It may not be as big as Facebook or Instagram, but with more than five million Australians active on the platform, and a 280-character limit keeping things short and sweet, including Twitter in your social media marketing strategy can be well worth it.

Firing off a tweet isn’t a big time investment, but a successful Twitter marketing campaign takes a lot of planning and dedication, and most small businesses feel they don’t have the time or resources. If you’re debating whether Twitter marketing is worth it for you, here are the basics you need to know.

Optimise your profile

Getting your Twitter profile right is important for making a good impression and making sure more people find you. The key elements are:

  • Handle – your @username should be your business name or a minor variation if it’s taken by someone else. This should be consistent with your other social media profiles.
  • Profile image – this appears next to every tweet, so it should be identifiable. Most companies use a version of their logo or a photo of their CEO.
  • Header image – your background image can communicate your brand’s personality or a current offer. It can be changed as often as you want to keep things fresh.
  • Bio – the concise description of your business or mission statement. Limited to 160 characters (like this bullet point), you need to make every character count.
  • Website link – include a link to your homepage under your bio. You can also include your company’s birthday here.
  • Location – tell your followers where you’re located. This is especially important for local marketing.
  • Verification – you need to be fairly established before you can apply for account verification, but this helps to increase authority and trust.

Post engaging content

If you’re already marketing on Facebook, Twitter isn’t too dissimilar, but there are some differences to keep in mind when writing content fit for your followers.

  • Keep it short – Twitter increased its character limit from 140 to 280 characters a few years back (the length of this bullet point). This gives more space for your marketing message, but could still mean learning to write short and snappy if you’re more used to other platforms.
  • Make it shareable – Twitter thrives on reposts (retweets). Posts that are original, interesting or entertaining are more likely to be shared. Market research will give you ideas about what your audience is interested in.
  • Have conversations – Twitter isn’t a one-way street. Aim to start or chime in on ongoing discussions, splitting your response over multiple tweets if necessary.
  • Be visual – posts with images, GIFs and videos get more attention and engagement than plain text, as well as fitting more information into a single tweet. Videos should be short and to the point and should also contain text, since many people have the sound muted.
  • Be consistent – people will come to know your brand’s tone and personality, so aim for consistency even if multiple people use the account. Post as often as you can, at times when your audience is most engaged.
  • Involve your audience – asking questions and running polls and contests with prizes encourages people to interact with your business.

Optimise your content

Users search on Twitter for answers, news and trending topics, so SEO principles apply. On Twitter, this mainly means:

  • Target keywords – decide what keywords you want to rank for and use these (and variations) consistently in your tweets.
  • Include a CTA – if you want users to take an action after reading your post, whether it’s to follow you or visit your website, make this clear with a call to action.
  • Use hashtags – Twitter popularised the hashtag that lets you align your posts with trending topics or create your own category. Twitter recommends limiting hashtags to 1 or 2 per tweet.

We’ve written a whole series on this, telling you everything you need to know about hashtags.

Engage with your followers

If you use Twitter as an advertising billboard, you’re not going to win over many followers. You need to get involved and treat your followers how you want to be treated. This means:

  • Respond to questions, comments and direct messages as promptly as possible (you can get away with checking messages once daily)
  • Retweet posts from your followers or other accounts you follow that are relevant to your brand and your audience
  • Listen to the most important conversations on and off Twitter so you can give your business’ response (if appropriate)
  • Talk to your followers by hosting a Twitter Chat at an agreed time, if there’s a topic you all want to talk about
  • Sort through the noise of your busy feed by setting up Twitter Lists to categorise conversations according to account or topic

Using Twitter for promotion

While most of your time on Twitter will be spent growing your audience and your reputation, it’s also a valuable promotional tool when used sparingly.

  • Include links to your website in relevant tweets and your bio
  • Retweet other users’ posts that mention you
  • Add a Twitter social button to your website, your email signature and other profiles
  • Consider embedding your Twitter Timeline on your website
  • Create landing pages for your Twitter promotions to increase conversions

Analyse your success

You’ll have detailed insights into how well your Twitter marketing is going with the platform’s extensive analytics tools, covering areas such as:

  • Engagement – how many people interact with specific posts
  • Impressions – how often you appear in feeds
  • Hashtags – how many times your custom hashtags are used

This data and more will help you decide whether Twitter marketing is worth it, bearing in mind that like all organic digital marketing, it takes time to build the momentum.

Paid advertising

If you want faster results from Twitter than organic marketing can provide, you can sign up for paid ads. Twitter claims that users spend 26% more time viewing ads on the platform compared to the other major platforms. The options are:

  • Twitter Ads – promote your account to gain followers, increase website traffic or other goals
  • Promoted Tweets – promote selected tweets to your target audiences
  • Influencer marketing – work with influential personalities to promote your brand to their followers

Twitter adds new features for businesses every year, so you should keep updated with the latest marketing tools. Read more social media marketing tips in the Civic Web Media blog.