It’s hard to believe, but Twitter has been around for seven years now. Where has the time gone? Did you ever think a social network based on 140 character status updates would be so popular after all this time?
Twitter has stood the test of time, and it has become a leading social network that simply cannot be ignored – especially from a business perspective.
Just like any other social network out there, it’s important to understand some key principles before going out there and creating an account and posting your first tweet.
Too often have I heard business owners say something like “Oh yeah, and we want to do social media. We want a Facebook page, Twitter account and a Google Plus“. Meanwhile, they don’t actually understand what they’ve just said.
With that in mind, I thought it would be useful to put together…
10 Tips for Businesses New To Twitter
1. Define your objectives.
Why do you want to use Twitter and what is your commitment to managing the account once it’s created? Social network accounts aren’t going to run themselves, so you need to consider your strategy for using each service.
More: Case Studies on Successful Businesses on Twitter
2. Choose your brand’s Twitter handle as you create your account.
If you don’t already know, a Twitter handle is essentially your “address” or “name” used to reference your presence on Twitter, which includes the @ symbol directly before it. For example, my Twitter handle is @gregbeazley and my Twitter homepage is www.twitter.com/gregbeazley. Choosing your brand’s Twitter handle can be tough, since after seven years, your preferred handle may not be available. If this is the case for your brand, try to ensure the handle you choose reflects your brand as best as possible.
3. Choose appropriate images.
Make sure your profile picture (use your brand’s logo) and header image (use an image that reflects your brand) are the right size for the space given. Profile pics are resized to 18 x 18 pixels, and header images are sized at 520 x 260 pixels. Since Twitter only allows a limited number of text characters to include with your profile, you may also wish to include additional information on a custom background image. See https://twitter.com/wholefoods for an example.
More: Easy Social Media Sizing Cheat Sheet [Infographic]
4. Don’t be a selfish tweeter.
What I mean by this is, it’s natural to just tweet about your own agenda, such as promoting your products and services. But, doing this frequently is just so impersonal and boring, and it’ll lose the attention of any followers or potential followers you have. Marketing messages are fine, but in moderation. Where you’ll gain the most traction on Twitter is if you engage with customers by replying or retweeting their tweets and share content that is of value to your brand’s market. Here’s a quick list of 10 things a business owner could tweet about:
- Personal news
- Mistakes and lessons
- Links to articles
- Pictures of unusual things you see
- Interesting advertising
- Fun purchases
- Share wisdom from outside the world of business
- Your work
Of course, if your business is relatively small then the above suggestions would be ok. But, if you are a medium to large company, it would be advised to be a bit more tactful and relevant to your audience than promoting personal news (as an example).
5. Don’t ignore customer service.
Twitter is becoming the fastest medium for customer service. For example, no longer do I bother waiting on the phone to talk to someone at Telstra or Vodafone about my billing issue. I simply send one tweet @telstra or @vodafoneau and usually within a few minutes, I have a reply from one of their social media customer service people, willing to help address my questions. The response and time to resolution is quicker than ever before. Your competitors have probably already caught on to this phenomenon, and if they haven’t, then all the more reason for your brand to take first place and lead the market. There are many tools out there to help you manage and assign Twitter conversations. Tools such as Hootsuite is a great application that allows you to categorise and assign different teams, such as Telstra Billing Support team, and respond to those tweets faster than would otherwise be possible. Of course, this lends itself to the suggestion that if your brand is big enough and warrants it, you may decide creating a secondary Twitter account dedicated to customer service is a better strategy to go with. Remember, creating a dialogue with customers about any support-related questions or issues they have makes you more transparent to prospects and other customers alike. This is a good thing, as it proves your trustworthiness and builds trust, whilst helps to increase customer satisfaction.
6. Use #hashtags in tweets
What are hashtags? Here’s the definition from Twitter:
“The # symbol, called a hashtag, is used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet. It was created organically by Twitter users as a way to categorize messages.”
By adding a hashtag before a category / keyword on your tweet, it improves Twitter’s ability to search for that keyword in search results. Hashtags are particularly useful for things like events, such as the recent #Bostonmarathon bombings:
A useful tip when using hashtags is to ALWAYS READ what your hashtag says before publishing your tweet. The classic example is when Susan Boyle‘s PR team promoted her upcoming album launch with the concerning hashtag of #susanalbumparty.
More: Using Hashtags on Twitter
7. Try creating a Twitter contest
I’m not certain that this should be in the list of important tips, but it is one item that helps answer the typical business question of “How can Twitter increase sales for my business?”. Running a contest on Twitter helps spread the word about your products and services for free and may encourage prospective customers to purchase. It is effectively a way of increasing engagement and Twitter-following amongst your Twitter audience.
8. Track Twitter analytics
If you’re running marketing campaigns through Twitter, it would be worth your while to understand things like “between what time are most of your followers online?”, and “what is the geographic distribution of your followers?”. This type of information can help you plan more effective marketing campaigns and schedules, as well as identify potential gaps in geographic markets that you could start targeting. Twitter doesn’t really offer an internal analytics program for standard users, but tools such as Tweriod and Followerwonk can help with achieving the above. If your business is a bit more advanced and has the money to invest in better tools, then a Marketing Automation Software provider, like Marketo, could be the answer. Marketo allows you to record customer information and behavioural activity, while also having the ability to create, launch and measure social campaigns, using Marketo’s Social Applications, with exceptional detail. The tool essentially helps prove the ROI on social media initiatives, unlike any tool I’ve seen before.
More: Marketo Social Applications
9. Create Twitter lists to target your market and increase following and engagement
Creating Twitter lists allows you to group together Twitter users with similar interests. You can create your own lists or subscribe to lists created by others. Viewing a list timeline will show you a stream of Tweets from only the users on that list. Think of Twitter lists as a method of conducting market research on different market segments. By reviewing your specified lists, you can get an understanding about what your market is talking about, allowing you to engage in the conversation with them. Not sure how to create a Twitter list? No problems. Check out this link: Using Twitter lists or watch the video here, and follow the simple instructions.
10. Change your password regularly
Perhaps an obvious one, but avoid being a victim of nasty hackers that could compromise your account and update your Twitter password regularly. Be more creative than using “Password” as your password. Decrease your risk by using a combination of random numbers, letters and symbols.