15 Twitter Tips From Industry Pros

Matt Giovanisci 0312Twitter is an awesome tool for pool and hot tub companies to use. It directly puts you in touch with your customer base, provides an outlet for customer service, can build your reputation and can snag you some new customers. But there are definitely rules to follow and strategies to try. To help, I contacted some people I know in the industry who use Twitter daily and asked them to provide their tips on how to get the most out of this social network.

In this article, you will see many experts suggest authenticity, and that can’t be stressed enough. Some marketers will use Twitter as a way to broadcast their message over and over again like traditional media (i.e. television, radio, direct mail). You won’t gain followers if all you’re doing is pitching your products — you need to engage with your audience and be useful, funny, interesting, and valuable. 

Twitter is a social network. You wouldn’t go to a cocktail party, walk up to someone and say, “We have a special going on right now! Save $5 off your order of pool supplies at any of our locations.” They would think you’re weird, and rightfully so. You need to at least say, “hello” first.

I encourage you to check out these awesome tips and start using them today. 

1. Ken Scheer

“Twitter is all about building a community. It's important to listen, engage and share. The biggest key for building a successful Twitter strategy is remembering that it’s not about self-promotion. 

Supporting others is just as important, if not more important. And if you can't send a tweet with a smile, then walk away from the computer :)”

Ken is the director of marketing and social media at Pool Services Technologies and you can follow him on Twitter.

2. Rob Cox

? “Double check for typos!

? Links placed closer to the front of the tweet generally get more clicks than those at the end.

? Your tweet should be sweet – strive for a rhythm and melody so it reads well.”

Rob is the president of PoolCenter.com and you can follow him on Twitter.

3. Kaisa Williams

“Be interesting! Engage your users by posting something cool/informative/relevant and then asking their opinions or questions on the subject. This gets people to interact with you and helps to get you more followers.”

Kaisa is the media promotions manager for TheSpaDepot.com and you can follow her on Twitter.

4. Shelly Johnson

“Widen your scope a bit and be 'real.' Don’t just advertise the current sale. Get personal. 

Did something unusual or funny happen in the store or on the route today? Are there valuable, real-world tips that might help the end-user? Tweet them!”

Shelly is the marketing manager for Filbur and you can follow them on Twitter.

5. Alyssa Zandi

“If there’s one thing that makes plenty of users click the 'unfollow' button, it’s when they receive an automatic direct message after following someone, especially if the message looks spammy. 

Personally, it’s like receiving emails I never opted into — bothersome and impersonal. In fact, Optify did a study last year and found auto DM usage led to a 245 percent increase in unfollow rate.

If you want someone to look at your website/Facebook page, or even if you’re trying to initiate conversation, send them a genuine tweet instead. Reply to something they have said, thank them for following, ask a question, or otherwise say hello in a less robotic manner.”

Alyssa is the online marketing intern for SwimTown Pools and you can follow her on Twitter.

6. Wesley Clark

? “Don’t tweet or re-tweet spam or sensational news. Be relevant and informative.

? Respond to and engage with others with genuine direct messages and @ tweets.

? If you get “re-tweeted” thank the re-tweeter.

? Re-tweet relevant information from others and help promote and cross-promote products and services that appeal to your audience of followers.” 

Wes co-founded The Pool Pillow Pal and you can follow him on Twitter.

7. Blake Jamieson

“Set yourself up for retweets. When someone RTs (retweets) your content, you want to make sure they can include your Twitter handle (and the word 'RT') in addition to the tweet itself. Since a tweet can only be 140 characters, make sure to leave enough room for your full username, plus 5 extra characters for the 'RT @' and the space after the username! 

For example, my username is @blakejamieson, so the total number of characters I have to leave 'open' is 18 ('RT @blakejamieson ' = 18 characters). This means that when I tweet, I want to keep my content below 122 characters (140 - 18 = 122).

Use #FollowFriday hastag every week to grow your followers. #FollowFriday (or #FF) is a tweet sent on Fridays where you suggest other Twitter users to follow. If executed properly, these are often retweeted, and you will actually gain followers by doing it. 

#FF tweets can be sent out all day every Friday. Be sure to include the users that engage with you the most, as they are most likely to RT your #FF tweet. Although it can be good to cast a wide net here (including lots of users), a personal #FF post for one specific user get lots of attention.

Use lists to manage a crowded Twitter feed. Although Twitter lists take some time to build, it is well worth the effort. Segmenting your following into groups like "customers" or "fans that engage" will help you increase your efficiency on Twitter. To avoid a long, painstaking process, try adding the people you follow to lists right when you follow them. 

Fill out your bio completely! Use all 160 characters in your Twitter bio. If you run out of things to say about yourself, include #keywords to improve your Twitter SEO. Also, be sure to include a website on your profile, even if it just points to another social media channel like Facebook.

Make replies public (when appropriate). If I tweet at someone, or reply to them, by default the tweet will start with @user. In this case, the ONLY people who will see this tweet in their stream are people that follow me AND that other user. To make a @reply public, simple put a '.' (or any other character) in front of the tweet. This way, anyone who follows me OR that user will see the message.”

Blake is the Social Media Manager at Pool Supply World. Visit BlakeJamieson.com and follow him on Twitter.

8. James Atlas

“Use HootSuite to construct your tweets. This allows you to propagate the tweets throughout all of the pertinent accounts. With the click of a button, I can post to both of my Twitter accounts. It also allows you to schedule tweets so you can space them out more evenly. This is a tremendous time saver.”

James is the owner of Platinum Pools and you can follow him on Twitter.

9. Alice Cunningham

“Respond to others! Reach out to tweeters whose content you enjoy, admire, and benefit from. Give them a shout out: 'thanks for your tweet,' 'great advice,' 'love this,' etc.

Being very supportive and positive is the key to Twitter interactions. If your tweet can be considered negative by any stretch of the imagination, it will be misconstrued. Don't risk it! No sarcasm or snide remarks. Always respond in a positive way.”

Alice is the co-owner of Olympic Hot Tubs and you can follow her on Twitter.

10. Courtney Salas

“Keep your tweets informative and/or entertaining in order to engage your audience. Provide tips, tricks and links to how-to articles or informative blog posts. Funny hot tub articles or photos are always good, too.”

Courtney is the public relations manager for Cal Spas and you can follow her on Twitter.

11. Alan Schuster

“With the rapid rise of mobile internet devices, social networks like Twitter have taken on new meaning. By making a Twitter link available on a website, an opportunity is created that allows you to expand your audience. Not only will you be able to maintain contact with your followers, but you will reach out to new people whenever a follower re-tweets one of your tweets.  

At the very least, social media helps to create and ongoing presence on the web and that makes you more relevant.”

Alan is the president of AskAlanAQuestion.com and you can follow him on Twitter.

12. Bonnie Shaw

“Variety is important. Don’t ONLY tweet about articles you found interesting, engage with your followers by replying to their tweets and retweeting. 

(Note: MT is being used a lot lately, it means modified tweet. It is similar to the RT (retweet) but if you need to change a word or shorten the post, use MT. This way you will look like a true Twitter expert!)

? Send out tweets around high traffic times so your tweets get maximum visibility: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

? Engage with journalists and media outlets in your particular industry.

? Ask questions and make your posts more engaging and more human versus promotional.

? Participate in Twitter chats relevant to your industry.

? Be patient! Building thoughtful, engaging relationships takes time.

? Build lists and organize the people you follow into different categories, so you can easily track and manage content.

? Use hashtags (i.e. #pools) so your tweets are searchable and get more visibility.”

Bonnie is the president of Clearpoint, a PR firm who represents Zodiac and Polaris, and you can follow her on Twitter.

13. Monique Nelson

The most important thing you can do on Twitter is be a real person. Yes, you should tweet consistently and share quality content, but I think it is even more essential to make personal connections. Though sending a direct message, @reply or RT  may only target one (or a few) people, it is so much more personal than just updating your status. One-on-one contact has a better chance of making you a real connection than a blanket tweet does.

Monique is the marketing manager for Flexible Solutions, creators of the EcoSavr Liquid Solar Blanket. You can follow her on Twitter.

14. Tricia Testa

"For promotions or contests, encourage followers to retweet your post or create their own post that includes a specific hashtag to be entered in the contest or to get some special deal. Make sure that hashtag is as short as possible but relevant to your business. Don’t be afraid to ask your followers to retweet. 

For example your tweet could read, “Win a FREE gift certificate to our store by retweeting this #ContestSWIM.”

Hashtags are a great way to create buzz & track conversations, but avoid overusing this tool. Too many hashtags makes your feed look unprofessional. Most importantly, if you want followers follow this mantra: Tweet and repeat. It's that simple."

Tricia is the marketing specialist at HaloSource, makers of SeaKlear pool products. You can follow her on Twitter.

15. Jim DeBerry

“The more personable you are with your fans, customers and followers, the more likely they are inclined to spread your message. Even if they don’t own a swimming pool, they know someone who does or wants one. Be resourceful with the media tool.

Be less robotic. Social media do's and don'ts may advise against posting an inappropriate tweet because your boss my fire you, which I agree with. But at the same time, in the modern day world of the workforce, posts with boring pics of clean swimming pools aren’t very exciting. So my suggestion is to loosen up and be more personable.  

Generally speaking, most people don’t wear 3-piece suits to the office anymore. They are more likely to go casual with a polo or dress shirt. Apply this 'professional, yet casual' approach to your tweets — it will give the vibe that you’re personable and friendly. People like personable and friendly, and that outlook will give you a snowball effect for followers.

I also recommend you avoid posting pictures of your customers' backyards without permission. We recently received a call from a prospective customer who said their previous pool guy posted pics of their pool on the company website, Facebook and Twitter accounts. They felt violated and quietly let the company go, and they wanted assurances we wouldn’t do the same. 

For a Twitter success story, I was chatting with Gary Bainbridge, an English author and columnist for the Liverpool Daily Post. One of Gary’s followers, who never heard of us before, noticed our conversation on Twitter. He liked how we communicated with Gary and bought a hot tub off us!”

Jim is the owner of Aqua Pool Dealer and you can follow him on Twitter.

Are you ready to join the conversations on Twitter? 

If you don’t have a Twitter account for your business, I suggest you sign up right now and start making real connections with other businesses and potential customers. If you already have a Twitter account, then you now know what to do: Be a real-life human being. 

I want to invite you to sign up for my new blog, Pool Business Marketing, which launches January 1, 2013. It will be filled with useful marketing information — like this article — specifically geared to professionals in the swimming pool industry.

Also, if you have any additional Twitter tips or questions about using this social network, please add your thoughts to the comments section below.

Happy swimming!

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