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How much should you spend on Facebook Ads?

 

This simple, logical formula will help you plan your social ads spend.

Facebook advertising offers a relatively low cost, highly effective form of advertising. For many growing businesses, Facebook ads is the most powerful advertising method available, as it allows for clear measurability, and access to very targeted audiences at a relatively low cost.

While there is no one-size fits all formula to help a business calculate their budget for a Facebook ads spend, we have created a formula below that will help businesses begin to set concrete marketing and spending projections for their efforts.

A Few Helpful Statistics to Note:

  • Average Facebook Ad Click-Thru Rate: 0.9%
  • Average Website Conversion Rate 1.0%-10.0%
  • Average Facebook Cost Per Click $0.64
  • Average Facebook Cost Per 1,000 Impressions: $5.99
  • 6 to 8 touches to make a sale
  • Conversions with remarketing is 4x higher than native efforts

(Source)

Step 1: Determine your goal for Facebook Advertising

Are you looking to build brand awareness? Consider measuring impressions or reach. Are you seeking to get online conversions such as contacts, sales, or sign-ups for your email list? Measure things like website click-thru. (Click here to view our guide to measuring marketing success for more measurement ideas.)

 

Step 2: Gather Data

You’ll need to find the following pieces of data about your own marketing:

  • How many visitors does it take to convert (contact or email sign-up) on your website?

Configure Google Analytics Goals to determine this. If you don’t have that figure, assume a 1-3% conversion rate for initial estimation purposes. If you get direct sales through your site, you’ll want to adjust your numbers below to accommodate.

  • What is your sales process conversion rate for individuals who contact you or sign up for your email list? Once someone signs up for your email list or contacts you, what is the likelihood that they will become a customer or client?
  • How much valid (non-spam) traffic does your website receive each month from sources other than Facebook, such as Google, referral traffic, or email marketing?

 

Reverse Engineer Your Path

Let’s say that you’ve decided your business requires 10 sales per month. You’ve gathered your data and figured out that:

  1. You have a 1% conversion rate on your website. Therefore, for every 1,000 visitors that you receive, 100 of them sign up for your email list or contact you for more information.
  2. You have a 25% sales process conversion rate. For every 100 people that sign up for your email list or contact you, 25 of them become customers or clients.
  3. You receive 500 visitors per month from sources such as email, search engine traffic, and referrals.

From this data, you can glean that it will take 1,000 qualified visitors to achieve 10 sales per month. (Note: this will strongly depend on your sale process, but this should bear true, as it is based on your historic performance data.)

Now…

  • 1,000 Visits Per Month x 1% Conversion Rate=100 contacts per month
  • If, of 100 contacts, 10% end in a sale – 1,000 visitors should yield 10 sales per month.
  • If you get 500 visitors per month from sources such as email, search engine traffic, and referrals, you will need an additional 500 visits from qualified, interested parties.
  • Facebook Ads yield 0.9% click-thru rate. Therefore, it will take 55,555 website impressions to achieve 500 qualified website visitors to bring you to that goal of 1,000 qualified website visitors each month.
  • Average cost per 1,000 impressions = $5.99
  • Therefore, $329.45 per month would be the LOW end of your budget, assuming that your visitors are warm, well-qualified, well-targeted leads. This is assuming that you can convert someone in just 1 impression or interaction, because they are already familiar with what you have to offer. Remember that earlier statistic, 6 to 8 touches to close a sale…
  • If your audience is not established and has not had any interactions with you in the past, you will only be reaching non-fans to sell, drive traffic, and grow your lists. That is less effective and more expensive than targeting fans who expect (and desire) to see your content. You will need to multiply the number above times 6 or 8 in order to engage each individual enough to get them to convert. Therefore, you can expect that the HIGH end of your budget would be $1,976.70 to $2,635.60 per month

 

Ways to reduce your cost

The numbers above may seem impossible to budget for. Remember that over time, you can reduce your cost by keeping your audience engaged. You can also reduce your cost through retargeting (which has been shown to be up to 4x more effective, and 50% less expensive than ads without pixel retargeting). Here are other ways that you can reduce the cost of your Facebook ads spend:

  • Quality targeting
  • Long-term relationships with a warm and active audience
  • Retargeting with Facebook Pixels (increase conversion by 4x, reduce cost by as much as 50%)
  • Increase traffic from other sources by improving your search rank, email quality, and referral traffic

If you’re looking for other ways to grow your business through a comprehensive strategy, consider our small business coaching program, available to businesses nationwide. Click here for more information on marketing and business coaching.

If you want to learn more useful information like this, consider our Liftoff Business classes, available in person (in St. Louis) or online. Click here to view our schedule.

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SOCIAL-MEDIA-MARKETING-TIPS-2016-ST LOUIS SOCIAL MEDIA CONSULTANT

A Quick Tip for Deeper Social Media Connections

Social Media Marketing Tips 2016If you follow me on Twitter (@STLDanni), you’ll see me tweet out every random question that pops into my head. I love the collective knowledge available when you tap into this social network. Twitter, above all others, has a very active, motivated, intelligent group of people. You just have to get to know them.

Asking quick questions and getting recommendations or help will deepen your connections on Twitter, and can open you or your business up to new business and new partnerships.

I also do this because I love to learn from others and firmly believe that you get what you ask for. It almost never hurts to ask questions. It’s not likely to damage your reputation by showing that you don’t know it all – and it can certainly show others that you’re willing to learn, and want to know the latest and the best.
The same is true for your brand. Your brand has a personality – and it likely has needs – whether it’s event parters, sponsors, volunteers, a referral, or help troubleshooting a problem for a customer or client.
The results have always been phenomenal when I’ve reached out to the Twitterverse on behalf of a brand. When planning Garbage Bag Gala for The Salvation Army, I tweeted out from Salvation Army seeking recommendations on potential partners for the upcoming event and the result was THOUSANDS of dollars of in-kind partnerships and donations.

Engaging in a back and forth – real conversation – on behalf of your brand is an absolute must. Try it this week.

-Danni

social media marketing 2016

10 Social Media Marketing Hacks You Need to Try

By Rease Kirchner (@IndecisiveRease)

Looking to up your social media marketing game? These 10 hacks will help you take your social media skills to the next level, not to mention get you greater reach, better engagement, and more followers.

1. Use Images

This one may seem obvious, but it’s not just about using images, it’s about how to use them on each specific platform. Did you know there is an image size that works best on Facebook and that it’s totally different from Instagram or Twitter? For example 1200 x 630 images show up best on a Facebook timeline, while an ideal Instagram post is 1080 x 1080.

Twitter is often overlooked when it comes to images, because they weren’t always supported. However, Twitter now allows images to show up directly in stream. The recommended dimensions are 506 x 253. Adding an image to your Tweet does eat into your already small 140 characters a bit, but the loss is worth the gain. Adding an image makes your Tweet stand out much better as people scroll through their feed. You can also add text to the image if you have a bit more to say than your limited characters allow.

Bonus Tip: YouTube videos can be embedded to make them playable directly on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest. That means you can draw people in with a visual and rack up some views on your video, all while keeping people on the social media platform.

2. Post Blogs on LinkedIn

This is a rarely used but very valuable feature. When you write a blog post, you can also publish it directly on LinkedIn, getting it in front of the eyes of people who are connected to you and thus have a higher probability of being interested in the subject matter you are covering. You can link the post back to your site as well, giving you a chance to grab some more traffic. You’ll also have a chance to be featured through LinkedIn Pulse, which is an aggregate of all the best content published on LinkedIn in a single day. If you snag a featured spot, you could easily gain hundreds of views.

3. Use IFTTT recipes

IFTTT, or If This Then That is an amazing tool that lets you set up “recipes” that basically add up to “if this happens, then this happens” So, for example, if you often peruse the internet for great articles but never remember to share them when social media marketing, you can set up an IFTTT recipe that automatically sends those articles to a queue on a scheduling platform such as Buffer. That way, the next time you login to Buffer, you’ll have plenty of content to choose from for scheduling posts.

Another great IFTTT recipe is to use your Instagram photos more effectively. Instagram allows you to auto-post to several platforms directly through the app, but as we said in tip #1, optimal image sizes differ across platforms. Instagram photos also show up as a link, not an image, on Twitter, which is not nearly as eye-catching. IFTTT allows you to set up a recipe to share Instagram posts through different platforms, so your beautiful photo can show up as an in-stream photo on platforms like Twitter, instead a link that has a pretty low likelihood of being clicked.

4. Use Grammarly

Is there anything more embarrassing than using “their” when you should have used “there” or messing up a perfectly witty tweet with a typo? Whether you are simply not a master of grammar or you just have a tendency to think faster than you type, Grammarly can help. Think of this browser plug-in as a helpful grammar nerd that peeks over your shoulder as you compose posts and alerts you to any grammatical or spelling errors.

5. Use Iconosquare

While many people think of Instagram as a platform to share photos instantly and in the moment, that’s not a great strategy if you are looking for high engagement numbers. Generally, users only scroll through Instagram for so long before they get bored of double tapping photos, so if your photo isn’t posted during active times, it’s not likely to be seen at all. Enter Iconosqaure. This handy tool analyzes your followers and past engagements and gives you the optimal times to post for every day of the week. Once you start posting photos when your followers are actually active, you are likely to see a nice boost in likes and comments.

6. Highlight text before clicking “Pin it”

This is such a simple trick that will save you time and effort. Before clicking “Pin It” on an image, highlight any relevant text from the website. When you click “Pin It,” the highlighted text will automatically be added to description box. So simple, yet so useful.

7. Clean up your Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr with “Friend or Follow”

Social media sites are full of people who follow users in mass in hopes of getting followed back. Days or even weeks later, those mass-followers do a purge and unfollow in mass as well. Rude.

Luckily, Friend or Follow can help you weed out these people. This tool will show you everyone you follow and let you know if they are following back. You can unfollow in mass or pick and choose who is worthy of your unrequited follow.

8. Surf LinkedIn Anonymously

The LinkedIn “Profile Viewed By” feature is either incredibly helpful or super annoying, depending on which side of it you are on. If you are looking to search profiles without worrying about users knowing you were reading up on them, try using LinkedIn anonymously. Simply go to “Privacy & Settings” on your profile then choose “Privacy Controls.” From there you can choose “Select what others see when you’ve viewed their profile” and you will be given an option to be completely anonymous. This is a total win if you are doing research and don’t necessarily want the subjects to know who you are, or perfect for some light internet stalking.

9. Create a Printable Resume directly from LinkedIn

Have you ever looked at your perfectly crafted LinkedIn profile and wished you could just send prospective employers to your profile page instead of providing them with a resume? Well, you can have the next best thing. By using LinkedIn’s ResumeBuilder, you can take your LinkedIn profile and turn it into a printable resume within minutes. Boom. Updated resume, locked and loaded, no formatting requiring.

10. Join Social Buzz Club

This “club” is basically an online community that lets you earn shares by sharing other users’ posts. You can pick and choose the content you share, so you can still keep content relevant to your audience’s interests. Every time you share another member’s content, you earn “shares” that you can then use to have other users share your content on their social media profiles. It’s a great way to gain traction for content without spending any actual money.

So which one of these social media marketing hacks are you dying to try? Let us know if any of these totally changed your social media game!

 

How to Know When to Post on Social Media

By Rease Kirchner (@IndecisiveRease)

Content marketing may begin with great content, but even the best content won’t get any traction if it isn’t promoted properly. Let’s say you write an incredible article, then you take the time to craft your words for a clever Facebook post, and also design the perfect image. You hit the post button, full of confidence, ready for the likes and comments to roll in, and get nothing but crickets. Chances are, you’re talking to an empty room, or, in Social Media terms, posting when your audience isn’t around to see it. So how can you figure out when to post on social media?

Social Media Marketing is different for every business

If there were set times that worked for everyone, Social Media platforms would explode with activity for only a few hours of every day. We all know that social media is active 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – so the key is to figure out when your audience is active. It may take some time and effort to hunt down the data you need, but knowing when to post can really make your engagement numbers soar. Let’s take a look at the data that different social media platforms collect for you, and then explore some external tools that can help you dig even deeper into your audience’s habits.

Facebook Insights

Facebook has a built in analytics tool that has some pretty valuable information. To access Insights, go to your Facebook page and click the “Insights” tab in the top menu, then click on “Posts” on the left sidebar.

The Posts section will show you when you audience is active on Facebook, both by days of the week and by hours throughout the day. In the following example, the audience remains pretty active every day of the week, but users don’t start logging on until around 10am, with the most popular times being around noon and 5pm. Posting at those times would likely increase engagement and reach on posts.

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This report from a different business page shows a very different trend. This page’s audience starts getting active around noon, but the most popular time is actually 9pm. The audience still remains fairly consistent in activity throughout the week, but you can see that Mondays and Saturdays are the most active days, so the best times to post on this page would most likely be Mondays or Saturdays at 9pm. Of course, it’s clear that the audience is active any time between 12pm and 9pm, so it would be best to play around with different schedules within that time frame.

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Twitter Analytics

To access Twitter Analytics, go to your Twitter Page, click on your Avatar, and select “Analytics” from the drop down menu.

Twitter Analytics is not as robust as Facebook Insights, so you won’t be able to gather too many details about your audience, but it does offer a little information. When it comes to choosing when to post on social media, you want to know about your reach, so when looking at Twitter Analytics, you’ll want to check your “Tweet Highlights” and look for which tweets got the most impressions. Your top tweets will show how many impressions they received, which gives you a rough estimate of your reach at the time of the tweet.  Keep in mind that impressions can be gained through retweets and also through specific searches, such as searches for a hashtag included in the tweet, so those numbers are not directly linked to the time you posted.  It’s not an exact science, but if you notice a trend of higher impressions when you tweet at a certain time, that’s a good indicator that your audience is scrolling through their Twitter feed around that time.

Pinterest Analytics

Pinterest Analytics is only available for Business Accounts, so make sure you set up your account as a Business and not Personal. To access Pinterest Analytics, go to your profile page, click the gear icon, and choose “Analytics” from the dropdown menu. From there, click on “Your Audience”

Pinterest data falls somewhere in between Facebook and Twitter for usefulness; it doesn’t offer as many details as Facebook, but it does give you more than Twitter has to offer. The “Your Audience” page will give you a look at what days your account got the most impressions, which can help you decide what days are best to add new pins. This page also gives you a breakdown on where you audience lives, which is helpful for when you are thinking about posting times. For example, if most of your audience is on the East Coast of the United States, you’d want to keep that time zone in mind when choosing your posting times.

External Tools

If you really want detailed data, you’re going to have to incorporate a few external tools.

Hootsuite

If you’re on a tight budget and feeling lazy but still want to post on social media at optimal times, Hootsuite’s integrated scheduler is pretty useful, and it’s free for up to 3 social media accounts. This platform allows you to add Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, WordPress, and Instagram. If your accounts are established enough for Hootsuite to pull activity data, you can simply type up a post, hit the handy “Autoschedule” button, and let Hootsuite choose the optimal time for you. It should be noted that this does not yet work for Instagram, due to Instagram’s security parameters. It does, however, work quite well for other platforms. The catch? It only works the day of, meaning you can only get the optimal time for the next 12 hours or so, not for the whole week. If you want to schedule out for more than a day, you’ll have to choose the time yourself.

Buffer

Buffer, like Hootsuite, is a great free tool that analyzes data for you, and chooses the best times to post based off that data. This tool also has a free version, with the capabilities getting more robust if you shell out the cash to “Upgrade to Awesome” as Buffer puts it.

Buffer integrates with Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, and Google+ on the free version, and throws Pinterest into the mix in the paid version. Buffer lets you choose how many times you want to post throughout the day and then picks several optimal times for those posts to go out for each different platform. Once it has those times, you can set it up to always post at those times whenever you schedule something within the platform. This is a step up from Hootsuite, because it lets you schedule out posts for a much longer period of time, all with the optimal posting time set in place.

Iconosquare

Instagram is beloved by users, but it can be really difficult when it comes to scheduling ahead of time and getting analytics. Iconosqaure is one of the best tools for getting data, but the free version is fairly limited. If you work the paid version into your budget, you will be rewarded with data on your most popular posts, followers, and a chart comparing your current posting habits to a schedule that shows when your posts are most likely to get interactions from your audience. You can request an updated version of this at any time, so it allows you to keep a pulse on new followers and also see if your current posting habits are properly lining up with your users’ most active times.

social media strategy st louis

This data is great, but unless you want to be a slave to your phone, you’ll have to figure out a way to schedule Instagram posts, which involves another tool.

Schedugram

You’ll have to pay for a subscription to this tool, but it does allow you to manage several accounts at once, and schedule Instagram posts ahead of time. Schedugram allows you to upload a photo, do some light editing, and include both a description and first comment with your photo, which is helpful for anyone who likes to use that first comment to load up on hashtags without crowding your description. This tool does not have any autoschedule or optimal time suggestions though, so you’ll have to figure out your posting strategy using data gathered elsewhere.

Monitor the data and watch your results

Content marketing is complicated and Social Media marketing involves keeping a close eye on the data. Make sure you review your data at least once a month, if not more often, to ensure that your audience’s habits have not significantly changed and to ensure that the times you are posting give your content the best chance of getting seen.  Social media is an invaluable tool for promoting your content, so make sure you are showing off your content to a “full room,” and not tossing away quality content by sharing it when no one is around to see it.

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Why you should have access to your digital marketing channels

Everyone has their own skills and talents, which is why you likely have a specific role within your company that you are quite good at and very much enjoy doing. It’s important to play to your strengths and know when to pass work onto others who are more qualified in that particular area, such as digital marketing. Hiring a social media consultant, marketing firm, or web design company are great steps towards a solid digital marketing plan, but just because someone else is in charge of these channels, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have access to them.

All too often, businesses contract a digital marketing company and promptly forget all about it. Having confidence in your web designer’s skills is great, but completely checking out of an entire aspect of your business and marketing plan is not a good move. They might be an expert in web design and digital marketing, but you are the expert on your own business. You don’t have to be involved on a daily basis, but there are certain things you should ensure your web design company can offer you.

Social Media Content Editing Capabilities

Sure, a web designer may have a better eye for color schemes and layouts, but the content should come from you. Even if you also contract out for content writing, you should always have easy access to your own website and be able to make minor changes. When hiring a web design company, make sure you request a content management system that allows you to add, edit, and remove content easily without needing to work with code. If you want to publish a blog post about an upcoming event, you should be able to do so quickly, without having to go through your web designer. The same goes for making minor changes such as updates to your business hours, address or phone number changes, or current sales and promotions.

Maintaining content editing capabilities gives you better control over what is shown on your website and also keeps costs and waiting times to a minimum. Consider this – if you have to call or email your web designer every time you need to fix a typo, you will not only rack up more billable hours for the web design company, you will also have to be at the mercy of their schedule, meaning changes could take days or even weeks to go live.

Website Access: Direct contact with your web designer

When it comes to issues you can’t handle on your own, you’ll need to know who to contact. You should always know exactly who is in charge of what when it comes to your website and be able to get in touch with them easily. Some web design companies will have a team working on your site, with each person handling a different aspect of your webpage. In order to streamline communication, you should have access to direct contact information for everyone on the team.

Content Collaboration: Accessing Social Channels

We believe the best social media content comes from the source. Your team has valuable information to share – even if they’re struggling to identify it. Even if hire a social media marketing consultant or marketing agency, be sure to negotiate access to collaborate for authentic team updates on your blog, Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.

Even if you count on someone else to manage the majority of your social media activity, you should always have the logins and full access to every single platform. If you’re having a company event and snap a few photos, you should be able to post them to your Instagram without having to wait on your social media manager. Even if you prefer that most of your posts go through your social media manager, you’ll want to maintain easy access to all of your platforms for convenience, security, and for the sake of accuracy. If you want to change your Facebook cover photo to promote an upcoming event, you should be able to do so. You’ll also want to be able to quickly jump on your accounts should you receive any important messages or complaints from customers.

It’s your company, so you should always have the final say on how you are represented online. Having access to your digital marketing channels is as much about accuracy as it is about convenience, so make sure your web design company works with you and keeps all channels of communication and access open.

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5 marketing trends to be mindful of in 2016

By Danni Eickenhorst

As we look ahead at what’s to come in marketing in 2016, we are seeing that major shifts in digital media are going to shape marketing strategies big and small. Increasingly, businesses of all sizes are finding frustration and failure in their marketing methods. By being aware of these 5 key marketing trends, brands can pivot in their planning – looking ever forward, rather than engaging in another year of reactive marketing.

    1. Continued growth of video content and video ads across all major channels – with a notable strategic increase in Facebook. In fact, some experts are predicting that Facebook will outpace YouTube. In a survey by Demand Metric last fall, an astonishing 74% of businesses reported that video content outperformed other content types in driving conversions. This fact, combined with the incredible reach that Facebook and Twitter now deliver on video content, makes video a MUST for brands in 2016.
    2. Mobile traffic will continue its trend of upward growth and will be at the heart of many of our strategic planning efforts in the New Year. We are seeing mobile outpacing desktop interactions across nearly every medium. With the rise of wearable technology, we’ll be optimizing for new screens and new content experiences.
    3. “Content shock” will continue to impact your marketing strategy – with content marketing struggling to be as effective a medium for many brands. A recent study found that the amount of content being created is far outpacing our desire for it – and our ability to consume it. Brands and small businesses will have to find new ways to stand out from the crowd through higher quality content, advertising, and strategic partnerships.Far and away, we are seeing that longer form content (4,000 or more words) outperforms shorter, punchier content again and again. From a search perspective, this content is richer, and if well written and well-formatted, will lead to longer site visits, which are signals to Google that you are offering strong and useful information.
    4. marketing trends in 2016 marketing trends content creation content production social engagement marketing strategyThe role of the website will continue to change as social media channels encourage publishers to publish on-network. The role of the website will continue to change as well, as digital assistants such as Apple’s Siri and Google Now serve up answers to questions without sending visitors to your site – some of these digital assistants are answering questions outside of traditional search engines as well, opening a new area of optimization needs for your content. In a recent study of 8,800 brands and their marketing, Trackmaven found that brands were creating 78% more content and realizing 60% less engagement than in previous years. And that brings us to our final prediction…
    5. Your marketing will take more time. During times of plentiful business, and during times of difficulty  alike, companies tend to cut their marketing budgets – a move that will invite future failure. Brands are finding that their audiences are demanding QUALITY of content over quantity – a demand that requires more time for creative and strategic considerations. We have found that customers and contractors that we bid our time for 12-18 months ago now take 20-30% more time to deliver on, due to the increasing competition across nearly ever industry. Because of the highly competitive nature of content marketing, there needs to be more time for the thoughtful and strategic distribution of the content you create – particularly if you are looking for insightful metrics to guide your future marketing efforts. Budget your time and your resources accordingly.

If you are looking for help to develop a marketing strategy in 2016, schedule your consultation with one of our digital marketing experts – or reach out to get a quote for marketing services. Schedule a New Year Strategy session online by clicking here. 


 

Reach out for professional help navigating marketing trends in 2016

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Twitter for Business, Simplified

By Danni Eickenhorst, President & Marketing Consultant

Several times a month, I run into business owners who have heard that Twitter is a powerful tool for them to harness, but who have chosen not to try it out for a variety of reasons. The most common? They’re intimidated. It’s confusing.

While I remember feeling that way the first time I tried to use Twitter, it truly couldn’t be farther from the truth – if you look at it just a little bit differently.

Below, we’ve provided some hints and steps that you can take to begin to find a comfort level with this powerful platform. This is a very cursory level introduction, and at the end, we provide our Easy Twitter Start Checklist. For more detailed, higher-level strategy, schedule a one-on-one consultation with our team, follow this blog or attend an upcoming social school class.

What is Twitter?

Twitter is simplicity. It is a continuous conversation in a global room full of people in short bursts. Done correctly, it may be the most powerful tool in your arsenal.

It is a social network where people share “microblogs” or status updates of 140 characters or less. People who follow you or who search for a particular keyword you may have tweeted about, will see your status updates. Anyone who views your profile may see your status updates. Twitter differs from Facebook both in the length of your updates and in that the community available to you through Twitter is very motivated, outspoken and powerful. They are willing to share value when it’s provided, so consider that as you begin crafting your updates. This group is more likely to show up, share, advocate, purchase and engage with your brand than most others, and therefore, provides a unique opportunity for many businesses and individuals.

At first glance, it may seem that Twitter is moving at a breakneck pace, full of spam and self-promotion. All of these are accurate assessments, but while content seems to have a 2 second shelf-life, and it seems that with the large amounts of content coming at you, this platform may need to be continuously monitored, there are some things you can do to make Twitter more manageable:

Keep Twitter in Perspective

Twitter is simply a community. Just like any community, there are ups and downs, and just like every community out there, you will find lurkers, haters and supporters, all there for one reason or another. Just as you work to build community in your neighborhood or place of worship, you cannot get to know your community if you’re isolated and uninvolved. Twitter will only help you find success if you are social, and choose to engage.

Use & Search Hashtags

What is a Hashtag?Just as the graphic at right says, hashtags are merely a form of organization for the content that you share. They allow others who may not be familiar with you or your brand to search for content on a topic and to become connected with what you’re sharing. A few tips for using hashtags:

  1. Don’t overuse hashtags. Try to limit your tweets to 1-3 hashtagged words or phrases.
  2. Don’t string too many words together with a single hashtag, if you want it searchable. Many folks do this for comic effect, which of course, is fine – but, they don’t expect much return in search if they do. The best hashtags are short, to the point and reflect the way others typically search for something.
  3. DO use hashtags for events. A simple hashtag that is shared with event attendees may expand the reach of your local event to a global audience. A few years back, we added the hashtag #TweetTheMostGood to a Salvation Army event, and while there were only 150 attendees at the party we held (max capacity), more than 230,000 people were exposed to the brand and the conversation that night by asking attendees to use the hashtag on all of their tweets, check-ins and photos.

Make Twitter work with your schedule.

Social media can be extremely time-consuming – research, conversations, crafting content. For that reasons, we recommend setting aside time each day to update your channels, and to create a blend of updates that are both live AND prescheduled. One tool we absolutely love is Hootsuite. Hootsuite is a free tool that allows you to monitor the vast amount of information coming through Twitter, and to preschedule content so your account never goes “quiet.” It allows you to monitor any mentions of you or your brand, to search for sentiments or new business and, perhaps most importantly, it allows you to schedule content to post while you’re busy doing other things. Check it out at Hootsuite.com.

Find your tribe + Engage.

TWITTER 101As you’re first building your audience on Twitter, it helps to consider what you wish to achieve or what your brand (personal or professional) is looking to connect with. Find others in your space who are utilizing Twitter, and are doing is well and take note of:

  • LISTS: Visit their profile and look at their lists. (Next to Followers, Following, you should see “Lists.” Click on this.) These are curated lists of other people you should probably also be connected. Follow those folks and engage with their content. Reply to their tweets, retweet their best stuff and become a part of their community.
  • CONTENT STYLING: If you’ve found someone worth watching as a mentor in your industry or interest area, watch what works best with their content – from style and language to best time of day, and begin by applying some of their styling to your own content.

What do I tweet?

“No one cares what I had for breakfast,” is the #1 complaint I hear from folks looking to harness Twitter for the first time. I tell them to “fake it until you make it.” Think out loud. Share until it becomes more natural.

Here are some possible ways for your to engage on Twitter:

  • Live Updates: Attending a conference or knee-deep into a new project? Share that. Many events have hashtags that you can watch, use and share with.
  • Questions: My tribe of followers on Twitter have incredible amounts of experience and collective knowledge in areas that I will never have. I frequently throw out questions to take their temperature on issues, or when I’m stumped and need help. You’ll find that folks on Twitter are quick to help, and motivated to connect and make things happen.
  • @Replies & Retweets: The best way to connect with people is to take that first step. Reply to an interesting tweet, or better yet – make a friend & retweet their content.
  • Blog Posts & Articles: Whether you’re sourcing them from your site or someone else’s (known as “Content Curation”), one way to provide quick updates while showcasing that you’re engaged in an industry or interest is to share an interesting, up-to-date blog post or article on the subject.

and finally…. if you’re looking to use Twitter to bolster your business, then share what you do. Twitter should never be used for OVER-promotion, but if you shoot for 80% non-promotional, 20% promotional to start, you aren’t likely to alienate your hard-won audience.

More Resources to Continue your Twitter Mastery

  • Twitter Growth Domination 2.0: Kim Garst, one of our favorite Twitter marketers, has launched an online course that boils down Twitter to its simplest parts. She has developed an online learning course, which is available online for a short period of time, but which is definitely worth your time. In her mini-course ($9), she shares a smart growth plan that helps you to target your audience on Twitter, and to engage them in just 15 minutes a day.
  • Easy Twitter Start Checklist: We developed a super-simple checklist to assist small businesses in getting comfortable with Twitter. Enter your information below and we’ll email it to you in just a few minutes. Try it out for two weeks and let us know what you think!

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