Ten steps to succeeding on Twitter

1. Set up a firm page or personal page

To get tweeting, if you’ve not already done so, set up a page. This shows the rest of the world who you are. Every element should contain your best content and reflect your identify because first impressions count.

The four components of your Twitter profile are:-

  • Your username: Otherwise known as your Twitter handle. Up to 15 characters in length, this should be something that makes it easy for Twitter users to find you (for example ours is @Barmktg).

  • Your profile photo: as your main profile image and something that’ll appear alongside every tweet you post, this is important. Often, company logos are used here as it’s a small square space. 400px x 400px to be precise.

  • Your company overview (or bio): You’re restricted to 160 characters so get to the point quickly. Concisely describe what your company does and what makes you special. This will entice people to follow you so it’s got to work hard. You can also add your location, website URL and other useful information.

  • Your header photo: Recommended dimensions are 1500px x 500px (3:1 aspect ratio). This is essentially your company’s billboard. Make it representative and striking.

You can view trending topics from the ‘Moments’ tab, see your page notifications such as new followers and retweets on the appropriately titled ‘Notifications’ tab, and send direct messages to your followers in the equally well-named ‘Messages’ tab, all of which are in your top toolbar.

2. Tweet and pin

Post regular tweets relating to your business, areas of law and the wider legal industry. When on the home screen, simply click in the ‘What’s happening?’ box, type your content, upload a photo or video, add a hyperlink and hit the ‘Tweet’ button. Your tweets will be displayed on your profile page and delivered to your followers’ timelines.

Writing 280 characters may sound easy (it’s certainly easier than the original 140 character allowance), but it can prove difficult to adhere to these length restrictions. Choose every letter painstakingly to get your message across in a coherent and professional way (these two sentences alone have over 267 characters in them). Insert links to your website or blog where your followers can find more detailed information on the subject. If it helps, use URL shortening tools to save vital space when embedding links into your tweets.

Tip: If you go over the character count, Twitter will tell you by showing you a minus number at the bottom of your tweet and won’t allow you to post until it’s rectified, and either back to zero or a positive number.

You can use the ‘Add poll’ to include a Q&A and ‘Add location’ to show where you are at the time of posting.

You can pin tweets to keep important items at the top of your timeline. To do this, click on the more icon (‘…’) situated underneath a posted tweet then choose ‘Pin to your profile page’ from the drop down list. By doing so, your followers can’t fail to miss your important news.

3. Interact with other Twitter users

Keep on top of others’ tweets and use the ‘Reply’, ‘Retweet’ and ‘Like’ facilities to pass along news items which you think your followers should read. You’ll find these three icons underneath each tweet in your timeline. Always acknowledge the source of the original tweet rather than trying to pass it off as your own. By encouraging the conversation, you are automatically promoting your brand.

4. Use hashtags

These are keywords or phrases that are prefixed with the hashtag symbol (#). Hashtags can be used anywhere in a tweet – beginning, middle or end – but can’t contain any spaces or punctuation. They categorise tweets, make searching for topics easier and identify trending topics from popular hashtags.

5. Plan a daily tweet schedule

Consistency and regularity are vital. Create a schedule comprising three columns, these being date, time and tweet. It doesn't mean you then have to stress about writing a large quantity of new content. One big content piece can be broken down into several tweets and share others' content too. Also, bearing in mind the speed with which news becomes old news on Twitter, re-tweet your previous tweets on different days and at different times, perhaps tweaking a few words here and there, and changing the image to keep it fresh.

Tip: It all sounds rather robotic and not in keeping with the spontaneity of Twitter, however, it’s quite useful to have certain themes each month or week that have a number of prewritten tweets you can use to link back to pre-published content of yours. It also allows you time to be spontaneous on other days of the week. This way, you are promoting your brand overall and reacting to the news of the day.

6. Avoid being too salesy Using every tweet to try and sell your services is doomed for failure. Spamming your followers with self-promotional, one-sided conversation will result in them unfollowing you. Instead, adopt the ABC system. This stands for: Attract the right fans; Build relationships; Convert / sell. In other words, as it's a funnel, spend the bulk of your time doing the first two steps and a very small proportion of your time performing the last. 7. Apply growth hacks to get followers There are multiple methods to grow your follower volumes, for example find users whose followers are your target audience and follow their followers (lots will reciprocate), and follow back your own new followers. A word of caution though: only connect with people whose profiles feature real images and people / firms who operate in your niche. Quality is better than quantity to have those meaningful conversations mentioned earlier.

Tip: Cross-promote your Twitter account on online and offline channels such as your website, email signature, business cards, printed marketing collateral, adverts, exhibition stand graphics etc. The more people see this, the more will seek you out on social.

8. Operate within Twitter rules Aside from restrictions in characters for tweets, bios and your name, Twitter defines limits such as the maximum daily number of new follows, tweets and direct messages. Your account will be temporarily suspended if you exceed these limits. Google search for "Twitter limits" or access Twitter's help centre to learn more. 9. Look at Twitter analytics As with any form of marketing, experimentation is key. Test different messages, different days and times and different frequencies then analyse your data to understand what's working and what's not. Go to analytics.twitter.com and start measuring using real-time data. Learn and improve armed with analytical knowledge. 10. Use paid-for Twitter advertising

You have the ability to advertise on Twitter including retargeting by installing the Twitter Pixel on your website. You'll need to set up your Twitter ads account first then progress through three levels: campaign, ad groups and ads. The ads element is essentially your tweets. There are all manner of options available to you from audiences and campaign types to objectives and payment settings. When logged into Twitter, click on the 'More' button in the left hand toolbar, select 'Twitter Ads' and explore. The Twitter advertising opportunities are endless.

Dealing with negativity

Hopefully you will never encounter the dreaded Twitter Troll. These will either be people determined to cause malice or they may be people who are having a particularly bad day and have decided to start or continue an argument.

The best way to deal with them is to ignore them. They are craving attention so don’t give it to them. If you feel that they are damaging your brand, respond with an invitation to take their grievance offline so that you can better understand their issue and come to a resolution. Make sure that any of your responses are professional and courteous (despite what you must be feeling). If they refuse your offer of assistance, you can either ignore them and move on or use the reporting tools to highlight the issue with Twitter’s moderators.

Getting into a heated discussion will only damage your brand. Make your points clearly as neutrally as possible. You’ll find that your followers will come to your aid with positive comments, banishing the Twitter Troll and restoring your reputation.

Don’t be put off. Instead, do your preparation work and get tweeting a mix of serious and light-hearted content. You’ll see your audience grow and with it your brand awareness and ultimately instructions. Best of luck!

Catherine Bailey is the Founder and Managing Director of Bar Marketing Limited, a marketing agency utilised by leading sets and barristers across the world. She is also co-author, along with Jennet Ingram, of A Practical Guide to Marketing for Lawyers by Law Brief Publishing, now in its 2nd Edition. www.barmarketing.co.uk catherine.bailey@barmarketing.co.uk