What is Twitter?
Twitter has been growing at a steady pace since it came up on the internet in 2006. It’s been seen as a celebrity playground by most people, so a lot of businesses and marketers miss its great potential when it comes to promoting their business.
Twitter is what is known as a “micro-blog”, because you update the world on what you are doing in just 140 characters (also known as tweets). It’s different to other social networking sites such as; Facebook or LinkedIn because of its simplicity. It’s so straight forward that there really isn’t much to think about. You just have to interact with others to get the most out of it. Whether you’re in the business of web design, finance, gardening or any other area of work, Twitter brings a friendly alternative to the usual methods of marketing.
How does twitter work?
Twitter works by first signing up to the service with your name and email address (businesses can you their business name if preferred). You then find users around the globe who you’re interested in, and add them to your list. This is otherwise known as “following”, and is done simply by clicking on a user’s name, and then clicking on the “follow” button on their profile. Following a user updates you on the “tweets” they send from their account. This includes general sayings, links to articles, events, and conversations with other users.
Why should I follow people?
You should follow people because you’re interested in what they have to say. This applies to celebrities, professionals, businesses, or even general people. In some ways it is just like a huge playground. The popular kids (with lots to say!) have everyone following them and listening to every word they say, meanwhile the quieter kids don’t have much of a following because they don’t stand out like the cool kids do and make their voices heard. Twitter users will follow (or unfollow you) based on the same principle. This can be used to your advantage as a business, because you can target users who come under your target market, e.g. gardeners, electricians, local businesses etc.
Who should I follow?
The casual Tweeter (Twitter user) would follow people who are partners, friends, clients, competitors, or people who talk about their area of interest. As a business you should follow those that are in your target market. These could come from previous clients, your mailing list, or people you’ve met at events and meetings. Twitter also allows you to search for keywords, a person using their full name, or invite someone to Twitter by typing their email address in the “Who to follow” page (found in the navigation).
Why is Twitter useful for business?
Twitter is one of the fastest ways to update a fan base on any recent news, events, or deals. It’s unique because it’s used as a way to connect personally with another person, without being too formal. The Twitter network is full of real people, saying real things; connecting with others who talk about similar subjects. Again I refer back to the playground scenario; the cool kids are with other cool kids, the sporty kids are playing football together, the girls are having deep conversations, and the list goes on. Businesses however have a higher advantage than the casual Tweeter because they can operate outside the “playground” and target certain groups.
Twitter allows businesses to collect a following of potential clients based on interest alone. When you follow someone, the website suggests other people to follow; based on the type of person you just followed. The same also applies when people follow you. This is how your fan base grows, because users will eventually make their way to your profile.
So now I know what it is, how do I get started?
- Go to twitter.com and fill in the form on the right to sign up.
- You will be taken to a page with a list of categories. Follow up to 10 users in your area of interest or profession.
- Click the “Next Step: Friends” button at the bottom of the page to proceed.
- Follow. the instructions to follow users from your Social Network or Email.
- Now you’re ready to customise your profile. Follow the instructions on the right to upload a profile picture of yourself or business from your hard drive.
- Change your user name if you need to.
- Add your location and your website URL.
- Type in a short bio about yourself or business using keywords. There’s a 160 character limit so keep it brief and catchy.
- Now submit your first Tweet by going to your homepage or clicking the pen icon in the navigation bar.
How do tweets work?
Tweets work by typing in “what’s happening” in a small text box (140 character limit). In your tweets you can:
- Message another user by adding “@” in front of their name, e.g. If you want to message or mention JamesBlakeUK, you type in @JamesBlakeUK.
- Start a topic (also called a trend) by adding the “#” symbol to a keyword. Users can then add that keyword to their tweets by clicking on it, or find you when they search for that keyword. E.g. #HTML.
- Use another person’s message as your own by clicking on the “retweet” icon on their tweet. If you’re tweet is interesting enough, someone else may retweet you, further promoting your profile.
- Insert external links simply by copying and pasting the address.
That’s it! You’re business is now ready to start interacting and connecting with the world.
The next step in Business Guide to Twitter is Part 2: Personalise your Profile. Keep an eye out for the next article where we will take a look at what type of profile picture to use, and how to customise the design of your profile for great first impressions!