Griffiths web design based in Royston, Hertfordshire, United Kingdom

 

A beginner’s guide to using Twitter for your small business

Author:   Michael Griffiths

Date created:   14 March 2017

[l]This piece is intended to give small business owners some insight into how to use twitter for business. Before I dive into it I just want to put this out there:[/l] [c][b]“Forget about marketing”[/b][/c] [l]At this point you’re probably thinking something along the lines of: “Forget about marketing? But that’s why I want to use twitter for my business![/l] [l]Twitter is not for selling products on directly, the purpose of twitter (in a business sense) is to increase your brand awareness and to convey your brand identity. So with this in mind I am going to reword my previous quote:[/l] [c][b]“Forget about marketing your products or services and start marketing your identity”[/b][/c] [l]In order to market your identity you will need to have a clear idea of who and what your company is and what sort of image you want to get across. This is something that needs to be established before you begin your journey into the world of social media. The first step in this process should be a comprehensive business plan, that way you’ll always have it to hand as a reference.[/l] [hdmd]What’s so special about twitter?[/hdmd] [l]So you’ve got your brand’s identity figured out now we can find out a little more about Twitter. I am going to start with a brief history of twitter then we will move onto the good stuff.[/l] [l]Twitter was created in March 2006 and launched in July by Jack Dorsey ([url=https://twitter.com/jack]@jack[/url]), Evan Williams ([url=https://twitter.com/ev]@ev[/url]) and Biz Stone ([url=https://twitter.com/biz]@biz[/url]). Don’t forget to follow those guys.[/l] [l]It was Jack Dorsey who had the honour of the first tweet:[/l] [postpic=firstevertweet.png class=img-responsive title=The first evert tweet, tweeted by @Jack alt=The first ever tweet tweeted by Jack Dorsey style=STYLE][/postpic] [l]From such humble beginnings Twitter rapidly increased in popularity, so much so that in January 2017 there were a reported 317 million monthly active users. That’s a lot of people! There is lots of other stuff I could go into about twitter in the early days but that’s not the point of this article. For a more in-depth history of twitter I would suggest Wikipedia as a good starting point. Just go onto [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twitter]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twitter[/url] and you’ll get a whole host of information and links to further reading.[/l] [hdmd]Set up you Twitter profile[/hdmd] [hdsm]What was your name again?[/hdsm] [l]The first step is to choose a good username. You really need to think hard about what makes a good username. People have to be able to remember it and to be able to spell it, so keep it a simple as possible but uses something that accurately describes your brand. My company is called Griffiths Web Design so my Twitter username is @GriffithsWeb. When I first set up my twitter I didn’t really know what I was doing but having given it much thought in the years since I think maybe I should have choose a different name as many people struggle to spell Griffiths correctly. I didn’t really think about it at the time because it’s my surname so in my mind it was easy. Hindsight is a wonderful thing! Learn from my mistakes so you don’t have to suffer the same consequences as I.[/l] [hdsm]Your profile picture[/hdsm] [l]Next you need to think about your profile picture. This is part of how your audience will identify you so pick something unique to your brand that other people will associate with your brand. If you represent a company with employees then your logo would be a good start, however if you are a sole trader then I would suggest using a high quality head shot (preferably a professionally shot picture but if not hen make sure you use a high quality image. Your camera on your smart phone is not good enough). Your profile image should be 400 x 400 pixels.[/l] [postpic=twtProfile.png class=img-responsive title=Twitter profile picture dimensions alt=The proper dimensions of a Twitter profile picture style=STYLE][/postpic] [hdsm]A picture paints a thousand tweets[/hdsm] [l]Another prominent image on your profile is your header image. This image should be 1500 x 500 pixels. It should be eye catching and should be in sync with your brands image. This is where you can really let your creativity shine. Use this image wisely as a lot of Twitter users will judge your brand on this image, so first impressions are the only impressions.[/l] [postpic=twtHeader.png class=img-responsive title=Twitter header image dimensions alt=The proper dimensions of a good twitter cover picture style=STYLE][/postpic] [hdsm]Tell us about yourself[/hdsm] [l]The next step is to write an enticing bio. A lot of people write something pretty standard such as:[/l] [c][b]“Hi I’m Michael and I do web design and social media marketing. Get in touch for a great deal or two.”[/b][/c] [l]Or they use a tool like [url=http://twitterbiogenerator.com]http://twitterbiogenerator.com[/url] (this tool is awesome by the way for personal accounts. Some of the bio’s it spits out are very funny) which will generate list type bio’s like the following:[/l] [c][b]“Zombie junkie. Tv trailblazer. Music lover. Total pop culture specialist. Subtly charming organizer.”[/b][/c] [l]The problem with the first one is that it’s super boring. In fact I almost fell asleep writing it. Sure it tells the user who you are and what you do but…yawn. The second one is a bit of a twitter in-joke. When bio’s like this first appeared they were different and interesting but they became overused very quickly. Now a large portion of twitter accounts have a nonsensical list of words as their bios. And what does it really say about the person or company behind the profile? Nothing, that’s what. [/l] [l]The first one was too boring and the second too vague. So where do we start? Well before you actually sit down and write anything you will need to have a good long think. You only have 160 characters to describe to the twittersphere who you are, what you do, and why people should follow you. On top of all this you need to make it memorable. A big mistake that trips up many users of twitter is making your bio too abstract. Yes you want to be different and memorable but you also want people to know what you do. Another point I would like to share is to add a call to action to your bio. For instance you could add a link to your website or ask your followers to do something like get in contact with you.[/l] [hdsm][l]So as a quick recap points to remember regarding your twitter bio are as follows:[/l][/hdsm] [unord][item][l]Be specific. Get straight to the point and tell them who and what you are.[/l] [/item] [item][l]Be memorable. Write something worth reading. It’s not too difficult to spice up your writing, so go and do it.[/l][/item] [item][l]Have fun. If you’re bored writing it then you can be as sure as hell that your followers will be bored to tears reading it.[/l][/item] [item][l]Add a call to action. Get your followers to do something; visit your website, or get in contact, or whatever. Twitter is about building relationships and this will help to break the ice.[/l][/item][/unord] [hdmd]Find some twitter users worth following[/hdmd] [l]When you use Twitter for business it is a two way street, you will get out just as much as you put in. Twitter is a networking tool. So go forth and network! Find people of influence and interest in your niche.[/l] [l]Most professionals will have a link to follow their Twitter account on their website, this is a good place to start. You already know who these people are and what they do so you already know that they are going to provide content that is worthy of your time and engagement.[/l] [l]You could use Twitter’s search function to search for hashtags relevant to your business. Do this regularly then you’ll get to recognise the accounts that regularly post about things that matter to you. Follow these people and engage with them.[/l] [l]You could also use Twitter lists to find people to follow. Find lists relevant to your niche and you’ll be presented with lots of twitter users who you share some interests with. Follow and engage![/l] [l]If you are active on Twitter you may find that you get at least a few retweets. Most of the time the people who retweet your tweets are already following you and vice versa but sometimes you’ll get Twitter users that aren’t on your follow list. These people have shown a clear interest in what you have to say. So, again, follow and engage![/l] [l]Another place to find people to follow is the list of users that follow you. When you get that notification to say, ‘@userBlah is now following you’, make sure you hit the follow back button. If it turns out their content is not of interest, or they are spammers, or for whatever reason, you don’t want to follow them you can just unfollow them at a later date.[/l] [hdmd]Tweet, tweet, tweet[/hdmd] [l]Now you have gone to all the trouble of setting up your profile you can sit back and wait for the flood of followers to come your way right? [/l] [l]Wrong! Very, very, very wrong. So wrong you can’t even see right when you look up. People may be enticed into visiting your profile because of your beautiful header image, your profile image and your highly optimised bio but when they see that you have nothing to say they will quickly exit your profile and scrub all memory of it from their brains. [/l] [l]To get and, most importantly, keep your thousands of followers you need to provide them with quality content that they will want to like and retweet. So how do we do that then? Well this is where things start to move into the domain of dark magic. Your business plan will help you with writing tweets because you will have already done plenty of research into your target audience. You know what makes them tick. So you need to tailor your content towards their needs.[/l] [hdsm]What not to do[/hdsm] [l]The first thing we need to discuss is what not to do. So first I’ll give you a little example of a tweet that will be ignored by everyone.[/l] [c][b]“Visit my website website.com to buy product X”[/b][/c] [l]This tweet is super [b]boring[/b] and is totally focused on the end goal ‘customer conversion’[/l] [l]The problem with this is that you are on twitter to make connections and build up your network. Your followers want to know what you have to offer, but they do not want to listen to your sales pitch. If they did they would visit your website. You need to provide them with value. What value doe the above tweet provide? None. Zilch. Zero. Nothing.[/l] [l]Let’s take a look at another example of a bad tweet.[/l] [c][b]“Awww my cat just jumped over the stair gate”[/b][/c] [l]The tweet above has nothing to do with your business and your potential customers probably couldn’t care less that you have a cat let alone what it is doing (unless your business is cat related then it may be ok)[/l] [hdsm]We’ve seen a couple of examples of what not to do but what SHOULD we do instead?[/hdsm] [l]Your followers are investing a few moments of their time into your twitter profile. We all have a finite amount of time in this world, and let’s face it who really wants to waste their time on something pointless? So in return for their incredible contribution of time you need to provide them with something of interest. Something worth a retweet. Do your followers feel that the information you’ve shared is worthy of hitting that retweet button? Do your followers feel that their followers would appreciate the little nuggets of wisdom you choose to impart?[/l] [hdsm]To write a tweet that twitter users will engage with you need to accomplish several things:[/hdsm] [unord] [item][l]Use relevant keywords and hash tags.[/l][/item] [item][l]Provide content that is relevant to your business and the needs of your followers.[/l][/item] [item][l]Include a call to action. Could be a question to which they can reply, or it could be a link to your website, or it could be anything depending on what your goals are for the tweet.[/l][/item] [item][l]Recognise that voice and tone are separate beasts. As a brand your ‘voice’ will not change but your ‘tone’ will depending on the situation.[/l][/item] [item][l]Say everything you need to say within the 140 char limit, although research has found that tweets that are approximately 100 chars in length get the most engagement.[/l][/item] [/unord] [hdsm]A quick note on tweet length[/hdsm] You are allowed a maximum of 140 characters per tweet. Awesome, short, sweet and to the point. Hopwever research ghas shown that tweets that are around the 100 chars mark tend to get more engagement because it allows others to add a little commentary of their own when they hit that magic retweet button. [hdsm]Images in your tweets[/hdsm] [l]So we’ve figured out how we should write our tweets. Awesome. But what about images? If you do a google search regarding levels of engagement for different types of tweets you’ll see that posts with images have a higher rate of engagement than those without. I won’t post and actual numbers as the statistics scattered across the web are varied to say the least. They do all however show a similar pattern. Posts that have images inspire more retweets. We are visual creatures by nature so nothing appeals to the human eye quite like an image.[/l] [unord] [item][l]Your images need to be relevant. Not just to the tweet but to your brand and your target audience. If it doesn’t add value then it has no value. Only include images to add value to your tweet.[/l][/item] [item][l]Your images need to be optimised for the web. Have a look in Photoshop or some equivalent piece of image editing software and make sure that your image has a resolution of 72 pixels per inch.[/l][/item] [/unord] [hdsm]Be responsive[/hdsm] [l]So you’ve been writing some great tweets that are getting loads of engagement, now what? Now you’ve got yourself in the line of site of your target audience you need to try to build relationships with them. [/l] [unord] [item][l]Respond quickly to mentions, replies, and DM’s.[/l][/item] [item][l]Ask people questions.[/l][/item] [item][l]Show an interest in them and their lives.[/l][/item] [item][l]Mention them in tweets you think may be of interest to them.[/l][/item] [item][l]Send a DM to introduce yourself.[/l][/item] [item][l]Retweet a few of their tweets that you think your target audience could benefit from.[/l][/item] [/unord] [l]You need to prove to the twittersphere that you are the go to guy(or girl) for when it comes to…insert field of interest here…[/l] [l]We are social by nature so capitalise on it and jump into the conversation. People love to talk, and occasionally some of us like to listen. So approach people and prove to them that you’re worth spending a few minutes talking to.[/l] [hdmd]And that’s all for now folks…[/hdmd] [l]I hope this post has helped to make sense of the world of Twitter, but if after reading your head is still in a spin then please send me a message and I’ll get back to you ASAP.[/l] [l]Thank you very much for taking the time to read this post. Before you go hit the share button for your preferred social media channel. Don’t forget to follow @GriffithsWeb on Twitter and I will make sure that I follow back in return. Also any retweets will be both appreciated and reciprocated.[/l]

About the author

My name is Michael Griffiths, I am a website designer and developer and the owner of Griffiths Web Design. I am based in Royston, Hertfordshire. Most of my work is local, Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire, Essex etc. but that’s not to say I won’t work elsewhere. One of the wonders of modern technology is remote working. So no matter where the client is located it is always possible to connect.

I specialise in creating ASP.NET webforms applications using C#. I use Microsoft SQL Server for database development and on the front end I use Html, CSS and JavaScript. I am also proficient in the use of jQuery and several CSS frameworks.

One of my greatest passions in life is learning. Which is why I chose to pursue a career in web design and development, technology is in a state of constant and rapid evolution which means there is always something new to learn. I also enjoy writing, both fiction and non-fiction.

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