It seems that everyone around the world has at least heard of Twitter.
The social networking website that was launched on 15 July 2006 and which has a projected 2010 annual turnover of $150 million, Twitter allows its users to interact with one another by way of messages that contain no more than 140 characters.
No matter how large Twitter becomes and how many people it serves, however, if you don’t know how to utilize it for your small business, it can stay as nothing more than an untapped business development resource.
And whilst there’s a substantial amount of in-depth information you can learn to enhance your experience of using Twitter, there are just five simple steps that you have to follow to begin utilizing it to develop your small business.
Choose a relevant username
Arguably the most important part to consider for a small business starting up using Twitter, you need to think of a username that’s going to reflect your company, as it’s the one thing that people are going to see time and time again.
Start with your company name (or the most recognizable part if it’s too long) and if it’s taken, add words before or after (for example, a lot of freelance writers add ‘Writer’ or ‘Writes’ after their own name to create their username).
If this is still unavailable, move on to other variations, such as company initials or part of your company name and part of your industry.
It might take a while to find a suitable username, but don’t rush the process. Take the time to find a relevant and catchy username and you instantly give yourself a boost when starting to use Twitter.
Complete every amendable section
So you’ve got yourself a relevant username and you’re about to make your first tweet. When people start following you and click on your username, however, what information are they presented with?
Before you start tweeting, you need to make sure that everything to do with your account is directed towards your business.
Start by filling in your website and location before moving on to your biography. Be sure to upload a relevant photo and don’t forget to change the design of your account page – the standard Twitter one looks OK, but why not make the most of the page and have a design tailored around your company’s brand?
Use your tweets primarily to interact, not to advertise
A particularly common mistake amongst small businesses using Twitter is that they think of it as an advertising resource, rather than a social network tool.
Yes, it’s fine – and strongly recommended, in fact – to tweet about your own blog posts or any new information that you have to do with your company and it’s not going to hurt if tweet the same thing twice to compensate for different time zones, but you shouldn’t use it solely for this purpose.
You should be able to look at your recent tweets and see perhaps one or two adverts in every dozen or two – if there’s an advert in every five or six tweets, you need to start being more interactive and ease up on the advertising.
Make use of what you have available
With Twitter, you have 140 characters to get across your entire message and therefore you should try and utilize every single character available to ensure that your message is as informative as possible.
Due to this reason, don’t worry too much about spelling or grammar if it’s difficult to get your message across with full and proper English in the 140 characters – it’s what the tweet is talking about that’s of importance and it’s unlikely that someone is going to skim over your tweet because you’ve used ’2′ instead of ‘to’ or haven’t included an apostrophe somewhere.
Ensure others can tweet you
Some of the most common complaints about Twitter are that people don’t seem to tweet your blog posts you or retweet your tweets.
Whilst the latter is generally something that comes with time, as you realize what type of information – and in what style – people prefer to retweet, the first is something that’s very often down to an error on the person’s behalf.
When someone wants to tweet about a post they’ve read on a blog, they have two options.
Firstly, they can copy the blog post’s URL, open up a URL shortener website, paste in the URL, open up Twitter, copy the shortened URL in, go back to the blog post, copy the title of the post, go back to Twitter, paste it in and then tweet it.
Or they can click on the ‘Tweet’ button at the bottom of the post.
If you don’t have a button on your posts that allows your readers to tweet it (or indeed distribute it through any social networking websites) without going through the first process, you should find that, assuming the post is interesting and will be to others, the amount of retweets you receive will increase immediately once you install the appropriate button.
Twitter is one of the most popular social networking tools that you can currently utilize. Whether you think you need to use it or not, it’s strongly recommended that you at least take a look at it – you could be missing out on a lot of business by not utilizing Twitter for just a few minutes each day.