It’s the fourth largest social network in the world, behind only Facebook, Google+ (according to Google at any rate), and Instagram, with over 300 million active users.
From humble beginnings on March 21, 2006, it now boasts an average of 6000 tweets per second, 500 million tweets per day, and 200 billion per year.
It’s penetration among U.S. social media users is a healthy 29.2%, with 42.6 million Americans using the app on their smartphone.
All hail Twitter!
Remember Twitter? It doesn’t get the attention it once did (everyone has moved on to Snapchat…and Peach, although no one can explain that one), but it still has a place of honour at the Social Media table. Facebook may be the Godfather, but Twitter is Sonny.
Okay, maybe not Sonny. But at least Fredo. And you need to show it proper respect.
Perhaps you’re like Katy Perry – the most popular profile with 87 million followers – or maybe you “only” have 44.1 million like Kim Kardashian (that makes me sad). No? The overall average is 208, so let’s put you somewhere between 208 and 44,000,000.
“The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” ~Twitter
The largest brand following is Chanel (nearly 12 million), followed closely by Starbucks (11.68 million) and Samsung Mobile (11.61 million). And while Ms. Perry dwarfs most others, she is within striking distance by Justin Bieber (80 million), Taylor Swift (76 million), and Barack Obama (73 million). Nope, brands and celebrities are not leaving the platform any time soon.
It may only be one piece, but it’s definitely part of the puzzle.
Not exactly a social media wasteland, to say nothing of its marketing potential: its projected ad revenue for 2016 is $2.61 billion, and $3.26 billion for 2017. So it’s doing “okay” there, too.
Yup, ad revenues are on the rise (eMarketer projects Twitter to capture 9% of social media ad spend this year, compared to Facebook’s leading 65.1%) even as the overall user growth has slowed recently. Slowed…but not stopped. Twitter is still hanging in there.
Of the U.S. companies using social media for marketing, 85.3% are on Facebook, 66.6% are on Twitter, and 48.8% are on Instagram. Yay! Silver medal!
But you? You’re losing followers faster than you can replace them. You’re slowly bleeding out. So what, right? There are other arenas in this game.
Why You Should Care
Pound for pound, Twitter still packs a punch. Twitter ads – including promoted tweets, promoted accounts, promoted trends, and the recently announced First View – are still worthwhile and a cost-effective way to spread brand awareness and news. Twitter may not be the behemoth it once was, but come on!
- 320 million active users as of February 2016
- 100 million daily users
- 65 million users in U.S. alone. That’s about one in five!
- Fifth in terms of total time spent on mobile each month
- Americans check their social media accounts 17 times each day
- Users average 170 minutes per month on the platform
- 29% of worldwide millennials (15-34) use it, and that number is 38% in the U.S.
So scoff at Twitter if you will. Laugh and point and call it over the hill. But you’re wrong, and making a huge mistake. It should be in your repertoire. It should be in your tool belt.
And you need to take steps to stop losing followers. Ignore the blue bird at your peril. How many of these costly missteps are you making?
Posting: You’re Doing It Wrong
Your posting on social media – and Twitter is no different – is like Goldilocks porridge: it has to be just right. Too “hot” – saturating your followers with dozens of useless tweets every day – or too “cold” – only sharing something whenever Halley’s Comet makes an appearance (bonus points if you know how often that is without googling it) – and they’ll leave you all by your lonesome.
So how much is enough, but not too much? Depends.
Socialbakers puts the magic number at three tweets per day. Just three. Track Social found that five tweets per day is ideal in their study, which revealed 4-5 tweets delivered the highest relative retweets per tweet (try saying that four times fast). They also examined responses per tweet – the total interaction taking place – and found that up to 30 tweets per day can deliver the goods.
How many tweets is enough? The answer seems to be somewhere between 3-30, which admittedly isn’t very helpful. For the sake of your sanity, you might want to aim for 3-5 for now. You get most of the benefits without having to quit your day job and devote yourself exclusively to the little blue bird. And don’t be afraid to repeat yourself when it comes to your original, useful content. Spokal’s recurring social feature will reschedule your content for you – automatically. The average tweet has a lifespan of about two hours, so the chance that all of your followers saw your fantastic post the first time is slim to none. Retweeting will increase exposure and clicks. Think about sending your best stuff out again a few hours later, the next day, the next week, and the next month.
Now that you know how many, you’ll next want to consider the when. All times are not created equal in the Twitterverse. Buffer completed a monster study involving 4.8 million tweets across 10,000 profiles.
- Highest overall engagement (retweets, favorites, replies, clicks) happens between 2-3am.
- Lowest engagement occurs during regular work hours (9am-5pm)
- Most popular time to post is between 12-1pm
- Lowest clicks-per-tweet happens between 9am-1pm
So instead of losing followers because your posting frequency and schedule leaves them wanting, try this:
- Post between 3-5 times per day, and don’t forget to repost your original content frequently.
- Schedule the occasional tweet for the 2-3am sweet spot, but don’t rely on it exclusively.
- Avoid the morning rush if possible.
- Overall, be sure and include evening and early morning tweets.
There are some geographical differences, but the data above represents the worldwide average.
You Don’t Understand the Social Aspect
It’s called social media for a reason. So be social. If you never respond to direct messages or conversations, your followers are going to feel ignored and unimportant. And that’s never a good thing. Twitter is not meant to be the sole domain of retweeting links and self-promotion. It’s a great place to engage, socialize, and connect with your followers (and your followers are customers and potential customers). Interact with impunity!
In fact, 53% of Twitter users expect a response within an hour, and that number jumps to 72% if the message was a complaint of some sort. Fail, and 30% feel more negative towards you, and 60% pledge to take “unpleasant actions”. Eek! They may only unfollow you if you’re lucky.
Instead of ignoring and losing followers (and possibly angering them to boot), try this:
- Respond. And quickly.
- Set up notifications for whenever someone messages or mentions you.
- Monitor your channels.
And when you respond, you reap additional rewards:
- 38% are more receptive to your ads
- 42% are willing to praise you on social media
- 43% are likely to recommend you to friends and family
You’re All About the Sale
People follow a Twitter profile for lots of reasons. One thing that isn’t on that list? Because they want to be sold to all the time. If you’re too promotional, if you post nothing but self-serving tweets, your followers are going to run and hide. There’s nothing in it for them.
Kentico Software found that your credibility dips by 29% with a pushy sales tactic. Do it all the time…well, you do the math. It doesn’t take long to get yourself a reputation as a pushy, conniving, “used car salesman” kind of profile. Does anyone want to follow that guy or gal?
Look, no one is saying you can’t promote yourself or your business. It’s likely the whole reason you’re using Twitter in the first place. But you have to be crafty. Suave. You need to make your profile a place your followers come to over and over again because of what they get from it. You need to find the right balance between serving their needs – useful and entertaining content – and your needs – promoting your company or brand.
Ask ten different experts about the proper for them: for you ratio, and you’ll get ten different responses. Two of the more popular theories include:
- The 4-1-1 model. Post four relevant pieces of content and 1 relevant retweet for every 1 self-promotional tweet.
- The 30/60/10 model. Your content should be 30% original (and relevant), 60% curated from other sources (and relevant), and only 10% self-promotional (and relevant).
Either way, you should only be “selling” very rarely. You should be giving more than receiving. Instead of making your Twitter account all about you and waving bye-bye to your fans, try this:
- Limit your self-promotional tweets to 10-15% of your total
- Provide useful and relevant (noticing a trend?) content, quotes, and information
Followers do want to see what you’re selling, though. 52% of people follow brands because they want to receive special offers, 44% want to learn about new products/services, and 33% want to get freebies and coupons. So give it to them. Just not all the time.
To Quote Hamlet: Words, Words, Words
You’re limited to 140 characters on Twitter. That’s not a lot. But it can also be too much if you’re only ever tweeting text. No one wants to have to read all the time…that’s so 1953 (editor’s note: year chosen at random).
It’s no coincidence that two of the fastest growing social media platforms – Instagram and Snapchat – are visual mediums.
Say it with me: people love visuals. Images. Charts. Videos. Graphs.
Tweets that do include visuals receive 18% more click-throughs, 89% more favourites, and 150% more retweets. And if your posts are getting the love, your account is getting the love, too. And love = followers.
Instead of simply sharing links, quotes, and status updates (is that still a thing?), try this:
- Share your photos – Instagram and otherwise – with your Twitter followers. You can even take pictures directly in the app itself.
- Include a featured image when tweeting links
- Make a conscious effort to include more videos (have you considered adding Vine to your mix?), images, and various other visuals in your posting schedule
- Try a GIF. These animated images are tremendously popular, and Twitter has its own GIF library that you can access to find the perfect one.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words…trying getting away with that on Twitter otherwise. Say more with less.
You Break Twittiquette
Don’t wear white after Labor Day. Always pass the salt with the pepper. You may point at things, but not people. Don’t leave your phone on at the movies. Never call someone by their first name when you’ve only been introduced to them by their family name. Wearing white tube socks with sandals at any time. Hold the door open for the person behind you. And fanny packs (no particular rule…just, you know, everything about them). Most of them are simply common sense and good manners. You want to be a professional, so look and act the part.
Social rules – better known as etiquette – are everywhere. Break them, and you appear inconsiderate at best, and a Kardashian at worst. And Twitter is no different.
If you don’t follow and respect Twitter etiquette – or Twittiquette – you’re probably offending at least some of your followers. Will it be enough to make them unfollow you? Maybe, maybe not…but why take that risk? The rules are simple and there for a reason. These unwritten rules are best observed when working in the Twitterverse:
- Limit the number of hashtags you use to 1-2 and definitely no more than 5.
- Always give credit where credit is due.
- Respond to messages and conversations.
- Be polite. Be respectful. Be real. Be honest.
- Never try and newsjack a sensitive topic with self-promotional tweets.
- Keep it professional.
- Don’t respond to private messages in public.
- Don’t be sexist, racist, or just plain ignorant.
- If you’re going to make a comment about something, make sure you know what you’re talking about: get the facts, check your sources, and think carefully before you release it to the wild. Tweets are forever.
- Immediately erase any post that starts with “I’m not racist/sexist/prejudiced, but…” before you hit the Tweet button.
- Don’t spam.
- Stick to 140 characters – one complete thought – per tweet.
- Automate your responses at your own risk.
There are others: always acknowledge a new follower, participate in “follow for follow” (although I’m of the opinion you should only reciprocate a follow if the account appeals, interests, or applies to you…not just because they followed you). Twittiquette even has its own hashtag (so you can keep up with the latest beliefs and ideas)!
Instead of being the boorish, no Twittiquette account and alienating people, adhere to these few simple rules and keep everyone happy. Good manners matter.
You Automate Your Replies
Let’s call a spade a spade: automation is awesome, and can save you oodles (that’s an official unit of measurement) of time and energy. But, you have to be selective. You can not automate everything at all times.
Your followers expect at least a little real engagement and connection with you. And when it comes to replies, they expect an answer from a human being, not an automation robot. They’ll be plenty ticked if and when they pull back the curtain and see no one at the controls.
How will they find out? Sadly, there are dozens of cringe-worthy examples of autobot responses. Consider:
- Oreo retweeted an offensive username in an automated response to a @mention
- The Montreal Canadiens hockey team suffered a similar fate – but on a bigger scale – when they created auto-responses to anyone tweeting with the hashtag #CanadiensMTL1M. The usernames ranged from childish to aggressively racist.
- American Airlines thanked a user for calling them “the largest, shittiest airline in the world.”
If you don’t have the time to actually read and respond to direct messages and @mentions, then why should your followers stick around?
Again, Twitter is social media, folks. Social. Engagement and human interaction are part of the deal. If you automate all the time, your followers have no real reason to stay with you. If you don’t have time for them, they won’t have time (or patience) for you.
So make the time…even if only for responses. You can find other opportunities for automation. Just remember that there’s the potential for awkward situations, offensive usernames and content, and amusing incongruity whenever you use it. If sci-fi has taught us nothing else, we do know that robots are subject to hilarious mistakes (don’t believe me? See 1986’s Short Circuit, or 1988’s Short Circuit 2, or…I got nothing). It’s like trying to answer appropriately in a conversation you’re not actually listening to…it “could” lead to problems and odd stares (i.e. it will lead to problems and odd stares).
No Sense of Self
Who are you, and what do you do? You probably have a pretty good idea about that. Your followers do, too. They originally followed you because you were providing them with something they needed or wanted, be it expert advice, a quiet chuckle, kick-ass vegan recipes, or whatever.
So what happens when you lose sight of what brought your followers to you in the first place? They leave you. It’s a messy divorce. There are kids involved. And a puppy. It’s best avoided.
Whoever you are, and whatever service or product you’re providing, your tweets should reflect that. Maybe not all the time, but certainly the lion’s share. If you’re an investment advisor, and you typically tweet about financial trends, your followers probably don’t care what you had for dinner.
Too many users lose their sense of self, and that will take a bite out of your numbers. Followers will drift away as they realize you’re not consistent in your content. Give ‘em what they want! Give ‘em what you’re good at. If you’re an investment banker, tweet about that. If you’re a standup comedian, tweet about that. If you design and sell hats for cats…get a real job!
Unless your name rhymes with Mustin Hieber, you won’t get away with posting meaningless drivel and topless beefcake photos. Instead, stay true to yourself and what your followers expect from you.
You’ve Got Nothing to Say
It’s very easy to tweet a lot and say nothing. You can retweet other’s ideas, share links to articles, offer an interesting quote, or post a striking image or video.
But you’ve said nothing. If you only share articles from Neil Patel and Kristi Hines, why do your followers need to stay with you? They’d be better off at Neil and Kristi’s house. That’s where the cool kids are hanging out.
It’s like a conversation with someone who only repeats what others have said, or what she heard that others have said. That conversation would wither and die on the vine, n’est pas?
Instead of only regurgitating, try this: have something original to say. Agree, disagree, expand, improve, consider. Even if you’re not writing original blog posts and articles, make an effort to at least comment on the stuff you share with your followers. Make it worth their while to get their fix from you (for your witty insight and bon mot) rather than directly from the source.
Remember the Bill Murray classic Groundhog Day? He was forced to relive February 2nd over and over again. It killed him…multiple times. Until, that is, he found a way to mix it up. He learned new skills. Volunteered. Made friends and embraced the blessing rather than the curse.
You need to do the same thing with your Twitter account. Take a look at your tweet history. Is it all the same, nothing but shared links or quotes? Is it the Twitterverse equivalent of waking up each day on the same day?
Maybe you have a content schedule or Twitter library. Maybe you believe that structure and routine – Monday: quote, Tuesday: blog post, Wednesday: infographic – is divine. But what about your followers?
Instead of boring your followers with the same thing, day in, day out, try this: variety. Infographics, videos, GIFs, links, original content, quotes, surveys, images, photos, jokes, articles, comments. They want to be entertained. Give ‘em a little personality (provided it’s appropriate to your brand), give ‘em a little humor.
I love pizza, but I don’t want pizza every day. That would eventually make pizza feel like lima beans. Ditto your content: they may love your inspirational quotes, but not every Mon-Wed-Fri at 3:45pm, thank you very much. Vary your content. Vary your schedule. Show them a bit of yourself. Try new things. Give them a reason to visit your profile as much as possible. And have at least a little bit of fun. Be more like Bill.
There are over 300 million users on Twitter. And while it may not be as tall, strong, handsome, or charming as the Big F (that’s Twitter’s cute pet name for Facebook), it’s still a viable source for marketing and connecting. You need to stand out. You need to get and keep followers…because if you’re doing any of these faux pas, your followers can – and will – replace you in a New York minute.
Lock them down by being the best damn Twitter-er you can be. Make them an offer they can’t refuse. Consider trying Spokal’s free 14-day trial to see how easy it is to create and share original content with your Twitter peeps. And remember: Bill believes in you.