According to the blog Digital Marketing Ramblings, which lists some mightily up-to-date Twitter factoids, there are now a billion users of Twitter around the world and the country with the biggest? China. Two thirds of users access the network via mobile, and the daily active users tally is up there at 100million. So, is your business one of them? If you’re not, the above statistics might make you question the logic in that. If you’re not sure where to begin, here is some info about the platform to help you get started. Just in case you were afraid to ask, Twitter, created in 2006, is a micro blogging platform that allows you to broadcast comment, links, pictures and videos in very small (micro) form – 140 characters, to be precise – either from a personal point of view or as a business. To many newcomers this seems an impossible task to self-edit in this way, but it reflects the limited time and attention a potential customer can give to your message these days, so it’s good discipline! And then of course there’s the whole following business – make sure you follow anyone that looks interesting to your business, and hope that they and others follow you back, and begin to grow your profile. Then you need to do a few key things to sustain growth and impact, and as such use Twitter to help raise your profile and credibility, and climb up search engine results. Where do you start? Here are a few tips to make sure your Twitter life develops:

Set up your profile

In my ignorance in the early days (although admittedly not as early as some) I chose the ‘handle’ @rebeccapain. This is often annoying as it uses up a lot of characters if I get retweeted (more on that later), but on the other hand, people know it’s me. The same with our business name - @theblueballroom – long, but unmistakeable. Try to work out what’s more important to you. Being recognisable is probably more of a priority, but bear in mind the number of characters, and avoid tricky spellings.

Whilst a lot of your tweets may be seen on multi-account viewing clients like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite, or on mobile apps, you should still have an interesting profile page which people will refer to when they want to find out who you are, especially when you follow someone and they want to know more, or you retweet someone. This will determine whether or not they follow you. Make it on-brand, give it impact, and make it visual. Look at some others and see which ones you like the look of and you think would work with your customer base. Make sure you include your website address, so people can find out more, and a few words to describe what you do.

What am I doing here?

It’s no good launching on to Twitter if you aren’t really sure what you want out of it, and you are just following the pack. But, that’s not the same as saying there is no reason to be there. You just have to find it. Are your competitors there, and your customers? Are potential markets there? Be warned, though, you’ll rapidly fall out of favour if you push out sales patter. This is all about engagement and adding value, so that customers think of you as a good source of information and service, and your competitors see you trailblazing in the industry, leading innovation or opinion. If you don’t add value to your audience, they won’t follow you. In short, it’s all about content and letting that do the work – not you flogging yourself to a non-receptive crowd. So where will your content come from? Your blogs, other great things you've found, and innovative developments in the industry space and all good for a start. Do you have news about events? Your content is up to you – have a look at others for ideas – but we’d suggest you blog daily on your website about trends and developments, so that you have original comment to share, and don’t be afraid to comment and pick up on other debates, so long as they fit with your company’s viewpoint.

Where is everybody?

Find followers by sharing your profile on other platforms, on your website, and on the bottom of your emails, and link directly to your profile page of course. Tell customers that you can be found there from now on, and welcome their input. Share other interesting tweets, ie: retweet them, and you may get a thank you and a follow from that tweeter. Thank someone if they do the same for you, and the engagement begins. If someone @’s you, do answer – they are targeting you with a message, as opposed to just broadcasting generally to anyone following them. Use the search tools on Twitter and also via Google to look for lists of people on Twitter in your industry, and start to follow them and interact with them. Start conversations. There are myriad other aspects to Twitter such as favouriting tweets, creating lists, and direct messaging – it’s worth looking all of these up once you’re used to the whole thing.

A note on hashtags:

What makes Twitter relevant for businesses is not just the ability to share thoughts and product information, blogs and videos and so on, but also that you can use hashtags to segregate your audience. Followers can decide to follow only #communications or #pharma in a column, for example, so that they can clearly see news on that topic. Don’t worry at first how this is done – just use hashtags to show what topic you are talking about, and it will become clear, but most importantly it will help you to attract the right sector of the twitter community.

Using an agency to run your twitter profile and develop your community:

It’s a commonly held view that authenticity is key to Twitter success, so do try to create your profile and understand it and develop it in-house. That said we help companies who have little time but can see the lead generation potential in Twitter. We do this by creating content for social media, issuing tweets, monitoring engagement and so on. If an agency takes time to get to know a business, it can be authentic with its engagement on your behalf.

If you’d like advice, training or support with Twitter for business, do contact us on 01252 899950 or via this website.