Tweak Your Biz » Marketing » Twitter For Business: The Ultimate Guide

Twitter For Business: The Ultimate Guide



This post originally appeared on Sian Phillips’ blog, Sian is a regular contributor to Tweak Your Biz. 

Since Twitter first started in July 2006 it has grown to 500+ million registered members and 140+ million active users worldwide sending out 340 million tweets a day (Twitter stats March 2012). Find out how to best use Twitter for business including getting set up, finding followers, tweeting, managing accounts and marketing. 

twitter logo

The business case for using Twitter

  • 34% of marketers have generated leads using Twitter, and 20% have closed deals
  • 77 of the world’s 100 largest companies maintain a corporate Twitter account. But media outlets are the most active users
  • 2 out of 3 social media users believe Twitter influences purchases
  • 50% of people follow brands on Twitter
  • 75% of companies now use Twitter as a marketing channel
  • 66% of questions asked on Twitter have some commercial intent

Setting up

Setting up an account is simple although there are a few other aspects to consider when creating a business account.

  • Go to www.twitter.com and choose a username for your Twitter account.
  • Ideally this will be the name of your company but bear in mind that a tweet is limited to 140 characters and as you will want Retweets (see later) the shorter your Twitter name the better.
  • Make sure the name does match your business and makes sense though.

Profile

Ensure you fill out all the details in your Profile including a link to your website and bio. You only have a small space to fit your bio into so get as much useful information in there as you can – remember this is what will help persuade some tweeters to follow you.

Avatar

Depending on the size of your business you may decide to use your logo as the avatar (picture), or to be more personal you may use a picture of yourself.

  • Use the “Settings tab” to choose a background and header picture for your account.
  • Using Powerpoint or a similar programme you can be creative using your company logo, contact details, mission statement or just something abstract that people will remember you by.

Facebook

On your profile page you also have the option to connect your Twitter feed to your Facebook updates. If you are short for time and happy to have the same output on Facebook as Twitter then go ahead and do this. However there are a few important points to consider here:-

  • A tweet is limited to 140 characters and a Facebook update isn’t so you could be putting a Facebook update to better use
  • Twitter uses @ and # which wouldn’t work on Facebook and looks strange therefore
  • Facebook works far better using pictures and a Twitter update won’t provide a picture
  • People actually don’t like seeing cross-over updates because it can be seen as lazy

Finding people to follow and getting followers

It can be very daunting when you first start on Twitter but remember we have all been there at some point. Think of the network on Twitter like a spiders web growing outwards as you connect with more people, and the more you connect with the larger and quicker it will grow.

  • However, always bear in mind it isn’t the number of followers that is important, it is the number of “relevant” followers. There is no point having 1,000 followers that aren’t interested in your business at all. Better to have just 100 that are.
  • When you set up your account Twitter gives you an option to contact your email address book to invite them to follow you. Using this option would depend on your address book and your connections with them so it’s your choice.

Follow people you respect

Start by following people you respect in business and see what they are doing on Twitter. They could be a good example for you to learn from too. The web based Twitter will recommend people to follow based on your preferences and business.

Keyword search

Search for words that may be used in your business to see people who may be either in the same type of work or looking for a business like yours. Join in conversations that relate to what you do or have a knowledge of.

Local tweeters

If you want to focus on a specific geographic area then search for Tweeters local to that area – www.nearbytweets.com can be a useful tool for this.

Other social networks

If you are already on other Social networks like Facebook and Linkedin ask for some Twitter follows from people you are already connected with.

Show your username

Ensure you have your Twitter username on your contact pages. All your Social Media links should be on your website, email sign-offs and business cards too.

Twitter etiquette

There are no hard and fast rules on how to tweet however experience has taught us a few things along the way about what works and what doesn’t.

  1. Be personable and approachable on Twitter. People are more likely to follow and engage with you if you chat back. This can lead to recommendations and hopefully generate sales in the long term.
  2. Never do a hard sell online. Don’t just tweet about how fantastic your business or product is all the time. Be subtle. An odd sales tweet a couple of times a day is acceptable mixed in with useful and engaging tweets to attract conversation.
  3. Avoid all capitals in tweets – it is the equivalent to shouting.
  4. Never be rude to someone – it is not a good example for your business. Personal feuds that are aired online are best kept offline.

Growing your brand

If you are on Twitter for your business then ultimately you are there to grow your brand and get business. The most important element to your success on Twitter is “engagement”. Getting people engaged with you and your brand will lead to results but remember it’s a two way street – you have to engage back.

There are several ways to do this and here are just a few tips to get you going:-

Specialise

If your business is a specialist in its field then offer free tips or even run an advice clinic every week using a hashtag (see later) that people will follow to find out what it is all about. Become the “go to guy” (or girl) who will happily answer questions. This could grow and lead to business and recommendations.

Blogs

Blog posts are a great way to provide information about your business so make sure you share links to your blog posts or any other interesting content on your website.

Articles

If you come across interesting articles that relate to your niche or you just find interesting enough to share then tweet them, always including the Twitter name of the person or company who wrote the article. They may even reciprocate in the future.

Information

Use Twitter to share behind-the-scenes information, pictures of your office or workspace, etc. This will help you connect with real people while also establishing your brand.

Questions

Posing questions on Twitter is a great way to get people engaged. You’ll find people wanting to help and often they’ll share the question too. This is a good way to grow your network as you respond back and create discussions.

Follow back

If you have time then say hi to any new followers, especially if they are people who you want to make a good connection with. Also try to follow back Tweeters who follow you if they seem to have similar interests as you, or fit your customer demographic.

Lists and searches

You can create your own lists on Twitter to compartmentalise the Tweeters into separate groups and there is no limit to the number of lists you have. The same as the different column options on Tweetdeck and Hootsuite (see below).

  • Lists make it easier to see Tweeters you are interested in. Remember these lists are public and can be searched for by other Tweeters. In this respect you can also use other people’s lists to find tweeters to follow in your line of work.
  • The same as you create a list you can use a search term and save it to follow subjects you are interested in. This can be useful to watch for mentions of your brand that you may not normally see if they aren’t speaking directly to you.

Retweets

A “Retweet” is when a tweet is shared by other tweeters, e,g, you may see a tweet that you think is really interesting so you can hit your retweet button and share it with your followers. If people see that you are sharing their news they may well reciprocate in the future.

  • It is really good to get your informative tweets retweeted, especially when they show you as an expert in your field or maybe something interesting about your business.
  • You are reaching networks outside your own with Retweets. Again, think of the spider’s web growing outwards.

Number of characters

Because of the 140 character limit try to keep within 120 characters if you want to be retweeted easily – this allows for your Twitter name too – some say 100 characters is even better. If someone has to try and shorten your tweet to be able to retweet then it’s less likely to happen.

New retweet button

There is the “new retweet” button which isn’t affected by the number of characters in a tweet however in some circumstances the original tweeter cannot see these Retweets so these are less likely to be effective to grow your network.

URL shorteners

To make your Tweets shorter a simple tip is to shorten your URL. Most Twitter platforms can automatically shorten your URL but bitly.com and tinyurl.com are good services too.

Hashtags

You will often see hashtags (#) used in tweets which will group together those tweets for easy reference. These are really handy when people are attending a seminar or conference so the tweets can be followed simply.

  • A hashtag ties in conversationstogether in one place.
  • They can also be used if your tweet refers to a particular subject, e.g., search for #jobfairy on Twitter and you will see lists of jobs tweeted.
  • Hashtags can be used for Twitter chats so people can join in the conversation whether being followed or not. This is another great way to grow your network.
  • Don’t fill your tweet with hashtags though because it spoils readability and isn’t necessary because the words will show in searches anyhow.

@Replies and Mentions

A hashtag you will see weekly is #FollowFriday or #FF. This is when people recommend other Tweeters to follow. This can be done at any time of course but something which comes out of #FF which is important to remember is the best way to do this.

When you tweet someone you normally start it with their Twitter username, e.g.,

@AhainGroup are a great company to follow #FF

This is a reply and this tweet will only be seen by followers who follow you AND the Ahain Group. So if  a Tweeter is only following you and NOT the Ahain Group they won’t see this tweet – which defeats the object of the recommendation. Therefore bear in mind it could be a very small number of overlapping followers in common. (N.B. you will see all tweets if you look directly at an account though)

#FF @AhainGroup are a great company to follow

This tweet is a mention and will be seen by everyone that follows you so therefore it works well as a recommendation.

Of course this isn’t limited to #FF going first. Anything that goes before the @AhainGroup will work.

If you’re just having a conversation then putting the @ first is quite normal and this is what you will mostly see on Twitter.

Scheduling

Obviously you cannot be online 24/7. You may want to be targeting other time zones, be unable to get to Twitter for a few days, on holiday or just incredibly busy. You could have a tweet that you’d like to mention a few times so you can use scheduling to do this.

Most platforms have scheduling options built in but there are other apps which have some great tools too. You will have to pay for some of these to use all the services they offer. These are our favourites:-

Twitter platforms

There are several platforms to use for Twitter other than the web based version. Some people feel limited using the web version, especially when your follower/followee count grows as you can miss out on tweets by other people.

Tweetdeck and Hootsuite are the two frontrunners for Twitter on your desktop as they compartmentalise the people and lists that you follow. You create columns for different sections that you wish to view; for example if your business is Web Design you could have a column for other Web Designer tweeters so you can see what they are up to and join in similar conversations.

If you are interested in News updates you can have a column for all the online newspapers and tweeters. Any type of subject you want to follow can become a column so you can easily see tweets on that topic.

You can also run multiple Twitter accounts using these different apps. You may just have a personal account and a business account or you could have more – these platforms make it much simpler to sort the different accounts and make your Twitter life much easier.

Social organisation tools

SocialBro is a very useful tool to manage the whole package on Twitter although you do have to pay for it. It helps to target the community you want to be involved with on Twitter and analyses your competitors tweets too. Amongst lots of other handy functions it will also tell you the best times to tweet when the majority of your followers are online.

Other good Twitter platforms are SocialFlow and Sprout Social.

Mobile apps

60% of Twitter users tweet from their Smartphone which is four times the amount from only two years ago so this figure is growing rapidly.

Twitter mobile apps include:-

What else can you use twitter for?

Twitter isn’t just about your business promotion and chatting. There are lots of handy tasks you can use it for.

Customer Service

A lot of businesses use Twitter for customer service very successfully, especially the big brands. Queries can be dealt with quickly and companies are also seen to be helpful in this way. A lot of diplomacy may be needed and often it is just the initial contact and then the discussion can be taken offline.

Expert answers

Twitter can be really useful for getting questions answered by experts – you may even be that expert which is great for getting recognition and recommendations.

Crowdsourcing

Another form of questions on Twitter are crowdsourcing where you can use the results as a basis for a post you are writing, maybe a survey or even just to get ideas on a new product you are considering.

Recommendations

Recommending products and businesses is often prevalent on Twitter and can be a way of growing awareness of your brand quickly. Beware that the opposite doesn’t happen and negativity about your business is spread as unfortunately bad news travels faster.

Promoted accounts and promoted tweets

The Promoted Account is featured in search results and within the “Who To Follow” section. Promoted Tweets can be targeted to search results or to user timelines. Twitter’s geographic targeting increases the relevance of your message based on location. You set the budget that you want to spend and it’s similar to a CPC however it’s a Cost-per-Engagement basis.

Twitter ROI

We hope that this information will help with your business and it’s use of Twitter. Most importantly to grow your brand on Twitter be yourself, share and engage.

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The Author:

Sian Phillips is the Managing Editor of TweakYourBiz.com and a Moderator on Bizsugar.com. Sian is also the accountant for her clients Henparty.ie, (Dragons Den winner 2009), Clearwave.ie and Comserv.ie. With over 20 years’ worth of experience in business and accounting Sian provides help to the SME sector. The other half of Sian’s day is spent working in the Social Media space; writing blog posts and conducting interviews for TweakYourBiz.com, plus writing for clients globally about Social Business and Accounting. She is a qualified Accountant with an Honours Diploma in Journalism too. http://www.tweakyourbiz.com

Add Your Comment

  • http://www.thesmarttrain.com/ Elaine Rogers

    A super comprehensive post Sian, for all users of twitter. I love twitter for crowd-sourcing. I’m off to check out your ROI tips now… thank you!

  • http://www.ahaingroup.com/ Sian Phillips

    Thanks for the lovely comment Elaine – glad you find it useful

  • Derbhile Graham

    A real treasure trove of intro. Thanks.

  • ben mccahill

    Great info Sian – this is a really comprehensive post, I’ll have to study it over the coming weeks! Love this quote: “Getting people engaged with you and your brand will lead to results but remember it’s a two way street – you have to engage back”

  • Elish Bul

    Excellent 101 on tiwtter all in one post- thanks for the Refresher !

  • http://www.ahaingroup.com/ Sian Phillips

    Thanks Derbhile – glad you like it

  • http://www.ahaingroup.com/ Sian Phillips

    Thanks Ben – I’m all for engagement on Twitter and Social Media. I see so many companies not replying and that’s just rude in my opinion.

  • http://www.ahaingroup.com/ Sian Phillips

    Thanks Elish – glad you found it useful :)