Social Spotlight

Twitter for Business 101

Twitter is blissfully simple. It’s a 140-character micro-blogging service where you follow others’ updates while others follow yours. However this simplicity can leave many businesses in the dark on where to start. As I’ve mentioned before, we tweet for our many of our clients but we also teach them to tweet. As the old saying goes, when you teach a man to fish you feed him for a lifetime. In the spirit of a helping to create a lifetime of social media eats for us all, here are our tips for business tweets. 

  • Designate a Twitter Manager — Twitter is something that should be owned by a specific person. Whether in-house or from an outside firm, this designate is your point person for managing and updating the business’ Twitter account.
  • Funnel Twitter Updates to the Manager — If Twitter is going to be a part of your communications strategy, you need to have a plan for getting the information to the designated Twitter Manager. The most meaningful tweets are going to be integrated with key happenings within the company. However these nuggets of information can only become tweets if there is a process in place to get the information where it needs to be.
  • Find the Right Tools — Most of us start managing Twitter accounts from the web and quickly realize that we need a more robust set of tools. We use TweetDeck, an app that runs on the desktop to listen and sort conversations. It’s also great for tweeting from multiple accounts. HootSuite is a web-based application that again allows for multiple account management but offers several unique tools that are must-haves for business. First, you can schedule tweets making it easy to stay on top of this with the multi-tasking nature of both small and large businesses. Second and perhaps most insightful of all, is the ability to track click-throughs from your tweets. When you feature a link in your tweet you usually need to shorten it to fit within that 140-character limit. HootSuite has a URL shortener that makes it easy to do this but also gives you stats so you can see which tweets get you the most website traffic.
  • Go Mobile — As you use Twitter more, you will realize that you need to have the flexibility to tweet on the fly. Finding the right mobile application largely depends on your device. For the iPhone we like Tweetie the best because of its clean interface and robust features which also include multiple account management.
  • Follow to Gain Followers — Follow key people in your business and industry. Then see who they follow and start following them. Through all of this, people will start to follow you. If you need help finding high-profile Twitter users in your area, Twitter Grader has a tool for finding the Twitter elite.
  • Just Listen at the Beginning — Create your Twitter account, start following as noted above and then just listen for a bit. See what kinds of topics people you care about are tweeting on.
  • Start Tweeting — After listening, find a unique voice for your company on Twitter. Is there something that hasn’t been said? What can your business add to the conversation? That last part is key. Remember: social media is a conversation.
  • Find a Focus — Twitter is powerful tool that has almost endless applications for business. Whether it’s sales and marketing (new product available now!), research and development, or mitigating customer relationship issues, you should find a focus for your Twitter activity.
  • Don’t Forget the Retweet — Retweeting is the highest honor among Twitter users. What the heck is a retweet? Retweeting is simply copying someone else’s tweet that you think your audience would find of value and add an RT in front of it for ‘retweet.’ Several apps such as TweetDeck make this as easy as pushing a button. Many people retweet. In fact, a majority of tweets are retweets.
  • Find a Schedule That Works for You — How much should you tweet? Just like the question on how much you should blog, the answer depends on you and your audience. As Twitter runs like a news feed, it’s a good idea to keep something in front of your followers a couple of times a day. Maybe more, maybe less on other days. Bottom line — find what works and keep doing it at that pace. Let your followers know they can depend on updates from you. If you are starved for content, this is where retweeting can come in especially handy.
  • Promote Social Media — Because of the low-cost associated with social media many dive in and then are shocked when nothing happens. You must not forget to tell your current customers that they can find you on Twitter. Add a Twitter badge to your website, business cards, in-store signage, and any other high-traffic places where your customers’ eyes gaze.

This is literally just the tip of the iceberg. If I missed a tip or if you have a question about any of this, please feel free to comment below and I’ll follow up.

Photo credit kopp0041 via Flickr