|Twitter Bird illustration by Bigshot Toyworks|
HOW TO TWEET
I’ve noticed more than a few fellow artists and entrepreneurs struggling lately with their social media accounts… so I decided to write a few posts to help guide you through the basics.
DISCLAIMER: I am not presenting myself as an expert, so all ideas presented here are simply my opinion, my viewpoint on the social media organism. You may experience success by following other guidelines, or none at all.
GENERAL SETUP, ACCOUNT PLANNING & HANDLE CHOICES
This may not seem important to you as you begin tweeting, but it will be very important down the line as your business grows. Most people start out tweeting to a group of friends/family, maybe in the dozens or a couple hundred close contacts. At this point, you are really just tweeting for yourself, kind of like a post on your personal Facebook page.
If you run a business selling things, or you have a brand of some sort that you are launching, I highly recommend that you give your brand its own official Twitter account. This brand account should have its own logical handle: @tenacioustoys is my brand’s Twitter handle because the brand name is Tenacious Toys. Make it SUPER simple so anyone could simply guess what your brand’s handle would be. If you can’t grab that exact handle, grab one that makes sense logically. If you are an illogical artist, ask the 3 most logical people you know to recommend a handle for your business.
For your own personal account, your handle can be something random if you like, doesn’t matter. Here’s why: You will keep your opinions to your personal account. Politics, religion, gun rights, abortion, and negative feelings are the types of things that should NEVER be tweeted out on your business page. (OK, one caveat: if your brand is based on social awareness of some sort, you can post incendiary supporting opinions. Just get ready for backlash. Sometimes backlash is good as it builds awareness, but if you do something politically neutral like I do - selling toys - you need to avoid incendiary posts.)
NEVER POST general opinions on your business twitter account. JUST post about your products and the surrounding community. If you sell baby clothes, you can focus on the clothing, cute pics of babies, mommy bloggers, etc. If you produce creepy resin monsters, maybe you post about those figures, related resin figures and horror movies. If you sell super cute toys, you post about those toys, anything kawaii, and Hayao Miyazaki. What I’m getting at is that you need to focus your brand message down to only what is relevant to your brand. Again, if your brand or product is politically or socially motivated, sharing an opinion to support that is fine. Baby clothes, for example, are neutral.
Pet Peeve: When I’m following an artist to see their work, and half the tweets I see from them are what they are eating, their last visit with their mom, and the new Jordans they just bought. Totally not relevant to the art they make. I skip over these tweets and get a bit annoyed. I have unfollowed many artists for this very reason.
Exception: There’s no one correct way to do this, so I just want to mention that I have actually read that your customers DO want to understand more about you personally in order to feel more comfortable giving their money to you. That would mean injecting some kind of personality into your business tweets. I totally get this idea- I’d rather buy from a friend than a stranger. That article was the whole reason why I dove into social media when it first started getting popular. However, it’s a double-edged sword. You do run the risk of losing followers and customers if you are tweeting ideas that might not be universally accepted. Inject personality and opinions into business tweets at your own risk.
Emo: It’s pretty well understood that depressing, sad posts are turnoffs. No one wants to hear about negatives. Social media is an escape from the aggravations of real life. When people are on Twitter, they want to be cheered up, they want a smile or a laugh. Give it to them. No one likes a Debbie Downer account, so keep your complaining and kvetching to your personal twitter account and make sure your business account is all “Tra-la-la EVERYTHING IS AWESOME!”
SET UP YOUR TWITTER PROFILE
I can’t even tell you how many Twitter profiles are set up incorrectly or incompletely. This is a HUGE mistake that can be fixed in 5 minutes, and it will have a major impact on your follows. People take a look at your account profile and decide within 3 seconds whether they will follow you. Here’s what to deal with, from the top down:
Okay, open up your Twitter profile and look at it.
The large top photo that goes all the way across is called the cover photo - do you have one uploaded? You should. Not having a photo there makes you look like you’re not serious about your business. The size of this image is 1500 pixels wide x 500 tall @ 72dpi. If that means nothing to you, ask a digital artist that you know to compose an image (a .jpg) to those specs and send it to you to upload. It should have your brand name, or your brand message, or images of your products. Or some combination of those.
One account that has great relevant info in their cover photo is Emerald City CC: https://twitter.com/emeraldcitycon
Don’t forget the lower left side is partially covered by your profile photo.
Which brings me to:
This is a smaller, square image that appears on your profile and also next to every tweet you make. In many cases if your audience is looking at twitter from their mobile phones, your profile image will be quite small. Make sure that this image is VERY simple and clear. a simplified version of your logo is best.
One artist that does this well is KaNO : https://twitter.com/kaNO
One company that also does this well is MPH: https://twitter.com/_myplasticheart
If you have a brand, you should ALWAYS have a great simplified version of your logo that would work well on a 1-color printed t-shirt or a business card. The same simple 1-color logo can be used as your Twitter profile pic. Consistency is key to brand building. Spend some time developing this simple logo for yourself and use it everywhere.
I’m not sure what this is officially called, but it’s the words you can type in and change at any time that show above your Twitter handle. Your handle is the thing that has the @ sign in front of it. You can’t change the handle whenever you want. You can change the descriptive name/words preceding it at any time.
One artist that does this frequently is Riff Raff aka Jody Highroller: https://twitter.com/jodyhighroller
(At the time I wrote this, unfortunately, he has his profile name as Jody Highroller, which is unusual. He changes it daily or weekly to something weird, like NEON PANTHER. When you read this post, it may be different.) Riff Raff’s buddy @andymilonakis changes up his Twitter name up frequently as well.
For myself, I find that changeability quite useful. For instance, during New York Comic Con, I change the profile name for my @tenacioustoys account to indicate my booth number. Relevant info that I want people to be able to see immediately, without even visiting my profile. When I tweet during NYCC, my tweets start out reading like this: “NYCC Booth 208 @tenacioustoys - Jason @freeny signing in our booth in 30 minutes!” I don’t even have to write the booth # in the tweet because it’s already there in my profile name.
Most of the time I just leave it as Tenacious Toys, so that people are reaffirmed that it is in fact my account they are looking at. I change it during events.
This is the place where you can type the most. USE EVERY DAMN CHARACTER they give you! Don’t short change yourself, this is VERY valuable keyword real estate. Fill it out. Write very very specifically about who you are and what you do.
You can even type website links in here - I recommend setting up a short link for your site or shop or gallery so that you can share the link and it takes up as few characters as possible. For instance, I bought tenacious.toys to help shorten my domain by 3 characters. My main website is tenacioustoys.com and it has always been there at that domain. However, when .toys came out I was afforded the opportunity to shorten that domain. There are TONS of new extensions available like that, go to GoDaddy and search them. The shorter your chortling is, the better. You keep your regular website at the longer domain and simply set up a redirect that sends visitors to your short link domain immediately to your main domain. It’s pretty cheap and very easy to set up.
If you have a few different links, type one in the description and the other place down below where Twitter officially asks for your website.
Make sure you type relevant keywords in your profile description: your actual name, what type of business you run, what you sell. Check my @tenacioustoys profile - I want you to see both the usage of 2 different links, as well as the keywords I worked in.
One of the brands we carry is called “coarse toys” - I want my Twitter profile to come up in searches for that brand.
Go to Twitter, click the Home button. Then do a search (magnifying glass) for coarse toys. See @tenacioustoys pop up under “Top Tweets.” My account also pops up under “art toys” “tokidoki” “kidrobot” etc etc all because I typed those words into my Twitter profile description. Those results are listed at the TOP as the first search result under Top Tweets. Even before the actual tweets. Sweet placement.
Bottom line for description: know what keywords and phrases are the most important for your business and write them in the description. SPELLING IS IMPORTANT because you need to match what you type to what other people normally type in their searches! Punctuation is not important, in this case, except to make the copy easier to read.
You can insert emojis here, but be conservative. Just enough to catch people’s eye as they skim.
LOCATION & WEBSITE LINK
If you have a shop or gallery or business with a specific location that you want people to come to, enter it here. I think you can only be as specific as city, state or country, but not sure. If you have a web business and sell globally, forget that. Instead, use the location field as another text field that references your website link. Writing “Buy prints here” or “Visit our website” are good lead-ins which reference the link, which immediately follows this section. The website link section in twitter is really useful so make sure you fill out both Location and Website fields in your Twitter profile.
OK, that pretty much wraps up the basics of your Twitter account setup, so let’s move on to an overview of what you should actually be doing on Twitter:
HOW TO TWEET
OK so you have a limited number of characters to work with. You really need to make them count. Words in your tweets should be short and to the point. If you are inserting elements like links or images into the tweet, those take up some space so you have even fewer characters you can type. If you have space left over, and you’re tweeting about something really special and sharable, you can end with “Pls RT!” or “Pls comment” or something that encourages audience interactions.
If you sell things like art or consumer products, you should attach a nice clean image to as many tweets as possible. Most of them. People ALWAYS click on tweets with images more frequently than those without. Regretfully, if you have your IG account set up to automatically feed your IG posts to your Twitter, when the post reaches twitter, the images won’t appear! So annoying! I used to do the auto-tweet thing on my IG posts, but then it just because silly to me to have Tweets without images. So I post to IG and Twitter separately when the post is really important - because I want my Twitter followers to SEE the image appear in their feed on Twitter. And this only happens when you compose a new tweet in Twitter and upload a photo.
You might be able to get the IG images to post up in Twitter if you use a 3rd party social media delivery system like dlvr.it or IFTTT. You’ll have to experiment with those to see if you can get the Tweets to look right.
Use them! Use a few relevant hashtags in each post: 1 to 3 of them. Any more and it looks stupid. Hashtags allow people who are NOT following you to see your posts. This happens when they search twitter for that hashtag. Yes, there are multiple ways to search Twitter, so familiarize yourself with the ways that people couple possibly use Twitter, and figure out how to harness those actions. When you make up a complex hashtag, it’s useless. #bennylovesarttoys is not useful because no one ever types that as a search. People will search the hashtag #art or #toys a lot more, so use simple, broad appeal words like that.
There also a concept known as “joining the conversation” which you can use to gain followers. When people are talking about something a lot on twitter, and using certain hashtags frequently, you can join in their conversations by also using the same hashtag. New, and most importantly, relevant Twitter users will be able to see your posts and will learn about you.
A great example of this is the recent launch of the FCTRY (@fctry) Kickstarter for a Bernie Sanders action figure. FCTRY launched this campaign at JUST the right time when a huge number of people were hashtagging #feelthebern and #berniesanders on Twitter. They incorporated those hashtags into their tweets about the product and enjoyed a very strong launch to their Kickstarter campaign. They joined a conversation that was already happening. Don’t force this; your post has to be relevant to the hashtag or else this whole idea just won’t work.
I’m terrible at this as I’m too impulsive, but there are good times to tweet, and bad times. The thing is, we all follow a ton of accounts so really people need to be tweeting when we are looking at Twitter or else we won’t see the tweets. So, figure out when your customers are looking at their phones (9-5 usually works on weekdays in your time zone) and tweet during those hours. Artists: many of you stay up really late, getting creative at 3AM. Your customers typically have regular type jobs, so they are asleep when you are creating. Do NOT tweet at 3AM, it’s pointless. Tweet when your customers are awake.
Hootsuite is one of many companies that offers you the chance to create tweets and schedule them to go out in the future. They also allow you to schedule other social media posts in this way. If you find yourself up all night frequently, try to use a scheduler so that your posts go live at a useful time of day.
I’ve used Hootsuite in the past for a client that runs a walking tour company. We liked to share historical facts via Twitter, and those facts were tied to dates (“on this day in 1886….”). We developed a whole year’s worth of cool facts and I used Hootsuite to set up each post to go out on the proper date and time. A few hours of work and we had a whole year’s worth of Tweets scheduled.
(Pro tip: If you blog frequently, your blog posts can be turned automatically into Tweets using dlvr.it or IFTTT or any number of other services like that. Blog posts can also be scheduled, so you can get your tweets to deliver at the proper time simply by using the scheduler in your blogging platform. This is in lieu of using a service like Hootsuite)
I covered this above, but just for reference: Images you upload to Twitter should be in the landscape configuration as opposed to portrait. Horizontal (wide) images work better than vertical (tall) images. Twitter will cut the bottom and top off of a vertical image when you are scrolling through the feed. You’d have to click on a tweet containing vertical image in order to reveal the full image. With horizontal images, you can see the full image without clicking. Much better.
FOLLOWS, FOLLOWERS, AUTO DMs
OK so Twitter is a public platform which means data from Twitter is readily available to anyone. SO, unless you are a subversive artist like David Choe, it’s best not to follow porn accounts or hate accounts on Twitter as who you follow is info that’s immediately available to anyone. Be warned.
You can’t control who follows you, except to block annoying followers. Other than that, anyone can follow you. Usually that’s a good thing as more followers is better.
I have read many times that you should follow back as a courtesy. When someone new follows you, you’d follow them as well.
I don’t agree with that at all. When I am followed by a new person, I click on them to see what types of Tweets they post. If their tweets are not relevant to my industry, I do not follow. I can’t be effective on Twitter by following all of my followers. My followers trust me to deliver relevant info to them, and in order to do that I have to be able to quickly view important and relevant toy industry tweets so I can retweet or comment. I cannot do that efficiently if I am viewing tens of thousands of baby pics and meal pics.
My typical follower is a potential customer and that means they are normal people who tweet a variety of personal things. Unless I know then personally, I don’t follow. If my new follower is an artist or works in the toy industry, I will follow as that could be a glimpse into some insider info that I otherwise might not get. Basically my recommendation is that you follow selectively, or else you risk having a non-useful and non-relevant Twitter feed.
Another concept I’ve heard about and experienced, but never used, is the auto DM. Some accounts that sell stuff will auto-follow you when you follow them, and then send you an automatic DM thanking you for following. Usually they share a link to their website in the auto DM. I’m simply mentioning this as an option that you can set up; I haven’t decided yet whether or not I find that useful or irritating.
There, now you have no excuses not to have a complete Twitter presence. Take 10 minutes and set up your Twitter account completely, and take an extra minute every time you compose a tweet, and you'll see positive results.