10 ways to use Twitter to promote your business

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Twitter, the social network set up by US bloggers in 2006, has exploded in popularity. While the popular press has picked up on how the site features tittle-tattle from celebrities, for entrepreneurs Twitter provides a fantastic opportunity for business promotion.

 

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.

Twitter glossary

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 Hoot Suite.

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 or is.gd which allow you to shorten URLs. Other services like ow.ly and bit.ly also allow you to track how many people click on your links.

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 @dan_martin Having a look at BusinessZone.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 OpenBeak, Tweetie and uberTwitter which allow you to update your page from your mobile phone. This also allows to react instantly to particular events.

9. Who to follow?

There are thousands of people using Twitter who could be particularly useful to your business. While Stephen Fry, Britney Spears and MC Hammer 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

Click here to read 10 more ways to use Twitter to promote your business

Tags:

Thanks, very useful

Thanks for that, Dan, very useful info and I'll add the link to my latest blog article "What Is Twitter?" at http://judecalverttoulmin.blogspot.com/2009/01/what-is-twitter.html

Sorry not on the forums more snowed under atm!

Useful or firefox browser users

Using tinyURL is great for shortening the length of a destination URL... however you don't always know from the preceding description if the link is relevant to you, and it can become tiring to keep leaving your twitter page to verify it. So I would also suggest (for confirmed use of Firefox 3) "bit.ly" which is an unobtrusive add-on/plug in.
It allows you to just hover over the tinyURL and see what the longer URL is, reducing the risk of time-wasting.

wecandobiz's picture

Automate Tweets


Great advice!

I'd add to that my belief that it makes no sense to duplicate effort, so if you already spend time updating your website or blogging regularly, set up RSS feeds of both and route those through Twitterfeed to automaticaly Tweet that new content without effort. This keeps your Tweets up to date and brings viewers to your website or blog.

Also, if there are valuable news streams relating to your business or industry on other websites, you could always channel those through Twitterfeed too, positioning yourself as a conduit for news for your market -- again, with no effort. This will help win you followers. It's hard to control the content though, so make sure you can trust the news feed for quality and volume (as you don't want to annoy followers by inundating them with Tweets either).

Finally, consider multiple Twitter accounts for different things you Tweet on. I have several distinct accounts with different followers, each different in their content. ANy of my followers can subscribe to more than one if they are interested in the content; and it works better than cheesng people off by posting too much through one account that they may consider irrelevant. If a lot of the content is automated this needn't be as hard work as it sounds!

Ian Hendry
CEO, WeCanDo.BIZ
http://www.wecando.biz

http://twitter.com/wecandobiz

Tweet tools

Dan,

Great points, as ever. Another tip for the list: Try out 3rd party tools.

TwitterFox raises a small alert in the bottom of your browser when new tweets arrive so you can stay up to date and respond quickly.

Alert Thingy aggregates all your alerts into a single window. See your Twitter alerts with other social media such as fadbook, digg, news feeds (e.g. the FT, TechCrunch). Even drop a photo into alertthingy and it will update your Flickr account!

Loads others out there to try. These are our favourite.

http://twitter.com/PearlSoftware Hear our tweets (they're not too dull, honest!)

Andrew
Pearl - Director

ashgupta's picture

Twitter does not exist in a vacume-you will be jufged by the company you keep

Twitter is a very powerful tool, all the more powerful as the luddites don't get it so they are filtered out. However, as in all life, you are judged by the company you keep, so be selective and be very choosy as to who follows you and who you follow. You can also select which face of your persona you allow to be seen on Twitter, we all live multi dimensional lives. right now I confine my Twitter persona to a Low Carbon, sustainable Vehicle niche focus. I could choose to broaden this but I want to trawl and be trawled in this domain. Finally, always check for nutters and those who plan to do you harm. There's loads of those out there. Must fly! Ash Gupta

Twitter a valuable strategy

Twitter is like any other marketing strategy, useful is planned and part of the overall plan - a drain on time and resources if not thought through.

Twitter is a channel not to be ignored, especially if you can add value and connect with potential customers.

Those that are in it for the long term, rather than promoting their own services every tweet will be the overall winners.

Great article - keep it up

twitter.com/rapidbi
http://www.rapidbi.com

vzaar's picture

Twitter as a Customer Service tool

Really interesting pointers. Twitter seems to have reached its tipping point here in the UK in the last 7-10 days and I think last night's plane crash really brought it to the fore again.

At vzaar, a video for business service, we have used twitter for nearly a year now as a customer service and customer acquisition tool. For a start up its cheap (yeah!) as well as being fast and easy to implement. The perfect Web 2.0 tool.

I wrote about our use of it as a CS tool on our blog, which also points to some other 2.0 applications we have used as a young start up.

http://vzaar.com/blog/2008/11/simple-applications-to-save-start-ups-time

karenpurves's picture

Part of your Marketing Strategy

Twitter on it's own can be a complete time waster. Start with the tips in this article and the next ones will really set you apart form others.

1. Twitter is for broadcasting, interacting and learning. People will choose to follow you on what you tweet in these three categories.

2. Not everyone whats to have tweet overload. I know there are lots of people who have in excess of 15 messages a day. Consider whether you can process that many and still so some work AND consider whether your followers want to have this sort of volume.

3. Twitter is a phenomenon and has spawned many other applications to help you to become more efficient. Here are a few tools:

Tweetdeck.com and Outwit.com are applications that will enable you to see at a glance who is tweeting, sending public messages to you and also sending direct or private massages.

Also consider Twilerts.com to monitor your keywords and even your own Twitterid so you know what is being said about you

Then there is the twitter.grader.com from Hubspot to see how influential you are in the scheme of things. Really a bit of fun!

then if you want to monitor your progress, there is twittercounter.com that shows now many followers you gained over the past three months. You can also compare your growth with two other people. Again, don't get too hung up on this - social networking is about the quality rather than just the quantity.

If you want to be take step by step though how to use Twitter for your marketing, it is available free from http://havemoreclients.com

Steve SEO UK's picture

Great link from Twitter

Just to say a big thanks for directing me here from your tweet. Will be a big resource to improving my twitter campaign.

Part two

You liked the above article so much we've published part two! For 10 more tips on using Twitter to benefit your business, click here.

Dan Martin
Editor, BusinessZone.co.uk
@BusinessZone
@Dan_Martin

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