Twitter is home to 330 million monthly active users and is often considered one of the original ‘microblog’ platforms, providing a way to publish short content and updates quickly.

These people visit the channel from all over the world, looking for the latest news and updates from their favorite brands. That means that if you’re not already active on Twitter, you could be missing out on some serious leads.

Unfortunately, while there are many brands tweeting today, many of them don’t know how to use Twitter effectively, to help them grow their business. Scheduling tweets and making sure that you use a couple of hashtags with every post doesn’t mean that you’re a master of Twitter.

Fortunately, if you’re ready to unlock the real potential of this popular social platform, the following guide will help.

Here are your actionable tips on how to use Twitter effectively.

1. Start with a Twitter strategy

A comprehensive strategy is crucial to success on any social media platform. With the right plan, you make sure that you’re investing your time and money into activities that accomplish your goals and drive results.

Start by figuring out what you want to do with your Twitter account. You might want to:

  • Generate new leads and sales
  • Improve customer loyalty
  • Enhance product awareness
  • Decrease customer service costs

When you know your business goals, you’ll begin to develop more actionable targets for your social strategy. For instance, you might want to drive 20 new email sign-ups a month by the end of a three-month campaign. Make sure your goals are specific and measurable if you’re going to get results.

Remember, when crafting your goals, make sure you know what your audience looks like. Don’t try to be everything to everyone on social media. Use your buyer personas to guide your decisions.

2. Create your Twitter profile

A strategic Twitter profile is a powerful tool in your social media marketing strategy. Create the right image for your brand and you’ll build trust with your audience, enhance your ability to appear in the right social streams and more. Before you move into the next stage of learning how to use Twitter effectively, make sure you:

  • Complete and optimize your Twitter profile: Choose a branded image for your Twitter profile pic and use your bio to describe what you do. Don’t forget to sneak a secondary link into your bio to drive more leads to your website.
  • Get verified: Want your customers to trust that you’re a credible company? Getting the blue “verified” badge on Twitter is an excellent place to start. Check out our guide to getting verified on Twitter in five simple steps.
  • Link back to your profile from other places: Make sure you show your profile off by linking to it on your website, in your email signatures and on your other social accounts. This will give your social profile greater reach.

3. Understand how to use #hashtags

Twitter is the birthplace of the all-important social media hashtag. Make sure you use this resource to your advantage. Hashtags group your content into categories and make your brand easier to find online. Twitter’s research discovered that tweets with hashtags improve engagement by 50% for brands.

While there are many different ways to boost your hashtag strategy on Twitter, here are a few basic tips to follow:

  • Use a hashtag tracking tool to follow your hashtags and ensure you’re engaging with everyone who is.
  • Don’t use too many hashtags in each post. Twitter recommends using no more than a couple of hashtags per tweet.
  • Don’t use spaces in hashtags. #Social Media would reference #Social and separate the media part. Make sure everything links together. Avoid using punctuation too!
  • Find trending hashtags on Twitter. On your left-hand sidebar beneath your Twitter profile, you’ll see a list of the top trending tags related to your profile. Use those to inspire your initial tags.
List of Trending hashtags on Twitter

4. Know when to post on Twitter

More than 350,000 tweets are sent through the digital airwaves each minute. It’s no wonder it feels so difficult to get real engagement from your Twitter followers. Figuring out how to use Twitter effectively often means knowing when to post to best reach your audience. For instance:

  • Friday is the best day to post on Twitter
  • The best time to post on Twitter is between 9 am and 10 am
  • The safest times to post on Twitter every day are between 10 am and 12 pm
  • Sunday mornings are the worst for engagement on Twitter

Of course, every audience is different. To make sure you get the best results:

  • Tweet at least once a day to maintain a high level of engagement with your followers. Remember to experiment with posting more frequently too.
  • Use Twitter Analytics data to adjust your timing as you learn more about your audience and their preferences.
  • Schedule your Tweets with Sprout Social to be sure you consistently engage at the best times – or use Sprout ViralPost to determine those times for you.

5. Remember to engage your audience

When you’re figuring out how to use Twitter effectively, it’s easy to get caught up with things like metrics and measurements. However, the truth is that the most important thing to track on Twitter is your engagement levels. Without engagement, all you have is a number, not a real follower list. To engage with your audience:

  • Keep track of your network: Read your followers’ tweets and use them to learn more about your customers’ preferences, emerging trends in the industry and more.
  • Respond fast: People expect brands to be responsive on Twitter. One study shows that 42% of consumers plan to get a response from a brand within 60 minutes. Let your customers know you care by getting back to them fast.
  • Retweet, interact and follow: Show your audience you value them by retweeting their content, following them on Twitter and more.
  • Ask questions and get interactive: Have conversations with your audience. Host polls and ask for their opinions on relevant topics to do with your brand. Hold a competition to get people excited about your company.
  • Use @mentions to tag people: Get involved with your network of followers and influencers by @mentioning them and tagging them in your posts. Just make sure your tagging strategies are appropriate.

Check out how DiGiornio interacts with their followers by asking for their advice for who to follow on Twitch:

How to use and view liked tweets

Likes, formerly known as favorites on Twitter, are another key way to maintain engagement with your audience. While you want to carefully review your overall Twitter activity to make sure your audience is actually clicking on links in your tweets in addition to liking them, they can still give you a pulse on what’s resonating with your audience.

You can also show your audience some love by liking positive messages and great replies on Twitter. To do this, just click the heart icon below a tweet on desktop, mobile or on the Sprout Smart Inbox. Liking your customers’ tweets helps show that there’s a real person behind the Twitter account that’s reading and appreciating their messages, not just sending out automated customer service replies.

Likes can also be a great source of brand and industry analytical information. Check out the list of liked tweets from thought leaders or influencers in your industry to see what they’re responding to and, often, sharing out to their own following. To do this, click into the individual profile page for that user on mobile or desktop, and navigate to the ‘Likes’ tab.

6. Develop a “human” side

According to Twitter: “It’s important to develop a human tone of voice for your brand.”

What does this mean? In simple terms, social media is all about encouraging conversations between people. If you want to thrive on Twitter (or any other channel), don’t just bombard your followers with marketing content. Representing what’s unique about your company is essential, but the key to success is finding a way to resonate with your audience.

Humanizing your brand means bringing your personality into the things you Tweet. Think about the kind of personality you want your business to have. Would you rather be informal and upbeat, or informative and sophisticated? Whatever you choose, make sure you keep your personality consistent. For instance, Innocent maintains a fun and quirky identity online:

As well as working on your brand voice, make sure you naturally converse with people on Twitter. Respond to their comments, “like” what they say and show your audience you value them. Don’t be one of those companies that only engage on Twitter when the comments are about you.

7. Use multimedia to boost engagement

Multimedia continues to be a valuable and useful way to engage on social media. One survey into Twitter users saw that 82% of all users view video content on Twitter. These respondents even said that they’d prefer to see more video from the people they follow.

To drive engagement from your followers, you could:

  • Share a behind-the-scenes video of your organization to help build your credibility and authenticity as a brand. Twitter even allows you to share live video in real-time through “Periscope.”
  • Post pictures on your Twitter feed. If you want to know how to use Twitter effectively, don’t ignore the value of visual content. Make sure the images you share are designed to spark a conversation and relevant to your brand. Remember that you can tag up to 10 people per image if necessary.
  • Try GIFs – they can be a quirky way to show the fun side of your business. Why not consider making your own branded GIFS like Twitter experts Wendy did with their Frosty and fries deal.

 8. Monitor your performance

Perhaps the most important thing to do when learning how to use Twitter effectively is remembering to monitor your brand. Monitoring your brand means both watching what people are saying about you online and paying attention to your Twitter performance.

  • Follow your competitors: Keeping track of your competitors does two things. First, it gives you inspiration for your own Twitter posts and activity. Secondly, it lets you know what other people are saying about competing brands and how they compare to you.
  • Listen to your followers: Use a tool like Sprout Social to listen to what your audience is saying about you in hashtags, @mentions and keywords important to your brand. The more you know about your brand reputation, the easier it will be to make a positive change.
  • Measure your Marketing with Twitter Analytics: Twitter Analytics provides you with a basic overview of your social media marketing strategy. Combined with a tool like Sprout Social, you’ll get a more in-depth overview of customer engagement.

9. Experiment with new tactics

Finally, once you master the basics on Twitter, try experimenting with some advanced content formats that the platform is capable of. For instance, explore the paid advertising options on Twitter to directly promote specific posts and target specific audiences. Alternatively, try:

  • Setting up Twitter cards for your website: This ensures that when you share your blog posts on social media, they stand out among your target audience.
  • Broadcasting live video: Companies have been experimenting with Live video on Twitter for a while now, including 360-degree streaming channels. As video and other visual content become more popular, live video is an excellent addition to any Twitter strategy.
  • Provide customer service: If you have enough people to manage your Twitter account, consider providing an additional avenue for customer service. 67% of US customers turn to social media for brand support. Activity on Twitter helps you to show your audience that you’re always there for them.

Learning how to use Twitter effectively

Ultimately, using Twitter effectively is all about engaging with your audience and making sure that you stand out. As more companies take to social media to connect with their customers, it’s crucial to ensure that you have the right presence on your profile.

The tips above will help you to connect with your brand’s followers on a deeper level. The more you use Twitter and learn its value for reaching your audience, the easier it will be to grow your brand online.

Ready to level up your Twitter strategy? Read our list of the top Twitter tools to complement your efforts.