Previously we've discussed why it's useful to add hashtags to your company's social media. A lot of people in business don't really see the point of Twitter. It's a medium that only allows for short statements, after all. What exactly is the point of screaming into the void? That is a good question. Here we will talk about what attracts people to Twitter and how you can utilize that attraction to expand your company's audience and influence.
First Twitter is designed to be social. That means interactive. In order to be interactive, however, the account has to link up with other accounts by following them and gaining followers. The more followers you have, the more likely your message will be heard. There is also an SEO advantage of having many Twitter followers. Google and Twitter are interconnected, and Google notices the Twitter profiles of businesses and how they use the platform.
Five or more years ago, the big SEO push was for companies to have thousands or millions of followers, and many companies bought followers on Twitter to better their search rankings. Google's algorithm has changed over the years in an attempt to reward authentic, original content producers, though, and accounts with fake or bot followers do not count. In fact, Google penalizes any account it determines is not following its goals for the internet, so it's better now to have fewer followers and to interact with them in real ways.
It's not just better in terms of SEO, however. One reason for Twitter's appeal is that it allows people to find others with similar interests and interact with them in real time. Blogs are also wonderful resources for information or sharing excitement about topics or ideas, but Twitter allows people to experience events with others who are geographically distant. In many ways, it allows users to feel like they are a part of an event or movement even if they are not physically present and they get to share it with people who are like them. This is why Twitter is great for TV fandoms or politics watchers. More and more people get their news from Twitter too, as ordinary people report what they are seeing and the larger Twitter audience locates them.
How do those strengths translate to potential for companies to expand their reach online? By using hashtags in tweets and interacting with other Twitter accounts via those hashtags.
As we explained before a hashtag is a word or a phrase that tags - or indexes - that tweet as belonging to a conversation about that topic. With a hashtag, that tweet then has more than the "fifteen minutes of fame" (or more specifically, 18) that a tweet typically has on the timelines of users who follow any one Twitter account. Hashtagging tweets adds them to moments or movements or reactions easily accessible at any future point in time.
To give an example of why this is useful, this weekend one of the headlines was that Senator John McCain died. There was plenty of commentary on McCain's life in news sources this weekend, and he will be a topic of interest going forward. People will write commentary on blogs and political sites. Twitter is not the best place for that kind of information.
What Twitter is great at is providing how people reacted to John McCain's death in the moment. On Saturday night numerous hashtags appeared related to his death - hashtags like #RIPJohnMcCain and #Maverick. These hashtags will be easily searchable in a number of ways (chronologically, by popularity) as long as Twitter exists.
If a business wants to take advantage of the way Twitter is configured, using popular hashtags and getting involved in a topic as it is trending are both very useful. Many companies play it safe on Twitter because it can be a volatile space, but if tweets that are funny, poignant, or noteworthy they can go viral. A viral tweet gets a lot of new eyes and often many new followers. The fast food chain, Wendy's, has been particularly adept at using humor to gain a real following online which has been excellent for their overall brand.
If you get noticed, reach out and talk to your audience because they have the power to introduce you to others. It may take some time to cultivate actual Twitter friends, or mutuals as they are called, but it can be worthwhile in the long run because eventually other people will begin to promote you for free if you build the right kinds of relationships online. Every time someone retweets a Wendy's tweet, it's another advertisement for their brand and a recommendation of sorts of that company as offering something worthwhile.
It takes some savvy and a time commitment to utilize Twitter well for marketing, but it's very possible. Many companies are doing it, and it can differentiate a business in a very competitive market and drive traffic and sales. For companies with niche products hashtags also work very well to connect the dots between those products. Twitter allows companies to open up a conversation with their customers, but hashtags allow that conversation to continue on beyond that moment in time, making it, in a sense, evergreen.