How to Use Twitter for your Business
Should you be using Twitter for your business?
The short answer is that if your customers are there, you should be too. Twitter is a fantastic way to build up a big following and it is a brilliant way to build customer and business relationships.
But if you are going to make it part of your social media mix, then you need to be strategic by building a following of your customers or potential partners.
Getting Started with Twitter
If you are new to Twitter or feeling the need to explore its benefits for your business, how and where do you start?
Of all the social media networks, Twitter is the least approachable for the totally uninitiated. The purpose of communicating in 140 character sound bites can seem a little obscure and, indeed, intimidating. After all, how much can you really say in with so little space and exactly who is going to read it anyway?
In this post, I am going to walk you through the basics of getting started with Twitter and how you can turn 140 characters into a strong player in your social media team.
Why Twitter is Important for Business
Twitter may not be the biggest social media network but it is still highly popular and widely used for business.
Every single second, around 6000 tweets are fired out into the Twittersphere – that’s 200 billion tweets a year (thanks to Internet Live Stats for that conversion!). The average lifespan of a tweet is about 18 minutes (compared to a few hours for Facebook). Now you are probably wondering how you can possibly leverage any benefit for your business with those odds.
There are 5 key ways to build up some benefit for your business using Twitter:
Tweets are always public on Twitter – that means that anyone can see them (there is one little exception to this which I will cover later). But is anyone really going to see it? While theoretically anyone can see it, in practice only two groups of people will see it. Your followers and people using hashtags. The use of hashtags on Twitter is quite different to Instagram – where Instagram works better with plenty of hashtags, Twitter works better with one or two tightly focused hashtags.
Hashtags help you reach a wider audience than just your followers and they really work. Not only do they extend your audience, they also extend the lifetime of your tweets. I have had tweets retweeted months after I posted them by people following a particular hashtag.
But what hashtags should you use?
If you are launching a new product, service or even business creating your own hashtag is a great option. You can create some buzz and keep track of all the related tweets really easily simply by searching for #whateveryourhashtagis.
For day to day tweets, you want to be using a hashtag that is going to be used and seen widely. You can use more than one but no more than 3 to maintain the readability of your tweet.
Here’s a search I did on Hashtagify – I put in essential oils and these are all the hashtags that get the most use. You know you are going to be on pretty solid ground using #essentialoils #health #wellness or #aromatherapy hashtags to get in front of potential customers. Click on any of the bubbles and it will bring up more associated hashtags. Refine the hashtags you use as you discover what works best for you.
Building up your followers really gets going when you start following other people. Twitter etiquette doesn’t require people to follow back but, as a general rule, many will. Unlike Facebook where encouraging random followers is a seriously bad idea – you don’t do Like Ladders do you?!? – on Twitter this is one of the best ways of building up your followers. It’s also a fantastic way to get a good understanding of how Twitter can work for your business by seeing how others do it. Pick who you follow carefully – you want to be focusing on accounts relevant to your business whether those are potential customers or business partners.
It’s incredibly easy to rapidly follow a lot of accounts which is going to fill up your feed a treat.
Of course, what you are really interested in is gaining a following of your own. It is a lot easier to gain a following on Twitter than Facebook. My Twitter following eclipses my Facebook page likes and as it has got bigger, it has grown faster. The more I have used targeted hashtags, the quicker it has grown.
There are four key ways to build a following:
- Follow others, many will follow you back
- Use hashtags to widen your reach
- Put a link to your Twitter account on your website
- Put the link in your emails, email marketing, business cards etc
The first hundred is probably the hardest and slowest but after that it will snowball. Stick with it – Twitter needs your dedication, like any social media network, success doesn’t happen overnight.
Using The Power of Twitter to Keep Up
You can bet your bottom dollar that your industry thought leaders, competitors and key influencers are on Twitter.
Follow thought leaders and key influencers to see where they think your area of business is going. Comment on and retweet their posts – those with good manners will thank you and some will follow you back. If they do, they will get your tweets in their feed – if they retweet your post to their thousands of followers, you can guarantee your followers are going to spike pleasantly.
Follow your competitors to see what they are doing and how their followers engage – you can learn a lot about what to do and not to do this way and you can capitalise on your USP to stand out.
One of the highly valuable groups of people using Twitter for business are journalists. They will follow trends and key hashtags for information. Twitter is an often untapped opportunity to build up a relationships with relevant journalists. Follow, comment, tweet to them to build up some rapport and you will be in the running to be on their call list down the line winning you some much needed PR coverage.
(There are two key hashtags that are well worth watching on Twitter #journorequest – where journalists put out requests for help with stories – and #PRrequest – where you can request help to gain PR coverage. It’s worth some time exploring this if PR coverage is something you need regularly for your business.)
How often should I Tweet?
There is no right answer to this in all honesty. You have to find what works for you. Tweet frequently enough to be visible but not so frequently that you fill up other people’s feed with an endless stream of tweets that is just plain irritating. I have unfollowed many prolific tweeters because it was getting boring.
But don’t tweet a tweet once and then move on unless it is part of a conversation. Schedule tweets to go out several times over the period of a week to increase the number of impressions (where it shows up in someone’s feed). If your tweet will continue to be relevant, repeat tweet it for longer but you may want to shake it up a bit and change the image/hashtag/content to keep your profile looking varied.
Personally, I tweet three times a day. I schedule ahead current offers, blog posts etc and re-share evergreen blog posts. Then I dip in live to spice it up with Retweets and comments. The important thing is to find what works for you and don’t let anyone tell you that you should be doing it any other way!
Optimizing Your Twitter Profile
There are a few things to bear in mind when you set up you Twitter account that will help you optimize your profile for better results.
- Choosing your Twitter handle – try to go for something related to your business but keep it short.
- Don’t be an egg – put a photo of you on there. People want to know who you are. If it weren’t for Twitter profile pics I would have spent many an hour aimlessly wandering around coffee shops trying to work out who @letsfollowupovercoffee really was.
- Pack a punch with your bio in just 160 characters – be consistent with your core message and maybe even use a relevant hashtag.
- Include your website. If you are bricks and mortar or location based, include your location.
- Change the color scheme on your profile to match your brand colors.
- Use your cover picture to promote your latest offer, event or news.
By the time you have followed a few hundred Twitter accounts – something you may be able to achieve in the time it takes to blink – your stream is going to get a little crowded and difficult to follow. So how do you keep track of what’s really important. The answer is lists.
When you follow someone, you can add them to a list. You get to create the list and decide whether it is a private list or a public one.
People like being added to public lists as it makes them feel good (I still remember the first list I got added to, that had a super impressive name that made me beam). But private lists are a great way to keep on top of things. Use them to track business partners, customers, competition etc. Say you distribute via a network – you can set up a list of for just your network and make it easier to keep up to date and retweet their posts.
To add someone to a list, just click on the gear icon to the left of follow and select add or remove from lists:
- Select a list you already have or create a new one. Do this as you follow people to make it manageable – adding 500 users to different lists in one sitting is kind of tedious!
- Click a list to add or create a new one.
You can access all your lists by clicking on your profile image in the top right corner which brings up all the things you can do. Select lists and then the list you want. This will show you all the tweets in that list as a dedicated stream. If you want to see the members of the list, select see list members on the very left of your screen. If it is a public list, then you can also see who has subscribed to your list.
Tools to Manage the Twittersphere
You can use any of the social media scheduling tools to post to Twitter. Scheduling is a must for Twitter and it doesn’t impact on your reach. It allows you to post at optimum times for different time zones and reach a wider audience.
A very popular and free tool for managing Twitter is Tweetdeck. This allows you to have multiple columns open for your feed, notifications, to follow hashtags, messages, trends, lists and it lets you schedule tweets as well. It can make keeping on top of multiple streams very easy. As I manage multiple Twitter accounts, I have a column for each client’s main feed and notifications and I can tweet as them without logging in and out of Twitter which is pretty handy.
How to start tweeting to start tweeting
To be fair, you probably don’t believe that you can say much in 140 characters, but you may find it quite addictive to pack as much punch as you can in such a small space.
When it comes to crafting tweets for your business, here are a few things to bear in mind:
Your 140 characters is not just the main bit of your tweet. Any links, images and hashtags come out of your 140 characters – time to get creative!
And to make it even more of a challenge, try to tweet at 120 characters or so. This gives people a bit of leeway to retweet your tweet.
Although people can quote your tweet (ie put a comment in where it says Add a comment…), leaving a bit of space allows them to retweet (RT) or modify the retweet (MRT) if that’s what they prefer. This is when they copy your tweet and then paste it directly into the tweet box using either RT via@whoeveritwas or MRT if they have adapted it a bit.
A Few More Top Tips
- Use images. Tweets with images get 150% more retweets than those without. It helps you to stand out in a sea of tweets so even though it will use up some of your precious 140 characters, it is worth it. Unlike Facebook, where bright images contrast to the blue and white background, Twitter is a riot of color because you can choose your own color schemes. Choose images that are simple, bold and eye-catching.
- Include links to your website, landing page, blog or whatever is a good idea. It’s good for your traffic, it’s good for your reputation and it is good for search engines. Every link you add will take up 22 characters of your 140 characters. Shorten the url’s to keep your tweet readable. If you use a scheduling tool to post tweets, they should be shortened automatically but if you are tweeting directly, shorten them with one of the many url shorteners available such as bit.ly or ow.ly.
- Include a call to action. Keep it friendly and approachable.
- If you start a tweet with @username only you, the person you tweeted and anyone who follows both of you will see it. If you want it to be seen more widely either put .@username or put it in the middle of the tweet.
- Made an embarrassing error in your tweet – you can delete them (phew!).
- Appreciate people who appreciate you – it goes a long, long way to building solid relationships. Show your appreciation by saying thanks on a Friday using #FF (stands for Follow Friday).
- Check your notifications and reply to comments, acknowledge likes, follows and retweets.
- Don’t spam. It will get you unfollowed in a heartbeat. But then you wouldn’t even think of it would you.
- You can only message someone who you follow and follows you back – but you can use more than 140 characters.
- See who the people you follow follow and follow them. You can really grow your network doing this.
- Check how well your tweets are doing, what works and what doesn’t. Twitter has its own analytics that are very helpful.
Not exactly it in a nutshell, but enough of the basics to get you tweeting, growing your network and building your business.
About Polly Hearsey
Polly Hearsey is a Holistic Marketer with a passion for building powerful marketing systems around individuals and keeping things simple. She is on a mission to help passionate entrepreneurs build a business they love without being disheartened by the pressures of modern marketing. Polly is based in the UK in the stunningly beautiful border of England and Wales and is regularly being blown sideways in the windy valleys or chasing after her endlessly energetic 8 year old son. If you want to uncover the benefits of a individually tailored and holistic approach to marketing, you can discover more at www.pollyhearsey.co.uk
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