500 million tweets are sent every single day. Just try to wrap your head around that figure for the moment. Mind-boggling, isn’t it? Essentially, it means that the Twitter world is a noisy old place. These days, it’s certainly a baptism of fire for any Twitter newbie, but even if you’re an old hand in the tweeting game, it can still sometimes feel like although you’re shouting, you’re not being heard over the clamour. Fear not, there are ways to get your voice heard on Twitter – without straining your voice.
1. Know your audience
There may be 500 million tweets a day to compete with, but the amount of those relevant to your specific audience is going to be minimal. You can discount several million straight away for being in foreign languages; several million more for being totally off topic for your audience, and another few million for being rather uninteresting in general. So to get your tweets heard, knowing and targeting your audience is essential. Local business? Then you’re targeting potential customers, as well as others in your industry. Therefore, a well-considered combination of local interest, personal interaction, and industry-relevant content will make you stand out from the crowd.
2. Post something original
Take a look at the average twitter stream nowadays – start with your own – and you’ll see that a huge percentage is taken up with links and retweets. There’s nothing inherently wrong in either, but Twitter is primarily for engagement, and though it’s ‘new media’ the social rules are as old as the hills. To engage people, you talk to them. So rather than just posting links to your site, start really speaking. It doesn’t have to be Shakespeare or Tolstoy in 140 characters; just say hello, start a conversation, wish new followers a nice day, or ask a question. Then remember to reply to people – and engagement has begun.
3. Interact when you retweet
Retweeting is a good way of sharing relevant content with your audience, and of establishing connections and support from other members of the community. But simply hitting the ‘retweet’ button is a bit impersonal – to make it more meaningful, add a reply to your retweet. This shows the original tweeter that you’ve actually engaged with their content and it’s more likely to generate responses. TweetDeck offers an easy facility for doing this; on other platforms you may have to manually copy and paste.
4. Join a Twitter Chat
Twitter chats are an excellent way of being heard on Twitter. These are generally industry or interest specific chats, and occur at a set time, usually once a week. Hosts will post questions relating to a topic with a hashtag, then you can join in by replying to the questions, using the same hashtag. Engagement in these chats is very high, and it’s a great opportunity to network with likeminded professionals, bloggers and interested parties. There are numerous lists online where you can search for chats by industry and topic. Many are based in the US, so timezones can be an issue, but there’s a growing number of UK-based chats too.
5. Make use of hashtags
Apart from in Twitter chats, hashtags are highly useful for filtering Twitter’s general babble and finding more relevant content. When you come across highly relevant tweets, click on their hashtags to see what else is going on, and consider using that hashtag yourself. Some will be obvious, and highly used, like #SEO or #socialmedia; others are very Twitter-specific, such as #FF (Follow Friday), but they are limitless. Tools like Tagboard are very helpful for searching hashtags and seeing the level of use. If you’re running an event, it’s worth inventing a specific hashtag for people to use to get them tweeting about it and building a community.
A personalised approach is always going to win over on Twitter – or any social media channel for that matter. The clue’s in the name: it’s social. We’re social creatures, and we like to interact, not just be bombarded with information. Take that as your lead, and your voice will be heard.