With 452,000 tweets being sent every minute, how do you make yours stand out?

The truth is, you might not be able to. There’s never any guarantee that your tweet will “go viral”for many of those that do it’s pure luck. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. One of the nice things about social media is how easy it is to try new things and see how well they work. Your social media results will improve if you learn exactly what your audience likes and be guided by.

What’s toast got to do with anything?

There are a lot of theories about social media: when you should send posts, what hashtags you should use, what sort of images boost engagement, etc. In fact, there are so many guides to the world of social media that you can get a little stumped, particularly when starting out. Now, we’re not claiming to have all the answers either, but the one piece of advice you should take away is: don’t overthink it. Even something as simple as a photo of toast can be enough to spark a reaction.

Yes, you read that correctly: a photo of toast, three slices to be precise.

Which way would you prefer our staff to do you toast at the end of a night?! pic.twitter.com/QKLUb5uX5x

🎅🏼hallamnation 🎅🏼 (@hallamnation) 9 December 2017

Trivial maybe, but an excellent example of understanding and engaging your audience.

Hallamnation is a student night at Sheffield Hallam University. One of many, but the organisers of this one know their audience: students, likely to have had a few, and really craving some carbs. Giving out toast at the end of the night is a cheap but winning gimmick that has helped it build awareness and attendance.

They also know that students are incredibly opinionated, especially on social media. And, as it turns out, they really care about slicing etiquette. The simplicity of this tweet is wonderful, anyone can engage with it and with minimal effort. It also generates further interaction as students compete for the wittiest response.

1.. everything tastes better in triangles do not even try and play me

bethany 🌹🏌🏼♀ (@BethJaneGriffin) 11 December 2017

#1 or #3 for me, #2 is just barbaric, how absurd.

Cat (@XACZ1K) 15 December 2017

On seeing the reaction the tweet was getting, the organisers started engaging directly. They retweeted and replied to anyone answering their question, even offering some students free tickets to their next event if they got over 500 likes. Tweeting directly to celebrities (including Donald Trump) asking their opinion was perhaps a little too much, but you can’t blame them for tryingif Trump had said he was a #2, Twitter would probably have exploded.

What can we learn from this?

Ultimately what this example shows us is that content doesn’t have to be super clever. Simple and fun can work really welleven with business audiences. Take General Electric, it regularly engages its audience and posts interesting content rather than sales messages. Its #IWantToInvent campaign was particularly successful; it asked its followers to send in invention ideas and replied by producing 70 original sketches of fan’s designs in under seven hours. This campaign got its followers involved with its account and increased brand conversations four times over their daily average. This example, and the toast photo, shows that just tweeting at your audience isn’t enough. You need to engage with them by retweeting and replying. It’s ok to use Twitter to advertise your business but your audience will lose interest if all you do is talk about yourself-even if you think you’re hiding it.

Asking questions is a great way to engage your audience on Twitter. Whether you do it through a poll or a photo, it gives your audience a reason to engage with you, and if you engage back who knows where it could go. Just be cautious to retain some level of control over what your audience could respond with, encourage the use of a particular hashtag, for example, and you could have a #McDStories on your hands-but that’s a story for another blog.

Know your audience, know your brand and keep practicing. It takes a lot of elbow grease before you see results on social media. But if you stick to your old rules and don’t embrace the medium, you’ll be, well toast!

Posted by Katie on 20 December 2017