Twitter: The Basics for Your Small Business

Are you tweeting? Sure, you just established your Facebook presence and now I’m going to tell you that you need to get the ball rolling on another social media site.

Allocate your resources now! With more than 140,000,000 active users and about 340,000,000 tweets per day, Twitter is the next important stop on your social media campaign journey. This information network connects people, businesses, and organizations to new information. Thoughts and ideas are shared via 140-character messages, aka “tweets.” Anyone can subscribe and follow your account if your topics interest them. Those tweets are then sent to their newsfeed timeline for them to read and share.

So why do you need to get started with your business Twitter account?

First, people may already be talking about you! Chances are good that your business has been mentioned in some capacity on Twitter. Wouldn’t you like to know what they are saying and be able to respond? Twitter is all about building relationships with your current customers and prospects. Rather than trying to sell to your Twitter followers, you get to focus on helping, enlightening, and engaging your audience.

The first step to Twitter is mastering the lingo.  

Here’s a quick rundown to help you out:

  • Handle – this is your username, it’s a great idea to incorporate your business name and branding with your handle.
  • Tweet a 140-character message.
  • Retweet (RT) – sharing someone else’s tweet with your followers, giving them credit of course
  • Feed the stream of tweets from the people you follow that you see on your homepage timeline.
  • Mention (@) how you reference another user in a tweet. For example, you may tweet: Great story on content marketing on @todayshow this morning! Users are notified when they are @ mentioned. It’s a great way to converse with others in a public setting.
  • Direct Message (DM) a private, 140-character message between two people.
  • Hashtag (#) Users tag their tweets, give context to their thoughts, or get topics trending just by adding a (#) in front of a word or phrase. When you add that “#,” a link is created that anyone on Twitter can search for. Just by clicking on that link, users can see all of the tweets relating to that subject or tag. Hashtags can also be used for creating ad-hoc online discussions or temporary forums.

Next step, get signed-up!

  • Pick a twitter username, or handle, that accurately reflects your business.
  • Make sure your profile picture and bio are indicative of your brand message and objective.
  • Be sure to include a link to your blog or website.

Now, you are ready to start getting the lay of the land.

The best way to get started is to start following businesses and people who you already know, as well as industry resources like publications, brands, and leaders. Once you start following someone, if they see your industry relevance, chances are they will start following you back. Also follow some of the most successful brands like @ebay @TheNewYorkTimes, @starbucks and @mashable on Twitter to see how they do it. You can search by industry or topic to get a list of people to follow.

It’s time to find your voice. You need to give your brand a voice and make sure that your followers connect with the person who is tweeting on behalf of your company. It gives your business a personality and begins to establish a rapport with your followers.

Start retweeting. Retweeting is the first step in forming a relationship with someone on Twitter. You’re sharing their great content or news with your followers. Think of it as the Twitter version of networking.

Develop and share quality content.  Make your 140 characters count! Unique, engaging, and quality information makes an impact.

Consistency is the key. One of the keys to social media is to be consistent. You cannot tweet five times one week, and then go silent for a month. You have to be part of the conversation to make the most impact.

Are you in need of additional ideas and resources? Check out Twitter’s “Twitter for Business” guide.

Is your business on Twitter? How did you get started and what advice do you have?

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