Everything happens on Twitter. It’s often the first place you learn about a newsworthy event, before the media even reports it. With over 300M users worldwide, and over 500M tweets exchanged every day, Twitter presents a unique landscape for startups to find, engage and convert their customers.
At a recent Seedcamp Academy session, Lorna Brady and Brian Lavery from Twitter’s Small Business Marketing team gave a great presentation on how to harness the opportunities that the social network offers. Here are a few key points I drew from talking to them and from my Twitter experiences with Reedsy so far.
Build your Brand: Make the Right First Impression
Compared to other social networks like Facebook or Linkedin, Twitter allows your content (tweets) to reach a very wide following and create a high number of impressions. This means that, whatever your click-through rate is on those tweets, your “brand” is going to be more visible on Twitter and reach more users organically.
If they click through to your Twitter profile, make sure you have:
- Your logo as profile picture
- A branded cover image
- An engaging and SEO-friendly blurb
- A link to your website
- A pinned tweet about your website or product
- Set a theme color that matches your logo
- Have your “pinned tweet” display a “Twitter card”
This last one is a bit tricky, but can be incredibly powerful. Our Reedsy pinned twitter card has been retweeted almost 100 times now! To learn more about which card is right for you and how to set it up, you can read Twitter’s comprehensive documentation page here.
Once you’ve taken care of all the “static” metadata of your Twitter page, it’s time to think about your “feed” (i.e. what you’re going to be tweeting about). Twitter recommends keeping an 80/20 ratio of engaging content vs direct offers. It’s important that your feed doesn’t show the same tweet repeated, but rather a mixture of resources, images, news about your product, etc.
Connect with your existing users
Getting more followers can seem daunting, because most startups think, “how can I reach more potential customers through Twitter?” And finding new customers, as we all know, is not easy.
That said, there is a very simple way to grow your Twitter following: connecting with existing customers — whether you found them online or offline — on Twitter. Here are a few things you can do to make that happen:
- Include your @handle in all your communications and marketing materials (business cards, flyers, banners, etc.)
- Organize regular Twitter Q&As or chats with a certain #hashtag and offer an incentive for customers to join you on the chat
- Include a Twitter sharer at the end of the signup/onboarding process that prompts the user to share their signing up
Bonus: If your “Twitter sharer” seems to be working (i.e. a good percentage of users use it after signing up), make sure you optimize it! You can, for example, make sure it creates a Twitter card within their tweet, or shares a nice branded image. Moreover, make sure that after tweeting it, the user gets a little window prompting them to follow you on Twitter.
Of course, depending on your marketing channels and strategies, there are a lot of other things you can do. At Reedsy, we love content marketing and we find it effective to include a sentence at the end of every post asking our readers to follow us on Twitter. We also include a couple of “Click To Tweets” that make it easier to share the best bits, as you can see in this post!
If your startup creates or sells physical products, there are a number of creative things you can do, like including your handle directly on the packaging!
Find New Customers: #Hashtags & Twitter Advanced Search
Getting your existing customers to follow and tweet about you is the best way to reach new potential customers on Twitter. That said, you can be proactive by using hashtags and Twitter advanced search to find and interact with people who’d potentially be interested in your product.
If you know your industry well, you are usually aware of the hashtags your customers like to use. In tech for example: #growthhacking #startup #fundraising or #tech are very popular hashtags. By including them in your tweets, you will reach more people than just your followers. You can also check their feed regularly and interact with other users using them (in a non-spammy way, of course).
Twitter advanced search is another powerful way to find users who match certain interests, based on what they tweet, what hashtags they use, what their blurb is, etc. It allows for a level of granularity that can be particularly useful to find early adopters or beta-testers for your product. It can also be used to find all the major “influencers” in your industry. Here’s a good article by Social Media Examiner about how to use the Twitter advanced search form.
Once you’ve built a solid presence on Twitter — and if that presence starts bringing you leads and conversions — then you should start experimenting with Twitter ads. As with any other form of advertising, it is easy to pour money down the drain without seeing any results. This is why you should first do a bit of research on Twitter’s advertising platform and then define a strategy:
- What are your objectives? Do you want more followers, more impressions, more leads, more conversions?
- How are you going to target your customers? Geographically, through interests, or through an existing database (remarketing)?
- What kind of ad and copy do you want to test?
Whatever assumptions you make for these questions, test them. Twitter has a very helpful analytics platform that you should monitor daily both for your organic and paid activity. If you don’t know where to start, though, here are some insights into what usually works best.
The most popular kind of advertising on Twitter for startups is the conversion-based one. It requires you to add a “pixel” (tracker) to your website to keep track of conversions. If you have a complex conversion funnel, make sure you place that pixel in the right place: not so far down the funnel that Twitter won’t be able to optimize on it, but also not so far up that your conversions won’t actually mean anything. For most startups, the “sign up complete” page should be a safe bet to start testing.
Hashtags can be very powerful for targeting, but another popular tactic is to target users interested in competitors. This works particularly well if you have a strong differentiation factor that you can sum up in a few characters.
There are lots of things to test here, but whatever you test, make sure your advertised tweets includes either a strong image or a Twitter card. Embedded videos (through Twitter cards) are also definitely worth a test!
Can’t sponsor an event? That’s ok, there’s Twitter Ads!
The next thing we’re going to test at Reedsy is our “virtual” presence through a conference/trade show using Twitter advertising. Trade shows are expensive to sponsor and competition for visibility is always fierce.
Luckily, these conferences (especially in the tech industry) have very active hashtags and encourage all attendees to tweet heavily. That’s why it can be a good idea to skip a conference and “hijack” it instead through Twitter ads. You’ll just need to set up a campaign targeting the hashtag during the days of the conference with a couple of sponsored tweets. This way, every time an attendee checks the hashtag feed of the conference, they will see your sponsored tweet sitting on top of the feed. This can give you much more visibility than a stand at the conference or a swag insert in attendee bags.
Of course, it’s possible that you won’t be the only company doing it. And it’s equally possible that the hashtag won’t be active, but it’s certainly worth testing since this is significantly cheaper than attending in person or sending someone.
Every Twitter user experience is different. Some things work better for companies while others have to find new methods of gaining social media traffic, so don’t hesitate to share what has (or hasn’t) worked for you in the comments below!