Seven Ways For Brands To Improve Twitter Engagement

Do brands actually engage on Twitter?

In my conversations with several people over the past month, the answer seems to be a resounding “not well”.

I hear “they are more interested in talking about themselves” a lot.

Even though Social Media Examiner’s 2013 Social Media Marketing Industry Report states that 88% of marketers want to find out how to best engage with their audience on social media, are they?

Marketers say that one of their top goals for using Twitter is to improve engagement, but surveys still show that increasing brand/product awareness is trumping improving engagement as goals.

Brand/product awareness tends to come in the form of broadcasting or promotion. In fact, eConsultancy recently noted that 25% of top brands still use Twitter for broadcasting rather than engagement. What happens when brands do this is they lose credibility and trust by prospects who might want to do business with them. After all, people want to do business with people who genuinely understand them and want to help them. Therefore, aren’t brands just sabotaging themselves considering another top goal for using Twitter is lead generation?

Perhaps Twitter should take a page from Facebook’s playbook, who is clearly winning the social engagement game.

So, what can brands do to improve their engagement on Twitter?

1. Understand the difference between engagement and broadcasting. Engagement is a conversation that is always a two-way street. It is not telling someone about your latest product you want them to try. Sometimes we forget that we are communicating with an actual person, not their profile. Remember social media interaction is human-to-human.

2. Brands should shift their Twitter strategy so that they (1) listen (2) engage (3) help and then (4) broadcast and promote, in this order. This is my position which I discuss often.

3. Brands should monitor their followers and mentions regularly and respond timely to comments. Especially in the case of customer service questions and comments, ensure your response time is within four hours.

4. Make social listening a very high priority. Understand your audience and realize that your Twitter audience is different from your audience on other social media networks.

5. Create content that is relevant, thought-provoking and what your audience wants to see. You are not going to hit it out of the park every time with your content. Develop a content strategy, create and curate your content, distribute your content, test it through Google Analytics and other means, and refine where necessary.

6. Initiate engagement through asking questions, commenting on your audience’s posts and content, etc. Get to know your audience and ensure the conversation is not only about business. Find out their likes and dislikes and communicate with them in a genuine, organic way. I can’t tell you the number of people I have met through conversations related to dogs, restaurants, sports, philanthropy and other subjects. Engage and develop a relationship with them.

7. Implement and use social measurement tools to refine your engagement activities. And place a greater value on your engagement and reach statistics than likes and follows. Here’s a great list of social measurement tools to get you started. Some of my favorites include Tweriod, Swayy, BuzzSumo and Newsle.

Social media is no longer about likes and followers, it’s about engagement. What are you doing today to help your engagement tomorrow? Let us know in the comments.

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