9 types of tweets to engage your audience

These can help start an online conversation and position you as someone worth following—and working with.

Working as a social media consultant, I’ve noticed that it’s not the social media sites themselves that clients have a difficult time mastering, it’s figuring out what to say once they get there.

They’re excited to have a new platform to talk to their customers and to be part of this ever-growing social conversation, but they’re lacking those handy conversation starters and the types of tweets they should be sending out to the masses. So they say nothing at all.

To help those who might be stuck, below are nine types of tweets to incorporate into your Twitter strategy. If you don’t know where to start, start here:

1. Questions: Whether you’re looking for a new social media tool or you want to know whether “The Three Stooges” is worth bringing your family to see this weekend, sending out questions to your Twitter followers is a good way to engage them and show that you value their opinions.

Ask questions related to good people to follow, product ideas, blogs to follow or anything else related to your business. This kind of intelligence not only increases engagement and starts conversations, but when used properly, it’s also an invaluable way to get instant feedback related to your business.

2. Information sharing: One of the most valuable ways to use Twitter is as a platform for sharing information. This refers to sharing content that is not created by you, but that you think would benefit your audience. Tweet links to interesting articles you read, industry research, studies, or anything else you think your audience would enjoy.

Sharing and talking about interesting content is a great way to start conversations and attract new followers. By making yourself the source of their content aggregation, you brand yourself as helpful and worthwhile to their Twitter stream.

3. Solve other people’s problems: Spend a few minutes on Twitter, and you’ll inevitably find people asking one another for help. One Twitter user wants a recommendation for a Twitter app, another has a question about mobile marketing, and another wants to know whether Pinterest is really worth all this hype. Find a question you feel confident to answer, and then hop into the conversation.

Solving other people’s problems is an effective way to brand yourself as an expert, helpful, and the type of person people want to follow. It’s also a great way to form relationships you can use down the road—such as for potential guest posting opportunities or partnerships.

4. Opinions: You read that article everyone is tweeting around and you hated it. You thought it represented the absolute worst in your industry. Use Twitter to share your opinion. Or you read that white paper about how your industry is changing and now you’re feeling really inspired. Tell people about it.

By using Twitter to share your opinion and give people that unique insight into your head, you give them something to relate and connect to. This is how people get to know one another. Don’t be afraid to let it all hang out every now and then.

5. Link promotion: Yes, it is absolutely fine for you to use Twitter to tweet links to your own content or promotions you’re running. If you’re investing time on Twitter, this is something you’ll want to do. Just make sure you’re balancing it with all the other value you’re providing to your audience. We’ll handle a little self-promotion as long as we’re getting something for our effort.

6. Community highlighting: One of my favorite ways to use Twitter is to highlight people in the community who are doing or saying cool stuff. Maybe someone left a really insightful comment on your blog post. Or someone in your community just released an e-book you want to share. Or maybe one of your longtime commenters was just invited to speak at an industry conference. Use your Twitter feed to give them an attaboy and share their accomplishment with your audience.

By elevating others around you, you brand yourself as a great community member and assert yourself as the type of person people want to know. You, of course, also build good will with the person you’re promoting.

7. Conversation: People are talking all around you. They’re talking about marketing their business as much as they’re talking about what they’d like to have for lunch. Get in there and become part of those conversations! By jumping into organic conversations on Twitter, you show that you’re part of the larger community and not interested only in yourself and your business.

It’s also how you form relationships that you’ll be able to use in the future. Once you go from “stranger” to “friend” in someone’s circle, you open up a whole new door of partnership possibilities.

8. RTing information: Don’t have much to say for yourself right now? Fear not. Why not seek out great content that others are sharing and retweet it to your followers? This reinforces your role as a content aggregator (someone we all need in our Twitter circles), and it can help you get on the radar of that content creator.

9. Slice of life: What are you thinking about right now? What do you want for dinner? What song just came on that changed your whole day? What movie can you not get enough of? Share it with your Twitter followers. Though I wouldn’t make these types of “slice of life” tweets the dominant content you’re sharing, they certainly serve a purpose and help to make your account feel more human.

Above are nine tweet types that I’d encourage very small-business owners to work into their strategy. Any that I’ve missed? Which work best for you?

Lisa Barone is a noted writer, content marketer, and social strategist. She blogs irregularly at VoiceInterrupted. A version of this article first appeared on Small Business Trends.

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