The Fine Art of Mastering Twitter

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Advice from the Guggenheim Museum on crafting an engaging social presence

In a world focused on staying connected, it's no surprise that businesses continue to grow their brands through social platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and, of course, Twitter. With more than 320 million users, Twitter is one of the largest social media platforms that businesses can use to engage, captivate, and grow target audiences. In fact, a recent study from Twitter shows that 59% of users have discovered a new business on the social platform, and nine out of 10 have engaged in Twitter conversations with or about a business.

At Guggenheim Museum we're always looking for ways to engage our global audience, even when they're outside the museum walls. Social, especially Twitter, has been a great way to accomplish this. By experimenting with different content, formats, and hashtags, we've grown our Twitter audience to more than one million followers, many of whom are engaged and sharing with us on a daily basis.

While there's no one right way to create the perfect social media presence, there are definitely a few tricks that can help marketers establish an effective Twitter presence and help their businesses grow. Here are four tips that have helped my team successfully increase and engage with our global audience, maintain consistent messaging with our affiliate museums, and establish a known social presence.

Know your audience

Understanding your audience is essential for enhancing interactions with them. Consumers want to see content that's relevant to them and their interests. That's the main reason they click “follow” in the first place. By developing content that your desired audience actually wants to see, you'll drive more shares, hearts, and followers; ultimately, driving more customers through your door.

Rather than wasting precious energy and resources interacting with audiences that won't be interested in your company, get to know your target customers and cater content directly to their needs and interests. At the Guggenheim, we've set up streams on Hootsuite to track current social conversations and monitor relevant accounts. This allows us to map our content back to the larger dialogue of our preferred audience.

Be active and consistent

This may seem like a no-brainer, but a surprisingly high number of companies struggle to maintain a strong social posting cadence, especially on Twitter. Too many teams fail to make their social accounts a priority during especially busy periods or neglect to publish posts when there's no explicit “news” to share. Bear in mind that your audience will not hesitate to click the “unfollow” button if your account becomes stagnant.

This is where a social management platform becomes a critical member of the team. The tool allows teams to collaborate seamlessly across the globe, maintaining a single voice that customers can easily associate with the brand.

Engage with your community

Want more people to find and follow your account? Interact with other brands, influencers, and consumers in relevant interest areas on social media. Doing so forges meaningful connections, introduces your company to new users, and helps inspire great ideas for content or events. It also makes your brand more relevant to the larger conversation, putting content in front of users that they might not have seen otherwise.

For us, it's important to show our online community that our museum interacts with neighboring museums to forge relationships with them. Even though museums are competing with each other, each museum offers something different. By uniting through various social media campaigns or events, we can create meaningful and educational content.

During Archtober, for example, we wanted to create awareness for architecture in neighboring museums, so we created #Archtobermile on Instagram. This social media program gave those museums the opportunity to participate and create awareness for their building and collections. Each participant had one or two of their images placed on every participating museum's Instagram account.

We also participate in local and global events like Museum Week to increase our exposure in the greater art community. For the duration of Museum Week 2015, our partnership with Twitter allowed for continuous growth in reach, and resulted in media coverage for the museum.

Engaging with your community on social also opens up opportunities for social customer service. Brands now have the ability to react in real time when customers have questions or concerns. And when a company answers a customer's question or concern via social, it shows that the company puts customers first and is actively listening to them.

Take note of what works

Every company and industry is different, so what works for one brand may not have the same result for another. It's important to track engagement and collect data on what posts get the most engagement to gain a solid understanding of the best content strategy for your business. By closely tracking our posts, we have identified the types of content that work best with our audience.

One way we do this is by having a unique hashtag for every social media campaign we create. We monitor that hashtag across all platforms and see how our physical and digital visitors engage with our exhibition through that hashtag. This way we're engaging with our community and seeing how well our social media campaigns are doing.

Sometimes we get partners involved to encourage use of a hashtag beyond our own organization. Our #FrankLloydWrightFridays hashtag, for instance, generated great engagement among our audience and resonating strongly with other museums in the area, including the Met. This was also a great lesson for us in becoming a brand publisher and carving out our own niche in a very crowded space.

Building an active and engaged social following creates real benefits for any company, but social is too often underutilized and brand approaches frequently lack consistent strategy. By following these few tips and harnessing the right technology, the Guggenheim Museum has been able to increase its number of followers, better publicize events and exhibits, and become a bigger part of the cultural conversation—and if you adapt them for your organization, you can, too. 

About the author:

Harineta (Neta) Rigatos is Guggenheim Museum's digital marketing manager. She has a wealth of exposure to international museums and gallery management. 

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