By Augusta Rice
Let’s face it: Social media is a vital part of our daily lives. Social networks have allowed us to create virtual communities through which we may build relationships, engage in meaningful dialogue and exchange ideas. While Facebook and LinkedIn have typically served as the doorways into this world for financial institutions, Twitter is proving to be exceptionally valuable.
After nearly a decade in the business, the $5 billion social network has 288 million monthly active users who send 500 million tweets per day. When coupled with the company’s push for monetization through paid advertising, these statistics show that the microblogging site has established itself as a social network powerhouse.
Twitter is quite nuanced: Each 140-character tweet is a snapshot that uses minimal language to convey a message. Within that character limit, you must not only say something worthwhile, but also draw attention to the tweet by including relevant @mentions, #hashtags, external links, photos or videos.
To help you on this venture, the following is a list of Twitter best practices sure to bring you success in the world of 140 characters or less:
Determine your goals
Different brands and businesses use Twitter for different purposes. Twitter can function as a forum to reconcile customer service concerns or serve as a sales tool to showcase products and services. Once you decide your ultimate direction, you will be able to manage your account with a clear focus and will likely find more value in this social network.
Identify key influencers
Key influencers are the experts in the industry. They constantly share original content and up-to-date news and can be an invaluable resource. Do research to find the individuals who are “in-the-know,” follow their account and engage with them. A retweet from an influencer can expose your account (and bank) to thousands of Twitter users who are interested in your industry!
Keep tabs on competitors
Like key influencers, competitor accounts are also valuable reservoirs of information. Unlike key influencers, you probably don’t want to follow these accounts publicly. Instead, create a Twitter list! A list is a curated group of users whose tweets will appear in a separate timeline. By creating a list, you will be able to listen to what your competitors are saying, observe different tactics and find new ideas to better reach your intended audience. Keep your competitors in the dark by making this list “private.”
Listen and observe . . .then engage
Twitter is a community. Treat your entrance into this community as if you were moving into a new neighborhood. Get to know your neighbors and observe their behavior. Listen to what they have to say to gain an understanding of what they want to hear. Once you understand the community that you are entering into, you can engage in worthwhile conversation and establish relationships.
The 80/20 rule
You will NOT succeed in building your Twitter community by constantly pushing out marketing messages about your product. Customers won’t listen to what you have to say unless you can converse naturally and create genuine business relationships. Follow the 80/20 rule: approximately 80 percent of your tweets should be conversational and 20 percent should be product related. This technique has proven to be effective in increasing engagement and click-through rates.
Tweet what you know
While engaging in conversation about current events and relevant topics is highly encouraged, be careful not to step too far out of your comfort zone. The occasional health tip on #WellnessWednesday is welcome, but users aren’t following your account to be encouraged to pursue a vegan lifestyle. Stick to tweeting what you know, and others will quickly identify you as an influencer in the industry.
If a Twitter user can find the information elsewhere, why would they follow your account? Even if you are sharing news from an oft-cited source, be sure to include an original viewpoint or pose a thought-provoking question. Simply regurgitating the thoughts of others won’t earn you any points among your audience—your followers want to hear what YOU have to say.
Savings accounts and mortgages may not be the top trending topics on Twitter, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for them. When utilized properly, financial institutions are able to connect with customers and attract potential new customers. Twitter takes this opportunity further by allowing for real-time conversation about timely topics, creating a hotbed for positive brand engagement.
Remember, Twitter is fluid and fast-paced. Take it at face value and have fun with the platform. Your audience will appreciate authenticity, and a bit of flexibility will help you to make the most of your account.
Augusta Rice is an interactive media account executive at Pannos Marketing based in Bedford, N.H. Pannos Marketing is a full-service communications firm specializing in strategic marketing, public relations, social media, e-commerce and website solutions for financial institutions. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; LinkedIn: Augusta Rice.
Online training in Twitter from ABA.