Getting your business on Twitter
Originally the stomping ground of the media and tech crowd,
Twitter is now far more broad-ranging, as increasing numbers of
celebrities and press coverage spread its appeal to a wider
Although it has been around since mid-2006, the end of 2008 was
its time to shine. Having made its name scooping conventional news
sources during the Mumbai massacres, the site sparked a large
number of newspaper articles about why it is (and why it isn't) set
to be the social media phenomenon of 2009. This guide will give you
an introduction to Twitter, and what it can do for your
What is Twitter and how does it work?
- Users of Twitter provide regular 140-character updates, called
'tweets', of what they are doing or something they find
- It's known as 'micro-blogging'.
- Your tweets can include links and pictures (by linking to
pictures you can upload Twitpic).
- Users 'follow' each other - if you follow someone, you see
their most recent tweets on your homepage. You can follow anyone
and don't need to be approved by them.
- Once you're following a few people, their most recent tweets
appear in chronological order on your homepage - which is why
Twitter is so useful for keep abreast of the most up-to-date news
stories, industry news and what other people in your industry are
- You have a profile page where other people can see all your
most recent tweets and a one-line bio about you (plus hyperlinks to
your business' website).
- View other people's profile pages to decide if you want to
How and when Twitter can help your business
- But before you do anything, use Twitter's search to see how
many people are talking about your business or your industry or
anything that may be relevant to it, and how often, to work out if
it's worthwhile creating a presence.
- It may be worth signing up just to follow industry news.
- Used correctly, Twitter enables you to:
- Get the attention of people specifically
interested in your industry, business or some aspect of your
- Publicise your business by gaining followers,
driving them to a branded profile page that includes links to your
- Make contact with people you don't know offline,
increasing your reach
- Cold-contact and market to people without annoying
them (as they can always stop following you)
- Share interesting news stories and opinions, and
so position yourself as an expert - or at least in the know
- Track what other people think about your industry,
business or products in real time (using search)
- Get the latest up-to-date industry news and
- Position your business as relatively up-to-date on
trends in media and technology for being on Twitter
- Particularly good for businesses whose clients depend on
regular updates - such as an estate agency or a provider of
- Get a presence on phones with internet technology
- Do all of this for free.
- Twitter is, however, limited for:
- Businesses whose customers aren't using it (although following
industry news may still be of use)
- Giving in-depth descriptions of products, events or news
- Hard selling
Creating an account on Twitter
- Create your account as an individual rather than as a
- Choose a photo of you smiling and looking relaxed.
- Use the background of your profile page to display your
business' logo or, if you have one, a brightly coloured and
interesting photo of products.
- Fill in your one-line bio with something snappy that explains
your business and include links to your website.
How to get the most out of Twitter
- Avoid just banging on about your own business or things you've
- Keep it industry-relevant - comment on industry
news or, occasionally, compliment competitors (this is a much more
friendly space than traditional business).
- Keep track of what your followers have found most interesting
by seeing what gets RT'd (retweeted - search your own twitter name
- Tweets with links in them are generally more popular than those
- Provide new information, insight or opinion.
- Engage in conversations by writing @username:
- Respond to people saying something industry relevant.
- Definitely respond to anyone saying anything about your
business or products - thank them for their feedback and give them
massive thanks if they say something positive.
- Always respond to any criticism of your business quickly,
positively and helpfully - pick up on it by searching for your
- Regularly @ your followers with the most followers
- the more often they retweet you, the greater chance you have of
reaching their audience too.
- After you've spent a month or so establishing yourself and some
good relationships on Twitter, start subtly, and occasionally,
introducing your business or products.
- Tweet about deals rather than just existing
products so people always feel like they're getting some benefit
rather than just being sold to.
- If you are going to talk about a new product, do it in a way
that conveys your personal excitement about it rather than in sales
speak - this makes it an emotional thing that people can relate to
rather than a sell they will turn off to.
- Don't overdo it - mention products and your business only as
often as you would to your normal friends. You wouldn't email them
every week trying to sell them your wares, so don't do it on
Managing your account
- To up your number of followers, start by searching
for keywords relevant to your business and following those who seem
interested in your industry - some of them will follow you
- Use Twitter Karma or Friend or
Follow (both free) to purge your account of people who aren't
following you back - they show you who's following you back out of
the people you follow.
- As you're limited to following 2,000 people at first, this will
allow you to maintain the highest quality of followers (those who
follow you back and remain part of your audience).
- Spend time scoping out your followers to see who are the
most influential and popular.
- Use *Tweetlater to manage your account, with functions
including: keyword alerts for industry-relevant things you can
comment on and to notify you of mentions of your business; tracking
how many people have clicked on links you've posted (snipurl.com
also does this); and scheduling tweets.
- Twhirl and
are insider faves for keeping track of key people you want to
follow, rather than being swamped by hundreds of tweets
- Crucially, you need to use the above tools to monitor
your success. It's all about how many results you see
compared to the effort you put in.
- Use search to see what gets retweeted. Focus on
producing more content like that.
- See what provokes the most conversation with followers too - it
a pocitive way - by checking your @.
- It takes a while to start seeing your follower numbers grow,
but if you're still banging away fruitlessly after three of four
months, this probably isn't the best channel for your business at
Tweet: 140 character update on Twitter saying what
you're doing or something you've found that's interesting.
Follow: to subscribe to someone else's tweets.
DM: Stands for direct message. A private,
140-character message you can send to anyone who is following you.
More personal than an @, it's best left for people you have met
offline as well and for things you don't necessarily want all your
followers to know about. However, many people DM someone when they
have started following them to say thanks for following, and
occasionally people DM all followers to let them know about the
launch of a new business or special event - this is best reserved
for very rare instances though, as otherwise people will start
ignoring your DMs.
Twitpic: Used to upload photos -
you then link to the photo in your tweet. Photos are a great way to
make your stream more interesting.
Trending topics: When you see a # joined onto a word, it
signifies a subject that a group of people are talking about. For
example, during the Iran elections, anyone talking about them would
add #iranelections at the end of their tweet. The purpose of this
is that anyone searching for info on the subject can type the
hashtag (the #subject) into search to see all the latest updates,
regardless of whether or not they're following the people talking
about them. Trending topics (in the right hand column on your home
page) indicate the most popular hashtags at any given time.
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