This is Twitter’s year. Famously, Barack Obama used the application to mobilise his thousands of followers during the US presidential election. Twitter allowed Obama’s team to communicate directly with grassroots supporters to organise campaign and fund raising activity, bypassing traditional media communications routes which are slow, unpredictable, and untargeted by comparison.
Just as Obama used it as a critical tool in his campaign, Twitter has great potential to build your business. For businesspeople wondering how to get started with Twitter, here are the four essential things you need to know.
1. Smart registration
Key to the registration process is using the right keywords in your
biography. You have to be clever though as like every other areas of
Twitter you’re restricted in the number of characters you can use. Most
members use various search engines to track down relevant people to
follow so use search terms you think will be popular. If you’re
targeting SMEs for instance include ‘small business’, ‘small
businesses’, ‘SMEs’, ‘entrepreneurs’ etc. Equally if you’re after
clients or customers in a particular locality include that as a keyword.
Tweet: The word used to describe the update a person posts on their Twitter page
Following: The members of Twitter you have chosen to follow
Followers: The members of Twitter who have chosen to follow you
Retweet (or RT): The act of reposting on your page a post from another member which you find particularly interesting or useful
2. Respond to others
Like other online communities such as forums and groups, the key to
making the most of Twitter is demonstrating that you’re an expert in
your field. Keep an eye out for particular issues you could help with
by scanning tweets or using a Twitter search engine.
If people recognise that you know what you’re talking about and you’re
willing to offer bits of advice for free they are much more likely to
do business with you.
And don’t forget to check the ‘@replies’ section on the right hand side
of your Twitter page. This lists the members who have tweeted directly
at you so you can respond. You could also type your username into a
Twitter search engine to see whether there are people who you aren’t
following have been talking about you.
3. Tweet when you’re out of the office
Ensuring you tweet on a regular basis is key to building a good
community. One way to make sure this happens even when you’re busy
doing other things is using a service which sets up pre-scheduled
tweets for particular times in the future. There are several sites
which allow you to do it but our favourite is brightkit.
4. Be human
Adding a human element to your tweets will build personality around
your business and avoid perceptions of a faceless organisation.
Representatives of computer business Dell for instance post under their
real names plus the company – e.g. RichardatDELL which is a good idea.
You should also post about non-business issues too although avoid
anything too salacious or very personal.
5. Ask questions
As well as responding to other people’s questions you should also ask
some of your own. You can’t know everything and it will encourage some
community interaction. You could also use it to do a bit of market
research and ask questions directly related to your business or sector.
6. Every character counts
With important things to say and only 140 characters in which to say
it, it’s important you’re as succinct as possible while at the same
time getting your point across. If you’re including links to your or
other people’s websites use a service such as TinyURL.com which allow you to shorten URLs.
7. Retweet, retweet, retweet!
If you’re new to Twitter you may be confused by the regular use of
‘RT’. This stands for retweeting which is the reposting of particular
tweets from other people on your page which you find particularly
interesting or useful. It’s worthwhile doing this as it demonstrates to
your followers you’re not all about flogging your products or services
but you’re also willing to share tips and advice. Retweeting may also
encourage a particularly influential member to start following you. The
accepted way of retweeting is to type ‘RT’ following by @ and the
tweeter’s username. e.g. ‘RT @ralvin Having a look at bmmagazine.co.uk.’
8. Tweet on the move
Just because you’re on a train or at a conference without a laptop
doesn’t mean you can’t tweet. There are various applications such as
TwitterBerry and Twitter for iPhone which allow you to update your page
from your mobile phone. This also allows to react instantly to
Business Matters team on Twitter
9. Who to follow?
There are thousands of people using Twitter who could be particularly
useful to your business. While Stephen Fry, Jonathon Ross and Richard
Branson may be entertaining with their celebrity revelations, it’s the
people who can directly benefit your company you want to be following.
There are several ways to track them down. Via the Twitter search
engine you can search tweets for people who are interested in the areas
you cover. Mr Tweet meanwhile will suggest to you which influencers and
followers you should check out. In addition, Twitter Grader grades your
profile against the entire Twitter community as well as giving you a
list of the top tweeters in your locality and Twellow.com lets you
search members’ biography, name, job title and location.
10. It’s not all about you
Don’t go overboard with promoting your business by bombarding your
followers with links to your website as it will be treated as the
Twitter equivalent of spam and encourage people to stop following you.
By all means link to your website or blog but say something interesting
about it rather than just dumping a link. It is also a good idea to
post tweets about subjects not linked to you or your business.