At this point you’ve probably heard of Twitter, if you haven’t, “Where have you been?” Twitter is now becoming one of the most popular social media websites out there; behind Facebook. Twitter’s popularity has grown exponentially over the past year and you must be wondering, “How do I get in on this?” There are a few things you need to know about Twitter before you can be successful in using it.
Here are the Basics
Twitter is a social media tool that allows a user to update their followers on what they are doing right now. Users are allowed to enter messages up to 140-characters keeping your updates short and simple. Twitter uses its own terminology that is vital to everyday usage, here’s a list of those terms and what they do provided by Smashing Magazine :
- DM or Direct Message: This is a private message sent to another Twitter user. It’s preceded by a “D” and can only be sent to a user who is following you.
- Hashtag: Hashtags are single-word phrases used to organize different topics, chats, and events on Twitter, and are preceded by a hash mark “#”.
- Lists: Lists are a fairly new Twitter feature, and are just what they sound like: lists of Twitter users created and categorized by other Twitter users. You can follow entire lists rather than having to follow each individual user.
- Reply or @reply: To reply to another Twitter user, or include them in a tweet, you put an @ symbol before their username. If the @symbol is the first character in the tweet, the reply will be shown to them and anyone following both of you. If the @ symbol is not the first character, then the tweet will be shown to all of your followers, plus the person whose username follows the @.
- RT or Retweet: Retweets are re-broadcasts of another user’s tweet. This is traditionally done by including an “RT” before the original poster’s @username. This has long been an unofficial feature of Twitter, though Twitter has recently added official support for it. Some users use other characters (such as a full stop “.”) for brevity’s sake.
- Trending Topics: These are the most popular terms appearing on Twitter at any given time and may include hashtags.
Now that you know the basics and the terminology associated with Twitter you’re ready to begin tweeting. A few things you need to know about your Twitter page:
- Keep it Personal: When you keep your page personal it allows your customers to interact with you on a level they are not used to, it lets them know who you are and gives them the “warm fuzzies” when dealing with you in the future.
- Don’t Spam: Twitter can be a great marketing tool for your business if used properly. Yes it is okay to use it to tweet about new products, etc. BUT DON’T OVERDO IT!
- Don’t Blindly Follow Others in hope of gaining more followers, this would bog down your Twitter feed with useless Tweets and 9 times out of 10 they will not follow you back, so your attempts would’ve been in vain.
There are many ways for you to find people to follow on Twitter, the easiest and most obvious of these is to find people you know. This could be classified as people from blogs you read regularly, friends and family, clients, or even websites or products that you use on a consistent basis. Well that’s the easy way, now to find people you don’t know. Twitter has the ability to search the site for topics people are interested in and are talking about, such as world events, consumer products, etc. Search for terms and topics that are relevant to you and your business; this will help you find people who may be interested in the type of business and/or services you offer. Another way to find followers is to enter yourself into Twitter Chats; getting involved in a chat about a topic you’re associated with will draw followers to you if you are informative and stay on topic. As stated previously, don’t follow a bunch of people who may or may not be interested in your company or have nothing to do with your interests. While there may be a possibility that they will be one of the courteous Twitter users and blindly follow you, this does not mean that they care about what you have to say and in turn the result is the lack of engagement of your followers with your tweet topics. Your best bet is to find people you find interesting, follow them, and see if they in turn find you interesting enough to give you a follow.
Communicating with others on Twitter
Twitter is an amazing tool for communicating with friends & family as well as colleagues and clients alike. Twitter is also a great way to find new leads and make new connections with others in your industry or with people who are interested in your services. Make sure to follow conversations that are relative to your company. Respond to topics that relate to your business, follow those who talk about your business and thank them for their criticism and support (whichever you may have received). Just remember; ALWAYS KEEP IT PERSONAL, you don’t want to sound like a promotional machine.
Using Twitter for Promotions
Like I stated before, Twitter is an amazing promotional tool as long as it’s used properly and tastefully. Sending direct sales promotions to individual users can black list you instantly among the Twitter community as a spammer and can eventually result in the cancellation of your account by Twitter. You want to avoid doing this at all costs in order to keep followers and keep your Twitter successful. Spamming your users with self-promotional material is not one of the ways to avoid this.
The best and most-effective way to promote yourself on Twitter is to tweet content that is relevant to your business that your followers and clients may also be interested in. The occasional company status update is not frowned upon as long as it does not come off as overly self-promotional. A good example is: “Hey everyone, Check out this project we just finished [link] let us know what you think!”, short and simple, and to the point. Another great method, if you’re a blogger, is to tweet recent blog topics for people to read, this is self-promotion, but is rarely looked down upon as twitter is considered a blog tool.
You can also promote yourself on Twitter by reading what people are asking questions about in your topic field. Answer the questions professionally with examples to gain respect and to be considered a knowledgeable source of information when it comes to these topics by doing so.
Finally, customizing your background of your Twitter page can be the easiest and most-beneficial ways to self-promote. This is “the” area you can promote yourself without being frowned upon.
Connecting with Twitter
The next time you post your blog, don’t forget to include a re-tweet button. Sites like TweetMeme offer code that can be embedded into your blog allowing users to re-tweet your blog to their followers. Also, don’t forget, when promoting something it isn’t impolite to ask your followers for a re-tweet. Some may jump on it, some may not. Your followers aren’t going to re-tweet everything you post, and you definitely don’t want to be doing it either. Only re-tweet what is important to you and what your followers may find important as well.
In conclusion, you now know the basics of Twitter and how to use it as well as how to be effective in promoting your business through Twitter. There are also many tools out there that can help make this all easier for you and that allow you to stay organized. I hope this information has been informative for you, please look below for a few helpful links to resources and tools that can help you with Twitter.
http://www.tweetqa.com/ – helps you find users to share your expertise with
http://tweetmeme.com/about/retweet_button – code for retweet button in your blog
http://www.tweetconvo.com/ – allows you to see full conversations you have with other Twitter users
http://twitterfeed.com/ – lets you automatically update Twitter and other social media sites whenever new content is posted on your blog.
http://twittercal.com/ – integrates your Google Calendar with Twitter
http://www.tweetcube.com/ – allows you to share files through Twitter
http://www.twitpic.com/ – hosts photos and allows you to post them to Twitter
http://www.tweetdeck.com/beta/ – Free Desktop app or iPhone app that allows you to organize and keep track of your Twitter
http://bit.ly/ – free and simple URL shortener that allows you to post long links into your Twitter updates