Getting started with Twitter |

Getting started with Twitter

Ian White July 21st 2010

Using twitter to promote your business

twitter_pic

Twitter is a free online ‘micro-blogging’ platform that enables you to send punchy messages (‘tweets’) to other Twitter users. Messages are limited to just 140 characters and can be read by anybody else on Twitter (depending on your settings), even if they are initially directed at members of your personal network (your ‘followers’). It is, for the most part, a public forum.

Like all forms of social media, Twitter began as a way for people to communicate socially, but businesses have been quick to adopt it as a cost-free method to send controlled business messages to people who are interested in their product, service or sector.

Engage and amuse

The best users of Twitter will not just broadcast their message; they will engage their audience by asking and responding to questions, monitoring what people say about them on Twitter and raising their profile on the wider Twitter network.

 

Businesses might, for example, use Twitter as a speedy way to:

  • promote new products or exclusive offers
  • collect feedback from customers and prospects
  • pass on news about their sector
  • comment on general business issues
  • let people know what is going on in their firm.

 

The informal nature of Twitter can help them add a personality to their business that is not always present in conventional marketing messages. Twitter can also be easily used on mobile devices, meaning business owners can engage with other Twitter users at any time and in almost any location.

The amount of time and effort you commit to Twitter will determine your results. You can while away a great deal of time sending messages, but a few sharp ten-minute bursts of activity each day will give you good presence and time to respond to incoming messages from your network.

twitter_setup

Setting up your account

The best users of Twitter will not just broadcast their message; they will engage their audience by asking and responding to questions, monitoring what people say about them on Twitter and raising their profile on the wider Twitter network.

 

Step 1: Go to http://twitter.com/signup, where you will be asked to enter your name, username, password and email address.

 

Step 2: Before entering the requested details, think how to present yourself. What do you want to be known as? Choosing a username that incorporates your company name is a good place to start, if it is short and memorable. But think about what kind of name will make you easily discoverable to your prospective audience – should you emphasise your sector over your company name, for instance? Or try to mention both?

 

Step 3: Using the ‘Settings’ tab you can personalise your profile. Under the ‘Account’ option:

  • Use the ‘One Line Bio’ field to explain who you are. What do you want your network to think about you primarily – that you are a forward-thinking entrepreneur juggling work and family, for example, or that you are trying to sell vacuum cleaners? Be concise, clear and direct; and remember that personality will attract more followers.
  • Add the homepage address of your company website – or your blog, if you have one – to the ‘More Info’ URL field. Think about why you are on Twitter: is it to sell your offer or to build connections and increase your standing? If the latter, you might be better linking to your blog rather than your website homepage.
  • Add your primary location. Be specific – many Twitter users will be looking for contacts in a particular area.
  • Do not select the ‘Protect my tweets’ option if you want to be found and heard by potential customers and contacts. Protected tweets can only be read by people in your personal network (your ‘followers’).

 

Step 4: Add a background image to your profile. Will a picture of you or your business logo reinforce the impression you are trying to create? Your company colours could strengthen brand recognition, but people might want to see who you actually are. If you take a look at the Bluehoop Twitter page here, you’ll see we’ve modified it to make it more personal to our business.

 

Step 5: Start building a network. You may already know people who use Twitter, so ask for their details. Alternatively, you can use the simple tools under the ‘Find people’ tab to search for people and organisations you know, either by name or email address, and invite them to ‘follow’ you. Beware the step offering to automatically email your contacts an invitation to join you on Twitter, unless you think they will not mind being bothered by such a message. Your existing contacts will form the basis of your network to begin with; as you engage with them, their ‘followers’ might start to ‘follow’ you, or you might choose to ‘follow’ them.

 

Step 6: Start sending messages. Go to the ‘Home’ page, type a message of no more than 140 characters and click ‘update’. You’re now using Twitter!

 

 


Author profile: Ian White


Prior to founding Bluehoop, Ian worked as a publishing manager and print buyer for several business to business and business to consumer publishers.

Ian has a strong aptitude and understanding of the business and marketing needs of companies across many business sectors; skills that are now utilised to develop successful website promotional strategies for all of our clients.


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