What’s the point of having Twitter followers if none of them engages with you, right? Many (personal) brands on Twitter face the same challenge. While they might have a decent number of Twitter followers, engagement is not always high.

In most cases, this is a wake-up call for you to change things around, create more interesting content and draw your audience’s attention. If you find yourself in this situation, take a look at ten tips and tricks for building an engaged community on Twitter.

1. Know thy audience

Knowing who your audience is, is the first most important step in nailing it on Twitter. The reason is simple; once you know who you’re talking to, delivering content and planning your marketing campaigns becomes much, much easier.

Given that social media is an extension of your overall marketing efforts, if you’ve already created personas for your marketing strategy use them as a base to define your target audience on Twitter.

If however, your target audience is not clearly defined, gather the information you need on your audience’s demographic and psychographic characteristics by looking at your site’s analytics or by putting together quick surveys that will help you to better outline the profiles of your current and potential customers.

2. Set the timing and frequency of your posts

In a recent study, Buffer found that the highest amount of engagement per tweet occurs between 11:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m., peaking between 2:00 and 3:00 a.m. In an older research, Dan Zarrella had found that the best time to tweet if your aim for retweets is in the afternoon with a peak at 5 pm and a frequency mix of 1 to 4 tweets per day. Bit.ly’s findings on the other hand suggest that posting in the afternoon earlier in the week is your best chance at achieving a high click count (1-3pm Monday through Thursday).

At the end of the day, when and how often you should tweet may vary from account to account as it depends on several different factors such as audience size, time zone, type of content etc. For example, for Twitter Counter’s Twitter account, we found out that shifting to a once-an-hour, round the clock posting strategy had a positive effect on the overall engagement of our account.

Interactions overview

What it is important is to use the right tools and run your own experiments on a frequent basis. Followerwonk is one of the tools that can tell you when your Twitter followers are online.

What I try to keep an eye on for my account is the best time to tweet based on the engagement my tweets have received in the last week or last few months and use this as a reference for experimentation.

Learn more about how the Best Time to Tweet report works here.

Remember that on Twitter, it is OK to repeat content as long as you present it in a fresh way using a different visual or copy for example. In fact, repeating content on social is key to boosting traffic and expanding your reach.

However, it is important to experiment with different frequencies. Timing is equally important to maximize the exposure of your posts depending on where your audience is.

3. Carefully curate content

It all boils down to knowing your audience. What would they find useful and what would they be more inclined to share? Knowing this, will help your content curation tremendously as you’ll know what content to look for from your trusted sources. Keep in mind, that valuable content can be found in third sources as well. Which makes content curation even more important in supercharging your Twitter Marketing.

A common best practice is a content mix of 20/80 which translates to 20% content that you create and is relevant to your brand and 80% third-party content.

A few tools to help you speed up the process of content curation for Twitter:

Feedly: Gather all your favorite news sources on Feedly and browse them every morning to find relevant, useful content to share and of course use it as an inspiration to for creating your own content. One of its helpful features is that it immediately gives you an idea on what’s most shared on a given day with the number of shares being shown next to each headline.

Unroll.me: You probably hate email as much as everyone else but email and newsletters can deliver some hidden gems ready to be tweeted. Unroll.me might come in handy in this case. What it does is gather all your newsletters in one place delivering all-in-one emails you can easily browse.

Smart content recommendation tools: Answering to Twitter marketers’ need of curating content, there are quite a few brilliant tools that recommend you content you can share on your social media platforms. Content that is relevant to you and your audience. Nuzzel and Mentia are both tools that can recommend to you relevant content to tweet, based on your community and the topics you are interested in.

4. Know what works for you

This requires a lot of experimenting to see what sticks best with your audience. For example, research shows that in general, visuals work on social but does this apply to your followers as well? What type of phrasing content or visuals lead to the best results? Experimentation, A/B testing and a good tracking system will provide you with all the answers you need. Some of the KPIs to look at:

Applause rate per post

Say I wanted to calculate the applause rate of my tweets during the past week, I would divide the total number of likes (in my case 39) by the total number of tweets I sent during the week (that would be 31 for me). So my applause rate for the past week would be 1.3.

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Conversation rate per post

Your conversation rate is defined based on the total number of mentions divided by the number of tweets over a specific period of time.

Amplification rate per tweet

Your amplification rate, which is perhaps the most important engagement metric as it suggests brand visibility and awareness is the total number of retweets divided by the number of posts.

Clicks and visits

This is another important engagement metric to measure in order to identify the traffic your social media activity generates. Keep a close eye to your Google Analytics dashboard and monitor visits for each of the messages you post across all social media platforms.

Depending on your marketing goals and specific marketing and social media campaigns that you might be running from time to time, the engagement metrics you focus on obviously differ. If for example you are running a promotion through Twitter, tracking conversions on top of everything else is very important.

Total engagement

While breaking down your total engagement rate by type and level of engagement gives you much more perspective on how engaged your audience is, calculating the total engagement for a specific period of time is important.

Your total engagement rate is calculated by the total number of interactions (retweets, mentions and favorites), divided by the total number of posts shared.

5. Understand the psychology of social sharing

According to the New York Times’ Customer Insights Group, there are five main reasons why people share content online, which CoSchedule summarized in a helpful infographic.

  1. To add value: 94% consider the value and utility that the information they share will have for their audience.
  2. To define themselves: 68% share to define themselves both to others and to themselves.
  3. To grow and nourish relationships: 73% share content online to help them connect with others who share their interests.
  4. Self fulfilment: 69% share information that makes them feel more involved with the world.
  5. To get the word out about causes they believe in: 84% share information as a way to support causes (or brands) they care about.

With this in mind, it is important to diversify your content and choose different formats of delivering your message other than simple text and links. Images, videos, live-streaming, GIFs or Twitter contests as well as using Twitter polls that encourage further interaction with your audience, are content elements that are likely to increase your Twitter engagement and maintain the interest of your followers.

6. Create some killer content

Your tweets, for now at least, are limited to 140 characters. Which means that unlike other platforms, Twitter gives you very little space to deliver your message, which can definitely be a challenge. So what should you keep in mind when creating your tweets?

It’s all about the visuals

Research has shown that visuals are processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than text. And on Twitter with all this overload of information you have nothing more than a split second to capture the audience’s attention. Therefore, visuals can help you stand from the crowd.

Shorter tweets work better

When writing your tweet, keep in mind that length matters. Social media scientist, Dan Zarrella suggests that tweets that are 100 to 115 characters long are more likely to be retweeted.

Mind the hashtag

Twitter hashtags can potentially be a major driver of traffic if they are used wisely. Even though only 10% of tweets include a hashtag, 21% of retweets contain hashtags.

However, the more the hashtags the less the engagement of your tweets. In fact, tweets with one or two hashtags have 21% more engagement than tweets with more. After the third hashtag, tweets engagement has been found to drop by 17%.

Twitter hashtags engagement

Form your tweet as a headline

Researchers at Cornell University concluded that the perfect tweet mimics a news headline, adds information and ‘speaks’ the community’s language.

Use the right keywords

Social Media scientist Dan Zarrella has found that there are certain keywords that trigger amplification and lead to a higher reach on Twitter. Zarrella’s in-depth research on the science of retweets revealed that even certain punctuation can have an effect on amplification, with the colon being the most ‘retweetable’. Who would have thought, right?

Use Social Calls to action

Think of it this way: Every tweet, is a micro campaign and an opportunity to convert. And as a campaign, a tweet would be incomplete without a call to action. The good news is that calls to action on Twitter work amazingly well.

7. Explore Twitter chats

Twitter chats can be as effective for an individual that is looking to build a personal brand, as well as for businesses that are looking to achieve their marketing goals. But keep in mind that Twitter chats are not meant for selling but rather for building connections, engaging, networking and educating your self.

Twitter chats can be a powerful marketing tool for many different reasons. Let’s take a look at how Twitter chats can benefit your brand.


8. Interact

This is something that unfortunately some social media managers neglect as they spend so much time and effort on the content they will post and on measuring how this content is distributed and received. But social media is not just a distribution channel for your brand and are definitely not to be treated as the platform for sharing your press releases. The idea is to be conversational and interact with your community. Spending as much as a few minutes a day asking questions, replying to comments, engaging with your community and sharing their content can really make a difference.

9. Tap into the power of real-time marketing

As opposed to traditional advertising, Social Media offer brands the unique opportunity to respond to events in the moment, reaching out and connecting with a new and wider audience, whether this is a local event or an event as big as the Olympics. While evergreen content is definitely a smart strategy, it is important that your tweets remain timely, adjust to the season (for example major holidays or other significant dates) and when possible, adjust to real-time events.

Oreo Cookie has definitely realised the power of real-time marketing with Twitter being the platform for the brand’s agile marketing strategy.

When power went out at the Superdome in New Orleans during Super Bowl a few years ago, Oreo Cookie immediately grabbed the opportunity to create a genius tweet about the outage that was sent out before the lights came back on. The tweet that has since been retweeted more than 15,500 times, won the acclaim of customers and marketers and generated a great media buzz.

On Social Media and especially Twitter, good reflexes and timing can really make a difference. Does any one remember halftime show for that year? Don’t think so.

Sarah Hofstetter, president of digital marketing agency 360i that handled tweeting for Oreo on the day of the game said to Wired magazine:

Once the blackout happened, no one was distracted — there was nothing going on. The combination of speed and cultural relevance propelled it the forefront.

While real-time marketing is not necessarily something that works like a charm every single time, Oreo’s Super Bowl tweet is an indication of how being vigilant about opportunities that may rise during big televised events can pay off in terms of brand awareness, engagement and reputation building.

10. Mind your voice

Many brands underestimate this step when putting together their social media strategy as they often take this as a given. However, defining your brand’s voice and tone is particularly important when more than one people are involved in managing Twitter for a business. But even when this is not the case for many small and medium businesses out there, having a clear voice and tone for your brand can help you craft better copy that resonates well with your target audience.

But first, what is the different between tone and voice? Kevan Gilbert on Gather Content defines “voice” as a personality trait. Joanna Wiebe from Copy Hackers describes tone of voice in a great way:

Your message is what you try to communicate. Your tone of voice is how you communicate it. Tone takes a statement and either breathes life into it…or sucks the life out of it.

If you’re looking for some inspiration on where to start with defining your brand’s voice and tone, check out Mailchimp’s wonderful guide here, or go through Distilled’s in-depth guide to tone of voice.

Got any tips for increasing engagement on Twitter? Share them with us in the comments right below!