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A Beginner’s Guide to Twitter for Business

Seven Steps to Twitter Success

We’ve been running some great Social Media Workshops lately, introducing the business benefits of the likes of Facebook, LinkedIn, Youtube and Twitter.  Of them all, it’s Twitter that most companies want to discuss, with many businesses unaware of the true power of Twitter, thinking it’s just a hyped-up instant messenger type utility which generates a lot of “noise”.

And to be honest – they’re right – Twitter is full of useless noise – much of it fun and amusing noise, but noise nonetheless, and certainly not the most obvious resource for “proper” business use.  But with a little knowledge on how to get the best from Twitter, it’s possible to filter out that noise, and get easy access to powerful information about what your clients are saying – about you, your brand, your competitors, their wishes, desires, likes, dislikes and more.  With gazillions of people worldwide already on Twitter, and unheard of growth rates, surely even the most skeptical business owner can see the value of tapping into this mind-set.

If Google is a search engine to people’s websites – then think of Twitter as a search engine to their thoughts.  And knowing what people are thinking is one serious business advantage.

So give it a try – Follow the seven steps below and get tweeting (sorry – but I didn’t make up the stupid terminology).

1 – Signup

Ok – fairly obvious really, but head over to www.twitter.comand signup – it takes seconds.  Choose a suitable username related to your business name, but don’t stress to much over this – it can be changed later.

2 – Customise

Before you do anything – add a little customisation to your Profile page.  Why?  Because if you don’t, you’re just another faceless twitter account – similar to the countless spammers, con-men, phishers and idiots (sorry – but they do exist) that sign up to Twitter just to cause problems for the rest of us.

Be proud of who you are – add your name, your biography, your logo (avatar) and customise the background.  Stand out from the crowd, and have a profile that gives people reason to trust you – understand who you are, and maybe they’ll find value in following you.

3 – Post a few Tweets

Next you’ll want to post a few tweets, to let the world know you’re alive…  again, do this before announcing your twitter page to the masses, and before you start following anyone…  it’ll help establish you as a credible (albeit new) twitter user, and with a few posts to read, then any potential follower will know what to expect should they choose to follow you.

4 – Follow Others

Start by Following other people you know that use Twitter..  search for them via Twitter’s  ”Find People” function,  and click the Follow Button.  Easy as that…  now browse to the people they follow, or browse their other followers.  Recognise any of them?  Worth following them too?  You can also use Twitter search to discover other users of similar interests etc, or people talking about certain subjects.

Don’t follow everyone for the sake of it – there’s no value in this whatsoever, and you’ll appear like a twitter spammer simply building up a target list!  Choose suitable people that are related to your business… your clients, your suppliers, your competitors (yes – they WILL know you are following them) etc.

5 – Attract Followers!

Ultimately, you want people following you, otherwise you’re marketing to nobody!  Some methods to gain followers (other than many of the people you follow, following you back) include:

  • Announce it to your clients via your online newsletter, your email footers and your website.  Take any opportunity to tell people your Twitter URL.
  • Encourage people to “retweet” your tweets
  • Flag up important keywords with the hashtag – makes it easier for people to find it – see here for help understanding what a twitter hashtag is
  • Use it, but don’t overuse it – don’t be one of those Twitter users that floods my tweet-stream with 100’s of pointless tweets.
  • Consider using an image in your tweet – statistically, tweets containing a link to an image are re-tweeted more than most other tweets.

6 – Get Serious

After you’ve used Twitter for a while, and are following a few people, the limitations of the Twitter.com website become clear – which is why anyone who’s serious about twitter ignores the twitter website, and actually uses one of the many 3rd party Twitter tools.  And the one I’d recommend is Tweet Deck.

WIthout giving a full tutorial on the many excellent features of TweetDeck, suffice to say that it makes it possible to filter out all the noise in Twitter, and allows you to easily and quickly find all the important tweets posted by your followers, as well as datamine the thoughts of the twitter masses, search for relevant business information, exploit potential sales leads, and much more…  Need more help? – Give us a shout, or come to one of the workshops and we’ll spend time showing you really how powerful a tool this is…

7 – Monitor and Evaluate

Like any form of Marketing, knowing your return on investment is vital to help understand the impact it’s making.  I’m confident that after a short time, Twitter will certainly be a “fun” elemnt in your marketing strategy – but is it actually delivering for you?

Monitorring your activity and success on Twitter isn’t difficult, but depends on “what” you want to measure.  For example :

  • How many “Followers” (and the growth of new followers).  – http://twittercounter.com
  • How many clicks back to your website – you can use your own web hosting statistics (assuming they provide you stats), or, even easier, you can use a service like www.bit.lywhich is built into tweetdeck
  • How many of your Tweets are being “re-tweeted”
  • Are your images engaging your followers?
  • Understand why people “stop” following you – “was it something I said” ?

Follow these seven steps, and let us know how Twitter works for your business..  It’s not a silver bullet – it won’t magically turn your product or service into this year’s must have (especially if it was poor to begin with!), but used properly – Twitter can improve your customer service, your PR, your repeat business and your word of mouth, not forgetting the business benefit that comes from reading the minds of millions!  Have fun!

More Stories By Gary Ennis

Gary Ennis graduated from the Department of Architecture and Building Science at the University of Strathclyde, where he specialised in graphic design, multimedia and 3D animation within the field of architectural representation. Following1 year as assistant manager in a busy bar/restaurant, and a further 6 months at Barclays Stockbrokers as a customer complaint specialist, Gary joined ABACUS (The Architecture and Building Aids Computer Unit Strathclyde) – a research group within the University of Strathclyde dedicated to developing and deploying information technologies, particularly Computer Aided Design, Computer Graphics, Multimedia and Virtual Reality for architectural and urban design practice and education. At Abacus, Gary led a wide range of projects, from commercial CD Rom development, to advanced research within the field of Internet-based Virtual Reality; a subject which he gained a solid reputation in, publishing many academic papers and speaking at international conferences. An experienced entrepreneur, Gary established NSDesign in 1998 at the peak of the “internet boom”. Today the company continues to provide internet services to over 5000 small and medium size businesses worldwide. A true people person, Gary’s other interests include Magic and Juggling, which he often uses to entertain the masses – from local playgroups to conference delegates! Three times short-listed for “Creative Entrepreneur of the Year”, Gary’s main ambition is to prove to the sceptics that “Geeks” are actually “cool” !

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