using twitter for business, twitter how to

Setting up a Twitter account takes less than five minutes (and more than 10 million of us in the UK have done it), but making it work for your business as a marketing tool takes a lot longer.

The micro-blogging site has over 500,000 registered users worldwide, and around 150,000 new ones every day, so is well worth your attention if you’re looking to reach new customers, better understand your existing ones, and even become their friends.

Don’t let your Twitter page become a time-hungry hobby – or worse, an abandoned marketing fad – instead, inject some fresh thinking and new ideas into your tweets and watch your business reap the benefits.

Here are 41 ideas to get you started:

1. Share a fun piece of trivia – did you know there are 30,000 new statistics published online every day*?  And some of them will make your followers say “Wow!  Really?”  It may even make them click the retweet button and share the amazing piece of information with their followers.  And if they do that, you reach a new audience!  Win, win.

2. Be personal – I don’t want to know what you’re thinking every minute of every day – but the occasional insight into your mind shows me you’re human, and I like buying from humans, not machines.

3. Reply to someone you follow – scan your Twitter feed to see what’s happening – what jumps out at you?  Even replying to someone else’s simple “Good morning” tweet can make their day.  Try it, if nothing else, you’ll get a warm feeling from letting that person know you’re listening.

4. Use Vine to create a short film that tells a story about your product.  How do people use what you make?  Where do they use it?  How do they wear it?  Why do they love it?  Vine is a new app (only available from the Apple store but hopefully coming to Android soon) which lets you create 6 second videos – short, sweet, concise and eye-catching.  No room for waffle.

5. Ask your followers what they want to talk about, then talk about it.

6. When did you last update your Twitter bio?  Give it a facelift with a new angle on what you do, what inspires you, who you work with or what you love.

7. Use action keywords in your tweets – research by Buddy Media says certain words have a greater effect on Twitter followers.  These include “post”, “comment”, “talk” and “tell us”.

8. Find your biggest competitors on Twitter and follow them.

9. Run a short promotion – some of the big coffee shop chains use this technique very effectively.  Try posting something along the lines of “Save 25% for the next hour – just quote TW25 at checkout http://www.website.com/buynow” then link through to the product page on your website.  Trial different times and different offers to see what works.  But keep it random so no-one knows when to expect an offer!

10. Share a picture of where you’re working today – your spare room at home, the office you share with your team, the garden, a local beach where you get your inspiration – take a photo and tweet it with a brief explanation.

11. Find some inspirational pinboards created by others on Pinterest and link to them – look for boards that use images your audience will love (the sea, the countryside, fashion, food, jewellery, etc.)

12. Respond to all comments, replies and retweets – always.

13. Search Twitter for someone who inspires you – an entrepreneur, singer, teacher, speaker – and tweet them a short message about why you admire them.

14. Share pictures of your products – in different colours, sizes, styles; in different settings; with different accessories.

15. Be topical – what’s big in the news at the moment?  Who is the latest sensation on Britain’s Got Talent?  Or The Voice?  What’s making headlines in the press?  Talk about it and ask others what they think.

16. Promote your Facebook page – perhaps you have a hugely successful Facebook page where the conversation is on fire – or perhaps you’re looking to boost your likes and engagement levels?  Either way, there’s no reason not to mention it on Twitter.

17. Post a photo of one of your team – a candid shot of Marie who answers the phone, or one of Beth who works in accounts, or Chris who does your marketing – give your followers a sneak peek into how your business works.

18. Use Vine to film yourself answering a common question asked by customers – short & sweet is the perfect combination.

19. Introduce a regular feature – product of the week, offer of the month, customer of the month, tweeter of the week – you get the idea.

20. Create a list and add all the competitors you followed earlier (remember number 8?)

  • Click the wheel top right of your Twitter page
  • Select ‘Lists’ from the dropdown menu
  • Click ‘Create list’ under your header photo
  • Name it ‘Competitors’ and make it ‘Private’
  • Save list
  • Now click ‘Following’ in the menu on the left
  • Find a competitor who you’re following and click the black head icon to the right of their name
  • Choose ‘Add or remove from lists’ and select your newly created ‘Competitors’ list before closing the window using the ‘x’ top right
  • Do the same for all the competitors you follow

21. Promote a new product or service – don’t forget to add “Please retweet” at the end of your tweet – this can increase retweets by up to 35%.

22. Change your header photo – the dimensions are 1252×626, and the maximum file size is 5MB.  Many people keep this area plain black (the default setting), but it’s a good opportunity to feature one of your products, a photo of where you work, or a stylish texture or pattern.

23. Add Twitter to your email signature – let people know how to find you on Twitter too.

24. Comment thoughtfully in response to someone else’s tweet.

25. Post a photo of the view out of your window right now.  Introduce the hashtag #MyWindow (or come up with your own) so people can keep track of all the similar photos you post – or they may post their own using the same hashtag.

26. Set-up a Hootsuite account to schedule your tweets.

27. Find influencers (journalists, magazines, newspapers, writers, bloggers, others in your industry) and follow them.

28. What websites do you love?  What do you like to read online?  Find an article that your followers will love too and share a link to it.  A great blog post, a wonderful picture (check out Guardian’s Eyewitness for a new image every day), or a top tip that could save your readers a whole load of pain and hassle.  Bookmark that site and link to it next time you’re looking for some fresh new content to tweet.

29. Ask for feedback on a new product idea – should you use linen or cotton in your next cushion?  Should you price your services by the hour or by results?  How about a special offer – would your followers prefer a £5 voucher or free postage?

30. Check out what your competitors are up to by viewing the list you created earlier:

  • Click the wheel top right of your Twitter page
  • Select ‘Lists’ from the dropdown menu
  • Click the ‘Competitors’ list to see tweets from your competitors

31. Find businesses who sell to the same people you do but who don’t compete with you.  Let’s say you’re a wedding planner – search Twitter for florists, hair stylists, wedding dress designers, cake makers, classic car hire companies – find them and connect with them.  Create a list for them (see point 20) to make it easier to keep in touch with them.

32. Retweet something posted by one of the influencers you follow (remember point 27 above?) – add your own comment within your tweet if there’s room!

33. Use the ‘Search’ box (top right) to find what people are talking about in relation to your industry.  Use the ‘Advanced Search’ option (which appears top right as another little cog/wheel, after you’ve done your first search) to narrow your search by region, date, people, etc.

34. Create another list (‘Influencers’) and add all those people you followed in number 27.

35. Add Twitter to your website – depending on who designed your site, and what platform it’s built on, you can even embed your latest tweets on your homepage, as well as add a link directly to your Twitter account.

36. Use Vine to share what you’re working on at the moment – film your desk, or your to-do list, or the latest stock that has just been delivered.

37. Follow me!  Find me on Twitter and let me know what other tips you’d share, or add to the comments below.

38. Check your Twitter name – avoid using punctuation so it’s easy to remember, simple to spell, and less likely to be mis-typed.  You can change your username as often as you like, and your followers will still follow you but obviously you’ll want to do this sparingly.  Choose a good name and stick with it.

39. Use the Advanced Search to find local customers – you can use the ‘Place’ field to find people tweeting near you – how cool is that?

40. Book on a Twitter course near you (there’s one in Cornwall tomorrow – book your spot now and make 2013 the year you get rock solid results from your Twitter account).

41. Be yourself and have fun.  It’s called “social media” for a reason, so be friendly, relaxed and conversational, and you’ll find that your personality shines through and boosts your reputation, your customer relationships and your business.

What would you add?  How have you made Twitter work for you?  Add your ideas in the comments below.

* Okay I made that up – but it must be something like that…. ;o)

Image credit: Designrfix