How to Get Started on Twitter – the Beginner Guide We WISH We Had
When was the last time you did something perfectly from the very first step? If you answered anything but "never," hook us up with the superhuman perfection-steroids you've smuggled into the country, please.
We faced an uphill struggle with Twitter when we decided to revamp our social media strategy five weeks ago. We didn't really know what we were doing, but were determined to do it anyway. We hunted down mountains of advice – but it seemed as though everything we found was geared toward someone who had already been playing the Twitter game pretty well and wanted to build upon what they already had.
Not us. Nope. Our Twitter was a total flatline. What we needed was a comprehensive, easy-to-follow guide that covered the basics of just getting started – nearly from scratch.
Now, five weeks in, we've totally come around to the Twitterverse and have put together the step-by-step beginners' guide to getting started with Twitter we WISH we would have had – and pass it on to you!
So here we go with part 2 of our series on embracing Twitter: How to Get Started on Twitter – The Beginners' Guide we WISH We Had!
1. take stock of the situation before diving in.
BEST TOOLS: Google Analytics • Twitter Analytics • Keen intuition
After you've got a handle on how Twitter basically operates (Mom This is How Twitter Works is still our go-to explainer!) you need to establish your baseline.
Set aside a good chunk of time – maybe even a weekend – to check out what your performance and interactions are currently getting you. Whether or not you're currently on Twitter at all, you need to get a scope on the situation before you start changing up your game so that you can easily compare later.
The questions you want to be asking yourself to find the answer:
How are visitors getting to your site? • How do you want this to change?
Step 1: Open up your website analytics and determine where your users are coming from – and document it for easy reference!
Take a minute to compare the performance of each social media network you've got in place to determine what's working best at driving traffic. For us, we were getting almost entirely direct traffic – meaning our visitors were coming right to hootdesignco.com – a small amount of referral traffic from Facebook, and every now and then a ping from Pinterest. Virtually nothing was coming from Twitter.
Step 2: Open up your Twitter analytics to gauge the situation – and document it!
Even if you've just set up your Twitter account, open up Twitter analytics to start getting familiar with them. You'll be able to see how well you're performing in categories – how many tweets you've sent out, your total number of tweet impressions (people who have seen your tweet at all), profile visits, mentions, and followers neatly summarized for the month. Check out the other tabs at the top – which will give you information on your followers' engagement with your tweets, how often you tweet, how many times your links are clicked, and more. We'll come back to this section later!
A word of warning: We didn't take the time to gauge our Twitter analytics before jumping in, and it was a huge mistake. It would have saved us a LOT of time later.
If we would have investigated, we would have seen a nearly flat line all across the board – with a few bumps here and there – meaning we had almost no movement on our Twitter page. But we didn't think to take stock of the situation, and only found out that we could have really benefitted from investigating those bumps later on. Mistake!
Step 3: Formulate a goal for what you want to see from Twitter.
Later, we'll talk about how to follow-up on those goals to see what's working and what's not. But you need to have a goal in mind to see whether or not you're progressing.
Because we had a whole lot of nothing happening, we initially set a goal to see ANY type of movement.
Looking back, that was MAJOR mistake number two! Take time right now to get familiar with Twitter analytics and formulate a specific goal to work toward. Take your pick, but CHOOSE SOMETHING! What is it that you want to see? An increase followers? An increase your percentage of engagement? By determining a goal now, you'll be able to narrow your initial strategy and make it a whole lot easier on yourself!
Now it's time for the next step –
You need to start putting out content in order to start building your presence. But what should that content be?
Here's the question you need to ask yourself in order to find the answer:
What content would your ideal audience find useful enough to help you achieve the goal you set in the first section?
To rephrase that question – if your goal is to gain Twitter followers, what content would make those ideal followers want to follow you? So to work toward that, we've first got to...
Step 1: Determine what type of content will be useful + desirable for your audience.
Based on our business model, we knew that ideally the audience we want to build will be interested in marketing, design, design inspiration, business strategies, entrepreneurship, and, of course, #WomenInBiz. Ideally, our connections would be business owners who want help getting their brand and marketing strategies off the ground – and want to hire us, of course 😉
Step 2: Find content that fits in those beneficial categories to share.
The content that we want to believe our audience will find most beneficial is our blog content – but, just starting out, we had very little beneficial blog content of our own to share – and struggled with too much self-promotion and not enough direct benefit. Our posts were ending up being consistently self-promotional rather than being first and foremost beneficial to our audience.
Lauren from Elle & Co. suggests following a 90/10 content rule – that 90% of your content should be of direct benefit to your audience and that only 10% should be self-promotional. From our experience, that's a tough percentage to achieve at any point – especially when you're just starting out. We're still working on finding the balance – even now we're not quite there yet!
But what do you share in order to not fill your tweets with a steady stream of self-promotional blog links when all you have are self-promotional blog links?
The answer? Give out curated content.
Content you've hand-selected that will be beneficial to your audience – high-quality, high-value content centered around relevant topics. What does that curated content look like? Great suggestions for content to curate include relevant news articles, blog posts, images, information, products, or even quotes – depending on your audience, what is considered most "relevant" to curate will vary.
Trying to keep track of what content you've shared, how you've shared it, and when you've sent it out can be HECTIC! It was a bit of a mess for a while for us. But after a few weeks now, we've got a few go-to favorite systems that would have been perfect to have in our arsenal from the beginning.
Our best resources for curating content:
- Pocket – Pocket is a great browser extension that allows you to "pocket" content to save for later. It's EXTREMELY easy to use, and tagging articles with a topic of your choice makes it even smoother!
- Bloglovin' – if you've not signed up with Bloglovin' yet, I suggest you go try it out ASAP! It's a searchable and saveable newsfeed for blogs. ANY blog! It's like having all of my favorite people hanging around the same water cooler every morning. It streamlines my daily blog-checking routine and is the perfect place to find ideas for curated, topic-specific content to share.
- Pinterest – Pinterest works well for keeping track of images and links we may want to share in the future – we have a secret group board (HDco internal – mysterious, huh?) where we save any pins we think could be a good match.
Okay, so now you've got content you want to share. Beneficial content, at that. You know your goals. You know your initial starting point. Now, at long last, it's time to...
Now that you've got all your ducks in a row, it's time to start posting! 🎉
We knew from our research how important it is to tweet multiple times a day at different hours of the day. But we quickly found out that it was a hassle to tweet our content directly from Twitter. We're BUSY people! We kept ending up with either one or two tweets at opposite ends of the day or a few bursts of action here and there. We were totally failing at consistency!
This is where Buffer comes in – it's a free service that connects to your Twitter account (you can use it for Facebook too!) to post tweets throughout the day according to a schedule that you set up. It has built-in link shortening and supports images as well (except for gifs. Use Tweetdeck to schedule those!). Buffer also saves your posted content so that it's re-bufferable – meaning you can add old content back to your queue in one click – which is perfect for recirculating content you want to make sure doesn't slip into oblivion.
And finally, an integral part of any social media network is actively engaging with others. Retweeting, favoriting, and replying directly to the cool people you meet is absolutely essential. And for those personal interactions, you need to be as timely and as personable as possible – which means setting aside time in your day to genuinely pursue those connections.
✨ Twittering accomplished! ✨
Wait, not so fast!
Remember the concrete goals we set (or, in our case, wish we would have known to set)? After getting into a good rhythm we need to follow up on those goals in order to evaluate what's effective and what's not in our process. Looking at measurable metrics – what's working and what sucks – is the best way to improve!
And that's exactly what we're covering next week: making sense of your analytics and improving your strategy.
See you back here, same time, same place, more strategy :)
We're working hard to show you what five years in business looks like. Comment here or on Facebook with topics or questions you'd like to see us cover. Or maybe just links to your favorite GIFS. You can also tweet us your feedback @hootdesignco or @averyenderle, follow us on Insta, come check out our Pinterest boards, and keep up with us on BlogLovin'!