How industrial technology companies can use Twitter effectively

There is still some scepticism within the industrial technology community about the genuine return on investment from a company Twitter feed. However, the medium has by and large been embraced wholeheartedly by those promoting products and services to manufacturing, processing and utilities. The implementation of new technology within some of these industries may at times be slow, but the marketers trying to reach out to them are certainly not when it comes to adopting the latest marketing tools. Make no mistake, every avenue is explored by your competitor to help gain a critical advantage and Twitter is just one of those. With that in mind, I am probably preaching to the converted here, but if your management has been reluctant or slightly hesitant to throw its weight behind a social media policy, here are a few reasons why they should, along with some good advice for when they do.

Achieving marketing goals

Again, forgive me if you are already fully aware of its benefits, but for completion:- using social media to support your marketing can help achieve several goals. These include increasing traffic to your website, creating a brand identity, raising brand awareness and helping you to communicate directly with customers through interactions and conversations. Humanising your brand is one of the major advantages provided by social media in general and Twitter especially. Twitter enables you to make regular updates, use conversational language and perhaps most importantly, have direct interaction with your existing and potential customers.

Keep your finger on the pulse

Twitter gives you the opportunity to see what your customers are talking about, helping you learn how to relate to them better. It also provides the perfect platform for you to speak directly to your audience on an individual basis, either through starting a conversation with your own tweets or by joining existing conversations. Regular Twitter users will be aware that it provides you with a constantly updated stream of news, some of it important, some less so, but when used correctly Twitter does keep you abreast of all the latest developments as they happen. Having this up-to-date knowledge gives you the opportunity to create your own content based on the most relevant breaking stories.

Getting the most from social media

So, once you have accepted the concept of employing social media, and Twitter particularly, as a beneficial marketing tool, what are the elements of best practice that will help you get the most out of it? Creating an account and posting material is very easy, but before you proceed you should be clear about what you want to achieve, and how you want to achieve it. Know what message you want to communicate and understand the audience you want to connect with. As always you can learn from others, not least your competitors and customers. By studying your target audience’s online content, it will help you to learn how to tailor your own content for maximum impact.

Play the long game

So, who is that audience and how do I increase my following? Well, I will save the ‘how do I get more followers’ tutorial for another day, but it does take time to build your audience, as it does making social media and content marketing a success, so don’t expect immediate results in terms of a return on investment. However, provided your content has value, you will gradually build an audience of followers, who will then share that content with their own social media networks. Crucially, this sharing enables search engines to find it in keyword searches, which opens the door to many more people viewing it.

The 4-1-1 rule

Keeping promotional tweets to a minimum is a good idea, as your followers don’t want to be constantly preached to. However, as they are following you it’s safe to say that they have a certain level of interest in your company, so you can use the occasional tweet to reveal company news and promote content. The key to grabbing the reader’s attention is to angle the tweets so that they emphasise how this news benefits your followers. It’s useful to remember the 4-1-1 rule, which states that for every self-promoting tweet, you should tweet four pieces of relevant content from others, and retweet one relevant tweet. That level of ‘non-self-promotion’ might be a problem for some companies, so an alternative might be to temper the number of tweets that are very commercial and obviously self-promotional. White papers or blogs that discuss subjects in a generic, non-commercial way could help balance the overtly self-promotional tweets. Retweeting links to independently produced material or generic good news from your industry and customers can provide valuable source material.

Create the right content

Content is critical. Social media provides the medium in which to spread information, but creating the right content is essential to attracting and retaining your audience. Consider what your potential customer might be interested in. A white paper explaining ways of improving productivity, reducing costs or increasing safety or security; a video that describes a new technology or technique that can help them; or perhaps an article outlining best installation or application practices. Social media provides the ideal way of advertising this type of content and you will find that links to engaging and useful material will not only get clicks, but will also be recycled and retweeted increasing its exposure.

Don’t be shy to share

One thing to consider is that if the content you have produced is worth publishing, then it’s worth doing so a second or even third time. Not everyone is going to see that first tweet and by altering the message, image and timing you can not only repurpose that announcement, but you can also get an insight into what works best for your audience. The more often you share information, the more likely you will gain traction and receive clicks. Obviously, there is a limit – you don’t want to come across as a spammer or appear short on content – but don’t be shy.

When to post and when to check

Many companies schedule their social media posts, but there’s no need to be too rigid about it. Don’t be afraid to post a tweet or a response just because it’s not part of your schedule. As for checking your social media accounts, it’s a good idea to designate a certain block of time for this each day, as it will save you a lot of time compared to continually scrolling throughout the day.

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