What is Twitter?
Twitter is a social mobile network that transformed one way we communicate online. Twitter can be used as a global information resource and a source of local, national, and international news, particularly breaking news. But how can Twitter be used to market your small business?
For some, Twitter is not intuitive. Initially, Twitter forced a limit of 140 characters of text for each post or “tweet.” Now tweets can be 280 characters long. Twitter’s rapid-fire communications style, and the speed with which posts or “tweets” disappear from someone’s content stream, can be confusing or frustrating at first.
Learning to compose a tweet properly can be challenging but mastering the art of short and concise messaging is a step toward effective mobile marketing where content is limited in length. Since its launch, Twitter has undergone a myriad of changes like the other popular social networks. Most people who stick with Twitter find it to be a good way to build their brands, showcase their expertise or product offerings, and link to websites, articles, and other content online.
To get the most out of Twitter, start by following people or companies whose content provides value to you. Whether it is headline news, industry updates, tips and advice, or inspiration, the amount of content that is published and shared in bite-sized pieces is staggering. Choose trusted accounts to follow. You may want to share other people’s content as part of your own content marketing strategy, and the accounts you follow can help you do that.
The main ways to access Twitter are through the Twitter iOS or Android app, through the Twitter website, or using a social media dashboard tool like Tweetdeck (owned by Twitter) or Hootsuite or a scheduling tool like Buffer.
There are many ways get more out of your Twitter account. Some key things to do on Twitter are to:
- Listen. “Listening” on Twitter consists of paying attention to what people are saying about you, your company, your brand, or related topics by searching Twitter for relevant keywords. For example, if you are a dentist, searching Twitter for your name, your practice’s name, and words and phrases such as “dentist,” “teeth cleaning,” and “cavity” can reveal relevant tweets.
- Respond. Twitter is useful as an online customer service tool if you have the resources to monitor what is being said about you and your company and respond in a timely and appropriate manner. Twitter users may reach out to you in a tweet or direct message, so responding in a timely manner is important.
- Survey. Ask questions of your followers and find answers to anything from technical questions to current events. Post a Twitter Poll, a feature that inserts a simple poll feature into your tweet. Use Twitter Polls to ask a single question that can be useful for marketing purposes such as asking, “What special occasion are you shopping for in the next month?” to reveal who might be interested in your online gift shop.
- Share. Post news about your company, link to the content you’ve written or what you’re reading and lead people to your website where they can read more or connect with you in additional ways. You can expand the amount of content attached to a single tweet by attaching additional tweets to a primary one, creating a thread of short messages to form a longer message.
- Promote. Market your product or service in tweets that contain a photo or video. People on Twitter are pretty tolerant about occasional, appropriate marketing tweets.
Here’s how to get started with Twitter:
- Set up your account including a profile photo and a short bio (160 characters or less). Add a link to your website in the designated link field. You can also include links and hashtags within the text of your bio.
- Customize your Twitter header at the top of your Twitter account page. Check how it looks both on the web and on mobile devices to make sure your profile image doesn’t cover up any important sections of your header.
- Follow other people so you can read their tweets in your Twitter stream. They, in turn, can follow you back to read what you have to say, but there are no rules obligating them to follow you back.
- If both parties follow one another, Twitter elevates you from “followers” to “friends” meaning that you both have permission to Direct Message or DM one another to send messages privately. You can also turn on a feature that lets anyone DM you through your Twitter account instead of restricting access to just your Twitter “friends.”
- Address a message to someone publicly using the @ sign in front of their Twitter handle such as @janedoe. Address them privately in DMs.
There is no single right way to use Twitter although you probably do not want to start with more than one account for your company. Managing multiple accounts can be time-consuming and usually not necessary unless you have distinctly different audiences and use cases such as setting up a personal Twitter account versus a business one. As with any social networking, carefully consider what you post to your personal account, even if it is set to private.
Building a Twitter following takes time. You can pay for Twitter ads to promote your account to gain more followers and to increase engagement on individual tweets. Remember that Twitter is not about one-way broadcasting but is about conversations.