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Not very long ago a lot of people were still asking, “Twitter? What’s that?” Now almost everyone has heard of Twitter, but how to use Twitter remains a mystery to many. How do you use Twitter? And what are all those funny @ and # signs all over the place? Read on to find out so you can tweet like a pro for your dealership and join the social media conversation.
1. Join the Conversation
What is Twitter, really? Twitter is basically one huge conversation. Everyone is talking (tweeting), in real time, about whatever might be important or interesting to them and/or their audience at the moment. Tweets are messages of 140 characters or less which show up to all of your “followers” as well as anybody who looks up your “timeline” (providing your account is public and not protected). Your timeline is the stream of tweets posted by people you are “following” as well as your own tweets. Auto dealerships tweet not only about dealership news, tips, events and promotions, but also comment on other topics like current events, candid everyday dealership happenings, or even the weather. The best tweets are conversational and can be casual and lighthearted or thought-provoking. The goal is to pique your audience’s interest, attract their attention, and engage them!
See something in your timeline that piques your interest that makes you want to answer back? Use the reply function to post your comment. For instance if tweeter JoeSmithCarGuy says something you want to reply to, hover over his tweet with your mouse and click Reply at the bottom of the message. The reply window will automatically insert “@JoeSmithCarGuy” after which you can type your message. Joe will then see your reply and be able to answer back. These @Replies are also public for all Twitter users to read which encourages others to join in your and Joe’s conversation!
3. The Mentions Tab
@Replies also show up in your Mentions tab at the top of your Twitter homepage. The Mentions tab is where Twitter stores all tweets mentioning your Twitter username where it is preceded by the @ symbol. Looking at your Mentions tab lets you see who’s mentioned you and what they’re saying about you! Mentions are like @Replies except they aren’t only replies directly to someone, they also include “shout outs” to other tweeters. A common use of Mentions are when you get new “followers”. You can mention them by name by tweeting “Hey! Welcome to our new followers @JoeSmithCarGuy and @JulieCarShopper!” This tweet will attract Joe and Julie’s attention, show up in their Mentions tab, and encourage them to @Reply back to you! Another use of a Mention could be “Thanks to @ABCAutoVendor for the great webinar today!” as a way to affirm professional relationships and promote your industry partners. Often they’ll Mention you back! JoeSmithCarGuy might give credit to JulieCarShopper for sending him a Youtube link for a video he loved: “Thanks @JulieCarShopper for the Youtube video of the new Nissan Altima!”
Hashtags. That’s a weird word, right? But it’s a very handy and fun feature that developed organically out of early tweeters’ desire to categorize what they were talking about. Hashtags are the # symbol followed by a keyword that is important to a conversation. For example JoeSmithCarGuy might tweet “Checking out the Youtube video for the new #NissanAltima. Sweet ride”. Now by clicking on #NissanAltima you can pull up all the other tweets that also say #NissanAltima. Also, someone who searches #NissanAltima in Twitter’s search bar will pull up JoeSmithCarGuy’s tweet as well as all the others using that hashtag. Very popular hashtags that catch on Twitter-wide appear in Twitter’s “Trending” section.
Trending is just what it sounds like. What conversations are really popular on Twitter right now? What is everyone talking about? What’s the hot topic? The Trending section on the right hand side of your Twitter homepage will tell you by showing you the hashtags that are getting used most. This is an easy way to see where people are flocking at the moment. By joining that particular conversation using the same hashtag you can access more of your audience and hopefully get your dealership more widespread exposure and engagement while remaining relevant to your audience. For example, if the hashtag #HighGasPrices is trending, you could contribute to the conversation with “The new 2012 Ford Fusion gets 33 MPG! Avoid #HighGasPrices.”
Many people use links in their tweets that go to a website with more detailed information or, quite often, a Youtube video. To put a link in your tweet just enter the URL. If the URL is quite long you might want to use a URL shortener like goo.gl or bit.ly. Clicking on the link in a tweet simply opens up that webpage in a new window. For example, JoeSmithCarGuy might include a link to the video he’s watching on Youtube: “Checking out the Youtube video from @JulieCarShopper for the new #NissanAltima http://www.youtube.com/nissanvideo”. Now everyone who reads Joe’s tweet can click on the Youtube link to see exactly what he’s talking about, thus encouraging them to engage in conversation with him even more!
Hopefully this mini-tour of the Twitter landscape has given you the basics you need to get started as the Twitter expert for your dealership. The more you tweet the more comfortable you’ll feel. Your Twitter network will start to grow naturally as new relationships are formed and pockets of market-interest are tapped. Be outgoing, be friendly and remember that you publically represent your dealership. Twitter is an excellent way to put a personal voice to the brick and mortar of your store. Join the Twitter conversation and watch interest and trust in your dealership increase.
Fore more tips and updates, follow us on Twitter at Twitter.com/AutomotiveDMP.
Internet Marketing Specialist