We all know that social media is changing the way we do business. Twitter is one of the fastest-growing social media sites, and with good reason. Not only is it easy – but it can help grow your business. Here is some information on Twitter, and how you can use it for business.
What is it? Twitter is a free service that allows anyone to say (write) anything in 140 characters or less.
How Do You Sign Up? Go to www.twitter.com and create a profile. One tip: create a username that brands either you or your business. For instance, JoAnn Hines, the Packaging Diva, uses “packagingdiva” as her Twitter name. I use “mzfisher.”
What Kind of Messages Do You Send? This is the heart of the matter, and can make or break your experience.
Top 5 Types of Twitter Messages, to Grow Your Business:
1. Thank you – make sure you include the “@” sign before the Twitter name: For example: “Thanks @indiebusiness for being a terrific guest on our teleseminar on ‘How to Use Video to Grow Your Business.'” Why this works: You are thanking someone, which always helps strengthen a relationship; you are showing others that you know and have a relationship with another person that they might think highly of; and you are subtly promoting something you offered in your business at the same time. In addition, the person you are thanking, if you include the “@” symbol, will be able to tell that you thanked him or her (even if they aren’t on Twitter at the time, they can search on Twitter for any mention of “@” and the Twitter name to see who is talking about them). You can also let that person know through a DM (“Direct Message”) that you mentioned him or her.
2. Useful information (non-promotional) – if you have a way people can save money, or learn something interesting, share it. Why this works: You are helping others, for the purpose of providing information, with no ulterior motive (such as trying to sell your products or services).
3. Kudos – one of my personal favorites. Did you read a great article that featured someone you are following? I do this often, with folks like Guy Kawasaki and Tony Hsieh of Zappos. A typical message: “@zappos – Amazing idea on recruiting in Inc. Magazine.” Why this works: You are offering sincere congratulations – always welcome – and strengthening relationships. You are also showing that you know these folks, which means that others who respect them may follow you.
4. Personal – one of my favorites, but this one is tricky. The key is to connect with others in some way. If you send personal thoughts, make sure they are meaningful. If you send messages like “Going to have a ham sandwich for lunch,” it’s a waste of people’s time. Something like “Getting ready to walk in the Relay for Life for ACS” is a way to potentially connect with others with similar interests. Why this works: You’re showing your human side, and people connect with people.
5. Re-tweets – this means that you are forwarding a message from someone else. The way to do this is to put “RT” before the message. Why this works: This shows that you respect an idea of someone else, which strengthens your bond with that person. It also shows that you know this person, and his/her followers might follow you because of that.
Why Didn’t I Include Promotional Messages in the Top 5? It’s really easy to include promotional messages in Twitter, and I think most of us (including myself), do this too often. An occasional “sign up for my teleseminar” or “free shipping ends today” are okay, but they usually won’t endear you to your audience. Social media is really about the relationship, not so much about the hard sell.
Quick Twitter Tips:
- Include your photo in your Twitter profile. People want to connect with people.
- Include your business and personal interests in your profile description, so people can find ways to bond with you.
- Use the DM (“Direct Message”) feature. If you and another person are following each other, this is a way to connect with that person directly, outside of the public Twitter space. It’s a way to build and strengthen the relationship.
- Tweet during business hours. I learned this from JoAnn Hines, @packagingdiva. This is the way to make sure that the most people will see your tweets.
- Use www.tinyurl.com to save characters on Web site addresses. You enter a Web site address or link into TinyUrl and it makes a smaller-sized link, which is important, since 140 characters for Twitter messages can make it hard to cover all of your information.
- Download a mobile application or other applications, such as TweetDeck, to make access to Twitter easier when you’re on the go or doing other things, so you can participate more easily.
Final Thoughts. Used properly, Twitter is a great way to create new and strengthen existing relationships. And, after all, that’s how you grow a business!
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About the Author: Margie Zable Fisher is the President of Zable Fisher Public Relations, a small business public relations firm, and is the publisher of Women Business Owners Digest (www.wbodigest.com). She offers free award-winning Public Relations tips at www.zfpr.com.
More in: Twitter
Thank you for NOT putting promotional tweeting in the top 5 tweet types. Not only am I personally annoyed by ceaseless self-promotion (I unfollow those people) but for companies this is a death sentence to the effectiveness of their Twitter usage. Deliver value & build the relationships, then you can selectively promote your products/services.
Great tips. I find that sharing helpful list articles gets good attention. Also anything funny or humorous tends to get retweeted. I think a good mix of serious business and personality is key. I get disinterested if things are too serious all the time.
I appreciate this primer/reminder piece, Margie. Thank you. I’ve been using Twitter for a while — and occasionally helping clients to use it (which is when my tweets go low). I know it was out of your post scope, but the tool I find the most useful is TwitterBar for Firefox. It allows me to put my tweet into the browser address bar and post to Twitter. It even shows me how many characters I have left.
There are lots of tools out there, but since I live in Firefox it is the most useful I’ve found. And easy.
p.s. I think you should tweak this post byline and put your Twitter address in it… Mine is above via my name.
Hi Margie. I particularly like the ‘thank you’ message – it’s relevant to at least 2 people and people feel good that positive (rather than all the negative stuff) feedback is being given.
Great post. Easy to digest and some great tips. One modification I’d suggest in your tips section is the use of bit.ly over tinyurl for URL shortening. bit.ly (and other services) give users some reporting features not available in tinyurl. Helpful to gauge the popularity of links in your tweets.
Great post! Thanks for including @IndieBusiness. I love how you specifically did not include promotional examples. People don’t need examples of how to do that because everyone knows how to send someone to their shopping cart. What’s more subtle, and requires care and precision, is Tweeting to gain influence and create meaningful relationships.
Lazy Tweeting to hock stuff will get you nowhere in the long run. If you do it regularly, it’s background noise at best and spam at worst. Influence is the gold standard on Twitter, and it is achieved when you help other people, pure and simple.
If something will help someone else, it’s worth Tweeting, reading and sharing. For example, I’m going to go and Tweet this post right now!
Margie, Great article. Thanks so much for digesting reams of information and experience to create such a coherent outline of best practices.
Very good information on some basics of using Twitter for business. I especially like your point about using it to thank people to help strengthen relationships.
Any thoughts on using bit.ly versus tinyurl? They basically do the same thing, but I just tried out bit.ly and I really like their tracking feature. Are both services interchangeable or is there an advantage of one over the other?
Good, solid thinking here. I like the approach ranking the top 5 more around creating and strengthening relationships versus merely promoting your business.
Thanks Margie – As a relatively new Twitter user (@JosianeFeigon), I would highly recommend all of these suggestions. One thing I might caution against is using an auto-direct message when people follow you.
Please specify that thank you messages should be in the form of “@twitteruser thank you for….” rather than “thank you @twitteruser for….”.
This makes a huge difference in what most people see because the settings are usually to NOT see replies to other people one follows. Nothing will make me unfollow someone as quickly as seeing what is essentially spam, because I do not care to see those messages. If I did want to see @replies to people I did not follow, I would set that in my preferences.
Such an enlightening topic especially with twitter. Social media marketing is a new tool entrepreneurs can use for their benefit. Building relationships given this tool creates a strong circle like a family which works as well in businesses.
Margie Zable Fisher,
Great tips! I will follow you @mzfisher when Twitter has changed its follow limit. I can’t follow more people at the moment. I think that is a bit strange. I have 2092 followers and I follow 2365 users at the moment.
I think you could send a personal message about your eating habits on Twitter. You are answering the question: “What are you doing?” You could add a place you want to go to and see if someone wants to join. You could get recommendations on good places, having a discussion on food, health, good things in life, etc., by writing this kind of tweet.
“If you send messages like “Going to have a ham sandwich for lunch,” it’s a waste of people’s time.”
Kevin Neely: I didn’t know the importance of the order of @name in the tweet. Don’t you find all the updates mentioning your @name when you click on @name in the dashboard?
By the way: Cute Origami Twitter bird by Paddy Donnelly of IAmPaddy.com. 🙂
I too enjoy Twitter and above are really excellent tips especially on being human. Someone who will use Twitter as part of their strategy must let their followers and friends feel the sense of belongingness to the community they are in. Building not just your brand but also relationships I guess plays a very important role here.
Btw, DMs today are no longer that desirable as before. Now I got a lot of auto DMs and sometimes I even have missed really important and intended messages. : (
Btw, you can find me at @girlopinion 😉
@Martin of course I see all the one @ktneely. What I don’t want to see are the @replies from someone that I follow to someone I do not follow.
If I follow you and you start it with @someoneelse then I will not see the message. If you type a couple words and then mention @someone else within the body, I will see it, even though it is completely out of context of anything i want to see.
Thanks for the explanation. It could be that I made these mistakes according to your book. I am experimenting with my tweets, for example with a carbon copy attention to someone that I think could be interested in reading the message that I am sending to somebody else. It could happen that the CC user finds the other person interesting and wants to start following this user. With Seesmic Desktop, TweetDeck and other software programs, you could filter the stream in different ways. I think that the Twitter search function and hashtag thread are great features too.
It is a learning experience. I wonder when the Twitter for Dummies book is out, or if I could find some online netiquette page in cyberspace… 😉
True the tools can help, but you can’t rely on someone using them. And the filters are limited: only one at a time on tweetdeck. I’ll unfollow someone that is spamming me because they are replying to someone else incorrectly.
Thanks for your input. Do you have a suggestion of a good site that is covering the netiquette of Twitter? Are you using FriendFeed?
The best I’ve read yet is Cali Lewis’ 12 days of Twitter: http://calilewis.me/12-days-of-twitter-wrapped-up
but mostly I go by old Internet etiquette which could be summed up in “don’t annoy people in ways in which others annoy you”. If someone I follow gets spammy (i.e. i see too many messages in which I am uninterested) I’ll just drop them. If They really spam, I’ll probably just block it with Topify.
Thanks so much for this. I signed up for twitter long ago put have never been able to understand what the point is. I am on stumble and you get a thumbs up! Now off to find other things you write, maybe even check on twitter. Peace for all
Thank you very much for the link. I will check it out!
Thanks for sharing the great twitter info to grow businesses.
Great tips on how to use Twitter to cultivate meaningful business relationships! Miles Technologies provides Social Media Optimization to help businesses strengthen their online brand and increase their online presence.
So far What I think of twitter…Just noise. Multi-level marketing and sales pitches. Have not had one morsel come my way worth keeping. Nor have I built a single relationship as the posts are announcements thrown out to the wind and not conversational at all.
Great post! Interesting how many people don’t want to see replies to people that they aren’t following. I find that the best way to discover new people to follow! The people that I like are often talking to others that I would like (and I would miss that if I didn’t see those tweets). Just a thought!
I agree whole heartedly with the top 5! Promoting definitely doesn’t belong there! Many people who over promote (IMHO) just aren’t aware of how detrimental that is to them and their brand (yes everyone has a brand.you have one, whether you mean to or not!). I blog about this often! Too many people try to apply the “old ways of marketing online” to new media, and it just doesn’t work! The culture is different, and therefore so are the “rules of engagement”. Lastly, to Bonnie and others who see no redeeming value in twitter, I would say “you’re following the wrong people” and “you get out what you put in!”. I have met my favorite authors and speakers (in person) including my all time idol, Zig Ziglar, thanks to twitter. I’ve met dozens of amazing people who have changed my life and my business and gained clients, speaking engagements and more via twitter. But again, you have to make “significant deposits to get significant returns”. Focus of giving and creating value for others 1st, and you will be amazed and what you will receive!
thanks for the post!
@Heather Seeing the replies to others is definitely a great way to find people that share your interests. However, once you hit critical mass, you just have to shut it off. There is no way I can keep track of all the people with whom I communicate on twitter if I have to constantly click on other peoples’ feeds to find out what they are talking about.
And the point is: the setting is there for a reason. You may want to see all those replies and that’s great, adjust the setting appropriately. But, please encourage people to follow the standard so twitter works in the way it was designed.
It’s very easy to filter out the schtuss and get the internet into a Takana proof state. ,
Thanks, Margie. The personalization tips are especially helpful. Even those of us on Twitter for business purposes need to remember it’s still SOCIAL media, and our messages need to open genuine doors as to who we are, not just to what we want.
Than you Margie for the straight talk. There is nothing more refreshing than to see this type of communication especially these days! You are always welcome here!!!
That is seriously good data, thanks a lot.