Author Adam Root is the CoFounder and COO of SocialCentiv, a Twitter marketing application for small businesses.
Despite the fact that Facebook dominates its social media platform competition and maintains its fair share of popularity with small businesses, it's got a lot of problems.
The platform's business model has faced privacy concerns from the start. And its recent Newsfeed algorithm manipulation has been a constant source of frustration for businesses trying to grow organic audiences without coughing up money for Facebook Ads and boosted posts. But even legitimate advertisers need to be on guard. Active click farms and spammers may boost your brand's fan numbers, but they do little for engagement or ROI.
Brands and marketers use this platform not because it's effective, but because it's familiar. The solution isn't to add to your Facebook budget; it's to educate yourself about how other platforms can help you make the most of your time and budget.
And here enters Twitter. It's not only the darling of the Millennial social strategy, but also a leading platform in terms of diverse customer engagement and marketing ROI, according to Social Times and Search Engine People.
Twitter's Growing Claim to Fame
Twitter is a superior social platform because of its origin as a news feed system (rendering users more open to brand updates and engagement via mobile) and its overwhelmingly open nature (less than 10 percent of Twitter accounts are private).
It also performs better. Based on an analysis of 20 clients' 2013 social media activity (which represented more than $37 million in social media ad spend), social search researcher Resolution found that Twitter ads generate clicks at a significantly higher rate than Facebook.
Furthermore, the more followers Twitter users have, the more often they post, according to Sysomos. Users who have more than 1,750 followers post up to 10 tweets per day, compared to Facebook users who post less than once per day. That's 10 times the opportunity to reach out to customers who are hungry for discounts, free stuff and shopping tips.
How to Make the Most of Twitter
However, this data means nothing if you don't take advantage of it. Here's how you can use your Twitter account to leverage this audience:
1. Build a landing page. Use a service such as Unbounce or Optimizely to create a specific page on your website where you send traffic to promote a particular action or result. Based on my company's data, offering a coupon for 20 percent off any purchase historically outperforms any other offer.
2. Listen. Actively search Twitter for expressions of intent in keyword phrases that are relevant to your business, and use the results to build a list of potential customers. For example, if you own a pizza place, you could use "hungry," "starving" and "pizza." But because your restaurant doesn't serve burgers, you could make "burgers" a negative word.
Enter up to five keyword phrases into the search box, add your location and save your search by pressing the gear icon and then "save search."
3. Reply to prospects with a link to your landing page. Now that you have your prospect list from the saved Twitter search, reply to users with a link to your landing page. For example, if you own a coffee shop called Cloud Café and saved a search with the keyword phrase "need coffee," the following tweet could show up in your results:
4. Create an ad on Twitter. Give consumers an intent scale by adding ads that target the same keywords you're tracking. For example, you could target the keyword "caffeine" and use the following ad to capture more customers:
5. Create a second ad on Twitter for the exchange network. Exchange networks only show ads to people who have already visited your website, allowing you to remarket to Twitter users who have already shown interest in your products. Create a second ad that's tailored to this audience to capture even more conversions. For example:
6. Use hashtags to tap into existing audiences. Hashtags can help you drive success with your promotions by tapping into real-time second-screen experiences for trending TV shows or news updates, but you've got to be cautious. Plan your hashtags carefully to avoid becoming a joke or offending anyone inadvertently.
7. Get visual. One of the best ways you can increase engagement is by adding images to your tweets. Buffer found that adding images to tweets increases clicks, retweets and favorites.
8. Tweet like a person. Ads are great for scale, but direct engagement will help you achieve higher click-through rates. Use a tool that will let you directly connect with users on a personalized basis.
One of the best recent examples of this methodology is when Jon Stewart announced that he was leaving The Daily Show. Arby's Twitter team saw a great opportunity to reply with a cheeky, timely job offer that scored the company thousands of retweets and favorites.
Have you been defaulting to Facebook since 2007? It's time to take an active role in your social media strategy. Invest some time in Twitter to expand your reach to customers who want to participate in your promotions and hear what you have to say. Then, just wait for the ROI to roll in.