As of last year, more than nine out of ten American businesses use  to help market their products and services. Social media marketing is here to stay, and truthfully that’s reason to celebrate. Incorporating Twitter into your marketing strategy doesn’t take a specialist or a degree in marketing, and the returns from effective social media marketing can be astronomical. Below you’ll find everything you need to know about the ins and outs of Twitter, and how to get the platform to work for your brand.

Twitter for Big Business vs. Small Business

Strictly speaking, there aren’t any major marketing strategies that exclusively work for small companies, or exclusively work for large companies. But that isn’t to say that there aren’t strategies that are better suited to one or the other. Larger companies with more resources are undeniably better suited to the ever popular social media giveaway campaign. For example, if Marvel wanted to draw attention to their Google+ page, they could easily pull hundreds of thousands of hits for simply giving away a laptop. Similarly, strategies that are aimed at collecting individual sales and engaging customers one on one is generally more practical for a small business, where your next sale usually means much more. If someone on Twitter is looking for a recommendation for a new guitar tuner, it’s practical for a small business to spend the time to plug their new product, the Guitar Tuner 3,000. If anything, what makes social media marketing so great is that it partially levels the playing field between businesses when it comes to potential for marketing. The Internet is only biased towards quality content.

Statistically Valuable Tweets

Content is king in the world of social media marketing, and Twitter is no exception. If you want your branded content to be spread across the net, it needs to be interesting or valuable enough for someone to want to share it. There are a handful of simple and easy ways you can maximize how share-worthy your content is in only a few minutes.

One of the most effective yet most simple means of adding value to a post is simply including a photo. According to of over 2 million Tweets, photos are 35% more effective at producing retweeted content. Similarly, content that uses 1-2 hashtags receive 16% more engagement, videos receive 28%, and incorporating a number into your tweet raises engagement by as much as 17%.

Things To Avoid

Newbies to social media marketing are prone to one all too common mistake — over self-promotion. If your channel is nothing more than a stream of advertisements, you’ll struggle to gain a follower base, your content won’t be retweeted, and readers will treat your page as what it is. Generally, it’s a good idea to follow the 80-20 rule. This means 80% of your tweets are designed to add value to your Twitter page, and the remaining 20% a more direct pitch of your products or services. There are good examples of the 80-20 rule available on virtually every major social media account in the industry, from Marvel’s Google+ page to Budweiser’s Facebook.

Another thing to avoid is the 140 character limit. Although limiting your message to 140 characters might seem sufficiently challenging, research from Buddy Media has shown that are in the range of 90-100 words. Those tweets earn as much as 17% more engagement than their 140 character counterparts. Leaving extra space in your post also enables your readers to insert a retweet tag, so being close to the character limit can discourage many people from promoting your content.

Audience Participation 101

Here it’s worth mentioning one social network truism: engaged audiences convert. The more engaged a reader is, the more apt they are to retweet your content, react to your call to action, or otherwise behave in the way you want. In short, the more you can get your audience to participate in your page, the better for your business.

But like any social network, Twitter is a social experience at its core, and getting engagement with your page involves actually participating with your audience and in the broader Twitter community. To that extent, it’s impossible to be successful on Twitter without at least some extent of participation and engagement with others in a social setting. Knowing how much you want to participate with your readers depends on what you want to achieve with your Twitter.For example, more and more businesses are turning to Twitter as a platform for answering customer questions and concerns. If Twitter is principally a means of customer service for your business, then there’s virtually no limit to how often you should participate with your audience, because that’s the principle concern of your page.

However, if you’re using your channel on Twitter for broader goals, like building your brand, spreading your content online, generating leads, SEO for your site, and so on, then you will want to restrain your participation to value-added responses. Rather than addressing each and every concern that comes across your Twitter feed, address those that definitively add value to your page, whether that’s from addressing a common concern or engaging in an ongoing discussion in a small hashtag community.

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