Twitter 101

Are you letting your customers know what work you do best and how you can make their business more successful? Effective marketing establishes and promotes your brand. Your web site and marketing materials should, powerfully, demonstrate why they should do business with you.

A quick guide to getting started on Twitter

What is Twitter?

Simply put, Twitter is an information sharing network that utilizes short posts called Tweets. A Tweet is a 140-character message. Your Tweets, and the Tweets of those you follow, will appear on your Timeline (also called a home page). Each Tweet may or may not lead you to read more via links or hashtags.

In this fast-paced age, Twitter is the chosen mode of real-time information gathering for many. Because most use Twitter on their mobile devices, it is a vital part of any social media strategy.

Writing a Tweet

You are limited to 140 characters, so the name of the game is keeping it short and simple. The best Tweets are those that are thought-provoking and encourage engagement. This means you could ask a question, post a promotional contest, link back to a blog post or article, or even post a picture with a caption.

The best way to write a Tweet is to treat it as a headline. Is it interesting? Does it draw you in? Do you want to learn more?

There are several Twitter users who post only inspirational quotes or sayings. There are even contests such as @twitterfiction where followers write entire stories in one Tweet. If you find you enjoy reading Tweets like this, your followers may, too. It’s easy to re-Tweet something. This means you are reposting what they said and giving them credit for it. You always want to give credit to the source, as often they will become your followers, too.

What are hashtags?

The hashtag in this case is the symbol also known as the pound, sharp, number or tic-tack-toe sign (the # found above your 3 key). Whenever you put a hashtag in front of a word – like #this – it makes that word a searchable link. When you click on a hashtag within a Tweet, it pulls up a list of all other Tweets that have used that hashtag.

Hashtags could be considered keywords, but they are so much more powerful! You may use a hashtag to link people into an event so they can follow all Tweets about it. You may use hashtags to follow what is trending – a news story, for instance – and tie your relevant Tweets into it.

Be careful with hashtags and do not simply plug in a string of them at the end of your Tweets. Pick one or two that are relevant and timely. It will help potential followers find you.

Whom to follow

Begin by following those who inspire you and that you may want to re-Tweet. Follow your vendors, your partners, and your customers. You may follow charities you support, celebrities you admire, brands you are loyal to, speakers and authors you look up to, even political candidates you want to back. Once you’ve found your favorites, look into whom they follow and see if you can expand your interests.

Just remember that when you follow someone, your followers can see their Tweets on your Timeline!

How to get followers

Hopefully, most of the people whom you follow will follow you back, and that is a good start. If you continue to Tweet provocative and/or humorous things, others will find you organically. As a business or representative of a business, the most important thing you can do is answer questions and take care of issues right away. The world is watching – so be charming, kind and generous.

While some post often throughout the day, you don’t have to Tweet more than twice a week if you don’t want to. You get more followers via quality, not quantity. Do keep your content fresh, however, and post at the bare minimum twice each week. Remember, a re-Tweet counts!

Designing your Twitter page

Much like your Facebook page and your website, you want your Twitter page to be in line with your branding. Your user name is what you will see after the @ on your account and how people will find, mention, and message you, so do your best to make it relevant to your company or product and easy to recognize. If you are tweeting for personal reasons, use your full name (if it isn’t taken) or a familiar nickname.

You have the opportunity to write a short bio, including a link to your website. Be sure to fill it out completely. Use your brand colors and images to create a header and background. There are many tools available to help create stunning profile images you if you are not a graphic designer.

Start Tweeting!

It’s not as daunting as you may think to create a cohesive and faithful following. If you are using Twitter to promote your business or product, remember the name of the game is engagement – not selling! Educate and entertain others with your Tweets, lead your followers into discussions or to read more on your site. Be personable and gracious and you’ll be on your way to a grand Twitter experience.