Twitter - you either love it or hate it, right? It's a platform I adore but I fully accept it isn't everyone's cup of tea, and also that it takes a bit of a time commitment to get it going and maintain your efforts.
And yes, it's hard to start on Twitter as a complete novice. But I do believe it is worth persevering with, even if your account doesn't match the rapid follower growth that you might see on your personal Linked In page or your Instagram account.
But please...don't get carried away all worried about vanity metrics of retweets and followers. Carry on Tweeting and keep an eye on your inbound analytics and watch how traffic that arrives at your site via Twitter behaves. Twitter traffic is often very interested, engaged traffic – it clicks to content because it really does want to know more. And I often see repeat visits that nudge above 30 days on a website that originally came via Twitter. This is exactly the kind of audience you want to attract, because the more repeat visits someone makes in 30 days, the more likely they are to convert to sales. And readers that visit your site beyond that initial 30-day period will probably stick around long enough to become clients or customers.
Twitter posts themselves can be a bit of a mystery, and I am asked about hashtags more than anything else on this topic. So so here is my quick guide to using Twitter hashtags to set up a post if you're not sure. And how hashtags can help you get your content read and grow your audience.
Quick, quick, quick
Tweets are designed to be read quickly , a news feed is scanned not digested – and often at great speed. Don't disrupt your post and reduce readability by inserting #funky hashtags #allovertheplace. My favourite analogy here is that #hashtags are not inverted #commas or #speechmarks. They are not designed to wrap around words for #effect.
Hashtags are used on Twitter to group like-minded content together. If you use them #within tweets you're making the tweets themselves unreadable. Please, just save them for the end of your post. Not sure on how many hashtags to use? Remember less is more. Two hashtags is good, maybe three at the most, but please don't stuff your post with many, many hashtags.Abd
One of my pet hates is the prevalence of weekly trending hashtags. They were designed for big volume, global, tribal reach – not an excuse to spam Twitter with pointless content. That said, they can be hugely relevant, so just have a quick sanity check before you add them.
I got bored of #motivationmonday when it left the fitness and entrepreneurial space I was active in about 6 or 7 years ago and became the beloved lazy Monday tweets of bloggers and coffee shops who were stuck for content inspo but wanted to 'start' their week with a tweet. The motivation switched from personal growth or development and became a sales message and soon it was being used by accountants reminding me to speak to them about tax returns and beauticians spouting MondayMotivation to book an appointment with them. So I switched off.
But #smallbusinesssaturday is one trending hashtag I use regularly, and not just on the weekend or its allocated day of the year. I work with many small businesses and am passionate myself about the benefits of the circular economy, so this fits my brand and theirs so I am happy to use it. Plus, it helps me keep an eye on trending content and can give me some good ideas for post topics or niche campaigns.
If you use scheduling software like ContentCal it won't let you preload multiple hashtags – and with good reason! It is a spammy, black hat (well dodgy) practice and Twitter penalises accounts that behave badly by reducing organic visibility. Or, even worse, by putting you in Twitter jail and suspending your account for 20 days.
It's pretty hard to get a niche, organic hashtag trending these days. But again, this is a vanity metric so don't worry too much. Make your hashtags meaningful and relevant. Relate them to your area of business and use business name hashtags regularly so you can track brand mention.
It also looks a bit naff – and quite lazy – to jump on a trending hashtag for the sake of it. If it isn't part of your business values, think carefully before you jump into mental health days, or TV programmes, for example. Ask yourself if the trending content is relevant to your business. And if it isn't...scroll on by and think of something else.
My favourite use of hashtags is for groups and fans. I can keep up with events that I am unable to attend by following event hashtags, and I run my own successful Twitter hour for local businesses (#trurohour if you're interested). And we can gain huge value from placing our businesses in these communities of like-minded people.
If you're using Twitter for media relations then #journorequest really is your friend. Not every media request makes it to the Twitter feed – accessing magazines and writers is a premium service and one you have to (quite rightly) pay for – but this is a good place to start. And if you're really doing some legwork here and doing your own PR, use it to build your list of contacts and fans.
Not following me on Twitter? Please do! I'm at @whatracheldoes and you can find me tweeting more about digital marketing, storytelling and showing some shop local love.
For more social media tips, you might like this blog about Instagram
Image credit, Unsplash Chris J. Davis @chrisjdavis