Travelling over Easter? Here are 3 Terrific Twitter Traffic handles you should follow

Whether you’re going by train, plane or automobile, public holidays can quickly turn into a nightmare when your travel plans go wrong. Twitter has become a fantastic way for travellers to get up-to-the-minute information and advice when no-one around knows what’s going on.

Some brands and organisations in particular have developed truly stellar strategies for providing the most helpful possible service on Twitter. Whether it’s that extra human touch or a well-oiled system of getting the right information to the people who need it, these heroes of the highways are making travel easier. The days of craning your neck to see what the jam is all about or running around airport terminals looking for someone in uniform are over!

Here’s a handful of the best handles out there to help you have a stress-free bank-holiday trip! (Sorry to those of you outside the UK – it’s mostly British ones this time!)

Train

First Great Western - @FGW

The guys @FGW have not had an easy year so far. 2013/14 was the wettest winter in British recorded history, affecting trains all over the country. But the South West was perhaps the worst hit with some track even getting washed into the sea.

Dealing with problems which you haven’t caused yourself is often a thankless task but @FGW have a dedicated round-the-clock team who worked diligently to get stranded travellers where they needed to be.

You always know who you’re talking to at @FGW because they tend to put the individual’s name at the end of each tweet. This is a nice little human touch but it also serves a practical purpose. It allows customers to see who it is behind the keyboard at all times. This is important when dealing with train updates over time because you have an idea of what the person you’re tweeting already knows about your situation.

Automobile

Motorway Cameras @MotorwayCameras

If you’re one of those people who just can’t handle not knowing what’s going on up ahead when you’re stuck in a traffic jam, you will be truly delighted by this ingenious account. No more getting out of your car and walking around in a general grump at the impotence of your situation, when there’s a blockage on the motorways @MotorwayCameras shares images from… you guessed it… motorway cameras.

Knowing that you’re stuck because a lorry has broken down in the middle lane may not help you get anywhere but it does at least remove the mystery of why everything just stopped suddenly.

The guys @MotorwayCameras don’t just tweet pictures, they’re also on hand with answers to questions and plenty of sympathetic banter to get you through the pain of being stuck behind a mile of metal!

Plane

Royal Dutch Airlines @KLM

Always worth a mention when talking about customer service on Twitter is KLM. Their ingenious idea to keep their estimated response time updated on their homepage image is a blessing for people wanting to know when they might hear back about their issue.

KLM Twitter

It also let’s customers know whether it’s worth asking in the first place if they are in a rush and that in turn must save considerable time for the social media team who don’t have to answer so many questions when people no longer need an answer.

Cool under pressure and ready with useful information, the team @KLM are a great example in a difficult job.


If you are going away, have a great and (travel-stress-free!) break. And if you’re using Twitter to get help during a crisis, remember to be nice to the social media managers working hard around the clock!

The Advanced Guide to Timing Tweets

Over 500 million tweets are going out every day. In such a crowded space it’s more important than ever to pick the best times to send your tweets. Thinking carefully about your tweeting strategy can have a big impact on who sees them and how far they reach.

Preparing for important days and events throughout the year should be your first step. Twitter recently released their own #OwnTheMoment planner to help you do just that.  Check it out, it’s fantastically helpful! But there are several more advanced strategies you can employ everyday to maximise your impact.

Find your followers at the right time

As addictive as Twitter can be, your followers are not online all the time! When they are active might depend on the type of people you have following you. A following of predominantly young people will probably tend to tweet more at the weekends. A B2B audience will be more active during the working week.

Take a look at the community activity of these two groups. Can you guess who they are?

Advanced Guide to Timing Tweets

The blue line represents a community of tweeters under the age of 25. The red line is the followers of @Peerindex!

Picking the right time to tweet will get your content seen by a whole lot more people so plan your schedule carefully.

Experiment with different types of tweets

shapes and sizesTweets come in all different forms. The tone and content of each one depends on its intended effect. If you’re getting it right, you won’t solely be pushing sales messaging or only ever tweeting funny pictures from Buzzfeed. You’ll want to have a targeted and interesting mixture to really engage with people.

Experimenting with the timing of different types of tweets will tell you what sort of content is popular at particular times.

Try to categorise the different styles of tweets you tend to send out. These might be:

  • Sharing relevant news stories
  • Marketing your product or services
  • Sharing some interesting research you’ve done
  • Asking questions to stimulate conversation
  • Making people laugh with something funny you’ve found (or made)

Once you have segmented your tweets, see what happens when you send them out at different times of day. Make sure you pick the metric that you are most interested in.

PiQ’s reporting functionality includes a Tweet Performance page where you can see the best performing tweets from the past two weeks. Sort your tweets by the reach, RTs or clicks and see which days are getting you the best results.

Screen Shot 2014-04-11 at 14.30.29

You can also see the same report for your competitors’ tweets so you can discover what they’re getting right that you’ve been unaware of.

Look at target communities to gain followers

It’s all very well knowing when your followers are active but sometimes it’s not them you’re interested in reaching. This could be when:

  • You’re just started out and don’t have many followers yet!
  • You want to reach an audience you don’t usually target.
  • You want to reach a specific segment of your audience.
  • Your community of followers isn’t ‘healthy’. That is, they’re not the right kind of followers for your brand.

In this case you want to look at a target audience of the kind of people you’re interested in reaching as well as your followers. PiQ, the PeerIndex social media platform is build around communities for this exact reason.

PiQ lets you look at target audiences around a specific topic or demographic so you can see who they are, what they talk about and when they are active.

baby ferrariFor example, a sports car manufacturer may have a large following on Twitter, but what if those followers are all teenagers (or younger!)? That’s useful in the long term, they’re nurturing fans who will aspire to own one of their cars in the future.

But if they wanted to tweet about a test-drive marketing event are these the people they want to target? Probably not. That’s when driving engagement and attracting new followers from a different target audience (one who can afford to buy the car in the first place!) becomes key to their strategy.

Make a strategic timetable

Planning your tweets around your followers’ or a target audience’s activity is great. But you should also consider your own activity.

On any given day, you’ll probably have one or two tweets that you consider the most important. These will be the ones that have a call-to-action, getting people to visit your site, download your content or, even better, buy something!

With this in mind, it’s key to consider how the rest of your activity during the day is going to affect your engagement on Twitter.

You want your call-to-action tweet to be prominent when the largest number of people are looking at your timeline.

Screen Shot 2014-04-11 at 14.36.41

PiQ lets you see the engagement rate of your Twitter activity over time and that of your competitors so you can understand when the best time is to post your most important tweets.

Friendly Twitter types will often go to your timeline when they see you’ve followed them or if you’ve shared some of their content. When they check you out, make sure there’s something juicy like a punchy blog post or a nifty piece of research that they can share.
If you’d like to find out more about how PiQ can help your brand engage with target audiences and plan your tweeting strategy accordingly. Try it free today!

 

Why Twitter is about more than just follower counts

It’s a great feeling when you see that you’ve gained a new follower. Without any followers, Twitter would be a very lonely place! But when the number of followers you have becomes the most important thing you measure, you’ve started missing the point of Twitter. And you’re probably missing out on much of what makes Twitter so great. Twitter offers so much more than a race for followers. It’s a place where you can:

  • Meet and learn from people around the world you never could have connected with before.
  • Discover communities that are talking about the content and ideas that you find interesting.
  • Become an influential figure in your area of expertise and share your own knowledge with others.
  • Have fun!

Twitter’s fun, but it’s not a game

It was Facebook that first stretched the meaning of the word ‘friend’. People who had only been alive for just over a decade had apparently amassed tens of thousands of ‘friends’ in that time, if their profile’s were anything to go by. But boasting about how many friends you have quickly became passé and among people over school age was barely ever a thing at all.

facebook friends

With Twitter, the term ‘follower’ immediately meant something different. A follower could be anyone at all, anywhere in the world. But rather than embracing the gift of being able to connect with people across the globe who share similar interests or want to discuss similar ideas, many became anxious that they didn’t have as many followers as they could or should.

maskPerhaps for real-world celebrities or sports teams follower counts could be seen as a measure of popularity but for most of us it’s not always a helpful number to obsess about. And while celebrities get more followers the more famous they are, ordinary Twitter users inevitably start trying to ‘game’ the system when followers are all that matter.

Charlie Brooker, in typical tongue-in-cheek fashion, put Twitter at the number 1 spot in his list of ‘Video Games that Changed the World‘. And while he’s right that there is always going to be an element of competitiveness and obsessiveness when it comes to something like Twitter, you won’t find his feed full of spam aimed at attracting more and more followers. He’s got his 800k followers by being funny and engaging.

Unfollowers: creating the right Twitter for you

One of the cruelest and least constructive activities involved in the gamification of growing follower numbers is the ‘unfollow‘. There are only two honest reasons to unfollow someone on Twitter:

  1. You are bored or offended by what that user is tweeting.
  2. You have reached your limit for following and you need to unfollow some people in order to follow new ones.

Regularly unfollowing anyone who hasn’t followed you back after a certain period of time is like walking into the playground and demanding people you’ve just met to declare their friendship with you and storming off in a huff when they look quizzically at you and ask who you are.

unfollowTwitter is what you make of it. Who you follow will determine what turns up in your feed. So if you follow and unfollow people based on your interests, passions, desire to learn and share you will find Twitter a fascinating place to hang out. If you follow and unfollow people because you’re trying to increase your own follower count.

Influential followers and Communities

All followers are not created equally. PiQ, our social media dashboard, lets you track not only your total number of followers but also your influential followers. Because we measure influence by the amount of engagement a user is able to generate, these users will not only read your content regularly but they will be able to share it to a wider audience.

You may even find that while your follower numbers are going down, your influential followers are increasing.

follow:influential follow

This might be because a number of fake or spammy accounts are either being blocked by Twitter or are playing the ‘unfollow game’. They’re weren’t adding any value to your community in the first place.

Think carefully about the metrics you want to judge your social media success by! Influence across Twitter is one thing but influence in a specific community is even more strategically significant, especially for brands trying to build valuable followings.

Kevin Pho for Health Leaders“In the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king” goes the saying. In the world of Digital Health, it is not Justin Bieber or Barack Obama who hold the most community influence but the people who create conversations around those topics with the right people. People like Kevin Pho MD (@KevinMD - pictured) and Lisa Fields (@PracticalWisdom)

PiQ identifies community influencers by looking at followers of specific accounts and target audiences built around topics and interests.

Get engaged

Having a good number of followers is not unimportant of course. But it’s the ability a large following allows you to engage with people around the world that makes it worth while. There’s no point having people follow you if you don’t know where you’re going!

Competitor engagement

Monitoring your engagement rate is a good way to see how well your social media strategy is going. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Are you creating conversations?
  • Are people interested in what your’e saying?
  • Are you spreading your content, thoughts and ideas to a wider audience?
  • How are you doing compared to key competitors?

If you’d like to know more about how PiQ can help you identify the right kind of followers and track the social media metrics that really matter. Try PiQ for free today!