The 1st of November 2020 marked our 12th year in the business of assisting brands to grow their digital real estate, premised on our unique ability to develop content that counts.
This milestone is worth making a splash about on social media, and we are doing exactly that.
As part of celebrating this momentous milestone, we are publishing 36 tweeting tips for B2B brands in this eNsight, based on our Twitter marketing experience that we amassed over the last 12 years.
Table of Contents
When we opened for business on the 1st of November, 2008;
- LinkedIn was 6yrs;
- Facebook was 4yrs;
- YouTube was 3yrs; and
- Twitter was 2yrs old
And, there was no Pinterest, WhatsApp, Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok.
Our 12th anniversary theme
Kwaito – the township-born genre of music that has been a symbol of endurance and a celebration of self-made success from many of South Africa’s poverty-stricken areas – is our theme of the 12th anniversary Twitter campaign.
This music genre is to South Africa what Hip Hop is to the US.
This tweet thread, which was published for the week leading up to the 1st of November, shows how we weaved Kwaito into our 12th anniversary celebration campaign.
And now to the business of this eNsight.
The importance of Twitter to ALL brands
If you have any doubt about the impact of Twitter on topical conversations that have global reach; the 2020 US elections, and the resultant Donald Trump’s rants about his loss of the Presidency, and doing so primarily on this social network; should provide the evidence.
Trump posted the tweets below on the morning of Friday 6th of November, South African time.
Twitter’s flagging of Donald Trump’s middle tweet in the screen shot above also points to this microblog’s increasing role in the policing of misinformation, a phenomenon that has become part of Trump’s presidency for the last 4 years.
You can read more about Donald Trump’s #USElections2020 meltdown on Twitter here.
Take a guess
Which social network was used by Heads of State around the world to congratulate now President-Elect Joe bidden?
The undisputed power of Twitter
This social network has become so powerful that governments and media brands don’t only use it as their foremost communication outreach channel, but also as a de facto source of news and trends, ahead of all the other social networks.
14 years down the line, and we are still sharing tweeting tips?
Twitter has been around since 2006.
You would think “everybody” gets it by now.
But in our experience, B2B (Business-to-business) brands are not sure if Twitter is the right platform for engaging their prospects and customers.
Also, B2B brands seem to be weary of this megaphone that is owned by “unhinged, unruly” Tweeps who can go off the rails at a moment’s notice; creating a publicity nightmare for a brand.
So, what B2B brands do not hear can’t kill them, right? R-i-g-h-t.
Now, the 36 tweeting tips for B2B businesses
We have been on Twitter since 2012.
The rest of this eNsight is about the 36 tweeting tips we have learnt over the 8-year period, which we broke down into 8 sections for your ease of consumption.
1. General tips
With this being the information age, it's safe to assume the Twitter mass know a lot about your brand, or can find information from the many readily available online sources if they need to.
Best you know there is no place to hide.
What does this mean for your brand's Twitter communications approach?
Transparency! Transparency! Transparency!
This tip is to be read together with tip #33.
Remember the biblical phrase "ask and you shall receive"?
Let's borrow and rephrase it as "ask and you may be received".
Just as much as your brand has specific objectives for being on Twitter, so are your prospects and customers.
So, when it's not your brand's turn to be received, "it must walk away" and try again some other time.
The keyword here is coaxing, and not persuasion.
More often than not, your B2B brand's prospects and customers are already talking about topics of interest to them.
The best approach is to join in the discussions in the beginning, rather than attempt to change, or even hijack, the topic of discussion.
As the discussion ensues, find the sweet spot that works both for your brand and your customers and prospects.
Netizens - citizens of the Internet - consume content across many types of online media, including Websites and social networks.
As they do so, they share the content with their peers across their favourite offline and online media.
Any chance these Nandos street pole ads may land on Twitter and be circulated on other online media?
This trend is not common among humans only.
Brands also exhibit a similar behaviour in some shape or form.
Implications for your B2B brand?
Registration on multiple online channels
Your brand must be active on multiple online channels.
Most especially, the brand must have a Website, or a form of owned medium that houses branded content; and share the developed content on at least LinkedIn (professional social network), Facebook (the largest social network that is conducive for deepening follower relationships) and Twitter (information super-spreader).
Multichannel presence, same brand
Your brand must adopt an omnichannel approach, which dictates that all the online consumer touch points must be seamlessly integrated and project the same brand values; with the lowest denominator assumption that the will be interacting with the same consumer on more than 1 online channel.
2. Brand development tips
The widely held view is that brand building can be fast-tracked on social media.
This channel has become synonymous with overnight success stories, fueled by the notion that money can buy anything and everything, including fans and followers.
- Establish what your B2B brand stands for (reason for being), and identify what makes it different (unique selling proposition);
- Build your brand steadily, consistently and sustainably;
- And, avoid chasing shinny objects.
How relevant is this quote for your B2B brand building efforts?
Credibility is so key. While novelty, shock and awe is the short game in the attention economy, authenticity and reliability is the long game... Getting cheap clicks through novelty, shock and awe and falsity is short-term profit maximising. People will churn away from you if they don't trust you, if they don't think you are authentic.
- Dr Sinan Aral: MIT Professor and Social Media Scientist
There are two conditions your B2B brand must meet, BEFORE it starts being busy on Twitter:
- It must have clear positioning, that is know what it stands for; and
- It must know what it can and can't do on Twitter, as would be guided by the associated social media policy.
If the two conditions above are firmly in place, your brand will not fall prey to the never-ending popularity contests on this microblog.
3. Community development tips
Building Twitter community is science, but it is not rocket science.
The journey starts with your brand defining, identifying and following its target Tweeps first!
With the law of reciprocation playing its part, there will be some of them following back!
You cannot expect to grow a community without showing you are interested in them.
One of the best ways is to follow back.
Clicking on the "Follow" button on the right in the screen shot above is wise.
Twitter is a peer-to-peer platform.
Brands - B2C and B2B alike - have to earn their place, which takes building trust with the Twitterati.
Our simple word of caution is that brands cannot throw their weight around in these Twitter streets.
Humility will win your brand friends, followers and advocates in the long run.
Yours may be a B2B brand, but its content and engagements are most likely driven by warm bodies and not machines; and your customer and prospect brands are also most likely represented by humans on Twitter.
Twitter engagements must be driven and handled on human level.
When Nomzamo Mbatha, South Africa's multi-talented celebrity, showed off her beautiful skirt that had depression messages on her graduation day in 2018, the National Health Department of South Africa seized the opportunity to amplify a message related to this disease.
What this type action does is make a brand relatable.
The action humanises a brand.
@NandosSA - a South African grilled chicken brand that has since become a global success - has become the master at poking its main competitors - including @KFCSA - on Twitter
Nandos tweeted the message above in response to the COVID19 advice that people not touch their faces.
Unfortunately, @KFCSA did not take the bait in a competitor banter that is great for making brands relatable.
We believe, if done right, this also helps to humanise a brand; and followers love it too!
The best form of communication is listening?
Tough thing for brands to do, right?
Your brand must look for opportunities to listen to your customers and competitors.
There is more you can learn from this than wanting to add to the noise that is already out there.
Have you noticed if you called someone’s name in a crowd someone else takes note that you did call their name, and becomes curious why not them, and thus become curious?
This applies on Twitter too!
We apply this approach where relevant, and
It is a well-known fact that a shotgun approach does not go hand in hand with effective communication, because human nature dictates that people listen more attentively when they are being spoken to directly.
Blinding glimpse of the obvious?
Your brand must, as often as possible, select a group of target audience and make it clear it is talking directly to them.
Thanks to the 280 character limit, this is now possible.
This very eNsight has a specific target audience in mind, and it clearly mentions this group in its title and throughout.
Using the omnichannel approach, the message in the pre-promotion of this eNsight on Twitter was already aligned.
In tip #11, we use @NandosSA as a perfect (or is it extreme?) example of competitor engagement.
It is important to engage followers and the Twitter massive at large on topics that are relevant to your brand, but are also of interest to the Twitterati.
Let us demonstrate what we mean, using this grilled chicken brand's tweeting behaviour for the past week to the 7th of November 2020:
According to Tweetstats, 95% of @NandosSA's tweets in the last 7 days were replies.
Clearly, this is a chatty brand.
Equally importantly, this points to the fact that Nandos does more of social crm work on Twitter.
Tweeps love responsive brands.
In addition though, the style Nandos does it in is very engaging.
Get ready, fire go😂🏃♂️ pic.twitter.com/bwjvTDsD5O
— NandosSA (@NandosSA) November 6, 2020
Brands tend to go for the jugular, with shouting SALE! SALE! SALE! messages.
Twitter streets are about connecting with the Tweeps, first.
The best way to do so, is give them value, and then ask for action in return.
This very eNsight applies that principle - through content that is hopefully valuable, is seen to be shared "freely", and has value to the target reader - the B2B brand.
We actively give value to our Twitter community, so we can ask for a specific action in return or down the line, knowing that they will consider responding in kind.
Even the most loved brands do get criticised by the Tweeps when their services fall short of expectations, including Nandos.
The trick for a brand is not "to make a meal of it".
The best response?
Your brand must show it cares about the raised issue by responding timeously and sensitively, take the engagement "offline", and resolve it, hopefully satisfactorily.
The best part is that Tweeps whose issues have been resolved often come back to Twitter and give your brand thumbs-up publicly, of their own accord!
One of the key features of Twitter is the strength of peer to peer influence, which cannot be matched by brand to consumer influence.
Implication for your B2B brand?
Use humans to communicate your brand's content.
How does a brand get its employees to willingly participate in its communication initiatives on Twitter?
Actively involve them in the content development process, and actively encourage their willing participation.
4. Content marketing tips
Twitter extended its content limit from 140 to 280 characters in November of 2017.
We are aware that, based on the last published report on the Twitter character count usage analysis, only 1% of the Tweeps maximise the new limit, and that by and large there has not been a seismic shift in the number of characters people continue to use in their their tweets.
Your B2B brand must maximise this limit for richer, more contextual tweet content, as often as possible.
Your tweets can be turned into mini-blogs, like this:
When we opened for business, today, in 2008:
- LinkedIn was 6yrs;
- Facebook was 4yrs;
- YouTube was 3yrs; and
- Twitter was 2yrs old
— eNitiate Integrated Solutions (@The_eNitiaters) November 1, 2020
Also, your tweets may appear in Google search results.
See the Google search results for Bra Willy Seyama, our founder:
Notice that, as per the Google search results screen shot above, Bra Willy's last tweet appears in the top 3.
Thus, a brand's tweet content must be treated as part of SEO, and thus word count is important.
Chris Sliver Smith published a great read in late 2018, and it supports our advice on maximising the 280 Twitter character limit.
This tip is to be read together with tip #36.
Keeping a healthy balance between high tweeting frequency and high content relevancy can sometimes post a challenge.
If you have to make a choice, we recommend you go for the latter.
Your brand has to be known for substance, and this comes through in its tweets.
While we are not saying that there should be long periods of silence, noise is not a better alternative either.
Draw a weekly tweeting calendar for your brand, and use tips shared in this eNsight, and especially in this section, for inspiration.
Need some more ideas?
Check this monthly content calendar sample from Search Engine Journal:
There are two key metrics to consider when it comes to published tweet content: REACH and EXPOSURE.
According to Digital Report 2020 (South African edition), a published tweet is seen by only 1 out 20 of Tweeps.
Therefore, average Twitter REACH is 5%.
Have you noticed that news channels repeat news stories and adverts over and over again?
The current post-US election stories and associated adverts make for a perfect example.
This is because viewers do not always pay attention the first time they see a piece of content.
Thus, broadcasting the same piece of content multiple times increases EXPOSURE, and this results in high recall rate.
Brand advertising is generally about achieving high recall.
What does this mean in this context?
The content that you work so hard to develop for your B2B brand has limited reach.
To increase reach, developed branded content needs to be published more than once.
A piece of content that is seen only once typically has low recall value.
To increase the recall, the same pairs of eyes must see the same content piece more than once.
You must fully leverage developed branded content, by publishing it more than once on Twitter.
How to select content to republish?
If a piece of developed branded content is deemed to be on point, or proves to have high engagement rate, then it must be tweeted more than once, either on the same day or over a number of days.
Any need re purpose the branded content?
If you have to, repurpose branded content to keep it fresh and relevant.
See an example of our #12thAnnniversary tweets, which we published over a number of days as part of our 12th anniversary campaign, here.
There are many other sources that provide opportunities for endless content development ideas.
The sources include content generated by the Twerrati (aka user-generated content) content by or involving your employees (birthdays, joining new staff, recognition awards, etc), clients (achieved milestones, events, new business acquisitions etc), industry (events and trends), and even competitors!
By the way, 9 of 10 most visited pages on our Website are not about our brand, but contain content about the industry and other brands, which in turn creates opportunities for development of Twitter content that, more often than not, is NOT about our brand per se!
There is plenty of freely available online content that your brand can tap into and repurpose.
Here is an example:
Leveraging of curated content has become the norm.
The proviso for using curated content is that it must be correctly referenced to the source, to avoid being accused of unethical behaviour that may turn into a tweet storm.
2 of the top 10 Web pages on our site were inspired by a January 2019 tweet titled "O Jewa Ke Eng?".
What is so special about the tweet above?
The engagement stats at the bottom of the screen shot above say it all.
In addition, the tweet holds the record for the most quoted tweet in the world.
The 2 "O Jewa Ke Eng" eNsights have earned the author and our founder, Bra Willy Seyama, loads of engagements on Twitter; and we obviously benefited as the brand from these interactions through clicks to our Website to check out the eNsights.
See Bra Willy's Twitter engagement thread here.
Blogging, which we called developing eNsights, is an integral part of our brand development.
We have to date published more than 550 eNsights since October 2009, and we are proud of this achievement.
You can find all our published eNsights here.
We consider this very eNsight as evergreen content.
Therefore, we started promoting it on October 25th.
We continued to promote the fact that we are developing the eNsight all the way until on the eve of publishing it.
Judging by the amount of available third party analytics tools that use Twitter data, this microblog must be providing thee best opportunities for studying social media consumption trends.
For us, Twitter is the fountain of knowledge.
It is by far the one social network where we can learn a lot about any Twitter handle, including tweeting behaviour and profile of followers, without the need to be linked to be followed or be following such handle.
45% of our eNsights - incluiding this one - mention Twitter as a keyword.
D you want to know anything about your competitors that are on Twitter?
Here is what you can learn about them:
- Analyse their tweeting behaviours using a combination of Twitonomy and Tweetstats; and
- Analyse ther followers profile using FollowerWonk.
Twitter has the highest percentage of journalists than any other social network, who are on a prowl for breaking news and trending topics.
However, your B2B brand must avoid using this channel for broadcast purposes only, hoping the journalists will lurch on your published branded content.
Twitter's power lies in brands' willingness to engage with the Twitterati, even when it is inconvenient or downright risky to do so at times.
5. Call-to-action tips
Your B2B brand is on Twitter for a purpose, and not for fun.
The stated purpose should be translated into appropriate call-to-action, and should then be incorporated in the tweet content.
Yes, the mechanics of weaving the call-to-action into the Twitter content will be influenced by factors such as the brand's style of communication, and the need for adaptation to different contexts for relevancy.
Here is an example of a tweet with a clear call-to-action:
Here is proof that the Tweeps did indeed take action as directed in the tweet above, as indicated by the appearance of the Lewis Hamilton eNsight in the top 10 most visited pages on our Website on the same date of the tweet:
This tip is to read together with tip #16.
6. Content distribution tips
The time to "dip a toe" on Twitter is long gone.
Your B2B brand can't afford to treat this social network as separate to its digital communication strategy.
Be intentional, and be consistent, with the use of Twitter.
As we already pointed out in tip #4, omnichannel communication approach is the key phrase.
Here is a graph that plots an average day's tweeting traffic pattern:
Source: SA Social Media Landscape 2020, by Onico
The graph above shows South Africa's Twitterverse's busiest period is in the evenings.
However, you can analayse the average daily Twitter traffic pattern for your own brand's Twitter community, by using a tool called FollowerWonk.
Here is a graph of our followers' average daily traffic pattern, based on the last 60 days to 2 November 2020:
As a qualifier, the top 3 markets for our Twitter followers are South africa, the US and the UK, in that order.
Do you notice the difference between the Onico graph and our follower graph above?
One obvious difference is that the highest traffic hour for our followers is 3-4pm, with a peak period that starts at 1pm and ends by 6pm.
The other 2 spikes (on our graph) are between 9-10am and 8-9pm.
If we want to interact with our followers, the best times to be active on Twitter are as per the analysed peak periods in the FollowerWonk graph.
The estimated shelf life of an average tweet, which is erroneously called a lifespan, is 18 minutes.
However, a tweet can live forever, literally, online.
Let us demonstrate, using a tweet by Linda Zeilina:
Linda's tweet displays a screen shot of Donald Trump's tweet that he published in 2014.
Yes, Trump's tweet's lifespan is 6 years old, and this is not eternity. Yet.
Assuming that Trump's tweet is authentic and not manufactured in Photoshop, what do you think of what he said then, given his current tweet storm?
Your B2B brand must develop tweet content knowing that it can live forever on Twitter, and other media for that matter.
Thus, intentionality is advised.
7. Lead generation tips
We know. We know.
There is always pressure to meet short-term sales targets.
And the inclination for brands is to start selling to all and sundry directly on Twitter.
But this is a bad a idea, you don't have to take it from us.
You can read a blog from Twitter here, which advices that brands MUST NOT sell on this microblog, and should rather engage instead.
Our takeout from Twitter's advice?
There is no magic wand to building profitable relationships on Twitter with prospects who can later be converted into customers on a separate online sales platform, and ultimately be turned into advocates back on Twitter.
Therefore, your brand must NOT view Twitter as an online sales catalogue or store, but a relationship building channel.
Under pressure to generate leads, some of the brands fall foul of hoodwinking social netizens into clicking on links that are not in line with what is being promised in the covering Twitter content.
This unethical practice is bound to hurt your brand's standing on Twitter.
It must be avoided at all costs.
8. Search engine optimisation tip
Your B2B brand's Twitter activities can lead to improved search rankings of the associated Website.
If all the necessary Twitter boxes are ticked, activities on this microblog lead to decent levels of engagement by the Twitterati, measured by likes, retweets, replies and mentions.
Google views the decent levels of Twitter engagement as a sign of authority for a set of key phrases found in the relevant tweets, and thus rewards the associated Website with higher rankings for such key phrases.
So it pays to be on Twitter, and to be active, for a brand's overall digital real estate.
[A]ccording to a study completed by Cognitive SEO (rebrand.ly/twitter-seo), the higher the average number of shares, comments, and likes a brand has, the higher their website rank actually is.
As we conclude
The list of 36 tweeting tips we shared in this eNsight is not exhaustive, because it is based on our own experience, having been on Twitter for almost two thirds of its existence.
We have incorporated many, carefully selected tweets as examples to bring the 36 tweeting tips to life.
Some of the examples are our own (and our founder’s) tweets, which we deemed important because we are a B2B brand, and we needed to demonstrate that we practice what we preach.
Other examples are of B2C brands, which we did not find to be an issue because the learnings are just as valuable.
A word of caution is in order.
There is no expectation that your B2B brand must apply ALL the 36 tweeting tips we shared in order to be successful on Twitter.
We certainly do not tick all the boxes ourselves, but this is intentional.
However, the more tips that can be used, in an integrated manner, the merrier.
The obvious proviso is that the process of selecting the most relevant tips is thought through as part of Twitter marketing strategy.