Twitter is not only a platform to connect with your current customers, it can help you acquire new customers, engage them in relevant conversations and collect pertinent data about them.
Less than optimal Twitter pages and practices can deter prospects from converting to customers, project a negative company image and compel customers to drop your company forever. It is therefore critical that you understand Twitter-etiquette and optimize what you tweet.
There is no better authority on tweeting than Jack Dorsey. So this is what I’m going to do: if you tweet me, I will have Jack personally evaluate your Twitter account and give you suggestions on how to improve it. Just kidding. I don’t know the guy. But I do admire and respect him.
I think we can all learn a little something from the “Next Steve Jobs”. That’s why I compiled information from his tweets and interviews, extrapolated a bit and drew my own conclusions about what Dorsey would say to entrepreneurs looking to optimize their business tweets.
1. Be purposeful
Before you tweet anything, you should think about the purpose of the tweet. Is it to promote a new feature? Is it to acquire more followers? Is it to compel followers to buy your product? Is it to stay relevant? Whatever the purpose, make sure that the tweet is in line with its purpose and that its purpose is in line with your marketing strategy. Because in the words of Dorsey:
2. Be courageous
When discussing Twitter, Jack famously said, “Everything we do is about getting people to be more open, more creative, more courageous.” Use Twitter as your platform for you and your company to be more courageous. Discuss ideas that are controversial, talk about companies that are disrupting your industry and take risks by putting yourself out there, even when a positive outcome isn’t guaranteed. When you and your company face your fears, push through the unknown and are willing to let go of the things that hold you back, your courage will be contagious.
3. Understand your customers and predict their needs
You should do more than just follow your customers, you should study them. When you understand your customer base, you will be more likely to understand and predict their needs. Twitter is an excellent resource and platform for analyzing customer trends, aggregating customer data and enhancing customer development processes. Utilize this powerful information to be one step ahead of your customers and build a product or service that they want and need.
4. Be kind, always
You should always avoid using Twitter as your platform to bash people or companies. You may have strong opinions about something or someone, but if others can view your tweet as negative, then it is best not to tweet it at all. You may risk losing followers, or worse, customers. When considering what to tweet, think of your mother: “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”
5. Be honest and open about failure
Jack Dorsey believes that failure is necessary for success. The more you can embrace failure as part of the process and discuss failures openly, the more you and your followers will learn from them. Talk about setbacks openly, how you overcame them and what you have learned. Your followers will appreciate the transparency and honesty and will value your contribution.
When you provide useful and helpful information on Twitter, people will frequently go to your page as a resource. Use Twitter as a platform to educate, but remember to take a humble approach. Develop a content strategy by making a list of important topics, features and tips to tweet about. Use Twitter to promote blog posts, e-books and new features.
7. Use reliable sources
Only tweet and retweet information from reliable sources. The more reliable the source, the more you can be sure that the information is accurate. Never post something from a less-known source without reading the study, or doing a little background research on the topic. Once you can confirm that it is accurate, then tweet it.
8. Share relevant information
In order to tweet relevant, you have to be relevant. Tweet about side projects, community service projects that your team is involved with, sport teams, etc. Basically, don’t limit your tweets to information from your specific industry. For example, if your company develops SaaS, branch out and tweet information from psychology, marketing, sports, your company offsite, news headlines etc. This will help your tweets reach a broader audience and you will likely gain more followers and customers.
9. Be timely
There is nothing exciting about retweeting yesterday’s old news. Make sure your tweets are capturing the moment and are sharing information that is new and exciting. If you feel compelled to discuss an older news topic, talk about why it is relevant or put a new spin on it. Your followers will appreciate the effort.
10. Be humble
No one, and no company, is perfect and should never pretend to be. Recognize and accept your limitations and be open and honest about them. Defer to another person’s or company’s judgment or decision when appropriate. Take the time to appreciate and acknowledge what you are thankful for, appreciate the talents of other people and cultivate a sense of wonder.
11. Be honest, always
Honesty inspires people to respect you, your company and your mission. It builds a foundation of trust with your colleagues, business partners, competitors, prospects and customers. You should always be honest on Twitter, as what you say is permanent and can be far reaching. Exaggerating just one thing can come back to haunt you, hurt your reputation and turn away customers. Never tweet about landing a new customer, partner or closing a big deal until everything is said and done.
12. Be a great story teller
A story, in essence, is a connection between cause and effect and about connecting with your audience. When you tweet something, your followers should be able to relate it to their own experience. You should aim to evoke emotion, compel them to act and to engage them in conversation. A good story, one that everyone can relate to, will go viral.
13. Use constraint
One of Dorsey’s guiding principles at Twitter is constraint. His more literal use of constraint was restricting the amount of characters that you can tweet, but in a more figurative sense, it is also imperative that you use constraint on Twitter. Don’t tweet too many times in a row. Don’t air grievances. Don’t tweet about things that are not important, not in accordance with your marketing strategy or not in line with your company values.
14. Throw in some philosophical flair
Jack Dorsey is known for being philosophical. In a 60 minutes interview, he discussed how he brought his team at Twitter to Land’s End in San Francisco in order to inspire them.
”We see the bridge as like this perfect intersection between art and engineering. It has pure utility, in that people commute on it every single day. When people come to Twitter and they want to express something in the world, the technology fades away.”
Like the Golden Gate Bridge, Dorsey feels that people shouldn’t have to think about how Twitter works, they should just know that they can use it, they can admire it and it will never let them down.
Take a page out of Dorsey’s playbook and introduce a little philosophical flair to your tweets every now and then. Challenge your followers to think about the world differently and compel them to contemplate things and ideas that they might take for granted. Your followers will really appreciate the change you made in them.
15. Enjoy the moment, then tweet about it
If something really great is happening, take it all in, be present in the moment, and then tweet about it after the fact. When your head is buried in your phone and you’re anxious to be the first to tweet about the shared experience, you are not really experiencing it. That being said, when something is happening that can connect you with your followers, experience it, take it in and then be sure to tweet about it before it’s too late.
16. Keep it simply perfect
Dorsey is known for simplicity. His mantra is, “make every detail perfect, and limit the number of details to perfect.” Twitter’s character limit forces you to be brief, but brief isn’t always simple, or perfect. Think about the message that you are sending, make sure it is clear and easy to understand. When it is simple, concise and allows you to connect with your followers, then it is perfect.
17. Have empathy
Empathy connects people on a deeper level, but is also crucial to developing your product and your customer base. When you can place yourself in your customer’s shoes and truly feel their struggles, you will have a better understanding of how to develop your product or service in order to meet their needs. Twitter is the perfect tool to help you understand your customers and their needs. What your customers tweet is a direct path to understanding their needs, struggles, joys, hopes and desires. By studying your customers on Twitter, you will also have a better understanding of what material they find interesting, what they might learn from and what they will feel compelled to share with their followers.
“I firmly believe that the more of that understanding we can surface with technology, the more empathy (we have). When we have more empathy about… the struggles people go through every day… we have more understanding of what’s important in their lives and why it’s important.”– Jack Dorsey
18. Take risks
According to Dorsey, entrepreneurship is “about taking risks, whether you’re starting your business or work in an organization, whatever charity or cause. It’s about the attitude of strong purpose and conviction.”
If your product or service doesn’t work as expected, has a bug that affects your customers or is taking heat in the media, have the courage to stand behind your company. Don’t be defensive, but be honest. Take a risk and admit to your mistakes, assure your followers that your team is working hard to fix the problem and offer a token of appreciation for hanging in there when times were tough. Your honesty and courage will go a long way in keeping your customers loyal.
19. Be unique
Don’t just use twitter as a platform to retweet interesting information. Contribute. Tweet about ideas, products and services that are new and exciting. Offer resources like e-books, blog posts and infographics that are both creative and will educate your followers. When you blaze your own trail through Twitter, you might find some unexpected benefits.
“The most important thing is to find [your] own path.” – Jack Dorsey
Twitter is an amazing platform that can be used to connect with your customers, better understand them and promote positive brand awareness for your company. If you apply lessons learned from the Twitter O.G. himself, you can build your network, propel your company into the Twitter spotlight and increase your business, 140 characters at a time.