I have continuously advocated real time engagement on social media. It's imperative to a comprehensive social media strategy. One of the easiest social platforms for real time engagement is Twitter. However, there are some guidelines you should follow when engaging on Twitter.
Engaging on Twitter 101:
Favorite tweets. Favorite tweets that align with your brand. Twitter will send you emails about tweets they recommend for you based on this information. Furthermore, it's a way to categorize information and articles you find interesting. People can see this list of tweets you have favorited and, in turn, see the kinds of thing your brand is interested in.
In addition to favoriting tweets that represent your brand, I also recommend favoriting tweets you are mentioned in. Personally, I equate the Twitter favorite as the Facebook "like." So when someone mentions you, favoriting that tweet is like sending a quick little, 'Hey thanks!'
Say 'thank you.' Speaking of thanks, I like to thank people who share my content. There are several ways to say thank you on Twitter, be it in a direct message or a tweet. If you want to thank someone in a tweet, you can simply hit reply to the tweet they have mentioned you in. Simply hit reply and write your thank you. I recommend doing it this way as it will start to create a visible conversation between the two of you on Twitter.
Remember if you are hitting reply the tweet is starting with an @username. When a tweet starts with an @username, only those that follow both of you will see the exchange. If you want more people to see that tweet, make sure you put a "." in front of the @username, or incorporate the username somewhere else in the tweet.
(Tip: Instead of just saying, 'Thanks for sharing,' I like to go a step further and create a unique message that would appeal to the person who is sharing my content. I check out that person's profile. Where are they located? What are their interests? What's their photo? All of this information can make for more engaging thank-you tweets.)
Reply. If someone asks you a question or is directing some type of content your way, it seems like a no-brainer that you should reply. Unless the question is inappropriate, you should always, always, reply. Even if it's as simple as thanking them for sharing content with you and/or answering their question with a word or two.
See the exchange I had on Twitter recently with Kevin, a kind man who shared my content, to see some examples of the above suggestions in action:
Retweets. Retweet tweets you like that are similar to your brand. Also, if someone mentions you in an especially nice tweet, it's not a bad idea to retweet that to your followers. Why not spread the message of a good testimonial to a few more twitter followers?!
HOWEVER! When retweeting, try not to just hit "retweet" on Twitter. You should try to add some of your own personal commentary to the tweet if space allows, even if it's just one word.
The mobile application allows you to "quote a tweet" when you retweet, which is the option you will want to go with. However, if you're on a desktop and trying to add a comment to a retweet, you're going to have to copy the username and tweet and do it manually by creating your own tweet. See below:
(Tip: You've probably figured out that RT stands for Retweet, but do you know what MT and MRT stand for? Modified tweet and modified retweet! Learn more in this awesome Twitter definition guide from HubSpot.)
Direct messages. If you want to send a private message to someone, direct messages are a good way to do this. However, you can only direct message those who already follow you on Twitter.
(Tip: Automatic direct messages. This in no way is personal or good "real time" engagement. Just. Don't. Do. It.)
Be helpful. Twitter offers us marketers a great opportunity to go above and beyond compared to traditional social media engagement. On Twitter we have the opportunity to seek out people tweeting about our products or services. Maybe they aren't tweeting about our products or services specifically, but they may be tweeting about things that would require them to need our products or services.
For example, if I sell coffee in San Francisco, I might look for someone in San Francisco tweeting about how tired they are. Perfect opportunity to engage!