Using Twitter in Your Business

Before you start

Using Twitter effectively as a business tool will come with practice. But there are some key things to keep in mind from the outset:

  • Everything you say is public (unless you use the “Direct Message” function to communicate privately with someone in your network).
  • You only have up to 140 characters to use per tweet
  • If you incorporate a website link within a message, save space by shortening it using a service like Not only will this save you characters in a tweet, you can also track how many people have clicked the links you have tweeted.

Learn the language

Twitter also has its own vocabulary which you will need to understand to get going:

  • A message to your network is known as a ‘tweet’.
  • Your name on Twitter may be referred to as ‘@username’ and an ‘@’ reply is a direct reply to you seen only by those who follow you and those who follow the person who sends the tweet.
  • A ‘retweet’ (‘RT’) is a tweet that is being passed on. Retweeting can be a good way of building connections and relationships.

Sending messages

When sending messages, keep in mind the following:

  • Twitter’s character limit encourages you to be concise, but it is still possible to get a lot of information across, particularly if you add depth with links.
  • Etiquette is important – Twitter users frown on the kind of abbreviated language that is used in texting, for example. It is also considered courteous to thank people for retweeting your messages and recommending you as a good person to follow. Etiquette and practice are evolving all the time, however.
  • To engage effectively with your network, communicate openly and personally, and make a point of responding to comments (whether positive or negative) publicly.
  • Potential contacts may be found by searching for messages with specific, relevant words in them. Think about the key words that will attract the right attention (such as the name of your product/service/sector), and use them often in your tweets.
  • If you want to make contact with a particular person (such as a potential customer or a journalist), search for them on Twitter and see how you can help them or interest them. A good starting point for building a relationship is to re-tweet some of their tweets.
  • Target influential members in your network (people with a lot of followers) and look for opportunities to build a community around your business with engaging comments and exclusive Twitter-only promotions. If people are interested in what you have to say, they will choose to follow you.
  • Twitter enables you to organise the people and organisations you follow by sorting them into categorised lists using the ‘List’ tab. You could have separate lists for customers and suppliers, for example, or for friends and business contacts. Because you can tweet privately to list members only, this means you can send relevant messages to targeted groups of people -and not annoy your other followers with tweets that are irrelevant to them.

Useful tools

There are a variety of purpose-built tools available to help you use Twitter more effectively:

  • Applications such as Tweetdeck or Seesmic. These will enable you to send and read messages and monitor keywords associated with your sector or even specific mentions of your business name and products, so you can track who is talking about you and what they are saying.
  • Online Twitter directories which will enable you to grow your following. You can target people to follow via categories such as their location, area of interest and profession. Twellow or the in-built Tweetdeck directory will allow you to increase your audience in a purposeful manner.
  • Twitter Grader, which can measure how effective you are at using Twitter and give you a score out of 100. You can view yourself in league tables broken down by location, such as your country or town name. To increase your influence, target users at the top of lists.
  • Klout, which will measure the strength of your influence on Twitter among your followers. It will give you practical advice on how to improve your performance.

And if you only do one thing…

Make sure your profile is easy for users to search for and regularly updated. This should tell readers what you can offer them precisely and concisely.