In the first installment of this series, How to Create Engagement - Facebook for Financial Services, we discussed 6 ways to leverage Facebook to build relationships with your customers. Next we’ll tackle Twitter and unveil 10 tips to tweet safely and compliantly in 140 characters or less. That’s right – while Facebook lets users to be as verbose as time and attention spans allow, tweets must get the job done in 140 characters. In fact, best practice is to leave 20 or 30 characters of space for followers to retweet and add comments. Therefore, a tweet is reduced to a brief 110-120 characters, including links.
Even with the addition of photo sharing, Twitter still functions almost exclusively as a communications tool; Facebook is a multi-function platform that includes apps, games, and a chat feature. Still, with 255 million monthly active users, Twitter brings value in its ability to reach far beyond your network of advocates and their friends. Here are our 10 tips, plus why we love to use them:
1) Post Early, Post Often
Why we love it - There are 400 million tweets sent per day. In the Twittersphere, real time is already over, so it stands to reason that your messages need to move at the same lightening fast pace. Anything less than once per hour, every single day is almost not worth doing. Unless you know when your followers are most active (hint: that's coming up next).
2) Find Out When Your Followers Are Online
Why we love it - There are several tools that analyze your Twitter followers so you know the best times to post. These operate by grabbing a snippet of your Twitter followers and parsing the times of day your followers are most engaged with your content. It’s not a perfect science, since most only analyze a portion of your followers, but if time and manpower prohibit hourly posts, the results provide a decent road map for the times of day your posts will perform best.
3) Post Original Content
Why we love it - Don’t feel there has to be a link in every tweet. Post tips, quotes, quick facts, or value statements, such as this tweet from The Bank of Edwardsville:
Also note the relevant use of the hashtag #banklocally (see below for our advice on hashtag use).
4) Post other people’s original content
Why we love it - Much like in real life, it is considered poor form to be too self absorbed on social media. Stick to the 80/20 rule to be safe - 80 percent informational content (either original or from other sources), 20 percent promotional. One word of caution here - be sure any content you link to does not contain false or misleading statements, in keeping with FINRA Regulatory Notice 11-39.
5) Favorite & retweet other people’s content
Why we love it - Part of creating relationships online is to acknowledge the work of others. If there is a blog post or article by an influencer in your space, show your appreciation by favoriting the post. Even better, retweet the post and include a short comment at the beginning to add to the conversation. Again, take care to ensure any third party links or retweets are subject to the same approval processes as internal content.
6) Automate posts, monitor and respond in real time
Why we love it - If you are posting once an hour, around the clock, it is advisable (and efficient!) to use a social media management tool like Gremln to bulk upload and automate your posts. However, you will want to closely monitor your dashboard for mentions, and be sure to respond in real time. Do not even consider setting an automatic direct message, as it is now a frowned upon practice in the Twittersphere. DM’s should be reserved for targeted personal messages. Your goal is to engage and educate…not to spam.
8) Judicious Use of Hashtags
Why we love it - Hashtags help organize content on Twitter, and in some cases can get eyes on your content that might not have seen it otherwise. Keep hashtags to 1 or 2 per tweet. Check out Gremln’s infographic on hashtag etiquette for more tips.
9) Use Photos
Twitter recently added two new mobile features that take photo sharing to the next level:
- Photo Tagging
Why we love it - Similar to Facebook, you can now tag up to 10 people in your tweet, and still add 140 characters of text.
- Photo Sharing
Why we love it - You’ve always been able to share images on Twitter, but now you can include up to 4 photos in one post. According to a study done by Twitter, posts with photos received a 35% boost in retweets, so be sure to showcase your best content with images.
10) Be Courteous
Why we love it - If someone favorites or retweets your content, give them a virtual fist bump and say thanks. With 400 million tweets per day to compete with, someone taking the time to pick yours out of the crowd is a pretty big deal - so keep them coming back by acknowledging the good deed either by replying, or through a direct message.
Twitter is one of the best ways to start conversations on social media, but be mindful of the potential risks. There have been a number of careers tanked over inappropriate use of those 140 characters. Make sure you review our tips for protecting your company from rogue employees and social media meltdowns.
Watch for the last installment of this series, How To Create Engagement: LinkedIn for Financial Services.