Don’t be intimidated by the complexity of being a new user on Twitter. Your business will benefit from using Twitter as a part of your social media marketing.
Here’s what you need to know to get started in the right direction to see results:
Twitter is a communication tool that allows you to send short messages (tweets) of 140 characters or less to people who subscribe to you (followers).
Your tweets can include anything from links to your blog posts, web page, PDF document, or a photo or video.
When people follow your Twitter account and you follow other people, this allows you to read, reply to and easily share other peoles tweets with your followers (retweet).
Why Is Twitter Unique?
While Twitter shares a lot of the same features with Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+ and Youtube, the differences define Twitter.
- Facebook: A tweet is like a short Facebook status update. However, with Twitter, every tweet arrives at every follower’s feed, unlike the filter of Facebook’s EdgeRank.
- Pinterest: Twitter allows you to share photographs and provide commentary in your tweet. However, with Twitter, it’s much easier to have conversation around a shared image than with the comment feature on Pinterest.
- LinkedIn: A tweet is like a short LinkedIn status update. While LinkedIn is based on trust relationships (and two-way agreements), Twitter allows you to follow anyone, including strangers. This is helpful when you target potential customers.
- Google+: A tweet is like a short Google+ status update. Twitter also allows you to organize people into lists that organize conversations similar to Google+ groups.
- YouTube: A tweet can contain a link to a video. However, Twitter doesn’t allow you to create a channel or organize your videos for easy location and commentary.
Step #1: Present Your Brand
Your Twitter account and profile are the foundation of your Twitter experience. It’s your chance to tell your business story to the Twitter community.
It is important that your Twitter presence have the same look and feel as your other online tools. This helps people identify your business and builds trust. Choose an account name and images consistent with your other online presences and your brand.
Choose Your Twitter Username
Nothing expresses your brand on Twitter more than your account username. This name appears next to all of your tweets, and is how people identify you on Twitter.
If your exact business name is not available, choose a similar name for consistency.
Twitter uses two different images to represent your account. It’s important that you take advantage of both of these images to tell your business story. You upload these images under Profile in your account settings.
Your Twitter profile photo is a square photo that appears next to every tweet you send. You can use either your company logo or your headshot for your profile photo.
Note: Many small businesses use their business name for the account and a personal photo for the profile photo. This adds a personal touch to your Twitter account.
Your Twitter profile header is a large background photo where you can tell a story about your business. Similar to the Facebook cover photo, your header photo appears at the top of your profile page.
You can also customize the background that people see when they visit your Twitter account. You can create a graphic file so it matches your business branding. You upload this image under Design in your profile settings.
Step #2: Build a Strong Foundation
It’s important that you complete your Twitter account profile completely. Each feature gives more details about your business that contribute to your business story.
Don’t miss these three important features under Profile in your account settings.
Location. Tell people where they can find you. But remember, people may be visiting your profile from another city, state or country and won’t recognize your neighborhood or community name. Give them enough information so they can find you.
Website. You can share a web address with your community. You can give them your website or blog, but consider using a special Twitter landing page. This is a great way to provide additional information of interest to Twitter users looking into your business.
Bio. You only get 160 characters to tell people who you are and what you do. Skip the mission statement and talk about the benefits you deliver. And add in a little personality to bring your profile to life.
Step #3: Start Following People
When you follow another Twitter user, you subscribe to read what they share. So be selective about whom you follow, especially at first.
To follow a user, you find their user profile and click on the Follow button.
Note: Your Twitter experience is defined by whom you follow, not by who follows you. Pay attention to your follow choices to give yourself a great Twitter experience.
In general, start following people in these categories:
- Your customers
- Your business partners, suppliers, contractors and vendors
- Your competitors or peers
- Trade organizations or professional organizations for your industry
- Businesses in your neighborhood
- Businesses run by people you know (your professional network)
Twitter can help you find people you know by scanning your email address book.
While you are out following people, you may notice that people are starting to follow you. Don’t worry if you don’t know these people. Stay focused on whom you follow for now.
Step #4: Start Talking
Talking on Twitter is different from every other social media site. It’s a fast-paced smorgasbord of ideas and sentence fragments. It’s hectic, but it’s also fun.
Give yourself a little time to get your feet wet. Listen to others. Jump in when you feel comfortable. Start talking as you get your bearings.
In general, there are five types of Twitter messages:
- Tweet: a message you send out to everyone who follows you. This is the heart of Twitter communication.
- @Reply: a message you send out as a reply to a message you received. The @reply is a public message that mentions the Twitter username of the person. It shows up in the tweet stream of everyone who follows both of you, and on the @connect (mentions) page of the Twitter user.
- Mention: a message you send out that mentions another Twitter username.
- Direct message (DM): a message you send privately to another Twitter user. You can only send a DM to someone who follows you.
- Retweet (RT): a message created and sent by someone else that you share with the people who follow you
Step #5: Talk Smarter
After you master the five types of tweets, you are ready to attack the big question: What should I talk about on Twitter?
For every business, the answer is different. In general, you want to find the sweet spot between what your target audience wants to hear and things that promote your business. For many businesses, the answer is to focus on how your products and services benefit your customers.
Give people useful information and answer their questions, and they will consider you a valuable member of their community. That’s an important first step to winning a new customer.
There’s a real art to writing a headline-style message on Twitter. Experiment with different ways to say the same thing, and see what gets the most response. With only 140 characters, it’s important that every word pull its weight in your messages.
Over time, the quality of what you share will help you grow a strong Twitter following. Now, you are ready to take a step back and come up with a Twitter communication plan. Your plan focuses your Twitter conversation on topics designed to draw in potential customers and publish your tweets at the times you are most likely to engage people.
Step #6: Drive Traffic to Your Website and Blog
Twitter is a great tool for driving traffic to your website and blog. To do this, you create a tweet around a link, writing a message that compels people to click to learn more.
Because space is at a premium in a tweet, there isn’t room to post the entire web address. That’s why all of the Twitter tools allow you to shorten your web addresses using a URL shortener.
Step #7: Connect Your Online Presence
Now that you have Twitter rolling along, it’s time to integrate it into your overall online business presence.
There are three ways to do this:
- Add your Twitter account information to the social media account information on your website and blog. Most of the social follow tools used on websites and blogs allow you to add your Twitter account easily and quickly to your list of social media accounts. Note: Twitter offers a Follow button you can add to your website or blog.
- Add a timeline of your Twitter messages to your website and blog. Twitter provides widgets that allow you to share a tweet timeline on your website and blog. This can be a great way to share your Twitter conversations with your website visitors, getting double exposure from the same effort.
- Make it easy for people to share your website and blog content on Twitter. There are several ways you can add a Tweet This button to your blog posts and website pages, including a tweet button from Twitter. This allows your visitors to easily write a tweet about your content and share it with their followers.
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