A report recently released by Twitter analyzed thousands of tweets over a six-month period, highlighting the tips and tactics that generated the most engagement and growth among news publishers and journalists. You may not think of yourself as Woodward and Bernstein, or your business as The New York Times, but social media has leveled the playing field in many respects and you certainly use many of the same strategies the media employs as part of your social media marketing efforts.

Marketing consultant Tara Swiger, author of Market Yourself:  A Marketing System For Smart and Creative Businesses, helped us break it down for the small business marketer.

Tweet your beat

The Twitter report, called “Twitter Best Practices for Journalists and Newsrooms,” (free to download) encourages journalists to gain more followers and increase engagement by frequently tweeting about the topics, industries or people they cover professionally; for example, by live tweeting events or breaking news. Few small businesses have a reason to tweet “This just in” every few minutes, but owners can follow the advice about sticking to subjects they’re experts in and that people are passionate about, and live tweeting relevant events can be useful, too.

“There [isn’t] a lot of up-to-the minute news that buyers need to know about products they buy, but if you hold some kind of event or attend an event that your customer base is into, or may wish they were at, then live tweeting from that event about topics they care about makes a lot of sense,” Swiger says.  The key is to really understand your followers, what they’re interested in, and to base your tweeting strategy off of that.

Use hashtags

Media professionals use hashtags very effectively when responding to current events that people are engaged in. While business owners may use hashtags to comment on the news from time to time, plugging into a hashtag used regularly in your industry can be more effective.

“If you can get your customers to use the hashtag, that’s brilliant,” Swiger said. For example, some brands have customers use specific hashtags to provide testimonials or share their experiences with a product. In addition, your Twitter followers may be interested in finding followers of their own who share similar interests.

 Share URLs—and not just your own

Re-tweeting other users and sharing links to articles you’re reading (especially ones outside of your own blog) increases engagement for journalists, and it makes sense that it would do the same for small businesses.

“The Twitter community at large wants to see you as a human being, so if all you ever do is link to your own stuff, you’re hurting your brand,” Swiger says. Linking to others not only strengthens your business because you’re providing useful and relevant information to your followers, but also establishes you as an active and engaged member of your specific niche.

“If your goal is to build a community around a subject matter that people are passionate about, and if you are in an industry people are very excited about, you want to show that you are on top of it and that you are involved, and that you are an active member of the community along with your shoppers,” Swiger explains.

Cite your sources

Mixing in @mentions along with re-tweets grows followers for journalists, according to Twitter, and the same can also be said for businesses. Why? People you mention are more likely to engage in a conversation with you and to include a mention of you in their feeds. They may even re-tweet your posts, which gets your Twitter profile picture up in front of their followers.

Some Twitter users have plugins on their websites and you may show up on the bottom of the posts they wrote to which you are responding, so it helps create a presence for your Twitter account on other people’s websites. In addition, “it also connects you with that person in your reader’s mind, so you’re not just a brand, but a person,” says Swiger.

How are you using Twitter for your business?

This post contributed by guest author, Yael Grauer. Grauer is a Minneapolis-based freelance writer and editor. Find her online at Yaelwrites.com. 

© 2013 – 2018, Contributing Author. All rights reserved.

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