The aim of this article is to offer advice on best practice when using Twitter as a marketing tool. We have noticed that many people get confused and start out with a marketing objective but end up with a vanity exercise.

What we mean is that they end up buying or using tricks to artificially increase the number of Twitter followers. Of course, having more than 10,000 or 100,000 followers would make anyone proud but the question is how many of those followers are relevant to your business? How many of them will engage with you? Refer you? Share your insights or share insights with you? How many of them are potential customers?

And most importantly how many of them are real? Often most of these followers are actually nothing more than bots, the digital version of junk mail, of no use and heading straight for the trash can.

So, step back, take a deep breath and ask yourself – are you using Twitter efficiently and are you actively trying to build and engage with a meaningful community?

Why is customer targeting so important in social media marketing?

All marketing strategies, whether on or off line, start in the same place: who are your target customers? What do you do for them? And how does it make a difference? Many businesses shirk the need to define their ideal customer, they feel they have a good grasp of what they do and who they sell to. Then they start to think about what marketing they should do, what content they need to generate and they wonder where they should start, what tweets to send. If they had taken the time to match their customers’ needs, problems, goals and aspirations with the product or service they provide they would already know what was required.

One of the key activities of marketing is getting someone, who has a need, to know, like and trust you. Once you get them to trust you, you want to encourage action. If that action is not coming from your ideal customer then it may end up being more trouble than its worth. You don’t want just leads, you want new customers, and your aim is to generate qualified leads that are likely to become profitable new customers.

To put it at its simplest, you don’t want to waste your resources on people or businesses that are not a good fit for your product or service.

If we think about Twitter, you don’t want to have a bunch of bots or inappropriate followers – simply because they are not going to engage with you – whether it’s to grow your business, reputation or thought leadership.

Congratulations! You have 100,000 Twitter followers! Or not really…

Numbers and statistics are great tools for assessing one’s success but not if you neglect quality. Having 100,000 followers and few customers is not the same as having 500 followers and a healthy number or profitable and loyal customers. In the first case, we are probably witnessing someone using Twitter for vanity purposes and probably resorting to artificial methods of inflating the number of followers.

There are various ways of attracting fake followers, including buying them or being followed by bots, and you don’t have to be very smart to see if someone is using these methods. Buying followers or using bots is actually useless because it doesn’t have a real business impact. You are the proud owner of a Twitter account with thousands of followers where it does not take long for someone to pull back the onion layer and see that they are mainly fake. It may look good on the surface, you may think it gives you kudos but if a potential customer sees that it’s predominantly fake and understands the workings of Twitter and how easy it is to amass fake followers – what does that say about you?

Efficient Twitter marketing needs time

Alas, there is no easy way of attracting profitable customers with Twitter. It is a time-consuming activity and the more input you provide, the more you need to continue working to maintain that marketing momentum. Things will never work out by themselves. Instead of getting frustrated by solely using automation tools that follow, favourite and retweet people using your keywords (and these people are often competitors and not customers) keep reading and find out the best techniques that help you engage with large numbers of relevant followers.

Simple and effective Twitter marketing tips

You don’t need an army to start making Twitter a profitable tool but you do need to dedicate some time to managing your Twitter community. Only you can tell how much your Twitter account can grow and how much it actually needs to grow. Check out the following techniques and feel free to use them as much as you need.

Following relevant accounts

“Follow me and I will follow you back”, this is probably the first unwritten rule you have noticed on Twitter. And when it comes to following other people, think once again about the first piece of advice at the beginning of this article: targeting your ideal customers. Then have a good think about who the key influencers in your industry are.

Take a look at the person you want to follow and ask yourself the following questions: Do they look like my ideal customer? Do they need my products and services? Are they active on Twitter or on the contrary, have they not posted anything for a long time?

If you are small business, you will need to look at companies or users who correspond to your ideal customer persona. You can find them by using all kind of tools. Search accounts by location and by keywords. Besides people who tweet using keywords relevant to your business, you will want to look at people who use certain hashtags, too. Checking the followers of your competition is also a good idea.

Even though we have spoken ill of automated tools, when used correctly they can help. They can find the relevant people for you but you have to actively check – as the algorithm is not perfect. Some of these applications, each focusing on different ways of finding relevant accounts, are: Manage Flitter, Followerwonk, Wefollow and Unfollowers.

Twitter limits

A method that Twitter uses in order to prevent you from following thousands of (irrelevant) accounts without those people following you back is imposing a limit. You cannot follow more than 1,000 people one day without at least 10% of those people following you back. You will need to unfollow some of the people who don’t follow back and prevent you from growing.

Twitter management applications can help you do that more easily, as some of them enable you to automatically unfollow those who have not followed you within a certain period of time. This option can prove to be helpful when you are trying to eliminate from your lists people who are not likely to become customers simply because they don’t follow you back. However, be careful, you can always use Twitter lists to keep track of your ideal customers who did not initially follow you back.

Content

What makes your Twitter followers look forward to reading your posts and accessing the links you share? The secret is engaging and captivating content. Give your followers information that educates and offers solution to their problems. Deliver this content regularly using a tool which schedules posts, like Hootsuite, and your messages will automatically reach your followers at the exact time you want, without you needing to post tweets several hours a day.

Hashtags

Hashtags help both you and your followers select relevant tweets from the thousand of posts published every day. They allow Twitter users to select from their timelines the exact information they are interested in. Make a list of hashtags relevant to your business and use them in your tweets.

It sounds simple but some people get it wrong and this is why I must remind you #PleaseDontHashtagUsToDeath

By keeping in mind these essential pieces of advice on Twitter marketing, you should manage to attract Twitter followers and generate qualified leads. How much time does it take to apply these suggestions, you might ask? It only depends on how much you want to grow your Twitter account and on the size of your business. As a small business owner, focusing on your Twitter account for at least 20 minutes a day will definitely make a difference.