You’ve probably come to the point when you can no longer avoid the world of #hashtags, “trending topics,” and Twitter handles. But how can messages that max out at 140 characters really help your business thrive – especially if you don’t have a consumer audience?

For any company, Twitter is a valuable tool if you use it right, which is why over 80 percent of Fortune 500 companies are active on the platform. According to Hubspot, 80 percent of participants in a survey had found that social media efforts have increased their company’s web traffic, with 66 percent attributing lead generations to social media efforts.

Interesting content gets people engaged with your company and brand, and can generate 3 times as many leads as traditional marketing per dollar spent.

Even once you accept that Twitter has become the new face of marketing, you will probably set up an account only to find yourself staring at this little bird:

Twitter

Now what?

Before you channel your company voice into that one perfect tweet, here are some important things to keep in mind about Twitter.

 

Be a human

Even well-oiled social media machines sometimes turn out robotic messages on Twitter: “X said this, [insert link]” and “X reported this, [insert link]” tend to be two of the most common messages seen across corporate accounts. Before you start to write like this, step back. What are you contributing to the conversation? Smart companies know that Twitter is not the place to be robotic. An approachable tone can help with this, and even humor if that suits your brand.

 

Engage with other users

No one likes the person who comes to the party, talks at people about a random topic, and then leaves. If you ignore the existing conversation, your message won’t stick. Twitter works on the same principle. Fortunately, Twitter displays trending hashtags and topics next to your feed, so you can see what a large portion of users are talking about and join the fun by engaging with thought leaders. This is critical if you’re going to use social media correctly, as you can tie in your personal marketing messages to existing conversations.

 

Get creative

Just as novels range from super interesting to utterly boring and dense, so do tweets. When deciding your content marketing strategy, don’t limit yourself. People like narratives, visuals, videos, fun facts, trivia, you name it! It’s hard to make a splash when you’re tweeting the same things as your competitors. Think outside the box and you shall be rewarded.

 

It’s a conversation, not a sales pitch

Few people are on social media to learn about your products – they are going on Twitter to learn something new about your company, something beyond the marketing material that’s on your website. Does that mean that you can’t market yourself? Not at all. You just have to take care of how you craft your message. It’s acceptable to encourage people to visit your website, but don’t let that be all you offer.

To put these tips into perspective, here’s a quick anecdote about Antenna’s Twitter.
One day, I was surfing the internet when I found a trending topic called #bigblockofcheese. (Now let me tell you – I’m a big brie fan. I cheddar give up the opportunity to talk cheese.)

Intrigued, I began to explore what people were tweeting about.

It turns out that “Big Block of Cheese Day” was actually an opportunity for citizens to engage with officials in the White House via social media. The event was invented by the writers of the West Wing, who named it after President Andrew Jackson’s open house in 1837 that featured a 1,400-pound(!) block of cheese. Obama’s administration brought the event to life with an online day of citizen engagement with the White House on policy issues. Twitter users had the opportunity to ask key officials their most burning questions, focusing on a range of topics from climate change to education and immigration.

Tweeting on Antenna’s behalf about energy and climate, I chirped loud enough to garner the attention of Ernest Moniz, Secretary of Energy, and Gina McCarthy, head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Today, anyone who looks at back Antenna’s Twitter feed can see this discussion. Twitter made it possible for Antenna to incorporate conversation with top White House brass into our social media marketing. Not too shabby for a day’s work.

So what are you waiting for? Go forth!

And don’t forget to tweet about this blog post.

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