twitterTwitter is a content producing machine. With over 555 million users releasing 5,700 tweets per second, finding a captive audience for your company’s updates is daunting at best. A new report on Twitter stats has also revealed a depressing reality; active accounts (those that have posted in the last 30 days) have a median average of 61 followers. This begs the question – is anyone reading your tweets?

You can’t answer this question by touting large numbers of so-called followers. Just because a brand has 10k “fans”, it doesn’t mean 10k people read every tweet. Engagement is the name of the game, and the practice of buying followers is a colossal waste of money.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel though. Many of the latest Twitter stats point directly at what creates user interaction and engagement. But although releasing a deluge of self-centric tweets to an uncaring audience is not among the tricks of the trade, it’s by far the most common practice. It’s time to face the facts about Twitter stats, and rise above the clutter.

Why Twitter’s Business Model Conflicts with Your Marketing Efforts

There’s a fundamental conflict in the way Twitter presents itself. On the surface, it wants to be a social network, with the newly minted tagline “Start a conversation.” Yet at its core, Twitter only works if the majority of its 190 million monthly visitors are following conversations, not leading them. As more and more of the globe has decided to tweet up a storm, everyone else’s offerings have become diluted.

The result: Twitter has worked harder to promote “super-users” that have hundreds of thousands of followers – this is the model the network most embraces. How do we know? Check out the very obvious way celebrities and well-known brands are heavily promoted by the site. Chances are your Twitter homepage currently has follow suggestions like Neil Patrick Harris, Kim Kardashian, and Kraft Foods; even though they may reflect absolutely nothing about your interests.

The hard truth is the Twitter stratosphere is heinously cluttered. So, chances are, your brilliant little missives are not finding their intended eyeballs.

Surefire Ways to Increase Engagement

So how exactly do you woo the masses into reading and interacting with your tweets? You do what always works in marketing; give the people what they want.

Need more tangible ideas? Here’s the path to Twitter greatness, supported by recent platform statistics.

  1. When you tweet is vitally important. Since most of us are weekday warriors, we are missing the boat when it comes to ideal Twitter times. Your tweets need to launch when the majority of your audience is online. For most of us, that means the weekend. If you still insist on weekday releases, peak hours are 9 am, 12 pm, 3 pm and 6 pm. (Use the time zone where the majority of your demographic lives as a foundation.)
  2. Tweets with images have a 200 percent increase in engagement. It doesn’t matter how witty your 140 characters sound; pictures, as you know. . .say a heck of a lot more.
  3. Want your audience to retweet your sends? Ask them to do so. Calls to action are priceless, and in this case, 86 percent more effective.
  4. Shorter is better. Tweets 100 characters or less see a 17 percent increase in engagement. And you thought 140 characters felt limiting!
  5. Ask questions. Again, this emphasizes a call to action. Tweets that pose thoughtful and intriguing questions see a 21 percent response rate. That’s engagement, and that’s exactly what you’re going for.

The Biggest Mistakes Brands Make on Twitter

There are a lot of Twitter blunders occurring in mass quantity every day. Here are a few core mistakes that you can start avoiding right now:

  1. Not following others. It’s astounding how many brands expect to build a mammoth user base without the courtesy of following others. For every 100 users you follow, 31 will follow you back. So get out there, read what others are up to, and make some friends.
  2. Tweeting only about your company. Self-serving tweets are the vast majority, and users are getting wary of all the “me me me” missives. Share valuable information about your company, industry, and products. Inspire and intrigue your audience; don’t just talk about how awesome your brand is.
  3. Failing to respond to inquiries. More and more users are utilizing the social network as the customer service outlet for various companies. If a user asks you a question privately or through a tweet, you have a very small window to respond before you’ve alienated your customer. If you’re going to have a presence, commit to being active.

Advice in a Nutshell

Don’t be mesmerized by the sheer numbers Twitter has garnered; make no mistake, gaining a stronghold on this audience is no easy task. You need to be extremely mindful of who you’re trying to reach, and when they are interacting with content.

To be a Twitter superstar, you absolutely have to commit to building and maintaining a loyal audience. Twitter is very much a go big or go home platform – a lack of firm commitment and effort will result in the sound of crickets chirping. If you want your tweets to be among the very few of the 58 million sent per day that are actually read by engaged readers, it’s going to take a mammoth effort to achieve. Worth every moment, by the way, but let’s not pretend this is an easy task.

How has your experience with Twitter engagement been? What are your tricks in building and maintaining a happy Twitter audience?

(Original Article)