5 Ways Twitter Can Improve PR Communication
Recently I wrote a piece for Cision with some pretty alarming data about Twitter:
Twitter reach in January 2015
- <2 percent reach per Tweet
- .035 percent engagement per Tweet
It may seem counter-intuitive to write a piece about the ways that Twitter can improve your PR communication after stating that, but it isn’t. Despite its flaws, Twitter is an integral tool for PR communication. I know you know this.
We could mourn Twitter’s shortcomings, but I think that you may be surprised to see that a few adjustments in your Twitter behavior can significantly improve your PR communication. What I want to do in this piece is look at five ways that you can improve your PR communication by improving how you Tweet.
Twitter Facts 2015
Let’s take a look at some statistics about Twitter that can help to frame our discussion more succinctly:
- 19 percent of all online adults use Twitter (for perspective 71 percent of all online adults use Facebook)
- 80 percent of active Twitter users are mobile
- Twitter users spend 86 percent less time on Twitter than users spend on Facebook
- One-third of UK adults have complained to a company via social media, and their preferred platform is Twitter
- 70 percent of customer service complaints made on Twitter go unanswered
- The average Tweet reaches less than 2 percent of all followers and gets less than .04 percent engagement.
Summarized: far fewer people use Twitter than Facebook, and those who do don’t use it anywhere near as much. Odds are if you’re getting a social complaint it will be on Twitter and it could be about a very fresh experience due to high mobile usage. And a very small percentage of your followers see anything you post, an even more minuscule number will do anything about it.
So we know what we’re up against: let’s see how we can leverage these statistics to communicate better through Twitter.
1. Increase Tweet Frequency
If you’re like the average brand on Twitter, you may tweet two or three times a day. Based on the statistics above (and assuming you are optimizing your Tweets to be published at peak times), 6 percent of your (active) followers may see your posts on any given day.
You may consider increasing your Tweet frequency. More specifically, you may consider Tweeting similar content multiple times throughout the day. This is an insight that was popularized by Guy Kawasaki (back when people lamented that he was ruining Twitter) and appears now to be adopted by Twitter:
“brands that tweet two to three times per day can typically reach an audience size that’s equal to 30% of their follower base during a given week. This indicates that Tweet consistency is a key factor when it comes to maximizing your organic reach on Twitter.”
YOU probably want to reach more than 30 percent of your follower base every week (if you can), so increasing your Tweet frequency would serve you well. But does this require new content (Twitter doesn’t allow you to post the same content twice)? Of course not. At the end of each of her blog posts, marketing expert Sally Hogshead creates a half dozen “re-tweetable bits” encouraging people to share:
2. Grow Your Twitter Distribution (Followers)
Would you rather have 2 percent or 75 percent reach on Twitter? Probably a stupid question, but let me add a caveat: with 2 percent reach you have 25,000 followers and with 75 percent you get 100 followers. With 2 percent reach you would reach 500 people. With 75 percent reach you would reach 75. Of course you cannot have 75 percent reach on Twitter, but I bring this example up to show that the number of Twitter followers that you have matters an awful lot.
There are plenty of ways to actively grow your Twitter followers. Since target audiences vary so wildly, rather than get too specific I’ll describe some general ways that it can be done:
- Ask. A campaign to encourage your fans and customers to follow you is oftentimes the most effective way to get your target audience following you.
- Automated tools. You can use automated tools such as Cision, SocialBro, even Twitter search to find people with specific interests, geo-location, backgrounds, and with a tendency to reciprocally follow you.
- Be proactive (Shower the people you love with love). An unprovoked James Taylor lyric there, but the intention behind it is to say that Twitter-follow dynamics are interpreted differently than they actually are. We tend to think that a brand or person with a high follower count who follows few people is quite popular, but odds are (unless they are very recognizable) they’re gaming Twitter. As magnetic as you may think you are, the discovery process on Twitter favors the proactive. Twitter allow you to follow 10 percent more people than follow you, so you can be both reciprocating and proactive in your approach to follower acquisition.
For every 50 followers you earn, you get one more person reading each Tweet you post. It’s not a model of efficiency, but coupled with increased Tweet frequency your distribution (and resultant communication) can be much greater.
3. Amplify Communications with Co-Promotion
What if you could reach 100,000 new Twitter followers for any given Tweet (which probably would mean 2,000 because of the whole 2 percent thing)? Especially if they were your targeted audience this would be a bit of a coup. This is the idea behind Triberr and similar co-promoting apps.
Triberr works by connecting people in blogging “tribes,” who are given opportunity to (manually) reciprocally share each other’s content. You may wonder what this has to do with PR? With broad PR objectives or very targeted tribes, a tool like this might be quite effective. In practice, a co-promoting campaign between congruent brands might be effective even without technological facilitation.
A I understand that there are Fritos burritos at Taco Bell now. Two points:
- Strong co-promotion – when is the last time you thought about Fritos?
The idea of co-promotion is pretty straightforward: your organic audience + another congruent organic audience = better targeted distribution.
4. Leverage Twitter to Earn Email Subscribers
An achievable target for email open rate is 20 percent. It could be greater depending upon interest level and the quality of copy, but how many Tweets or Facebook posts are capable of that reach? Not a lot.
So, how can Twitter make you a better communicator? You can leverage Twitter (which has a low barrier to entry and low reach) to convert users to email subscribers (email has a higher barrier to entry AND a much higher reach). Consider the communication restraints that are lifted when you are no longer restrained by character count and by very low reach.
5. Pull, Don’t (Always) Push
Remember the statistics about customer complaints? One of the main reasons that people contact brands on social media is for “social care,” a euphemism for customer service through social media. Remember also that 70 percent of complaints don’t get answered.
An important aspect of communications is listening. In social media where it’s common to see people broadcasting banal details at inexplicable times, it’s important for communications professionals to find opportunities to listen, to sense and to respond to customer feedback. Whether you like it or not, customers have a huge role in shaping brand messages outside of the PR bubble, and a key part of understanding and responding to these messages is to listen. Twitter is a good place to do that.
We don’t choose (all of) the tools that we use for PR. We must communicate where our publics are. This means that we embrace Twitter flaws and all. Skillful use of Twitter is essential to making the most of a very flawed, yet very popular and essential platform.
I’ll close with a quote from Steve Martin describing his perception and reality of Twitter:
I thought if I had a Twitter feed and say I had a following of a 100,000, that means 100,000 of them would be interested in my book. It was logical, but it didn’t turn out to be true. It turned out if I had a Twitter feed of a 100,000, four of them were interested in my book.
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