Your beginner’s guide to using Twitter for business
Want to use Twitter for business but don’t know where to start? Learn how to grow followers, engagement and sales with our beginner’s guide to Twitter for business.
Ten years ago, if you wanted to reach thousands of potential consumers and tell them about your products or services, you’d have needed to spend thousands of pounds on expensive radio, TV or press ads. But today, thanks to social media networks like Twitter, you can do just that for free.
All you need is some time and a bit of knowhow, and you can successfully market your business and brand – and pick up valuable leads and orders. As many growing businesses and freelancers are doing every day.
Lots of people find Twitter confusing or scary at first
But for many budding freelancers and small businesses (and even some larger ones!) Twitter can seem a confusing place. What exactly should you be tweeting? And when… to who? How do you find followers? And how to people find you to follow you? And exactly how do you make sense of a busy, loud, fast-moving timeline?!
If you’ve asked any of these questions when taking a peek at Twitter, you’re not alone. In fact they’re all questions we pondered when we first set up our own @talentedladies account. It took us a few months, and some professional help from Twitter experts to finally understand what it was all about – and more importantly, how we could make it work for our business.
Once you ‘get’ Twitter you’ll be surprised at how easy and fun it is to use and connect with people. It’s a great place to get help, not just to promote your business, but with any information or leads you need too. And it’s also really rewarding helping others.
Our beginner’s guide to using Twitter for business
Whether you’re already on Twitter and struggling to get your head around it, or are toying with the thought but afraid of taking the leap, our beginner’s guide to using Twitter for business should give you the confidence and knowledge to launch your business or promote your freelance services on Twitter – and start reaping the rewards.
A quick intro on using Twitter
As a very basic rule, Twitter isn’t that much different to the real world. The more helpful and active you are on Twitter, the more you’ll get back. Don’t expect to suddenly amass hundreds of followers who are willing to click on your every link from day one. You’ve got to earn your rewards on Twitter. And this means positive networking.
On Twitter, positive networking is retweeting, thanking, mentioning and following other tweeters, and generally being helpful and polite, much as you would be in real life. It’s not just good business practice, but it’s a nice thing to do.
It’s also important to remember that you’re on Twitter for a reason. This isn’t a personal account where you’re tweeting just for fun (however much you may well enjoy it!). Your Twitter activities should be helping you grow your brand, professional network and business – and it’s important to keep this front of mind.
This means that everything you do should ultimately help you achieve your business goals. It also means that you need to think about the things that you tweet and retweet.
Retweeting on Twitter
Retweeting is a great way to get noticed on Twitter. By choosing your retweets wisely, you’ll establish yourself among your own followers as a source of great information and links, and prove yourself to be a helpful, valuable and influential tweeter.
You’ll also come to the attention of the person you have retweeted. As a result they may follow you (if they’re not already), retweet one of your own tweets in return, or mention you as thanks.
Retweeting is very easy. Simply scroll down through your timeline and look for tweets that may be useful or interesting (and occasionally amusing) to your followers. Don’t just retweet just any old thing – if you’re an accountant, retweeting carp fishing photos isn’t going to be terribly interesting or helpful to most of your followers – and may even lose you some!
Thanking people on Twitter
If someone retweets you, or mentions you in their tweet, it’s only polite to thank them. You may also want to have a quick look at their profile to see if they’ve tweeted anything that may be helpful to your followers, and if they have, retweet it.
At the very least, thanking someone is a nice thing to do. But it will also mean they’re more likely to want to help you in the future, and if they retweet your thanks, you have another chance to get your name in peoples’ timelines.
Following people on Twitter
While it’s natural to want to try and acquire as many followers as you can on Twitter, you don’t want just anybody. If you’re tweeting for business, the whole point of the exercise is to help grow your business and reputation. And to do this, you need followers who could be potential customers, or who in some way may help influence or connect you to them – or people who tweet about things that may be interesting or helpful to you.
You also need to make sure that most of the people you are following follow you back (which they should if you’re targeting the right people). If not, you risk hitting the Twitter ceiling (more about that later).
One of the easiest ways to build genuine followers, is to start following other people. You can be guaranteed that a certain percentage of the people you follow will follow you back. Before you follow someone, check that they’re currently active on Twitter, and that they’re tweeting about things that may interest you or your followers.
It’s also a good idea look and see how many people they’re following vs are following them. If they only follow a tiny percentage, the chances are they probably won’t follow you back. If they’re particularly interesting or useful to you, you may want to follow them anyway (or just add them to a Twitter list), but if not it may be wise to give them a miss.
Recognising your key influencers on Twitter
In your Twitter universe, there will be lots of tweeters who aren’t very active, and aren’t particularly engaged – and who usually have a modest following. A much smaller group of tweeters will be really active – retweeting, mentioning and tweeting frequently to thousands of engaged followers.
If these people are talking about similar topics to you, or have followers who fit your ideal customer profile, they are your key influencers – the people that could possibly help you the most.
If you don’t have much time to spend on Twitter it’s wise to spot your key influencers, and make a point of engaging with them. This means retweeting their tweets that you think your followers may enjoy or benefit from, and replying to their tweets.
As active, switched-on tweeters, they’re much more likely to retweet your own tweets in response and mention you – helping you to reach a much wider audience of potential customers and connections.
Using Twitter hashtags and chat hours
One quick way to gain the attention of the right kind of followers is to use hashtags and join chat hours. Chat hours are times of the week when people tweet using hashtags on particular subjects.
There are chat hours for women, geographical areas, types of businesses, Facebook and there’s even – our particular favourite – #wineoclock! Chat hours are really great fun, and a good opportunity to connect with people who have similar interests or are local to you.
As well as chat hours, you can use popular hashtags to tag your tweets, for example, #womaninbusiness or #ukbiz. These will help your tweets show up more easily in searches – especially if you use popular hashtags. That said, don’t stuff your tweets with them. Twitter recommend using a maximum of two per tweet.
Entering Twitter competitions
A really great way to get noticed by a much wider audience is to win a Twitter competition. There are several to choose from, including:
- #WOW – every week, Jacqueline Gold picks three female-run businesses to tweet to her 37,000+ followers. To enter, simply send her a tweet about your business between 1 and 3pm on a Wednesday with the hashtag #WOW.
- #SBS – every Sunday Theo Paphitis picks six small businesses to tweet about the next evening to his 380,000+ followers. To enter, tweet Theo with the hashtag #SBS on Sundays between 5 and 7:30pm.
Being clever with your time on Twitter
If you’ve ever looked at a Twitter timeline, you’ll know how fast it changes. So simply tweeting once a day isn’t going to get you much exposure! That said, you probably can’t sit on Twitter all day tweeting in the hope that something gets noticed.
Instead, you need to carefully plan your Twitter activity. To do this, you need to get an idea of when your followers are most likely to be on Twitter. If you’re targeting working mums, for example, you probably won’t get much response at 4am – nor at 6pm during the bed/bath marathon.
Once you know when your followers are most likely to be checking their timelines, you can use a tool like Hootsuite to schedule your tweets throughout the day. So while you’re getting on with your business and life, Twitter is happily working for you.
If you have something interesting to say or link to, try and schedule a few tweets throughout the day on that topic. Take time to make sure each one is slightly different, so if someone does see all three, or checks your timeline, it doesn’t look like you’ve simply cut and pasted the same message.
Getting help to get started on Twitter
Some people are natural influencers and tweeters, finding it easy to build a large, engaged following. But most of us can need a little help to get started on Twitter and find our feet – we certainly did! And luckily there are a number of companies that specialise in helping businesses make the most of Twitter.
They can help you:
- Get started on Twitter – get help to create the right profile, find followers, find people to follow, learn how to use Twitter (how to find your mentions, how to use lists etc) and avoid basic mistakes.
- Maximise Twitter for your business – find out how to use your time more effectively, how to better engage with your followers, how to measure your success, how to build your following and how to use hashtags.
- Break through the Twitter ceiling – if you haven’t been careful when building your following you may hit the Twitter ceiling and be unable to follow any more people or businesses. You can get help to clean up your account to break through the ceiling, and build a more effective business network.
Read more social media advice
You’ll find more practical social media advice in these articles:
- 10 common social media mistakes to avoid
- The four stages of mastering Twitter
- The advanced guide to selling on Pinterest
- How to get amazing results from your business Facebook page
10 quick tips for Twitter success – infographic
And finally, want more quick Twitter tips for beginners? Check out this infographic with 10 quick tips for Twitter success by Red Website Design.