Social media marketing proficiency doesn’t have to come at a extravagent cost of labour or budget. Using Twitter as an example, here’s how to increase your reach with minimal budget.

While organic reach on Facebook and LinkedIn is all but dead, Twitter is still a great way to gain visibility and engagement for yourself and your organisation. Knowing how to manage real-time conversations has been named one of the top skills today’s candidates should have. Here’s how to become a valuable asset in any company.

Get involved in chats

 

Twitter conversations usually take place at a scheduled time and use a unique hashtag. It's one of the easiest social media marketing tools that allows you to interact with people in your industry without spending anything other than your time. But you must have a decent reach to make sure it’s a chat, not just your brand shouting into the void.

There are two ways it can work – a moderator can ask questions of an open audience, or an audience can ask questions for an expert or a few experts you have assembled.

In the first, a moderator tweets numbered questions (Q1, Q2, etc.) from their account throughout the chat, and then those participating answer with the corresponding answer number (A1 would be an answer to Q1, for example).

In the second, it’s just the other way around –anyone can ask your experts questions using the hashtag, and your experts reply to the question tweets. It’s a great way to share knowledge, increase your brand profile and build relationships, especially if the experts are members of your team.

All tweets need to include the chat hashtag, or else those watching and interacting in the chat may not see them.

There are several Twitter chat tools, but some of the most useful free platforms include:

  • TweetChat.com: After signing in with Twitter and entering the chat hashtag, this allows you to see the chat stream in a chronological view. You can also save pieces of chats to your account for reference later.

  • Twitter Chat Schedule: Want to join a few Twitter chats but don’t know where to start? This schedule shows chats by the day of the week. You can sort results by topic.

  • Twchat: This service is similar to TweetChat. This format clearly displays chat questions and answers. Twchat also allows you to see a schedule of regular chats that use its service, which makes it easy to find more chats to participate in.

Twitter chats are a great way to get more followers and they allow you to actively participate in industry conversations.

Ramp up your visibility with hashtags

 

Gain visibility by turning keywords or phrases into hashtags. Hashtags make words instantly searchable in tweets, and it’s been proven that tweets that use one or two hashtags (but no more), can receive up to two times more engagement in the forms of retweets, favorites, and replies.

If you want to see the popularity of specific hashtags before including them in your tweets, use an analytics platform like Keyhole or Tagboard.

Start following

 

Following industry influencers will give you a steady stream of great content, which you can interact with through retweets and replies as well as learning from. Not only can they be a source of inspiration for your own content, but it may help you gain more followers.

Look for specific tweets or users in a particular category by using Twitter’s advanced search, if you’re stuck on who to follow. Just click on the ‘Accounts’ tab in the search results. You can also allow Twitter to scan your email address book, which will pick up existing connections who have accounts.

Engage with your community

 

The success of social media marketing has a lot to do with engagement. Because Twitter moves so fast (with about 6000 tweets per second worldwide), it’s important to check in regularly and interact with your community. By spending as little as 30 minutes per day on engagement, you can make a serious difference to it. Here are some examples of what you can spend that time on:

  • Check your mentions and thank users for sharing your content. Thanking others will likely lead to more shares.

  • Retweet useful links or information from users you are following. Add a comment to your tweet to add your own spin.

  • Check trending topics and see if there is potential to interact. Don’t newsjack – trying to tie your business to current events. Instead, focus on providing an opinion or insight into the topic that fits well with the tone of the discussion.

  • Use tools to schedule tweets to post that day or in the next few days.

Don’t keep things to yourself

 

Sharing great content is the quickest way to gain a loyal following. There are free resources available so that it doesn’t consume too much of your time. They are:

  • DrumUp: This service connects with Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook (profiles only for now) and gives you content suggestions based on keywords you use. If you see a post you like, just click ‘schedule’. It will be added to a queue of tweets that get published one at a time, at the times you set up. It can also email you a daily digest of new content to schedule so you’ll never forget to add more to your queue.

  • Google Alerts: Google Alerts is still the best free service for getting search results emailed to you based on keywords. You can select to only receive news results if your aim is to tweet timely posts.

  • Newsle: This free service connects with your LinkedIn, Facebook, and email address book to bring you content your connections have published or been mentioned in online. Sharing that content is a great way to show support and build relationships. They will hopefully do the same for you.

  • Industry and blog newsletters: If you have a favourite industry organisation or blog, subscribe to their newsletter or RSS feed. It’s easy to share content from organisations or publications you already know and trust.

Search engines are getting better at almost instantly indexing content, so searching content via news.google.com or Google’s main results for new content based on specific keywords is another great way to source quality content to share on Twitter.

Just make sure you read or watch right to the end before sharing - you don’t want any nasty surprises.

Live tweet events

 

If you’re at an industry event (conferences, seminars and conventions, not Christmas parties!) find out the official hashtag and use it when you share useful, practical insights. Include the handle of the speaker (follow them, of course) and, if relevant, the handle of the organisation that organised the event.

This will not only get the attention of the speaker – who should be an industry leader – but to anyone following the hashtag. A solid event will have a good amount of people following that, and they are all in your industry.

For more tips, download our ebook 50 Social Media Best Practices.