Twitter is No Longer an Option. Why You Should be Tweeting.

Twitter is kind of like Apple fandom – either you love it or you find it a dreadful inconvenience to interface with. In reality, Twitter is not a time-intensive scary monster or the be all and end all of social media. It is simply another tool that you can use to interact with your customers, or in the Twitter world, your followers.

Given that everyone on here has a modicum of tech savvy, we’ll just take for granted that you can set up an account on Twitter yourselves.  We’re here to help with the rest.

In our busy world governed by Blackberries and Iphones, Twitter is condensed information for the time-starved, internet savvy professional. It goes without saying that this is a very alluring demographic to attract and keep.  If you consent to putting up a Twitter feed for your company, you will not only attract these eyeballs but brand yourself with an unwritten code of tech-savviness that they will understand. Let’s put this in perspective. If Nike has a Twitter feed offering running tips, and Converse has nothing at all, which brand of sneaker would your Twitter follower buy when it came down to the checkout counter?  The answer is academic.

Having a Twitter feed gives your company a certain sparkle over your competition that you simply can’t buy.  If your company has been around long enough, do you remember when there was an argument about whether or not you should have a website?  This is the same argument. The question isn’t whether or not your business should be on Twitter – the question is how fast can you get up and running on Twitter.

 

Setting Up Your Company Profile

In order to change your profile, log into your Twitter account and go to the “Settings” Tab at the top left.  This will open up a sub-menu that allows you to edit your profile.  If your company is all about you, find a professional looking picture of yourself and add it to your profile.  If your company is larger, add your logo here.

You should also change your background image to something other than the default backgrounds and it should be something that relates to your company. Remember that it should also be something that functions well as a background image. If you are an architect, blueprints would go well here.  If you are selling badges, a picture of a few of your badges would go well.  Play around with a few different images until you feel that you have gotten it right. These two simple measures will make your twitter page look more professional.

Nice Twitter Profile

Example of a Good Twitter Profile

 

Following on Twitter

The most important thing to do on Twitter is follow.  When you sign up for your account, go forth and search for anyone who is interested in your niche market and related areas. Start following all of them. An unwritten rule of Twitter is that you follow those who sign up to follow you, so this is how you initially gain your audience.  Numbers are important, so try to add as many as possible in the first few days of your account going live.

Note that in order to search Twitter, you have to go to the bottom of the site and click on “Search”.  It also offers an advanced search feature similar to Google where you can refine your results according to date, area, and even whether or not a tweet contains links. To give you an example of how powerful this feature is, a search on web design yielded the following tweet:

thinking about a web-presence makeover…blog design, website…everything!”

Can you say qualified lead that is dying for them to contact you?  I knew you could.

 

Promote It Everywhere

Put your Twitter feed on your business cards, websites, brochures, and any other materials that you have out in the world. Your Twitter address is whatever you signed up for – for example if you signed up as webdesignnumberone your Twitter address will be @webdesignnumberone.  Try to keep it as short as possible. Make sure that you also promote your Twitter feed on items like your Facebook group and your blog. Ask your employees to pimp the Twitter feed on their Facebook profiles if they want to.

 

Failing Twitter

Setting up a Twitter feed doesn’t mean that your junior sales team gets to Twitter their thoughts at random to the world.  The message must be managed as in all of your marketing. Hillary Clinton’s campaign got Twitter wrong in the last election, allowing staff to spam Twitter and not following anyone. Twitter is all about interaction and if you aren’t following, you aren’t interacting.

If you are Twittering as a business you also have to be careful about the line between personal and social interaction. You don’t want to get into a political argument if you are tweeting as a company. You do want to get into casual, light-hearted conversations that are related to your company or that help people out. For example, if you see a tweet from a follower requesting help with a layer command in Photoshop and you happen to know the answer, don’t tweet but send a direct message to that user with the answer. Unless of course you are working for a graphic design firm, in which case you would tweet your reply. As long as you use common sense, you’ll be on the right track.

Direct Message on Twitter

Direct Message on Twitter

Remember that all tweets can be searched on Twitter’s website, so never Tweet anything offensive.  It can turn up later and hurt you.  If a Tweet does slip through your fingers that you don’t like, you can always go back and delete it on your Twitter page.

 

Make Updating Easy With Apps and Cells

If you or your employees can’t enter tweets with one click from the desktop, chances are good that you won’t update as regularly as you should. You can download a tool called Digsby from digsby.com that not only will help manage your Twitter updates, but will handle incoming traffic from Facebook and all of your instant messaging clients. Once Digsby is set up, simply click on the Twitter logo on your menu bar to post a new tweet.  That’s it.

Digsby Contacts Window

Digsby Contacts Window

Another handy client with even more Twitter functionality than Digsby, including the ability to search tweets from your desktop, is Twhirl.  It can be downloaded from http://www.twhirl.org/.  While Digsby is a nice all-in-one app, the added functionality that Twhirl brings more to the table if you want to do more than just post new Tweets. Rocking both Digsby and Twhirl will give you the best results.

In order to communicate long URL’s, sign up with http://tinyurl.com/. This will allow you to truncate URL’s to keep them nice and short, which helps both for tweets and e-mails.

If you have company cell phones, make sure that Twitter is enabled for mobile updates on your cell phone and on the Twitter website itself. The only downside to this is that Twitter may currently only be updated from one cell phone number.

 

Send Thank You Notes

Log on to your account daily and send thank you notes on Twitter via direct message.  Direct message on Twitter is similar to Facebook messages – private and not seen by anyone but your recipient.  This personal touch will win you some kudos.

 

Keeping It Going

If you are having employees do the tweeting for you, make sure that you have your company Twitter feed set up on your desktop so that you can see messages the instant that they are posted.  They may surprise you with their creativity and ideas.

Don’t forget that Twitter will be taking up more of their time, so you will have to reassign some of their work load to another employee. They may underestimate the time that they will need at first and try to be a hero by saying that they should be fine doing tweets and their regular work – reassign their other work anyway just to make sure that you are paying enough attention to this new technology.

You may even want to assign the tweeting to a group of employees to make sure that you are getting multiple updates throughout the day – just make sure you don’t do more than 3-4 tweets a day as a company. Likewise, you should avoid spammy promotion tweets unless they are to a real promotion or sale.

While having a Twitter feed as a company is all about promotion, you want to do it in a non-invasive and helpful way rather than fill the field of vision of your followers with spammy sale pieces. Don’t forget to reply to the tweets of your followers and the people that you are following, particularly if you found something that they said to be interesting or relevant to your industry.

Your Taskbar on Digsby

Your Taskbar on Digsby

Don’t be discouraged if someone doesn’t like what you say or argues with you over anything that you say over a tweet. As with the nascent days of the internet, someone will always be there to call a business-related tweet “spammy”. This doesn’t mean that you did anything wrong and they can always opt-out of following you if they don’t like the way that you are tweeting. You only want to pay attention if a few of your followers give you negative feedback on the same item. Using Twitter is a learning process and the community is, for the most part, forgiving. Like Facebook, the rules are simply to apply common sense to everything you do.

Twhirl Window

Twhirl Window

 

Writing a Good Tweet

Remember that you only have 140 characters to communicate with your followers so make it count.  You really shouldn’t be using more than one sentence to communicate your tweets – consider 140 characters to be the maximum, not what you need to use every time.

We’ve already gone over the fact that your Twitter feed shouldn’t be spammy, but let’s just reinforce the point. Spammy and irrelevant tweets will get you un-followed very quickly.

Help out people asking questions in your field, tweet short observations about news items that are light and upbeat and throw in the occasional bit about a sale or new product. As a twitterer, you are a  member of a society and as long as you are viewed as a good member of that society, you will keep and gain followers.

 

Will Twitter Replace Blogs?

There’s been a lot of rhetoric about this in the internet marketing community. In a word, no. You just aren’t going to find something as informative as this article in a single tweet. It is useful to get an answer to a quick question, but beyond that stating that Twitter will replace blogs is simply not giving enough credit to the average internet user’s attention span. There’s a time for tweets and there is time for meat.

 

Just the Facts, Ma’am

As of October 2008 Twitter sported 2.25 million users. As of the same month, use of Twitter is growing faster than use of Facebook. You can guarantee that these people are all from a technically savvy demographic that you could probably liken to people who first got online back in the mid-90’s. These are people who embrace new technologies and generally fit into a more affluent and educated demographic.  There is no question that these are the people that you want to market your business to, unless you are selling funeral home packages.

 

Charging for Help on Twitter

A few people and businesses are trying to monetize Twitter by charging for answers to questions. This goes against the whole idea of Twitter as an inclusive and assistive community and isn’t the best idea for business. Your best business use of Twitter is to build up and maintain a solid core of customers that think of buying your product over your competition based on the fact that your business is a tech-savvy member of their community.  Immediate monetizing of Twitter by charging for answers to questions smacks of a superiority complex and will probably lose you more money in the long run.

Twitter may seem a bit time intensive at first. Once you get started you will find that the customer interaction that it invites is addictive and engaging. Keep your tweets interesting, your sales language light, and your eye on your customer’s tweets in order to monetize Twitter successfully.

  • http://www.ushcompu.com.ar totoloco

    http://www.agendami.com is an open source alternative :D

  • http://serenitydesignonline.com Trae Robrock

    Very good article. I am constantly trying to convince my friends and family to get a twitter account, just because it is growing so fast and is such a useful tool. I personally have one for my small business and finds it is and excellent marketing tool, as well as gives our company a face for customers to see that helps to make us more believable and trustworthy to our customers.

  • http://twitter.com/davidairey David Airey

    I choose not to follow everyone who follows me, for the simple reason that I could never manage to keep up-to-date with hundreds of others.

    I do, however, regularly search for anyone aiming a tweet my direction so I can send a personal reply.

  • http://blog.insicdesigns.com/ insic

    i definitely agree with you.

  • http://graemepirie.com Graeme

    Excellent article explaining Twitter very thoroughly, and it certainly helped me with some tips that I will be using in the future.

  • http://www.blogspot.fluidnewmedia.com Ahad

    Good post: you forgot to mention the Twitter Adobe AIR App: http://www.tweetdeck.com/beta/

  • Greg Givan

    Great article, but no one ever seems to focus on how to make your company understand the importance of embracing the 2.0 communication strategies such as twitter, facebook, et al

  • WebDesigner Depot

    Greg:

    We will have an upcoming article that is a broad overview of social media and that question will be covered now that we have seen the suggestion from you. Look for it in the next week or so.

    Thank you everyone for your comments and keep them coming!

  • http://blog.pinkheadbox.com rama

    great insights! And be looking forward to the overviews on social media.

  • http://www.stargraphicdesign.com Jessica

    I refused to hop on the twitter bandwagon for a long time. But two weeks ago i started, and you’re right, its not the time-intensive scary monster that i thought it would be.

  • http://metrodetroit-homes.com Cathy Tishhouse

    I joined Twitter one week ago having avoided it for a very long time. I agree with what you said about a time when we questioned whether we needed a website. Twitter has become a must have for business. I just downloaded Tweetdeck to organize and I am having fun with it. I had been wondering whether I should just follow everyone who follows me – this answered it. Great post.

  • http://www.mkjones.co.uk mkjones

    I’d love to agree but since they stopped allowing UK text messages as an option I can’t update the thing without logging into the main site..

    Even my Google Talk connection stopped working a while ago!?

    Once they have these issues sorted out, I will jump back in.

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  • irt

    @mkjones: sending updates to +44 7624 801423 works for me…

  • http://totail.us Michael

    Great article, thanks!

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  • http://vanishdesign.com Austin Web Design

    I think digsby is a great idea for a program, but I can’t get over how slow it runs on my computer. I use it primarily an IM program, so I like to keep it running in the background. I wish it was quicker and more lightweight, like Pidgin. I’d love to not hear my gears churning every time a new message pops up!

  • http://www.nedirbilgi.com/ Ali Haydar

    Very good article. I am constantly trying to convince my friends and family to get a twitter account, just because it is growing so fast and is such a useful tool.I am now your blog’ s follower thanks for this post.

  • http://www.flareimaging.com Flare

    Useful article which answers lots of questions we discussed inthe office today about the usefulness of Twitter. The social networking trend is something which we have been looking into to help our own business and our web clients. This was highlighted today by one of our clients http://www.currencies.co.uk who told us they receive about 10% of their enquiries from their blog which contains a market report on the current issues relating to currency exchange. Good to hear that all this social time wasting pays off.

  • http://www.joviawebstudio.com Jovia Web Studio

    This article is spot on what I was looking for. I was teetering on the fence as to whether twitter was useful or another time-sucker. I think the key lies in the people you follow and the app you use to alert you. On the Mac, I use twitterrific. It is pretty unobtrusive.

  • mikel

    I’m old school (or just plain old)…twitter-free and ok with it.

  • http://www.hellokitty.su Hello Kitty

    mikel, what do you mean “old school”? Old twitter user or old internet user which doesn’t accept web 2.0 and sociality? :) May be you are in web 1.0 and don’t use social networks and especially twitter?

  • http://www.rogercpareview.com CPA Exam Review consultant

    I normally skip past these “twitter how-to” articles since I’m an OG around the block (2007) however this is one of the best-written Twitter articles I’ve seen, great job.

    My only concern is you saying that people need to adjust their workload to accommodate Twitter usage as a company. Why, if you suggested a company should only be doing 3 – 4 tweets a day? And if an employee seriously has to adjust their workload to handle hitting “send” on 140 characters 5 times a day, they should be fired for being useless and lazy. Is it all that hard? Really?

    It comes down to this – no one can say what the best use of the tool is. And it is THAT fact that makes it such a great tool, because creative and resourceful people will continue to adapt it to their own needs.

    I stopped trying to convince my friends/business contacts to join Twitter. If they aren’t into it, they’re not going to be. So what. More action for me, then.

    Anyway. Some very solid tips here – well done!

  • http://www.scotduke.com Mr Business Golf

    I really don’t see that the number of followers and the need to follow EVERYONE as being important at all with a Company Tweet. A company is really asking for problems if they go into playing the number game in twitterville. Not a recommended action to take if the company is serious about their image.

  • http://www.bayrak.cc Bayrak

    I refused to hop on the twitter bandwagon for a long time. But two weeks ago i started, and you’re right, its not the time-intensive scary monster that i thought it would be.

  • http://www.sibersahne.com chat

    The social networking trend is something which we have been looking into to help our own business and our web clients

  • http://www.pimapenpanjur.com pimapen

    I refused to hop on the twitter bandwagon for a long time. But two weeks ago i started, and you’re right, its not the time-intensive scary monster that i thought it would be.

  • http://www.simonday.com Simon Day

    I was with my company at the Paris Air Show this year and we used Twitter heavily throughout our stay there. Twitter helped considerably getting people to our chalet and in turn helped generate more than a million pound in revenue.

    As word spread we got busier and busier and that is what social media is all about;spreading the word and creating brand awareness.

    Never underestimate social media!

  • http://www.cpacampus.com CPA Courses Online

    I particularly feel that the use of tools (desktop and mobile applications) have greately boosted the usability of twitter. When you add all the othe stuff to it, it becomes the best thing that could make life so much easier. Some great suggestions about how to write a tweet and when to tweet and when not to. Many of us probably don’t use personal messages but i feel they really stand out. So start communicating!

  • http://www.e-okulnet.com e-okul

    I joined Twitter one week ago having avoided it for a very long time. I agree with what you said about a time when we questioned whether we needed a website. Twitter has become a must have for business. I just downloaded Tweetdeck to organize and I am having fun with it. I had been wondering whether I should just follow everyone who follows me – this answered it. Great post.

  • http://www.learninsurance.com/ Insurance License

    Thee is a lot of talk about how important twitter is and the ways it could benefit a business but what really is missing is a video tutorial or a guide that shows you how you can share news and articles from your blog or site with twitter friends and how you can send them direct messages etc. I believe if you understand the basic fucntionality of the application, you can easily find ways of using it to your benefit. Therefore, be original and test twitter out today.

  • http://www.chotrul.com/ Chotrul

    Thanks for this great round-up on Twitter. Very much looking forward to your social media article.

  • http://www.e-okulumuz.net eokul

    Great article, but no one ever seems to focus on how to make your company understand the importance of embracing the 2.0 communication strategies such as twitter, facebook, et al

  • http://www.e-okulbilgilendirme.com e okul

    I was with my company at the Paris Air Show this year and we used Twitter heavily throughout our stay there. Twitter helped considerably getting people to our chalet and in turn helped generate more than a million pound in revenue.

  • http://www.aychat.gen.tr chat

    very nice thank you

  • http://www.massrentacar.com Oto kiralama

    very nice thank you

  • http://www.tokrentacar.com ankara oto kiralama

    Thanks man good archivles

  • http://www.nikolasallenart.com Nikolas Allen

    Thanks for stating a great case and covering many relevant points.

    I’ve been tweeting for under a year, growing a small group of followers and followees and am continually learning more about the uses and benefits of Twitter.

    I find it to be my primary source for news and education, which can end up being a major time drain when reading all the links of interest I come across.

    I guess the key is to be selective and learn to SCAN articles and blog posts or you could easily be buried in an overwhelming sea of information.

    @nikolas_allen

  • http://www.sanchezysanchez.net angel

    since i download an app for my smartphone tweet is became a vicious thing…

  • http://www.accountanttown.com/site/ Joseph the Accountant

    Despite the amount of time in which Twitter has solidified itself in the marketplace, I have yet to see much in terms of conversions from it. Perhaps it is because of the industry my business is in? Perhaps the approach I am taking to using it? For some reason, I hear so many people having success with Twitter and it isn’t passing along to me. I can certainly see the benefits that could come of doing it, perhaps they are right around the corner?

  • http://www.11plusuk.co.uk Victoria Voelker

    You have a great post here, really informative. Very well written I will be bookmarking your website and subscribing to your feed so i can regularly read articles of this quality.

  • http://www.lubin.on-line.pl lubin

    Thanks for sharing this excellent article. Very interesting ideas! (as always, btw)