By Anne Popolizio
“I don’t get Twitter.” I’ve heard this from several clients, so if you’re agreeing with this statement, you’re hardly alone.
Twitter is a funny world with an endless scroll of black and blue text, pound signs and character limits too restricted to say what you actually want to say with correct grammar. I get your frustration. I also love Twitter. It has some real value that the other platforms lack, and Twitter can be a great resource for your organization.
What is Twitter???
If Facebook is like going to a private party at a friend’s house and Instagram is like going to a photography gallery, Twitter is like going to the town square. Twitter is the place to engage in the conversation at large. It’s great for keeping up with news, current events, and public figures.
My mother is a politics junkie. A few months ago, she discovered that Twitter is where the real political discourse was happening. Twitter is her new favorite toy. (Yes, my mother is on Twitter, and it’s awesome). Your organization can use this public forum to your advantage.
Twitter v. Facebook
Twitter is similar to Facebook in a lot of ways, and if you can handle Facebook, you can handle Twitter. Instead of “friending” people, you “follow” people. It then creates a feed of posts made up of the people you’ve followed. People make snarky statements, post pictures of their food and rant about politics. Instead of “sharing,” you “retweet” when you are particularly delighted by a point someone made.
The biggest difference from Facebook is that you are limited to 140 characters, so Twitter is an exercise in concise language.
The most important difference, however, is that Facebook is generally a private space, whereas Twitter is a public space. This difference is to your advantage.
3 Advantages Twitter has Over Facebook (and Why They Matter to Your Marketing):
The (Mostly) Unfiltered Feed*
Have you had this conversation?
Mom: “What did you think of my picture of Mowgli (her cat)? Wasn’t that hysterical?”
Me: “What picture of Mowgli?”
Mom: “The one I posted on Facebook!”
Me: “I didn’t see it.”
Here’s the deal, Mowgli is a very cute cat. I want to see any and all pictures of him, but I don’t. Facebook does this on purpose, and if you have a page, it’s even worse.
Despite spending an insane amount of time on Facebook, we only see a small percentage of the content published by our friends and the pages we’ve liked. Over the last few years, Facebook has intentionally changed its algorithm to show you less and less content from pages you’ve liked (what we call “organic reach”) in an effort to force businesses into paid advertising (“paid reach”). That’s fine and dandy for Facebook’s bottom line, but if you genuinely want to receive content from a page, you’re not going to see it by simply liking the page.
Twitter, on the other hand, shows you what you tell it to show you, aka who you follow. If you want to stay up to date with Asma Khalid or Sam Sanders (it’s possible I’m also a politics junkie), Twitter is the way to go.
If you’re a business trying to reach your fans, this is a really big reason for you to be on Twitter.
*Twitter does do some light filtering, i.e. the “While You Were Away” section, but it’s favoring content you tend to engage with, rather than blocking content the way Facebook does.
Twitter Lists is an underutilized feature that can be a powerful tool for your organization and marketing. You can create a list of competitors, a list of content resources, and most importantly, a list of clients or event attendees. Lists can be public, which lets other people subscribe to your list and notifies the person that they’re on the list. Lists can be private, in which case you’re the only person who sees the list.
When you go into your list, you get a separate feed of just the people on that list. Want to engage your clients better? Create a Twitter list for them. Then you can easily see their posts in one feed, like their posts and retweet them when they have cool things to say.
Current Events and Live Tweeting
Twitter is hands down the best platform for following events, whether it’s the Arab Spring or your local 5K, because of its fast pace, hashtag indexing (the pound signs with words that turn blue), and lack of feed filtering.
If your organization is running a 5K fundraising race, I’m going to go out on a limb and say you don’t have the budget to air the race on ESPN. So how do you share the event with your adoring fans, aka your runners’ moms?!
Before the event, choose an event hashtag and advertise it—everywhere. Encourage people to use it. Engage with the people who use it. Use it help relay information to participants. Build a community and excitement around the event.
Then, on the day of the event, live tweet.
Twitter is a fast-paced platform and doesn’t filter out your content, which makes it ideal for live event communication. People aren’t going to squawk if you send out 20 tweets in a day. Instagram, on the other hand, is a very slow platform. You’ll turn people off if you post too many times in a day and dominate their feed. Facebook has a policy of showing your content to no one, so that’s that.
To live tweet your event, all you need is one person dedicated to social media during the event. This person will tweet pictures, race highlights, shoutouts to event sponsors, and finisher results. Use the event hashtag in all of the tweets so people can follow the event feed and connect to the party, whether they’re at the event or not.
Ultra bonus: people sure do love to retweet pictures they are in. Retweeting is gold. It’s free advertising for you.
Some good examples of event hashtags to check out and model: #SMMW17, #VG2016, #EXSS.
Twitter can be a powerful tool for your organization and especially for any events you run.
• People go to Twitter to participate in the public conversation beyond their circle of friends
• Your fans will actually see your content
• Twitter lists let you keep track of competitors, content sources, clients and event participants
• Hashtags make it really easy to engage with your fans and grow your community