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A beginners’ guide to Twitter

More small businesses are realising the power of Twitter, using 140 characters to communicate with their customers and promote their brand. Here’s how to use tweets to expand your enterprise

  

Business owners are becoming wise to the fact that Twitter is about much more than celebrity chatter and last night’s television. The social network has anywhere up to half a billion users worldwide, and many companies are exploiting tweets as a powerful tool for marketing, customer service and generating sales.

Less technologically savvy business owners may be intimidated by the thought of engaging with this form of social media for the first time. Do not fear!

Once you have registered for an account there are a few simple steps to get started:

  • Consider how you illustrate your profile. A company logo or a photo of the business owner could be options. Whatever you choose, it should strongly represent the business. Similarly, the backdrop picture should relay the personality and essence of your company; for example, a pile of coffee beans for a café will remove any doubt about what the business does.
Consider how you illustrate your profile
  • The biography of the business that sits on the account home page should be a short, clear description of the company and the products or services it provides. Include a URL linking to the company website in the appropriate field.
  • Avoid sounding too formal. Twitter is meant to be a conversation, so a chatty tone that invites response will prove more effective at engaging with customers.
  • It’s important to think about what you want to achieve via social media, whether it’s growing your customer base or generating new business leads. What do you think your customers really want?
  • Twitter’s own research suggests that many users follow companies to get discounts and promotions, so think about offering followers a promotional code or incentive.
  • The immediate nature of Twitter can make it very useful for customer service, but manage exchanges with care. If a customer has a major complaint, it may be wise to ask them to direct message you to prevent a negative exchange escalating where it’s visible to other followers.
Twitter can be very useful for customer service, but manage exchanges with care
  • If someone tweets you, reply quickly and always retweet positive messages – it’s all good publicity. And if your business is in a position to offer tips or relevant advice, think about creating regular messages or post links to videos that show what you do or give a behind-the-scenes insight into how your business works.
  • It’s important to think about what you want to achieve via social media, whether it’s growing your customer base or generating new business leads. What do you think your customers really want?
  • Twitter’s own research suggests that many users follow companies to get discounts and promotions, so think about offering followers a promotional code or incentive.
  • The immediate nature of Twitter can make it very useful for customer service, but manage exchanges with care. If a customer has a major complaint, it may be wise to ask them to direct message you to prevent a negative exchange escalating where it’s visible to other followers.
  • If someone tweets you, reply quickly and always retweet positive messages – it’s all good publicity. And if your business is in a position to offer tips or relevant advice, think about creating regular messages or post links to videos that show what you do or give a behind-the-scenes insight into how your business works.
  • If you are using Twitter specifically to market your business, you could think about using scheduled tweets, which allow users of Twitter Ads to line up messages for specific dates and times, up to a year in advance. And when it comes to marketing your Twitter feed itself, promote your @username wherever possible – on your business cards, vehicles and signs.
  • Twitter can be used as a research tool. If you are curious to know what’s being said about your business visit search.twitter.com to see if anyone’s talking about your company or, indeed, any of your rivals.
  • A major challenge is keeping your Twitter feed looking fresh. Each business must judge how much is enough – one tweet a day will be right for one company, while tweeting several times a day may be appropriate for another.
  • It’s important to be aware that Twitter content must be frequently updated and targeted at the right audience – it’s a commitment and takes effort to get your messages right. If you don’t have the time or energy to create a properly curated social media campaign consider outsourcing your community management where funds allow, or revisit when you have a dedicated team member to execute this on behalf of your business.
Articles are written by independent journalists and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of O2.


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