Following up from the last set of Social Media Marketing webinars where we covered the basics of Twitter and other Social Media tools and sites, I have been getting questions about using Twitter for business purposes. In response to those questions, I wanted to write out a short list of Twitter for Business best practices and some of the most popular tools that make these practices possible. This list of tools, techniques, and what is possible is changing and expanding almost daily with the explosion of Twitter usage and discussions of Twitter merging with some other site/partner. Thus I expect to stay current on using Twitter for business purposes we will need to repost more on this topic from time to time.
Be Real (don’t hide) –
It is important that you completely fill in the registration and profile information when signing up on Twitter. If you set up your Twitter Id as a business name it is less real than using a personal name. If you still want the business name in there, you could possibly add the company after the persons name (like Dell computer has been known to do with names like “PatrickAtDell”). In the profile section, post your website. I wouldn’t recommend a short URL here if you can avoid it since this is your brand and the full link helps in your SEO rankings. Also in the profile section you enter in relevant search terms in your profile description.
With the profile bio limited to 160 characters, you want to get the relevant keywords included. By doing so you don’t have much space to talk about the business specifically. However you can also squeeze in more content about your business including other websites, urls, logos, or content by uploading a custom Twitter background. Be aware though that the search engines and tools people are using to find you will not pick up words or content located in the background image. That’s why the keywords have to be in your description.
Finally and possibly most important is that you need to upload a picture. People want to see who they are communicating with, even if you are representing a company. If Twitters don’t think you are real, they are less likely to be interested in following you and learning more about your business (we are Twittering for Business here remember). If you try to hide with no picture, just a logo, an incomplete profile or no description, the cynical side of social media marketing will take over, people will assume the worst and they won’t follow you.
Participate (be Relevant, contribute, share, respond) –
For a business or business person to be relevant in the Twitter conversation going on, they need to participate. Ask questions and elicit responses. Respond to other user’s questions. Tweet not only your own relevant contributions but retweet (RT) other Tweets that you find valuable. Promote and/or attribute others where there’s a reason to do so. You can build a following faster if you appear trust worthy (easiest way to do that is by actually being trustworthy), know your subject matter and don’t look like you are just out the get them to buy something.
The graders and ranking sites look at both your following as well as your activity. There’s a number of search tools that will help you here to see who is talking about what and who is specifically responding to you (for example with @replies). These tools can help you determine where you might want to jump into a conversation and build that relevance. This is important in being noticed by searches from other users. You build following with contribution, relevance, and responsiveness.
The number of keywords in your tweet cloud is also important. Are you an active Tweeter? If so, what are you tweeting about? Are you relatively consistent in what you discuss? There’s a big difference between using Twitter like text messaging and blogging each trip to the grocery store and using Twitter for business with a targeted, specific approach to your online identity and the topics you take on. Again, the grading web sites will pick up on this targeted approach and quickly move you to “elite” status in your chosen keywords if you Tweet with some forethought.
Automate (where possible) –
Reduce the time it takes you to research what is happening in the Twitterdom, speed up your own Tweeting, get yourself followed automatically, and build ranking faster and easier. There are several automation type tools available to help build your Twitter for business presence without having to hire a back room full of people:
–TweetBeep -Set up alerts for various keywords, people, different attitudes, and links.
–Summize (Twitter Search) – Search for your keywords, click a button and you have a custom RSS feed that you can read via your favorite feed reader, or put on your Google or Yahoo home page. A synopsis available on what’s happening.
–Tweetlater – one of the more versatile tools related to Twitter. A quick list of services include; emailing a digest of Tweets (like TweetBeep), Pre-scheduling tweets to keep your tweet stream flowing, pre-saving Tweets or common snippets of tweets for faster Tweeting, Automating direct messages to people that follow you, and managing multiple Twitter Ids at the same time.
–Twitscoop – extends what Twitter Search can do with both real-time searches of specific keywords as well as what the overall Twitterdom is talking about using (the Tweet Cloud). It also shows you the hot trends in the cloud.
–Twellow – This is another research tool that extends Twitter for business use, Twellow searches people’s profiles or what they are Tweeting about under specific, predefined categories, or a general search. Twellow will also show you geographically where people are Tweeting from in the US and Canada.
–Remember the Milk (RTM) – A real unique and cutting edge use of Twitter. RTM is a Task management service (set up reminders, tasks, things to do, etc.) for an individual or a small team or business. You can interact with Remember the Milk through Twitter. You simply follow the Twitter ID @rtm and then send it commands like retrieving your current tasks, adding new tasks, setting up automated reminders, even sending tasks to other Twitter users. This is a great adaptation of Twitter for business use.
Re-purpose existing content-
With taking care of customers, blogging, keeping up profiles on numerous social media sites, all while running a business, maintaining your online presence can quickly become overwhelming. Use tools like Twitterfeed to automatically Tweet content from an RSS feeds of your other blogs or sites, and Alterthingy, another tool that helps you aggregate and repost your content across the multiple sites, and profiles you need to maintain.
In addition, several blogs (WordPress for example) are building Twitter widgets to be able to display your tweets (and others) on your blog, thus keeping the blog actively changing and a target for better search engine ranking and more active visits.
There are any number of other ways you can use Twitter for Business and this note really only scratches the surface of what is possible. As the popularity of Twitter grows so will the unique and inventive ways of using this innovative tool.
— Wes Hamilton