The Importance of Engagement on Twitter

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If you haven’t heard that engagement is the key to thriving on social media, then you probably haven’t been on social media for long. Social media is about being social, and being social is about engaging with others and sharing value. That’s why how much engagement you get on your social channels and the quality of those engagements are critical to your continued success. This week, on #TwitterSmarter, we spoke to Jeff Dwoskin, about driving engagement on Twitter. Jeff is the founder of social engagement monitoring tool, Hashtag Stampede. Here’s a summary of our chat.

Guest: Jeff Dwoskin
Topic: The importance of engagement on Twitter
Format: Eight questions directed at the guest. Everyone’s welcome to share.

Q1: How do you decide which conversations to engage in?

First, know if you were invited to join the conversation. Don’t jump in unless it’s relevant to your brand and you’re required to weigh in. When you’re handling a brand account, it’s important to be aware of what you’re getting yourself into. At the same time, have an engagement plan as well. It’s easy, especially on Twitter, to get into a conversation that goes on for longer than you want. That’s why you need to be prepared—choose how many times you’ll reply or at what point you’ll end or leave a discussion.

Of course, as Laura mentioned, don’t join a conversation just for the sake of hijacking it. Remember that it’s a public forum and participate only if you can offer any value.

Q2: When is the right time to take a chat into a DM?

The longer you avoid the DM, the better. That doesn’t mean you should encourage your audience to share personal information publicly. Instead, make sure you address your audience’s concerns as transparently as possible. If they have a question or concern about your business or service, acknowledge that publicly and answer their questions as best as you can. Not only does this show that you’ve got nothing to hide, but it can also help others who might have similar questions.

However, once the conversation starts to get technical and you need someone’s information to take further action, that’s when you move along to the DMs. If you have an upset customer tweeting at you, it’s always best to acknowledge them first.

As Alyx added, use the DMs as a way to protect your audience’s privacy. When an upset tweet gets to a point of back-and-forth troubleshooting, head over to the direct messages.

Also, not everyone will want to tweet to you. To make things easier for people who prefer to personally get in touch, keep your DMs open.

Q3: When should you disengage from a conversation?

When the conversation turns nasty, disengage. In other words, as our guest explained, if you realize that even after two or three genuinely helpful responses from you, the other person doesn’t seem to acknowledge your efforts, they might just be trolling you. That’s when you should disengage.

Be wary, though—sometimes customers who are sincerely upset may also insist on back and forth discussion without the intention of trolling. If that’s the case, invite them into your DMs and you can handle the situation from there. This level of personal care can help the customer cool down a bit.

On the flip side, if you’ve joined a discussion on a topic that’s relevant to your brand, you should disengage when you don’t have anything more meaningful to add to the conversation, as Takunda noted. This doesn’t mean you can’t engage further—you can still show your support by liking, retweeting, or adding people to relevant lists.

Q4: What is your criteria for not engaging when baited?

The first step in determining if your attacker is worth responding to is to check their account. Do a quick scan to see if they’re a legitimate account holder. For example, if they’re a relatively new account with a dodgy profile picture and consistently negative tweets and replies, there’s a good chance that they’re trolling you for attention.

As our guest pointed out, a lot of smaller trolls provoke big brands to try and get exposure. Don’t give them the pleasure.

Fernando shared a bunch of other warning signs. For example, if their comments seem meaningless and random, if they’re not speaking from a real life experience, or if they’re deliberately trying to deter the conversation without adding any meaning, they might not be worth wasting your time and characters on.

Q5: How quickly do you try to respond to tweets directed at you?

Depends on who you’re responding to. Unhappy and angry customers will expect responses as soon as possible. This can mean as soon as 15 minutes, if you can have a dedicated team keeping an eye on your social media throughout the day. However, if you cater to a specific region, you don’t need such round-the-clock monitoring.

If you’re responding to happy customers, even though it’s still not ideal, you can get away with slightly delayed responses.

However, even though you’re likely on Twitter multiple times a day and have many sources of notifications, as our friends from Biteable reminded us, it’s also important to set boundaries to protect yourself. Don’t beat yourself up too much if you miss a message on the weekend. Your community will know that you’re doing your best and will still support you.

Q6: How do you decide when to retweet and when just to like a tweet?

When you’re brand, your retweets may be seen as endorsements. That’s why it’s important to decide whose and what type of content you’ll retweet. It should be part of your strategy. You can also retweet customer testimonials as an indirect way of self-promotion.

That said, keep in mind that most people who say nice things about you only want to know you appreciate it. Even if you don’t retweet everything, you can still like and reply to their tweets to show you value them.

Our friends from GiveWP shared an interesting way to distinguish when to like and when to retweet. They would retweet content that they know will be valuable to their audience, and they’d ‘like’ content that they appreciate but isn’t right for their audience’s needs. This is a great rule of thumb to follow, however, it also means that you have to be aware of what your audience wants and expects from you. It requires consistent engagement and a strong relationship with your community.

Q7: Should you use trends to create and help amplify your conversations?

Trends fall into the gray area between do and don’t. They can certainly help amplify your reach, but before you dive into a trend, make sure that it resonates with your brand and is relevant to your audience. Founded by our guest, Hashtag Roundup is a game app that collates all hashtag games in one place. These games generate a lot of engagement and, as a result, often trend. Check it out and see if there’s anything that works for your brand.

Be judicious, though. Trends can also be a double-edged sword and unless you choose carefully, they can backfire on you, as Jim reminded us.

Q8: Which tools do you use to help you monitor and engage on Twitter?

Jeff’s suggestions include Buffer, Hootsuite, and Tweetdeck. He also told us about Stampede, a Twitter and Instagram engagement tracker he founded. If you’re curious, check it out here: or DM Jeff for more information.

Yewande suggested some great Twitter features like the advanced search and lists. If you’ve explored topics, that’s also good way to keep an eye on topics and industries that you’re most interested in.

Some other favorite tools our community members recommended included Brand24, Agorapulse, and good ol’ Twitter chats.

Well, folks, that’s all from me this week. Thanks for reading through, and for more insight from our chat with Jeff, browse through this Twitter thread. And if you thought this summary was pretty cool, wait till you see the action live! Come join us on #TwitterSmarter, every Thursday at 1pm ET.

About me, Narmadhaa:

I write all the things—technical and marketing copy to fill the pocket; haiku and short stories to fill the soul. A social media enthusiast, I’m a member of the #TwitterSmarter chat crew, and always happy to take on writing gigs.

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