As one of the more popular and notable social networks, Twitter gets a lot of attention from brands, especially those trying to reach that coveted 18 - 35 demographic. Unfortunately for small and medium-sized businesses that don't have the same time or marketing budgets the big brands have, Twitter is notoriously difficult to take advantage of. As such, Twitter ends up being one of the first networks I pull my clients away from.

That doesn't mean Twitter can't work for you, it just means you have to work a lot harder to get results out of it than you do on other platforms. (For more information on that and Twitter in general, check out my Introduction to Twitter post.) It's for this reason that I often suggest to those with limited time and resources to put into social media marketing that they are better off spending their time and money on networks that will provide a bigger bang for their buck.

But if you want to add Twitter to your social media marketing plan, here are five tips to maximize the value of your Twitter marketing campaign.

1. Engage More than You Push

Twitter is only valuable if you engage in the conversation. Discovery is much more difficult on Twitter than on other platforms because tweets have such a short life-cycle, so it's important that you actively seek out conversations where you can insert yourself. Once you do, don't push your product(s) or service(s) but focus on adding real value to a conversation that is relevant to what you do. Do this enough and you can start to build a nice following that will pay attention to the few tweets you do send that promote your stuff.

2. Capitalize on Trends

This might be one of the most common pieces of advice anyone will give you for Twitter but few brands do it well. Twitter goes out of it's way to show what topics are trending, but it's up to you to figure out how (and if) you can join that conversation to capitalize on the trend. The most difficult aspect of this strategy is finding a way to insert your brand's message organically so you're adding value to the conversation, not simply trying to divert attention away from it. The most famous example of this strategy at work was Oreo's "dunk in the dark" tweet during the power outage at the Super Bowl. Lighting like this strikes rarely, however, so tread lightly or you risk looking like you're simply trying to be something you're not (see "Brands Saying Bae").

3. Repeat the Tweet!

Tweets don't last. According to Twitter, about 350,000 Tweets are sent every minute. What does this mean to you? Unless you repeat your tweets multiple times throughout the day, week, or month, there's a high likelihood they'll never be seen by a good majority of your followers. A good general rule of thumb for tweets promoting your links or materials is to send it four times throughout the day.

4. Use Hashtags but Don't Go Overboard

Studies show that tweets with hashtags receive up to 2x more engagement than those without. However, tweets with more than 2 hashtags actually show a decrease in the level of engagement.

5. Insert Usernames and Hashtags Using Natural Language

Tweets are a lot more effective when they read well. Tagging the right people and using hashtags are great, but try to do it in a way that feels natural. For example, let's say you run a pizza place in Manhattan. Take the following tweet:

2 for 1 cheese slices today! #pizza #nyc

A much better approach would be:

2 for 1 cheese slices of the best #pizza in #nyc today!

A quick rewrite allows your tweet to read a lot cleaner while still including your most important hashtags.

Chris Searles is President of Searles Media and specializes in helping small businesses maximize their available resources to market themselves effectively using a wide variety of media. Visit Website

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