10 Twitter Tips for British B2B Marketers

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Apologies to our American cousins, but it does tend to be the case that because their digital market is so massive, they can dominate discussions about how best to promote yourself on social media.

When it comes to Twitter, there is obvious commonality in their approach to the platform and ours in the UK (or in Ireland, I should also say). But I submit that there are differences, stemming from our cultural background. So here are my Top Tips for B2B success on Twitter – with a British or Irish accent.

1. Don’t always include links

This may seem perverse for a marketer to say – surely you want to hook people in any way you can? Not so: a business audience does not appreciate shameless plugs for your services. It cones down to the fact that Americans are generally prepared to be sold to: but we are more reserved and we want to believe that we are making a buying decision ourselves. Subtlety is the watchword here: you will reap the rewards eventually.

2. Be Distinctive

The secret to securing plenty of interested readers is to have a consistent and distinctive editorial stance on your chosen subjects. Why does Stephen Fry have so many followers? Because he is reliably entertaining and he takes an independent line on current topics of interest.

You don’t have to always be original – it is equally good to ‘curate’ or share others’ tweets generously, acknowledging their authorship. In so doing, you share in warm glow of appreciation for their work. You are thus added to the perceived list of sector experts. This plays very strongly to the British sense of fairness.

3. Get your timing right

This piece of advice is often given to US marketers, but can be lost in translation when they do not take account of Bank Holidays and other quirks of our national timetable: as I write this I’m getting tweets reminding me about Mother’s Day on May 8th when we actually celebrated it back on March 26th

The key point is to work out when your particular audience is most receptive, by time of day and by days of the calendar – and time your tweets and retweets accordingly. That’s easier when you have an innate feel for local preferences: but you should back that up with Twitter Analytics results on your connections and when they are most likely to engage with you.

4. Title with Care

Whatever the heading of your blog or tweet image, don’t automatically use it as your title. You can use intrigue here: we love a well-turned phrase that makes us curious to read on. Or be deliberately provocative – isn’t that what Twitter is all about? Just make sure that it reads as though it was written in the UK: never use a z in a word where there should be an s…

5. Hone your Image

This applies both to your profile and the excellent picture or graphic that should accompany it: and to the content of your submissions. It’s an American statistic that images gain 150% more retweets than words alone: but in this respect we are probably not far away from their experience.

You do need access to original design and excellent infographics, which in a B2B environment can be highly persuasive when attached to your tweets. At Hannon Digital, we pride ourselves on this as a point of difference, as we also do in terms of our original explainer videos. A joined-up approach to all your digital media is the way forwards – and off-the-shelf image banks are not going to impress any professional buyer.

6. Keep it Up

In Twitter it is important to be posting more often and more regularly than on other social networks – it’s the nature of the beast and if people are going to read you, it will be because you have opinions on issues of the day. But I think that our sweet spot is in a slightly less frenetic place than in North America, where everyone seems to be expected to opine on anything and everything, relevant to their area of expertise or not.

If you are a manufacturer or supplier of business services, you cannot stray too far from your core constituency; and you will come up against a lack of anything new to say when you overdo the frequency of your output. If you are well advised by an agency such as mine you will find your happy medium and stick to it.

7. Repeat  – nearly…

It is frowned upon by the Twitter powers-that-be if you repeat tweets verbatim, and you may ask me “why would I want to?” but there is an old maxim in marketing that the market is not as bored with your ads as you are. They don’t actually witness every ‘opportunity to see’ and so a large number are new to you, every time you broadcast.

I will share with you this American study because it shows that when you repeat a posting (having subtly changed your wording) you capture 86% new readership. That still means that you may be annoying 14% who see it for the second time and so you don’t want to be doing it routinely to a specialist British B2B audience who will tend to notice: but if you have an important message then it bears (almost) repeating. According to the same research, some 55% of Twitter users do repeat themselves. That used to be considered a sign of madness…

8. Tag Along

The question ‘to hashtag or not to hashtag?’ is often debated. I think it’s wise in our market to use them, but sparingly and selectively. Overdoing it leaves a visual mess and detracts from the communication.

Selecting tags can be done with the help of software that identifies possible names and rates their potential relevance and originality. This can help you steer clear of the hackneyed, overdone phrases. We build this in automatically into the tweets that we create for clients, based on our knowledge of what they want to say.

9. Quote – Unquote

When you quote someone else, make sure you use the handy Quote Tweet feature that allows you to go up to 116 characters in that quotation – your own contribution then appears below in a ‘link’ box. People can still follow through to you: but you have created a longer than usual communication, ideally with a killer comment that you have borrowed.

10. Copy the Best

Often referred to Stateside as ‘reverse engineering’, stealing the best features from your competitors is a universal fact of business life that we can all agree upon. If you want to beat the low click-through rates tolerated by too many Twitter marketers, take a long hard look at what others are doing better and emulate their best moves – then improve upon them. And I can’t think of a better way to end this list…

Colm Hannon is the founder and CEO of Hannon Digital in London. colm@hannondigital.com: 0845 056 3446.