Tweeting for your business can maximize your brand’s exposure online – if you know and follow the essential rules of engagement. Fundamentally, these rules of engagement revolve around:

  • What to Tweet: The content and images that comprise each Tweet
  • When to Tweet: The schedule and strategy that drives the frequency and regularity of your Tweets

When these two factors are backed by thoughtful analysis and effective strategies, they can coalesce and trigger better engagement with your target audience on Twitter. And that, over time, can help develop your authority online, enhance your brand’s visibility and generate more leads and profits for your business.

The Fundamentals of Improving Engagement on Twitter: 4 Steps 

1. Determine who your target audience is – Your target audience should drive your Twitter (and overall social media marketing) strategies. After all, if you don’t know who your target audience is, how are you ever going to talk to them online?

The reality is that brands that are able to dial into their target audience can effectively customize their posts to maximize engagement with their ideal client base.

To define to your target Twitter audience, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What solutions does my business offer?
  • Who is looking for these solutions right now?
  • Who would benefit the most from these solutions (even if they aren’t necessarily looking for them now)?
  • What are the specific demographics of those who would benefit from the solutions, products and/or services my business provides? Or, more specifically, what is the age, gender, socio-economic status, etc. associated with my target audience?

The more detailed the answers to these questions are, the better. That’s because these answers can be central to informing your future content choices – and posting schedule – to best engage with your target audience.

2. Figure out what type of content best serves your audience – In other words, why is your target audience on Twitter? What do they do on Twitter (and other social media networks)?

To tackle this rule of engagement, it can be helpful to consider the basic types of social media users that Forrester has identified. These include:

  • The “Creators,” who primarily develop and publish content online
  • The “Conversationalists,” who usually share personal updates, post online reviews, comment on online content and/or contribute to forums
  • The “Collectors,” who typically use RSS feeds and tag online content
  • The “Joiners,” who are primarily focused on maintaining their online profiles
  • The “Spectators,” who usually consume online content (without necessarily generating, sharing or commenting on it)
  • The “Inactives,” who are disengaged from social media.

Once you know what type of Twitter users comprise your target audience, you can start dialing into the type of content/posts that tend to grab these users’ attention.

When it comes to types of Twitter posts, these generally fall into one of the three following categories:

  • The educational, which can appeal more to creators, conversationalists, and possibly spectators
  • The inspirational, which can be more compelling to conversationalists, collectors, joiners and spectators
  • The entertaining, which may be more appealing to conversationalists, collectors and spectators

When it comes to figuring out the best content to feed your target audience, it’s also critical to keep the following tips in mind:

  • Always provide value (APV) – You have to give value to get value on Twitter, and using this as mantra to drive your Twitter content choices can be the key to cultivating trust with your audience and staying top-of-mind with them. It’s also essential to compelling your audience to respond to your calls-to-action whenever they may be part of your Tweets.
  • Don’t forget to consider “what’s in it for me?” (WIIFM) – Going hand-in-hand with APV, keeping this consideration in mind can foster a sense of reciprocity and help you invest your Twitter efforts/resources as effectively as possible.

3. Don’t forget about visual content – Images can be worth way more than the cliché 1,000 words on Twitter. In fact, given the strict character limits, as well as the fact that images can start communicating with your audience before they even read a single word, visual content in the form of pictures and videos can be integral to instantly capturing your audience’s attention and compelling them to read on.

When selecting visual content to support your written Tweets, there are generally 3 types of images to choose from:

Branded images, which can facilitate brand recognition

Custom images, which can lend authenticity, as well as a “unique” element to posts

Stock images, which can be helpful when time and resources are limited

What will be best for your posts will depend on your target audience, as well as the subject of your posts and your call-to-action for your target audience.

4. Determine your posting schedule and stick to it – Once you have a clear idea of what you should be posting, it’s time to figure out when to Tweet in order to maximize your exposure and best connect with your target audience.

To dial in your posting schedule, it’s usually important to consider the following factors:

  • About 80 percent of the U.S. population is based in the Central and Eastern Time zones.
  • The highest percentage of retweets tends to occur around 5pm while the highest percentage of click-through rates typically occurs around noon and 6pm.
  • The weekends and Wednesdays tend to be the best days to Tweet.
  • Whatever posting schedule you device, it must be something you can maintain moving forward (otherwise you risk sabotaging your efforts to connect with your target audience and build your followers online).