Twitter Engagement Strategies That Work for Food Brands

From the outside, social media often looks like a battle of who can grow the biggest following. But really, engagement is king.

Would you rather have an audience of 100,000 followers that never like, comment, share or chat with you? Or an audience of 1,000 true fans who love everything you have to say and excitedly share it with their friends?

You’re smart, so I’m pretty sure I know which one you’d pick.

Improving your engagement is the logical step after growing your following. This article is the second in a series of posts all about Twitter strategies that work. For part one, check out 4 Twitter Growth Tactics that Work for Food Brands.

In a future post we’ll talk about content that works well on Twitter. To make sure you don’t miss future posts, sign up for our weekly email newsletter and we’ll send them straight to you!

What Does Engagement Really Mean?

Social media engagement means people interacting with the things you post. But, in the case of Twitter, there’s a more precise and technical definition.

A Twitter engagement is any form of user interaction with a Tweet. This includes Retweets (RT), replies, follows and likes. An engagement also includes clicks on links, hashtags, images, videos, gifs, the username or avatar or clicking to expand the Tweet to read more.

Whenever a Twitter user performs any of the above actions, an engagement is logged in your Twitter analytics. To see which of your Tweets are getting the highest engagement you can look at the number of engagements. But this only tells part of the story.

Some Tweets are shown to a huge number of people. Others, particularly replies, are shown to just a small selection. The metric that shows you how many people “saw” a Tweet is the number of impressions.

If you know the number of engagements and the number of impressions, you can work out the engagement rate which is a more accurate representation of how people are engaging with your posts.

Engagement Rate = ( Engagements / Number of Impressions ) * 100%

social engagement

If you’re looking to improve your engagement on Twitter, engagement rate is definitely something to monitor.

On Twitter, a typical engagement rate is around 1.5 – 2%. It doesn’t sound like much, does it? But when you think of the volume of content posted to Twitter and that the lifespan of a single tweet is only about 15 minutes, it’s not a huge surprise.

So with those disheartening stats in mind, how can you boost your engagement rate on Twitter?

Boost Engagement by Running Contests and Giveaways

We mentioned running contests and giveaways in part one of this series. Not only are contests great for growing your following, they’re a great engagement booster too.

Some of the most common entry methods for Twitter contests include:

  • Follow to enter
  • Like to enter
  • RT to enter
  • Reply to enter
  • A combination of any of the above

All these entry methods come under the umbrella of “engagements” on Twitter. If you run a contest and ask people to like, reply and RT for entry, you’ll receive a higher number of engagements. This can help increase the engagement rate for a particular tweet.

Here’s a recent Twitter giveaway we ran on The Food Rush. This post received 17,860 impressions and 1,229 engagements which gave us an engagement rate of 6.9%.

twitter contest stats

Competitions are a great way to grow your following and increase engagement. But they’re also a great way to build brand awareness and build some buzz around your products. Especially if your products are the prize on offer.

Contests are relatively easy to start running and are definitely worth testing as a one off. If you want to use them as a key element of your social media strategy you could use a tool to streamline the process.

To help you find the right tool, we’ve put together a guide to some of the best social media competition apps on the market. Grab your copy here: 6 Winning Tools for Running Effective Contests and Giveaways. You’ll find recommendations to suit all budgets and requirements.

Join the Conversation with Twitter Chats

Twitter is an endless stream of many conversations happening all at once. Social media gurus and marketers often suggest joining conversations or starting your own.

If you only have a handful of followers, starting a conversation isn’t going to be very effective. If you want to join a conversation, where do you start when Tweets are flying by at a million miles an hour? Try looking out for organised Twitter Chats.

A Twitter Chat is a public conversation on a specific topic that happens around a unique hashtag. They often take place at a specific time and on a recurring basis. Using a unique hashtag allows people to search and follow along. It’s much easier to contribute to the conversation when you know that others are listening and engaging in return.

There are a few food specific Twitter Chats such as #UKFoodHour. There’s also chats dedicated to ethical and sustainable food such as #EthicalHour or #OrganicHour. If you like the occasional glass of wine and want to join a foodie discussion that’s less industry focused, check out #WineOClock!

To find more food related conversations, download our calendar of Foodie Twitter Chats. We’ve done the research and compiled a list in this handy PDF so you don’t have to! It maps out all the regular Twitter networking times on food topics.

Boost Your Twitter Engagement by Finding the Right Times to Post

You’ve crafted the most compelling copy and shot the most stunning photograph for an epic Tweet. It took you all night to perfect and you can’t wait to share it with the world.

So, at 2:05am you post it out to your followers. You sit back and wait for the hearts and RTs to roll in.

But they don’t.

Because your followers are all fast asleep.

By the time they wake up, your Tweet is long gone and lost in a sea of other people’s status updates and cat gifs.

Having great content is a big piece to the social media puzzle. But posting at the right time – when your followers are most likely to see your post and engage with you – is hugely important.

As the lifespan of a Tweet is so short, optimising your posting schedule can really help to get your posts seen.

So, how do you find the best times to post?

Are you adept with spreadsheets? You could download your Twitter Analytics data as a CSV file and write some fancy formulas.

If you prefer a more automated approach, you could use a dedicated tool. Try Tweriod, FollowerWonk or Audiense. These tools scan your past Tweets to identify trends and show the times and days that your Tweets get the most engagement.

If you just want a simple solution (of course you just want a simple solution!) the easiest thing to do is log into your Twitter account via a web browser and view your profile. Below the edit profile button you’ll find a graph showing your impressions over the last 24 hours. Impressions tells you the number of times your Tweets were seen.

The graph shows impressions over time so look for the highest peaks to find the approximate times of day your posts get seen the most. Bear in mind that this graph only shows the last 24 hours. To get more accurate data about the best time to post you might want to track this for a week or more. This will also help you find the best day of the week to post too.

Posting at the right time, especially when posting something you really want people to see, is a great way to boost engagement. Maybe you have a big announcement to make? Maybe you’ve just launched a contest or giveaway? Posting about it at the right time can make all the difference.

One Weird Trick to Boost Your Twitter Engagement

Running contests, joining Twitter chats, finding the right times to post are all strategic ways to boost your Twitter engagement. They do work but all need a fair amount of effort to set up and execute on a regular basis.

Putting in the effort is good. It shows you’re dedicated to providing something of value to your followers. But, occasionally, it’s nice to find a hack or a quick win that delivers real results.

And here it is: ask for engagement.

Next time you tweet a quote, opinion or emphatic statement, try adding these four little words: “RT if you agree”.

Asking your audience to do something makes it very clear what the call to action is. If you’re a mission-driven brand with an important message to spread, this is a great tactic.

Some of your followers might be inclined to like or retweet a statement that resonates with them. But if you explicitly ask for RTs you’ll almost certainly get more of them.

This tactic is can be seen working to great effect in this Tweet from President Barack Obama.

With over 27,000 RTs on this post, it seems to work quite well! This is of course an extreme example from a high-profile individual. But it illustrates that asking for engagements can deliver them in volumes.

This is a tactic that works but is not something to overuse. If you add “RT if you agree” to every tweet then your followers will become numb to it and it will stop working. Your audience will see you as desperate, needy and always demanding attention. That’s not a good look – either online or in person. But give it a try and use it wisely.

Now that you’re armed with these four tactics, test them and try them out. And make sure you sign up for Twitter Analytics to measure your success!


If you’re keen to start running contests and giveaways and are looking for the best tools to help you, check out our guide: 6 Winning Tools for Running Effective Contests and Giveaways.

If you want to engage in foodie Twitter Chats, download our handy calendar that maps out all the regular Twitter networking times on food topics.

Get Your Twitter Chats Calendar

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