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BLOG: The anatomy of a tweet

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AKRON (March 4, 2013) — I will admit it: I am a long-winded female.

I have been told on various occasions that I could be an auctioneer. Whenever I have a conversation with my brother, he just stares at me and then asks, "When do you breathe?" If this does not sound like you, than I have the social media site for you—Twitter.

Twitter defines itself on its help center page as "an information network made up of 140-character messages called Tweets."

What that means is that you have only 140 characters—not words—to post whatever information you want to get out to your followers. The way Twitter works is you create a page and then discover the people or businesses that you want to follow, that is, find out what the people or businesses are "tweeting" about.

So, as a tire dealer, you would probably want to know what tire manufactures or marketers are saying. Maybe there are new products coming out or meetings you want to attend. You might want to know if your competitors have a Twitter and what they might be tweeting about.

So the basic questions are:

  • What—and how—do you get the most out of your 140-character tweet?
  • How do you get your tweets connected with other people or ideas?

I thought the best way to answer these questions is to give a real-life example.

Highland, Ind.-based Levin Tire & Service Center started using social media last fall because it saw the potential of reaching customers in a different type of format. I spoke with Rachel Shropshire, marketing director for Levin Tire, about why the company started using social media.

"We decided to become active simply because it's a great way to reach customers and engage (with) them outside of the business atmosphere and really build a rapport with them," she said.

"And it's, of course, known to be a huge way to reach customers nowadays, and obviously not being active in the social media realm is…hurtful to businesses I think. They are certainly lacking that opportunity by not doing it."

She said that although the main focus of Levin's social media campaign is Facebook, they do use Twitter because it also is a popular site.

Rachel explained that Facebook and Twitter are two different social media sites and said while she thinks it's easier to engage people on Facebook, you can post more information daily on Twitter.

"Anything that we post on Facebook will be posted to Twitter and, typically, we'll post more on Twitter than to Facebook," she added.

"On Facebook we don't want to inundate our pages with 10 posts a day, but Twitter you can do that. So even if we have something small to say…we'll post that on Twitter, so we might have up to six or seven or eight tweets a day."

Basically because Twitter has short and precise posts, many companies post various times a day so they stay in the conversation. As with any social media site, the purpose is to interact with your current and potential customers. There are different ways to make your tweet more visible to more people. The first way is to connect your Twitter account to your website because it can encourage visitors to click through and follow you on Twitter. Levin Tire has both Twitter and Facebook very visible on its website so customers will know they are participating on these sites.

Above, you can see snapshots of two tweets Levin Tire had made. I want you to take notice of a few enhancements you can do to make your tweets more visible. The first tweet is about Levin Tire stating why they think customers should go to their shop. The second is thanking a customer for coming in.

I am going to break down a few things further:

  • The @ symbol on Twitter: When you see the @ symbol next to a name, such as @LevinTire or @TBNewsPoint—which is Tire Business' Twitter page—then Twitter will automatically hyperlink that name to the corresponding page. So Levin Tire put, "Why @LevinTire?" in its tweet. If a potential customer saw this and was wondering what else Levin Tire had to say, he or she could just click that and the site will load the Levin Tire Twitter page.
  • This can also be used when you "mention" someone in your tweet. Take a look at the second tweet. It says, "Thank you @keshot37 for coming in today." Chances are @keshot37 became a follower of Levin Tire when he or she was in the shop for service earlier that day and Levin Tire wanted that customer to know that the company appreciated their business. This is a positive interaction between shop and customer.
  • Hashtagging: The # symbol on Twitter is how you denote a keyword in your tweet. Levin Tire utilizes this with both "#car" and "#repair." What this does is, if a person is looking up a keyword that you have hashtagged, then they will see your tweet. In this instance, if a person happened to be interested in cars or repairs and they were searching "car" or "repair" on Twitter, than your tweet would be among the tweets they see.
  • Photo Link: Although they are not as visible as on other social media sites, Twitter still has the ability to use photos with a photo link. If a customer was interested in viewing the photo attached to the first tweet shown here, then they would click "View Photo" and would see a technician showing a customer what is going on underneath her car.

You also can post links to articles or other relevant information inside of your tweet. Although there are only 140 characters available, there are many way to enhance it to reach your audience.

Still a little confused on what types of information you are supposed to be posting?

"The majority of what you're going to see is going to be,…we like to post humorous-type content. We definitely like to focus on posting content about our company—you know, about our employees or what's going on internally," Rachel said. "For example, one of our stores (is having its) one-year anniversary so we've been posting content about that this week and how we're celebrating."

She said she also likes to add, on a smaller scale, tips or informational-type posts about subjects like why to rotate tires, what an alignment does, or a statistic about vehicles or tires that may be relevant to the company's followers.

"And then, once in awhile we'll do some sort of advertisement, but that's rare," Rachel added. "We try to keep that to about 10 percent or under of what our content is because we certainly don't want to be seen as…using it as an advertising means.

"We want it to be seen more as an engagement and a way to connect with our customers outside of that. But we don't want to ignore the fact that we can still use it to do that in some circumstances."

As far as utilizing hashtagging, Rachel said sometimes she will search to find what keywords are popular when she is posting, while other times she sticks to what is the most important part of the post.

Still have questions? Anything subjects you'd like to see covered on this blog? Let me know at 330-865-6143, jkarpus@crain.com or message Tire Business at Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

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