Many (myself included) think of Twitter as a shotgun approach promotional tool, and hence tend to underestimate how valuable of a tool it can be in promoting and sustaining their business.
Although it started out as a very small community, Twitter has grown exponentially over the past couple of years and its importance can no longer be ignored, as more and more people use Twitter to communicate with the masses.
People who count would not risk being absent on Twitter – Barack Obama used Twitter to announce campaign news and updates during the presidential elections, while Rick Sanchez of CNN used Twitter daily to interact with his audience.
There are many other examples of TV Shows, celebrities, very successful businesses and even FORTUNE 500 companies that used Twitter as one of their primary interaction tools with the public.
Getting Followers on Twitter
If you are taking your first steps on Twitter, you first go to Twitter.com and get a profile for yourself. Then you can use the WhoTo Follow tool to find relevant people to add to your circle. The tool lets you browse potential people you want to follow according to your interests. Once you have decided to follow some people who let’s say are important in the world of social media marketing, the tool will continue to recommend people to follow based on your current list. Twitter lets you see who you are following and who is following you. Some people you follow will follow you in return, and so will their followers. Imagine the potential in that! This is a great way of making inside contact with the right people in your field and getting yourself or your business known.
Once you start tweeting, you can keep track of the activity you are generating by looking for Mentions of your name online, or Retweets to check how many times your message has been retweeted and shared with others. There is a huge potential audience on Twitter: you can post links to opt-in forms on your site, share your thoughts, share links to some great post you wrote elsewhere, or tell followers about a special offer you are running on your product or service. To make it easy for your readers to share your posts, don’t forget to add Twitter (and other social media) widgets to your blog/website, newsletter and Facebook page. Nowadays, most businesses, even those who do business from a physical address, clearly display their presence on Facebook and Twitter in their marketing materials, in their shop window, and online while encouraging their customers to join them there.
One of the most overlooked action in Twitter is following back your followers, many just simply ignore that part, which I think is fine if you are a well known business, celebrity, etc. However, for the most of us, following-back is important to retain your existing followers base. Many of the Twitterers use Twitter management tools and set their account to unfollow non-followers to free some room for themselves to follow new users. So, if you are not following back, there is a good chance you will simply be unfollowed, hence, eventually lose a prospect customer of yours.
How and When To Tweet
Different people are on Twitter at different times, therefore to get your message to a mixed crowd it is recommended that you tweet at different times of the day. Using HootSuite you can automate this process so that your tweets spread out over morning, noon and evening.
Your news stream should consist mostly of shared good stuff – Retweets. However, it is perfectly acceptable to promote yourself or your business too. I don’t have a recommended ratio for tweets vs. retweets, but here is the official Twitter best practices page for your reference.
Projecting a polished and consistent image is important, so personalizing your Twitter background is a good idea, in the same way you would do with your blogs or Facebook page. Use the same colors, logo and brand image as you do in the rest of your marketing.
The final thought to take away from this post is that your success on Twitter will depend greatly on your ability to create good content that people want to share with others, and also on your efforts to build a community where you engage meaningfully and often with your audience, your followers.