) to see how it works, both functionally and from a design perspective.

2. Twitmail: use your email channel effectively

Email is your chance to talk to people who are interested in hearing from you (assuming you regularly cleanse and purge your data). They might not be aware of your Twitter presence. Two easy first steps:

  • Add a clear ‘follow me on Twitter’ link, and start off with some info about why you are on Twitter and the benefits to your customers.
  • Test a Twitter feed (show the latest five tweets. I’m not aware of a widget to integrate live feeds so please shout if you know of one) to a segment of your database. Test the click through against a control with the existing link. You can use your stats to determine how customer content affects click through and follow rate.

    3. Create a social media landing page on your main website(s)

    Why should your customers be interested in your social media activity? You need to get them excited. Adding a social media landing page enables you to position what you are doing and show customers the benefits. Start with simple steps:

    • Deep link to all your profiles with a little bio for each one to help customers find the right communication channel
    • Link to the page from your homepage and global navigation to ensure it is visible to the greatest number of people.

    You don’t have to build your own community microsite to build engagement. You do, however, need to help people find the right channel to communicate with you.

    4. Integrate with other social media activity

    Don’t be shy, talk about your Twitter activity. Every profile you manage represents an opportunity to promote your Twitter account(s). A few examples:

    • Put a link on your Facebook fanpage
    • Add your Twitter ID to your YouTube video channel
    • Get your employees to link via their LinkedIn profiles

    Think about how you can link to Twitter across your social networks. Go one further, test a Twitter URL on offline marketing and gauge response.

    5. Add your Twitter handle to company emails

    Having spent the last two years working with multiple clients, partners and agencies, I can count on one hand those who incorporate their Twitter ID into their email signature. I keep asking why.

    As a minimum, ensure that your customer service team all point their email signatures to your main company Twitter account, even better still to a dedicated customer service account. ASOS introduced their @ASOS_dashboard account on March 31st this year though the level of interaction, despite having 1,234 followers, is much lower than with other ASOS Twitter accounts.

    The benefits:

    • Reduce inbound calls/email as some customers turn to Twitter
    • Increase awareness of your Twitter presence
    • Demonstrate your flexibility in giving customer multiple options for communication

    I’m still trying to work out a good reason why you wouldn’t. Your Twitter account can be as important as your email address for communication, so promote it wherever you can.

    6. Put a live Twitter feed on your homepage

    Take a leaf out of the Econsultancy book, you can’t beat the visibility of your homepage. This feed will be real time so website visitors can see what you are doing and what other people are saying to/about you. Few people are initiators and many wait for other to take the lead before jumping in, and a live feed could be the encouragement they need.

    Sense check: beware the challenges

    Every action has a counter action, as the saying goes. As you push your social visibility, challenges will arise. A few pointers:

    • Negative comments. These are inevitable, nobody is perfect and some customers are never happy, so make sure you respond quickly.
    • The snowball effect. Your community could grow quickly so you need to monitor and evaluate the resources required to sustain and grow.
    • Analytics. Make sure you have mapped out how you are going to measure your activity and what the success criteria are.
    • Brand conflict. Not everyone is happy opening a business to the world, so you will need to communicate effectively internally to keep people on side.
    • Clear instructions Make sure that everyone involved (directly and indirectly) knows what is being done, when, why and how, as tumble weed can set in if there is no cohesion or consistency.

    My parting words….

    In the same way that retailers have explored the potential of integrating ratings & reviews across offline and online marketing channels, give your Twitter presence the greatest possible visibility. As long as you are open, honest and inform your customers about your Twitter activity, this will enhance your social media presence.

    Please drop by with your comments and suggestions. This is not an exhaustive list, so if you have any ideas or examples to share then please do.