Twitter is a conversation not a dictation

I often hear people say “I don’t like Twitter”, or “I don’t really get Twitter”. And I understand that. It’s not as easy to use as Instagram or Facebook, and it takes a little bit more time to understand how it works. It’s my favorite social media platform lately, but it does takes some work. And if you don’t want to use it, personally, that’s totally fine. No one is forcing you to be there.
But as a brand, a retailer, or a celebrity (big name or up-and-coming) this is a little different. People are already on Twitter talking about you, so why not jump into the conversation with them? See what they have to say about you. Cause it might now all be as amazing as you think. And if it is, the least you can do is high five them!
If you don’t have an active presence on Twitter (yet), someone else will do it for you, whether that’s a fan that creates a fake account under your name or one of your retailers/reps/distributors. This might sound like a solution, but this also means someone else controls your message.
Ow, and your competitors are most likely on Twitter, just in case you needed more any more reasons. So you don’t like Twitter? Too bad for you, as the audience is already there. Meaning your past/present/future consumer.

Twitter has 500 million users and 200 million of them tweet at least once a month. On average they sent out 400 million tweets a day and have, and they have on average 208 followers.

So you have a Twitter account, or want to create one. How do you go about it? Do you know those people that love to talk about themselves. All the time. And don’t give you a chance to talk or don’t listen to you when you talk? Do you like those people? Or are they just straight up annoying? I’m sure we can all agree that those type of people aren’t really the ones you want to spent time with, right?

Making Twitter a conversation is very important for it’s success. This means that 50-75% of your tweets should be an “@ reply”. So 2-3 out of every 4 tweets should be an @ reply. Still with me here? This still make sense right? You want to talk with people, not constantly talk at them. Right?

And I get it that you can’t be everywhere at once. When people ask me what they should focus on if they had to pick I always tell them Facebook and Instagram, and of course YouTube. But that doesn’t mean you past/present/future consumers aren’t on Twitter. And if most brands don’t really pay attention, that means there is a lot of room there to jump in and make a difference.

I thought I would do some research in the world of skateboarding (shoes), as that’s the world I’m in and and I’m always interested in how brands in skateboarding use social media. A little while back I found out about Twitonomy, based out of Australia. Anyone can go to their site, login with a Twitter account, and look up stats from any Twitter account out there. And not just a few stats, but a whole breakdown.
So I looked at the various skateboard shoe companies to see how they are doing on Twitter. Again, I focussed on the reply %, I do know that they are some more stats to look at to see how an account is doing things…. (but I do think the @ reply % is the most important one)

@ replies % on May 1st 2013 + total followers:
Vans – 38% (178k followers)
Osiris – 22% (16k followers)
Dekline – 19% (700 followers)
Lakai – 16% (35k followers)
Fallen – 15% (7k followers)
HUF – 15% (48k followers)
DC Shoes – 11% (206k followers)
DVS – 8% (36k followers)
C1RCA – 8% (9k followers)
etnies – 8% (37k followers)
DC skateboarding – 7% (55k followers)
Emerica – 5% (43k followers)
Nike SB – 5% (117k followers)
Globe – 3% (15k followers)
Supra – 2% (97k followers)
Vox – 2% (2k followers)

Adidas or Converse do NOT have a Twitter account for the skate line. Their regular accounts both had 29% (@adidas & @converse).

Twitonomy provides analytics on up to 3,200 tweets and 800 mentions. It depends on how active an account is.

*Please note that quite a few of the brands above feed their Instagram photos into Twitter. When they start an Instagram post with “@username” and feed that into Twitter it looks like an @ reply to Twitonomy. So for most brands the actual reply % is lower. Another reason to take 1 minute extra and post individually on each platform. Another thing I noticed is that some brands retweet a few tweets every now and then, but only the ones that talk positive about them. So no one complains? Or you just want to brag???

Here’s a screen shot of the Vans Twitter stats (via Twitonomy)


So Vans is doing a decent job on Twitter, with 39% of their tweet being @ replies. After doing this research I started looking at some other brands too. I was shocked when I got to the Nike Twitter account. Not the SB one, but the regular (runner) one. 93% of their tweets are @ replies! Damn, talking about having a conversation! So out of every 10 tweets they do, they talk TO people in 9.3 tweets. That’s an insane number!


And then I also looked at what Nike was tweeting. Again I was impressed. Most of their @ replies to people are super motivational and inspirational. You think people get stoked to see those responses?

Nike @ reply tweets are amazing

The thing I like so much about social media is that it’s public. You can ignore phone calls and not respond to your email to a certain degree. You would suck at customer service but you might be able to get away with it if your product/brand is hot.
All this social media information is out in the open. Anyone can go to a Twitter account on a computer or mobile device and see what people are posting, and if they reply to people. I stopped following brands that just feed Twitter from Facebook or Instagram. Or if I find a Twitter account and I just see one-way traffic I don’t even follow them. What’s the point? Let’s have a conversation! Once we start to talk we create a relationship, and that will benefit you (and me) in the long run.

How I am doing on Twitter? After seeing Scott Stratten speak at a LInked OC event in mid November I changed up my Twitter game. I started having more conversations with people, not just tweeting a bunch of crap. In less then 6 months I went from 200 followers to over 500. Was it a lot of work? Yes. Was it fun? Yes, it was. And it still is. And if I can do this, you can for sure. My @ replies are still just below 50%, but that’s because I didn’t really do @ replies before November last year. So my @ reply % is slowly going up.
As you can see below I started tweeting way more in mid November, but I was doing a lof of @ replies, which only show up to the people I reply to, and the people that follow both me and that account.


When you start a tweet with @username, your tweet only shows up for the people that follow both you and the “username” you mentioned (tagged). This also includes if you start an Instagram post with with “@username”, and then feed it into Twitter….

Hope this gives some good insight on how to use Twitter (better). I strongly recommend reading the 2 books from Scott Stratten, Unmarketing and The Business book of Awesome. And if you have some time watch this Vimeo video from Scott.

Have a question? Feedback?  Drop a comment here or tag me (@fredvanschie) onInstagram or Twitter.  Or shoot me an email at [email protected].

For more Twitter tips see part 5 from last week.
Thank you!

(FYI: I currently work with DVS Shoes, C1RCA, and Globe.)

Five Instagram Tips Part 10

Let’s try to keep this going (talking to myself). Weekly Instagram tips are back on the top of my list, so hope these ones are once again helpful/useful for you.

Instagram has gained a lot of traction in the past year. And even though I’m still a big fan of the platform, I also notice how hard it is to interact with your audience on Instagram. And even though that might be just what some are looking for, being social on social media is key to it’s success for most. Or ROI as you will, as most companies have to make sure they see a Return On Investment (of time/manpower). While people most of the time people hardly question the use of the telephone or email, they do with social media, as most of it see it as another marketing tool. But how priceless is it really to interact with your fans and followers? Here’s a tool that let’s you interact with your past/present/future consumers, isn’t that good for your business/brand in the long run? And a picture tells a 1000 words, so let the photo do the initial talking, and then jump in later for the interaction.







1. Promote your name/brand hashtag & the other “branded” hashtag

Assuming people will find you and know what hashtag(s) you want them to use is not easy in a day and age where so much is going on. You can blame that on the smartphone and social media for most of it, but you can use this in your own advantage. Adapt or die right?

So promote your brand name as as hashtag in all your other marketing efforts (print ads, back of a sticker, on a sign during events, via your sponsored athletes, your employees, retailers, etc) and of course in your Instagram (and Twitter) profile. This is the gateway to your brand/name for most people. So at the first point of contact you have a change to explain who you are, and what you want your audience to use when the post something about you.


Since you can only see the last 50 likes/tags on Instagram, it’s hard to keep track of the people that tag you. So here is where the hashtags come in handy. I totally get that you want to promote #yourbrand, but most people might now want to use that all the time. This is where your slogan or campain tagline comes into play. Make sure the 2nd hashtag does NOT contain your brand name. It looks tacky and it shows that you are trying to hard. When people really start to use this it will become synonymous with your brand name.
Best example, in skateboarding, is the Nike SB hashtag #skateeverydamnday. Other good examples are #theyturnandstuff (from Krux trucks) and #skatemore (from DVS Skateboarding).
As I’m writing this (May 2013) the hashtag #skateeverydamnday has been used more than 300,000 times on Instagram. It’s used by a lot of skateboarders around the world, even by some who are sponsored by other shoe brands. That’s when you known it’s a real success. Which die hard skateboarder wouldn’t want to tell the world he/she is skating “every damn day”?

Screen Shot 2013-05-05 at 4.02.18 PM

2. Interact with your 2 main hashtags
So now that you have people using your #notthebrandname hashtag, as well as the #brandname hashtag, you have a chance to reach out and interact with these people. And I know this might get full-time job (hint?), but people will go crazy if their favorite brand/famous person will “like” their photo. Or even better, will leave a comment on the photo. Chances are they will take a screenshot of your like or comment, so all their followers see that you actually talk back. How rad would it be if the brand of the product you just bought, and posted a photo about on Instagram, comes back to you and says thank you for buying the product? Think that will have an impact on the brand perception? Think the chances just increased that you will buy that brand again? I think so too.


3. Don’t abuse the hashtags
One of the problems with hashtags that become popular is that people start using them to get more followers, and adding them to photos that have nothing to do with the subject. This is where the term “MySpace photo” pops back up. Lots of selfies and other bullshit now comes up in the feed when you look up certain hashtag. Best is obviously to not do anything with these photos. I guess if you have lots of time on your hand you can start to comment on them and saying the need to chill out, but you’re never gonna win that battle…. Just stay away from it yourself. 13 years olds grow up eventually and they will get it someday. But don’t bet on that.


4. Stay away from the most used hashtags
Yeah, I know, we all want to get more followers right. Justin Bieber has 8.3 million Instagram followers (May 2013) and it’s totally reasonable for you to get at least half of that. Within the next month. Yeah right. And the trick to your followers explosion is more hashtags. Especially the ones that everyone uses.
How many friends can you really have if you’re not famous? Best trick on getting more followers? Post great photos. Good content always wins. And of course make sure other people, preferably those with a lot of followers, tag you (more then once).

The no go hashtag list for me contains of #followme #swag #lol #instagdaily #popularpage #like #picstitch #10likes #20likes #30likes…. yeah you get it…. Embarrassing.
Huffington Post made a top 100 of most used Instagram hashtags, and I’m glad to say I’ve never used most of them….. #tbt and #friends might be the only 2.

5. Tag others when you can (as they most likely will do the same)
Tagging others in an Instagram post is a way of letting your followers know who else they should follow. It’s a stamp of approval more or less. And once they see that you tag them they will most likely do the same in the future. It’s all about supporting those who support you right?

Have a question? Feedback? Drop a comment here or tag me (@fredvanschie) on Instagram or Twitter.  Or shoot me an email at [email protected].

For more Instagram tips see part 9 from a while back. Until next time! Quite possibly next week….