With a network of millions of users, Twitter has become a uniquely effective and fast communications tool. Several terms from Twitter have even entered pop culture – you might hear Jimmy Fallon or Oprah talk about “tweets” and “hashtagging” on their talk shows. And more than one celebrity has landed themselves in trouble thanks to unwise Twitter messages.
Which is why it’s so important for the savvy online entrepreneur to know how to use Twitter and apply the best practices when using it. It’s a totally fun, free, and effective marketing tool just waiting to be exploited – because if you learn how to use Twitter with the following tips, you’ll soon be driving customers to your business in droves!
In short, Twitter is a microblogging/instant messaging hybrid application that limits your messages to 140 characters or less. But don’t think of this as a limit, per se. By learning to condense your marketing messages, you’ll also learn how to deliver the most enticing pitches – pitches that people will actually read the whole way through and get them excited to learn more.
When you send out a message (or “tweet”) on Twitter, it is essentially sent out to a subscriber list. This subscription list is called a “following.” The unique thing about Twitter is how you draw subscribers: each person has to choose to subscribe or “follow” your Twitter account. But don’t worry, I’ll show you how to grow your number of followers in a minute.
Let’s Get Started!
Now that you have a basic idea of what Twitter is and its potential, it’s time to get your company some of that great exposure. Steer your web browser over to www.twitter.com and create your free account.
Choosing an effective username is the first, and in many ways, the most important step in creating your account. Since this is going to be displayed and effectively become the username for your business on Twitter, it should contain your business name. When advertising it, the format is: @username.
Simple enough, right?
The problem with choosing your Twitter handle, however, is that due to its incredible popularity, many simple usernames are already taken. Remember when you got your first email account and you couldn’t just use your first name because it was already taken? That’s basically the hurdle of Twitter, too. If your business is centered on marketing coffee products, for instance, you might think @CoffeeLover is a fine Twitter username. And it is. That’s why it’s already taken.
No worries though, there are still plenty of great names to go around.
Tips for Choosing a Great Twitter Name
1. Use common spellings.
2. If your original name is already taken, try a variation, like @NYCCoffeeLover.
3. Try to use your own company name. This makes it easier for your customers to remember.
4. Be patient and try several variations until you get a name you can live with that will be easy for your customers to remember.
Here are a few examples of what I consider to be good Twitter names:
– @nytimes (The New York Times)
– @BBCBreaking (BBC Breaking News)
– @WholeFoods (Whole Foods Market)
Getting Your Brand Out There with Twitter
Now that you have your account all set up, it’s time to start tweeting! Before you do, though, I suggest you personalize your Twitter homepage with a profile picture. This could something as simple as your company’s logo. This will be a small image shown alongside all your tweets, so try to make it stand out.
On Twitter, you can also customize your homepage background. This is also a good idea. Just like your profile picture, a fun and unique background helps to establish your brand and show your customers you’re willing to take a couple of minutes to make these small changes that really make a huge impression.
There are many websites that offer free Twitter templates.
The great thing about picking a Twitter-specific background is that the image is formatted specifically for its layout. If you have something in particular you want displayed, you can even hire a freelance designer to set your account up for a very small fee. Just advertise what you need on www.elance.com, and you’ll soon have offers coming in.
Making Money with Twitter
Alright, here’s the gravy: you CAN make money by using Twitter. You just have to know how to harness its power. See, Twitter is all about sending a message. And as a business owner, your message is going to be about your business.
Your business tweets can be on a number of topics: product launches, special events, links to pictures, links to your website…just about anything you send through email can be broadcast by Twitter – and it happens to all of your followers all at once. Just keep that 140 character-limit in mind!
Let’s say you own a business that specializes in gardening information and you recently learned about an organic pesticide and you tried it and you really, really like it. Your tomatoes have never been redder and your petunias have never been so bright. So you write up a special report about this great organic pesticide on your gardening information website; and in your special report, you create a link to where people can buy this organic pesticide. With all the work out of the way, it’s time to turn to Twitter.
See, Twitter is one of the best ways to tell people where they can buy this organic pesticide. With one quick message that links to your special report, you’ll have tons of people clicking through to your website and spending money along the way. And because your Twitter message, or tweet, contains the link to your website, you’ll increase your traffic and thus, your revenue.
Or say you run a pressure-washing business and have just become aware of the awesome potential of online marketing…and you have a special the first Tuesday of every month. Here’s your tweet: “1/2 OFF WASH this Tuesday!”
It’s short, sweet, packs a great punch, and it gets your clients attention.
So you may be asking yourself, “How do I get people to follow me on Twitter?” On Twitter, in order for somebody to receive your tweets, they first have to follow you. If you already have a Facebook page, post the link to your Twitter account there. Announce your Twitter feed to your existing customers via email or newsletter. Seek out blogs related to your business and post reviews, tagging each one with a link to your Twitter account.
Here are a few more ways to get Twitter followers:
- As a business, remember it’s all about getting followers that are interested in your services
- Create a personal profile with unique images and pictures
- Speaking of which, upload twitpics!
- “Follow” people in the same line of business as you
- Interact with your followers and be gracious and kind
- Post special offers for your Twitter followers
You can also start trends on Twitter. This is a great way to increase the popularity of your account. That’s where the term “hashtagging” comes from (a hashtag is this symbol: #). Basically, if you have a topic related to your business, you can tag your tweets with a hashtag. Other people will pick up on the topic and tag their own related tweets with your original hashtag. Here are some popular hashtags: #SuperBowl, #Networking, and #Oprah.
With a little ingenuity, it’s easy for you to start your own online trend. You just need to pick something you love to talk about and that other people love to hear about and pretty soon your Twitter account will be picking up steam – and followers!
I hope I’ve shown you that Twitter is fast, fun, and easy to use – and a potential gold mine for the savvy internet marketer.
Best of luck!
PS I’ve just given the tips you need to get started with your own successful Twitter account. But here are a few resources to help you get inspired!
Maximizing Your Twitter Impact and Twitter Tools
http://twitpic.com/ (Photo and video sharing tool)
http://blog.twitter.com/ (Great tips for using Twitter from the folks who run it, plus news and trends)
Twitter Accounts to Watch and Be Inspired By
Twitter Small Business Guides