Twitter is now the worlds 3rd most used search engine! A stat that I struggled with initially but it makes sense if you look at the numbers:
- 288 million monthly active users
- 500 million Tweets are sent per day
- 80% of Twitter active users are on mobile
Twitter claims 15 million plus users in the uk alone - almost a quarter of the population!! With these sort of numbers it naturally follows that a huge proportion of almost any companies target audience are on twitter, so it naturally follows that you should put as much effort into twitter as you do into any other form of marketing!
The big B2C brands have embraced twitter, but B2B seems to be largely missing a trick, or half heartedly going though the motions because it's on the KPI list for the quarter! Whether it's a lack of resource, lack of inclination or simply lack of knowledge, it's time to do twitter better!
What to tweet? - in my opinion, you can work this out by knowing your audience, ignoring big numbers that are irrelevant and (certainly in B2B) staying away from cheesy tweets about your day out, what you had for lunch or the big basket of muffins that just arrived. Companies want to work with experts, so showcase your expertise and follow the 3 E's - Educate, Empower, Entertain! If what you are tweeting doen't do at least one of these - you may as well give up!
To automate or not to automate - I recently tweeted a blog post about the dangers of automation and in beautiful serendipity, the word automation in my tweet immediately triggered three random unwanted marketing tweets from companies! If you are tweeting a knowledge piece, be sure to tweet the link three or four times to maximise impact and by all means use tweetdeck or something similar to schedule tweets; but don't risk irritating your audience with random responses to keywords! As a final thought on automation - be sure to get rid of the automated tweet that invites your new follower to join you on facebook/Linkedin/Youtube - it's annoying, very obviously not from a real person and if they like your content, they will probably manage to find you anyway!
When to tweet - There are graphs upon stats upon reams of learned research on this topic - but odds are, if your content is interesting and relevant to your audience, people will find it. No one that you want to talk to sits and watches their twitter feed because they are doing their jobs! So the majority of your content will be found using searches, hashtags or because someone has added you to a list. Keep it simple, interesting and embrace the fact that people search twitter for what they want to find.
Responding - Having got rid of the auto-response (please!), be sure to keep an eye on your feed, messages and any mentions. Answer questions, deal with issues and communicate with the mindset that you are dealing with an intelligent human being who wants to talk to you - give them something worthwhile and you will reap the benefits. Fail to do so and they will go elsewhere.