11 positive changes that you need to make to your Twitter – now!

ToddTweetingAs a Twitter fan, user, trainer and manager I see a lot of tweets and I see a lot of good and bad activity on the super highway of communication. In fact, I’m often mocked for my attempt to rid the world of poor tweeting. I’m just very passionate about my industry, and I try to help people use Twitter more effectively rather than wasting valuable time just randomly tweeting! 

Twitter is an incredible platform for business and the effects it can have on your brand and sales can and should be amazing. But it’s all too simple to misunderstand what it is about Twitter that works for other businesses, and it’s oh so easy to lose hours of valuable time too.

So here are 11 positive changes that you need to make to your Twitter – now!

1) Stop broadcasting, and start talking and listening

Twitter is a phenomenal tool for businesses that want to build an engaged audience who will trust them, and consider using them in future. But so many businesses think that Twitter is like the marketing of old. Shout your message, sell your product and wait for people to come. No!

Twitter is about conversation. By all means talk to people about your products and educate them about your services. But take an interest in their needs and what they want… even if that’s nothing to do with what you can sell them. It’s about them first of all, and then it’s about you.

2) Don’t let your message be a turn-off

The world has changed its attitude to buying. The advertising of old may still be around but just look at the changes that have happened over the last few years. Adverts are now more often about intrigue and brand awareness and going viral on social than selling a particular product.

Brands now know that to really get a customer’s attention that they need to attract it on a different level. Most people disappear during TV adverts to make tea or relieve themselves. Don’t be the commercials in the soap opera – be the soap opera! Be interesting and entertaining on Twitter and people will listen and engage with you. Don’t be an account that people learn to skim over!

3) People buy from people (not billboards and adverts)

This is not news; in fact it’s a cliché! People have always done business with other people. It’s not about businesses and companies, it’s about the people inside them. Twitter gives us the chance to be a real person and show people you’re more than just a brand.

Think about your humble local baker, butcher or florist. You buy from there because you like the product, but you wouldn’t if you didn’t like the owner. You also don’t speak to the shop front and its signage outside; you do business with the person inside the business. Be the shopkeeper, not the shop front.

4) Don’t reply to people with useful information

What? That’s a crazy idea. Surely I’m not suggesting ignoring questions? No, that would be crazy – but then so would only telling a few people about your business instead of 1000s, right?!

Welcome to the biggest mistake most people make on Twitter. When you reply to someone on Twitter their @ name appears at the very beginning of the tweet. This means that only you, the person you’re replying to, and anyone who happens to follow you both will see it.

Got some great information to reply to someone with? MENTION them. Just put anything in front of their name (a full stop is common, but hello or hi is nice) and then your followers who are online at that time will see it too. Again, make sure it makes sense on its own and that you’re helping others, rather than being spammy.

5) Show yourself!

Here’s the problem with company Twitter accounts. The whole set up is the brand and the logo. But that’s all about the shop and not the shopkeeper again. Show your face!

When you speak to someone on the phone that you’ve never met, you imagine what they look like, don’t you? It’s human nature to assess people. On Twitter you can’t hear tweets, and you can’t tell who the person is. Use a photo of yourself if possible; it’s a great way to cement that human connection online.

6) Not tweeting enough?

I’ll be honest: most accounts tweet nowhere near enough. Here’s why you need to increase your tweeting output. I follow around 1200 people and that gives me a lot of tweets to see. I don’t read them all. I read the ones that are there when I hop on for a catch up as and when I can, and the ones that constantly give me value. Your followers do this too.

To be sure they see you when they’re online, be sure to spread your message across the day. Post at different times and measure which times work best and post the best stuff then. Be sure to post regularly and post quality posts. If someone follows you but they already follow 1000s of accounts you have some serious competition for attention.

7) Schedule your output (but not all of it!)

Not everyone has four hours a day to spend on Twitter (I don’t), so you can use automation to ensure you tick the box of the point above. There are some great tools out there but Tweetdeck and Hootsuite get my vote for their simplicity.

BUT! Don’t rely on automation to build an audience of loyal followers unless you’re a world-renowned blogger or thought leader. Scheduling allows you to be there when you’re too busy working, but don’t ignore the interactions from those posts and don’t replace yourself with a machine. (You know it’s about people!)

8) Turn off your auto-DMs – NOW!

I follow a new account on Twitter. They follow back. I get an automated Direct Message (DM) from them thanking me for following and asking me to visit their website or do something else. I unfollow them.

Stop this craziness! This is Twitter, not your office email. I don’t expect a reply back straight away because you’re too busy –I get that. But If I do get a response I want it to be a human one. If you can’t be bothered to interact in a human way now, what’s going to change? Be human from the start – first impressions count!

9) Stop retweeting your entire timeline

I followed you for the great content in your bio, not for the tweets all the people you follow send out.

Your Twitter should be you showing your style, your business and your industry. Absolutely retweet useful content if it’s relevant to your brand and your audience, but don’t just spam your followers because you can’t think of anything to tweet! And please don’t just retweet any praise you get. Add value to it, or include your own message.

10) Create Twitter lists

Still underused, but so good for organising your time on Twitter, lists are the perfect way to put like-minded people you follow in one place.

Go to your profile and click on lists and create one. Add people to it that you want to make sure you don’t miss content from. Then you can check your lists every day instead of that busy home timeline.

Be sure to give the lists a descriptive name and be aware that public lists will be visible to those people, so call them something sensible and not offensive!

Use some hashtags – with care!

Hashtags are the perfect way to engage a new audience on the subject that you’re into. Hashtags put your tweet into a separate place with all the other tweets also using that hashtag. So if you put #SocialMedia in your tweet it will appear with everyone else’s tweets with #SocialMedia in.

Hashtags are especially good for events and if you’re off to an industry event soon make sure you find out the hashtag for the event – even if it’s just one people have started using off their own backs.

The best way to find which hashtag to use is to search Twitter for the event name. Check the Twitter account if it has one, or just scan through the conversation about it. You find a few versions of one hashtag. Use the most popular one and follow it by saving it in a search on Tweetdeck or your smartphone’s app.  I’ve often connected with more people at events after the event via hashtags than by meeting people there. Often I find people on Twitter I didn’t even know were there!

So there’s my 11 positive changes you can make today – and there’s plenty more where they came from too. Twitter is all about adapting and changing with the trends. It’s a completely organic community driven by the people on it. Twitter is actually extremely simple; it’s the people on it who are complicated.

Never forget why Twitter was invented. It was designed to keep humans in contact with other humans. It has been a success for businesses who remember this and use it to communicate with their audience when the reader is ready, when they’re there and when they’re on the same level of communication.

This is social media (the clue’s in the title) so don’t get too hung up on your sales pitch!

Now it’s over to you. Do you have number 12 or 13? What do you think would be a positive change to make on your tweeting? Feel free to Tweet me @SocialMediaTodd or comment below!


Marketme is a leading small business to small business news, marketing advice and product review website. Supporting business across the UK with sponsored article submissions and promotions to a community of over 50,000 on Twitter.