Why Twitter? Social media its benefits to your practice
By mindZplay Solutions Staff
By mindZplay Solutions Staff
There is no one size fits all solution for social media. Before choosing a platform, you need to know what your goals are. Who are you trying to reach and what you are trying to reach them for? It is important to have these answers before proceeding.
To start, Twitter is much less localized than Facebook. Do not mistake your desired demographic having a presence on Twitter for a sign you should be there. Do you have a product or service you can sell to people outside your area? If not, your market is local. Reaching people in a given demographic will not help you if they cannot buy what you are selling. If you only offer in-person treatments, you will want to reach people in your local area.
It is unwise to assume that Twitter users in your local area are also a part of your desired demographic. At least, not without some research. If your only goal is to reach a broad range of (new) local clients, consider Facebook rather than Twitter. You will have an easier time finding a broad range of local people there.
With that said, you may find Twitter has benefits to your business that go beyond marketing. Twitter is a multi-purpose tool. For example, it can be used:
- To share clinic news, updates, and promotions with your existing clients
- Expand your market reach
- To network with other industry professionals
- To keep on top of industry related news and developments
- As a marketing tool to increase your traction within certain niche markets
- For personal education (by following massage leaders and educators)
Twitter is often used as a source of news – 500 million people view Twitter without logging in each month. Twitter pages are easily viewed without logging in making it a good place for people to look for news that may not have made it to a business’s website yet.
It is a good idea to embed your Twitter timeline onto your website, especially for small businesses like massage clinics. Not all clients will take the time to look up your social media presence, even if the link to it is prominent on your website. Embedding your timeline removes that barrier. This also has the added benefit of serving as a “microblog” for your website, a great place for clinic news and announcements, as well as for dispensing general information and advice. If your goal is to connect with affluent millennials, you will find Twitter has a lot of them – the largest age demographic on Twitter is 25-34, and most users have secondary education.
Individuals over age 40 are going to be harder to reach on Twitter. You will want to keep this in mind if that is your target audience. However, it is still worth doing some research before ruling it out. Twitter is popular in many business and academic circles. If you are targeting older, affluent individuals, it can be worth your time.
The easiest people to find on Twitter are influencers and young professionals. You will find these two groups are among the most active on the platform (not counting celebrities and politicians). Influencers, in particular, can be useful to connect with if you offer products or services that can be marketed outside your local area. People who market business to business often favour Twitter, as they tend to do well there.
Another noteworthy statistic is that 87% of Twitter users are also on Facebook, but most use each platform for different reasons. When using Facebook, people are in a more personal headspace. They want to bond over shared life experiences. Twitter is much more about individual interests. People go there to keep up on the topics that matter to them, including both for personal entertainment and professional development. For example, new therapists often come to Twitter to follow industry leaders.
Twitter is a great place for industry coaches and educators. It is an ideal vehicle for promoting any resources or instruction you may offer. There are many opportunities here to position yourself as an authority in your field. Providing information and/or advice makes you a valuable resource. Your market will determine what resources would be best for you to share. For example, if you are educating other massage practitioners in a particular modality or technique, an infographic illustrating proper form might attract attention and has the potential to be widely shared.
Twitter also offers a lot of opportunities for networking. Let’s say you want to break into corporate massage; the first step would be to find the people/organizations you want to make contact with on Twitter and start following them. When you are networking in the real world, you need to develop a contact’s trust before they will want to work with you. The same is true here. Don’t immediately jump into an unsolicited sales pitch, take your time. There is no rush to begin tweeting right away. Look for opportunities to engage, make connections, and build trust. Focus on establishing a rapport with them before proposing any kind of business relationship.
Where to start
Twitter’s culture is not the same as Facebook’s culture. Take time to become familiar with this new environment. Content that performs well on one platform can fail on another. Remember that Facebook and Twitter are not used the same way, or even for the same reasons. Success on Twitter may involve some trial and error. Luckily, serious errors are easy enough to avoid with a little common sense.
After defining your ideal clients, think about what interests them. Twitter does not currently provide group or community functions to connect you with people in your area. This means you need to think a little outside the box. Begin by looking up the websites of local competitors and related businesses. Check if they have a presence on Twitter. If they do, pay attention to the hashtags they use.
The purpose of a hashtag is to group related content together. Clicking on a hashtag in a tweet performs a search for any posts on Twitter (from all authors) that contain the same hashtag. Think of it as a search mechanism to help people find related posts. There are many ways to use this to your advantage to help you locate your target audience.
Let’s say you are a massage therapist in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Doing this type of research, you may notice a lot of businesses using #YXE (Saskatoon’s airport designation is often used by local businesses in their posts). In other places, you may find the name of your city or an abbreviation of it appear frequently on local tweets. It is also worth watching for hashtags related to local events. When you use these hashtags, your tweets will turn up in the “search” for people who click that hashtag in the posts of other local businesses.
Keep in mind that while hashtags can be good for visibility, you should avoid using too many. Try and stick to using only 1-2 hashtags per post. Too many hashtags are considered spammy, and bad behaviour. Think of them like lawn ornaments — one or two well-chosen decorations are cute, but too many and your yard is going to look tacky.
Researching a hashtag before using it is also vital. Both to get the most out of them, and to avoid embarrassment. Using a popular, trending hashtag in the right context can be a good thing but be sure you know who else is using that hashtag, and why.
When selecting what hashtags to add to a post, think about the habits and interests of your audience. #ThrowbackThursday is popular, but will your audience be among the people searching it? Local hashtags may never end up “trending” on Twitter, but you don’t need to get in front of millions. You only need to reach your target audience.
Once you have located your desired audience, you now need to get their attention. A good tweet is concise, informal, and well polished. Posts here are meant to be short, and frequent – a tweet has a 280-character limit. You do not want to be too stiff and formal, but you want your messages to be clear and well written. Even teenagers who frequently use abbreviations in their personal messages can get judgemental you if you use “UR” instead of “your.” There are many unspoken rules, most of which depend heavily on context. The easiest way to avoid mistakes is to avoid adopting Internet shorthand, and instead focus on maintaining a friendly, casual tone.
Text only content does much better on Twitter than on Facebook, but it never hurts to break things up. Avoid posting the same type of content all the time. Try using the occasional image or well-chosen .gif to get peoples attention. For example, if you are doing a holiday related sale you might add something that includes a fireplace or a familiar Christmas cartoon. When using photos as opposed to gifs, remember to be sure the images are licensed and legal for you to use. It is also important to be sure they are relevant to your message. Avoid pairing random, unrelated photos with your announcements as this just leads to confusion.
Are you ready to be social?
Many people make the mistake of assuming their experience in creating a nice website means they are ready for social media. Remember that even within a single platform, every part of the Internet has its own culture. You need to treat every group you target with respect. They will not all use the same terms or have the same expectations. Content that does well on Facebook will often flop on Twitter. Do not blindly copy content from one platform to the next and expect it to work.
The main thing with Twitter, as with any social media site, is to know why you are there, your goals, and your audience.
mindZplay Solutions Inc. a provider of massage therapy websites and practice management solutions. To learn more, visit massagemanedger.com.