The people you are trying to reach are on Twitter and you're not taking advantage of this.
If you're anything like most businesses, you probably just use Twitter to distribute the occasional blog post. Paste the same link to as many other social channels as you can. The problem is that dropping links to blog posts on Twitter doesn't lead to much engagement. People on Twitter don’t like to click out of the platform.
When a company blog spams its own Twitter profile it is a strong indication that you don't care about Twitter and you don't understand how the platform works.
Why Twitter Matters
Twitter is different from Instagram and YouTube because Twitter is where politics and journalism live.
Journalists construct the world. The media world the rest of us live in. If you influence Twitter, you influence the ink that fills the pages of culture more broadly.
TV producers and reporters are listening to what people are talking about on Twitter. Whatever resonates with the public and trends on Twitter influences what goes on TV.
Twitter lives upstream from media and culture.
What does that mean for you?
Building a respectable presence on Twitter offers a comparative advantage over other projects in your space. Twitter ran a study with Kantar in 2019, and they saw that the more active someone is on Twitter, the more people see them as being culturally relevant.
In other words, being on Twitter makes you culturally relevant.
For businesses, this gets even better. The Kantar study found a 73% correlation between a brand’s cultural relevance and its purchase intent. So, the more culturally relevant your brand is the more willing people are to buy from you.
In another study conducted by Bovitz and Twitter in 2021, people were asked how they feel about engaging with brands on social media. Twitter had the highest percentage of people who rated the platform as good or great for brand interaction (71%).
This means that of all the social media platforms out there, Twitter is the best place to interact with people as a business. Its unique position as the real-time, conversational layer of the internet means there isn’t a more relevant place to connect with your audience.
1. Go to https://ads.twitter.com and set yourself up with an ad account. Don't worry you won't have to use a credit card, we're not actually going to run any ads just yet.
2. In the top left where it says 'Campaigns', click on the drop-down and create a campaign. For an objective, choose 'Website traffic'.
3. On the left-hand panel where it says 'AD GROUPS', scroll down to the 'Demographics' subsection and pick at least one location. Unfortunately, you can’t target ads globally. Everything else is optional.
4. Then scroll to the 'Targeting features' subsection and click on the 'interests' dropdown. There are 25 broad interest categories and they expand into 350 subtopics.
If you can’t find a single subcategory that defines your target audience then your audience might doesn't exist on Twitter and you probably shouldn’t waste time trying to market on it.
On the right-hand side of the screen, your audience size is estimated. Ideally, you want to find an audience with at least a million people in it. If you decide to run ads, one million is the lower end of what you need to give Twitter's ad algorithm enough room to match the right audience to the ad.
If you can't find a million people to target on Twitter it's not a dealbreaker, especially if you don't intend to run ads, but it is worth asking yourself if there are better platforms to get in front of your target audience.
So what do we tweet about
Thinking about your Twitter strategy through the lens of advertising targeting forces the discussion into a clear conversation about what you are trying to do and who you are trying to reach.
The next question that usually comes up once there is some shared understanding around who you are trying to reach is, what do we tweet about?
At this point, I have to refer you to Josh Spector's advice on the topic because it is the most succinct and valuable take on this question I've ever come across.
His exercise to identify what topics to tweet about involves answering the following questions in order:
1. What’s your overall goal unrelated to Twitter? What are you trying to accomplish?
2. Who do you need to reach to accomplish that goal?
3. What do those people value?
4. How can you provide that value in tweets?
Josh emphasizes that the more topics you tweet about, the harder it is to get people's attention.
"If you post two tweets about gardening, one about politics, one about what you had for lunch, and one about your favorite sports team, then that means 60% of your last five tweets have nothing to do with your target audience or providing value to them."
Focus your tweets on no more than a few related topics.
Finding those topics is going to involve a bit of trial and error.
One of the best places to start is with similar projects.
Let's say you manage the social media account for a bar. I'm suggesting you find 10 other bars that have active Twitter accounts that are in a similar price range and appeal to the same kind of audience you're going for. The idea is to go through their recent posts and start categorizing them. Standard pics of food and drink would be one category, now you need options for other categories.
- pictures from last night's event
- cocktail recipes
- press mentions or reviews
- stories about the history of the bar
- interviews with key staff members
- recommendations for other things to do and places to go when you're in town.
Building on top of what your competitors and partners are doing is a good place to start because there is a good chance they have already found categories that work.
To be clear, I am not suggesting you copy your competitor's tweets. I'm encouraging you to develop an informed understanding of what type of tweets resonate with your audience so that you can work on coming up with your version of tweets in those categories.
The goal is to come up with 3-4 categories of tweets that you think will appeal to your audience. The fact that these categories worked for your competitors does not guarantee that they will work for you. You will need to systematically test out different kinds of content to see what works. Building on what works for your competitors is just a useful starting point.
1. Put together a list of 5-10 competitors or partners that have active Twitter accounts.
2. Use this free tool to pull the last 3200 tweets from each account https://www.vicinitas.io/free-tools/download-user-tweets
3. Pop the results into a Google sheet and then start categorizing the tweets into different thematic clusters. Keep a note of the engagement each tweet gets so that you can compare engagement for different clusters. This data is unreliable since the tweets are from different times and are backed by different follower counts, but it's still useful to consider.
4. Shortlist the best 3-4 categories of tweets you think will appeal to your audience to start testing out.
Getting Your Story Straight
I'm not sure if there is a way to get in front of journalists and have them write about you and influence the cultural narrative around your project. If there is, I am yet to discover it.
I'm no PR person, but I do know that if you don't have a story, if you are not culturally relevant, then there will be nothing for journalists to write and talk about.
So instead of worrying about the journalists, focus on your story instead.
The hallmark of a weak story is that people don't understand what you do. When they do, they don't get how it's different from any other projects in the space. A strong story helps people instantly connect with what's special about what you do.
The way NOT to do this is to fill out blanks in some 'positioning statement'. This is where the whole corporate branding exercise idea comes from. The problem with a fill-in-the-blank approach is that it assumes the first thing that pops into your head is the right answer.
The whole point is to systematically figure out the components of a story that helps people understand what is special about your projects in relation to all the other things that are vying for their attention.
1. What would people do to solve the same problem if your project did not exist?
2. What does your project have that these alternatives don't?
3. Pick a big-deal capability and explain why someone would care about this.
4. Who cares deeply about this?
Rather than trying to answer each question correctly, the goal is to get as many answers as you can to each of these questions.
Now that you have a bunch of different options for each of the key components of your story, the trick is to pick the best ones to help people understand how your project is the best in the world at providing some value that a well-defined group of people cares a lot about.
Given that we live in a media-saturated world, and people can only remember 2-3 things at best, the goal is to focus people's small amount of precious attention on one thing: Why your project is worth paying attention to.
Once we know what that one thing is a good story is about helping people make sense of their options, helping them map the landscape of choices, and then understand your position in it sp that they can feel comfortable making the best possible choice for their particular situation.
1. Frame the problem - What problem does your unique value solve?
2. Evaluate the alternatives - What are people's options and what are the tradeoffs with each?
3. Describe the perfect world - Give people the criteria by which to judge an ideal solution.
4. Introduce yourself - Explain how you match up to these criteria
5. List out how you deliver value - What are the features and capabilities that allow you to do this?
6. Provide evidence - Case studies, self-evident proof, customer reviews, third-party validation.
7. Handle Objections - What is the story already in people's heads? Always consider the status quo.
8. What is your ask? - What do you want them to do next?
Each step is fairly obvious in isolation. It's the sequence that makes this awesome. The sequence unfolds all of the elements you need to have an interesting conversation about what's interesting about what you do.
What's great about all of this is it stops being a collection of loose ideas floating around in people's heads. Now there is one place where everyone on the team can capture and store ideas on what our competitive alternatives are, what's special about us, how we can prove it, and who we're trying to reach.
It's an opportunity to agree on what our story is and why. Most importantly, if it doesn't work out or people aren't resonating with aspects of our new position then we have great options for each step, and a place to park new ideas, so that you can systematically work through them.
All I have done here is narrow in on who your audience is, introduce the idea of content pillars, and then walked through April Dunfords' Obviously Awesome positioning exercise.
Now that you have a story, an audience and some categories to tweet about you have clear criteria for what makes a good tweet. All you have to ask yourself is, does this tweet reinforce your story?
Rather than thinking about this in terms of individual tweets you want to think about this in terms of categories of tweets, or content pillars. You don't have to take my word on any of this, these are Twitter's official recommendations on how to create a content calendar taken straight out of their Getting started course on Flight School.
Now all that's left is to build out a content calendar.
Working As A Team
The way I see it, your project exists to solve a problem. You have a team of the most qualified people to solve that problem. Instead of assigning one person the enormous responsibility of being the voice of the entire company, you can treat your social presence as a team sport.
Qualified answer to important questions in your industry becomes the backbone of your social media presence. It takes the most valuable resource your team has to offer and shares it with the world and it is an accurate reflection of your mission and personality.
As a small team, you can all take a little bit of time out of your week to let people know what you're working on and answer the important questions your customers have. If one person takes responsibility for collecting the most important and frequent questions that your potential customers have then everyone on the team can pick and chose the questions they are most qualified to address.
1. Post them as drafts on Chirr App (provided you have a team plan)
2. Go through each other tweets and leave inline feedback or approval based on how well the tweet reinforces your project's story.
3. Schedule the tweets with the most claps out over the course of the next month.
4. When a tweet does well, add it to your evergreen content pool.
Hopefully, you now have some sense of what we're doing and one month's worth of content ready to schedule.
The people you are trying to reach are on Twitter and now you're in a position to take advantage of this.
Remember, Twitter lives upstream from media and culture.
Building a respectable presence on Twitter offers a comparative advantage over other projects in your space. It makes you culturally relevant.
TV producers and reporters are listening to what people are talking about on Twitter. Whatever resonates with the public and trends on Twitter influences what goes on TV and into print.
If you influence Twitter, you influence the ink that fills the pages of culture more broadly.