Tweeting Tween

This blog was originally published on MSPmentor on Oct. 8, 2012.

I had a conversation with a couple coworkers the other day about Twitter followers and what made someone click the ‘Follow’ button. We agreed that a company should care more about gaining quality followers who understood them and their industry, than completely useless spam followers. To achieve that, I said, you have to engage your followers and industry by dedicating time and utilizing hashtags and @mentions.

And oddly enough, I learned some of this from tweens. Yes, tweens and business. It sounds like a crazy combination, but when it comes to social media, 12 and 13-year-olds rule the world. Hear me out.

Last summer I tweeted a member of British boy band The Wanted about them being No. 1 on a radio station countdown (Full disclosure: I love all things pop culture, including British boy bands One Direction and The Wanted. #NoShame). He retweeted me and I immediately gained followers and @mentions.

I clicked on a few of the Twitter handles and noticed a trend: all had at least 900 more followers than I did. Intrigued, I read their past tweets, about 90% of which were about the band. These fans tweeted each other, started worldwide trends, and shared news, ideas and questions. More importantly, they involved themselves in their specific “industry,” namely the band and its fans. They tweeted daily and at all times of the day, dedicating hours to their industry.

They didn’t grow up in the “Stone Age” of passing notes in class like the rest of us; a vibrating iMessage alert and instant communication offered by the Internet is all they know. So it’s only fitting that, though they are not old enough to order a beer at a bar in Europe, tweens have become the social media experts of their industry. And we could all learn from them. Here’s what they have to teach us:

Interact with your audience. Check your mentions at least twice a day and save your company name in your search list. Not everyone knows you have a Twitter handle, so monitor mentions and search closely and always be ready to send out a reply. On the flip side, don’t wait for someone to send you an @mention. Be proactive. The point of Twitter is to constantly update followers on your status. Keep calm and tweet.

Know your audience. It’s important that you (or whoever runs your account) knows your followers, what they do and how they fit into your company’s target demographic.

Hashtags, hashtags, hashtags. I can’t stress them enough. They are one of the best ways to start a conversation about any given topic, know what is going on in your industry and what others are saying about you. But keep hashtags to three or four words and no more than three hashtags in a single tweet.

Time. We don’t all have the luxury of sitting at our computer all day and browsing Twitter, but it is important to dedicate a small chunk of your day strictly to your account. This is one of the things I do for Axcient (follow us on Twitter here), and it’s the only way to see results.

Lesson: time and industry engagement are key in gathering followers for your company. Anyone can send a tweet or a link informing followers, but it’s the time, dedication and communication that will make your company soar above others. When in doubt, #KeepCalmAndTweet.

Leticia Rodriguez