I’ve asked ExpertCEO’s marketing manager Nathalee Ghafouri, who we affectionately refer to as the “Queen of Twitter,” to write a guest post about using Twitter for business. You can follow her here and me here. This post is a basic “how to.” Our next post will detail how we, at ExpertCEO, use Twitter as a marketing tool.
Twitter grew a record 131% in March! Start tweeting or get left behind. (Graph via TechCrunch)
You can’t turn on the news or go to a dinner party these days without someone mentioning Twitter. If you’re an ExpertCEO member, this link will take you to one of our most popular discussion threads–about Twitter. Usually, the word “Twitter” is met by the groans of non-believers (non-users) and squeals of excitement from the faithful. So why this divide? It’s simple: you can’t understand Twitter until you’ve tried it. The purpose of this post will be to get you started using Twitter for business.
Twitter For Business Basics:
1. Sign up for an account. Pick a username that either identifies you by name, by company or a combination of these. You could be SteveJobs, Apple or SteveatApple. Don’t make your username too long though as this could cause difficulties later.
2. Fill out the profile: Upload a headshot, company logo or some combination of the two. Write your 160 character bio and give it some personality. Remember Twitter should be fun!
3. Jump right in! Put up a couple tweets. A good first tweet is something like, “Figuring out Twitter.” Then you can follow by posting an interesting article you’ve read recently. Remember, everything you post SHOULD NOT reference your company. I’ve heard that 1 in 10 posts should be self-referential, but shooting for 1 out of 5 I think is reasonable.
4. Start “following” people: Yes, this is a creepy term, but we’re stuck with it. Following someone just means that you want to have their tweets appear on your Twitter homepage. It’s kind of like “friending” someone on other sites. To do this, have Twitter search your contacts for people you already know on Twitter (using Find People). Then use search.twitter.com to search for keywords that interest you, then click on the people who are talking about these topics. If they look interesting, click the “Follow” button under their picture. You’ll receive an email every time someone follows you, so when you get those, follow the links to see if you want to follow the person back.
5. Engage: Do not just “shout into the void”, have conversations, make friends. Two ways:
- Reply: If you see someone ask a question you know the answer to, reply! You can do this by typing @thepersonsusername into your tweet box followed by your message. You can see the @replies people have sent you by clicking on @yourusername on the right sidebar of your Twitter homepage. You can also @reply to agree with someone, give additional insight or give them a compliment. Rember, @replies are visible to everyone. They’re different than Direct Messages (DM).
- Retweet (RT): If you see a tweet that really resonates with you, you should retweet it. To RT, type “RT @personsusername:” then cut and paste their original tweet. Sometimes you’ll need to shorten it to make it under 140 characters. This is why you don’t want your username to be too long, it makes it harder to RT you. Many people consider RTs to be the highest compliment on Twitter. If someone RTs you, it will show up with your @replies.
6. DO NOT Auto DM (Direct Message): Twitter allows you to send direct messages to people who follow you. Please use these wisely. It is wildly popular to set up an automated direct message through apps like SocialToo, but please resist the temptation (it’s also wildly unpopular among the people who receive them). Auto DMs clog inboxes and can run up text charges for those who have DMs delivered to their phones. It’s fine to send a DM if you have a private comment to share with one person, just don’t abuse the privilege.
7. Repeat steps 3 , 4 and 5 for a few days until you feel like you’re starting to get the hang of it. Then you’ll be ready for the big leagues!
Advanced Twitter for Business
1. Follower Notifications: SocialToo may help with the evil auto DM, but it has a very useful feature. It can notify you of new followers. Sign up for this, and you can get one email per day with all of your new followers instead of 20 separate emails. Once you’ve done this, you can turn off the notifications in the Settings area of Twitter.
2. Download TweetDeck: This is a desktop application that will give you a lot of utility with Twitter. It will automatically have columns set up for your incoming tweets (the tweets of the people you follow), @replies and DMs. You can add columns for saved searches (on keywords that interest you, your company name, competitors’ names, etc.). You can also set up groups (family, coworkers, clients, etc.). You can have a max of 10 columns, so use them wisely.
3. Monitor TweetDeck: You can perform pretty much every Twitter function here and will seldom need to go back to www.twitter.com. Watch for conversations to participate in and go for it! Scroll over peoples’ pictures to reply, RT or DM them.
I love the Twitter is like a cocktail party analogy: No one wants to talk to the person at the cocktail party that only talks about themselves, just like no one wants to read a stream that’s only about your business. Be interesting, share industry news, be a thought leader, show your personal side every once in a while. Be the life of the party.
Don’t ghost write. If you put someone’s name and face on a Twitter account, they should be the one actually tweeting. A recent article that we featured on ExpertCEO also indicates that CEOs have had much success tweeting for their businesses and that they shouldn’t delegate the task.
Twitter Definitions (I found these definitions here, and have tweaked them slightly):
- Regular tweets — You speak to all your followers by typing news and info into your status update bar.
- Retweets (RTs) — Forwarding something someone else has said. Do this by typing RT, then space, then @username, then copying their tweet in its entirety. This is considered a huge compliment in Twitter World. You can also add your own take if there is space.
- Direct Messages (DMs) — You are speaking to only one person, and only he/she can read this tweet. You can DM on twitter.com by using the “Direct Message” button. It will give you a drop-down menu for names, then you can just type your tweet in the status . You can only DM people if you are following them AND they are following you.
- “At Replies” (@reply) — This is the friendliest form of tweeting. You are responding directly to one person, but every one of your followers can read it and can jump into the conversation. Do this by typing @username, then space, then your tweet. You can also do @replies on twitter.com by scrolling over the right side of a tweet message and hitting the “flip-around-looking arrow” that appears.
- #/hastag: Hashtags are a bit more complicated. They are basically for when you want to participate or follow a discussion on a specific subject or event. It’s kind of like making a separate “room” for a discussion. You can access this room by searching for the hastag.