Using twitter for your business – what to look out for

I have been using Twitter for a littlewhile now. It is fast, very entertaining, and you can connect to and with friends, colleagues, business partners and like-minded people in your field.

A few days ago I spoke to a client of mine from a few years ago who wondered why his company was not using twitter for their own business since their RSS subscriber number was not that great (~150). The idea of his was to use twitter as a tool to show the more personal, more human side of the business, being able to interact with its customers and visitors, and engaging with similar companies, suppliers, even competitors. Well, that was the idea at least, and he asked me what I thought about that.

So what does twitter mean to a business? How can you make sure your business looks professional?


Making your twitter account look professional

As with any kind of online presence or online promotion you want to make sure it ties in with your brand and your website. Brand consistency is vital in this age of fast-living internet sites and short attention spans. The default look – while nice – does not necessarily reflect a business in the best possible way.

Ensuring your twitter account looks similar to your actual website enables visitors to make the connection "Ah, same look and feel, these are <Company Name>'s tweets
Ensuring your twitter account looks similar to your actual website increases brand-awareness

Let us look at the name of your twitter account first. Obviously this can be your company name, or it could be representing a part of your company (such as your press, PR or support team). See if the name is available and register it if it is. Fill in the default information about you, where you are located and your URL. And please do not set your profile to private (i.e. “protect your updates”) – this is something individuals use to stay in touch with people from a smaller group or families. As a company you want to be as transparent as possible.

So we chose a name, let us continue by choosing your avatar: your brand logo (maybe interestingly cropped?) may already be a good start, or maybe an image of your best product. Or if you are a one-man business, why not even use your own photo, it can’t go more professional than that!

Next up, we plan on making the design work with our brand. Twitter allows you to change the background and default colours. Since you already have your online site you can easily take elements from that, say you can incorporate your website header and its main style for text or link colours and panel backgrounds.


I have a twitter account for my company – now what?

Once your twitter account is set up you will be thinking: “How do I get followers? How can I make sure my tweets increase brand-awareness? How do I target the right type of target audience?” Here are a couple of points should think about:

  • Be relevant: understand your own product and more importantly its users. Using twitter means you understand both well enough to have a conversation that informs and converts visitors / readers to potential customers.
  • Be human, talk, don’t sell: there is no point tweeting about your special deals and promotions all of the time. What that does is makes you look as if you are trying to desperately sell a certain product or use this channel as a selling tool instead of a conversational tool.
  • Cross-promote and engage: selling on twitter is a bad idea, instead why don’t you try to engage users, referring to information on your site, discuss and take on constructive criticism. Make your followers feel as if they are making an impact and are dealing with a company that listens to its social network channels.
  • Don’t follow blindly: Following many many people at once can make you look like a spammer. Instead, begin slowly, ensure that users you follow are also following you. Twitter is about connections, not mass-following.
  • Follow me, follow you: twitter is about connecting, so kindly return the favour if someone is following you and follow them.
  • Realise and understand that it takes time to develop a list of loyal and interested followers: like with every social network site you have just joined it takes time to generate interest and find like-minded people or people interested in your product.
  • Connect, share and have fun: Don’t take twitter too seriously, twitter users are human and after the same thing as you are: to connect with others and share and discuss a wealth of information.


Okay, I have all that – now how do I find followers?

Unless you are a well-established brand finding users can be a challenge at first. You already know your target audience for your products and services, and you have a pretty good idea of what your customers / users are looking for. So how do you connect with them and get them to follow you?

Twitter's own real-time search lists all visitors talking about a specific subject matter
Twitter's own search shows who is talking about your subject matter at this very moment

For starters, twitter’s own search works pretty well with searching not only for people, but also by location or any other term that might be in their twitter profile, e.g. entering “adventure holiday” might already find our first base of followers.

A search similar to that is tweetscan, which allows you to search for topics, people, places, pretty much anything that could appear within a profile. You can also search for your own twitter name or website and make sure that you have seen all the comments or replies left by others.

Another option for you might be Twitterpacks. Twitterpacks enables you to find fellow users by subject matter, by region and even companies that use twitter as well. Join the packs and others are more likely to find you and your company. 

Whichever route you take, remember the “follow me, follow you” and “be relevant” guidelines from above: if people are following you then they are doing that for a reason, so kindly return the favour, follow them, engage with them and provide relevant information.


…and lastly

I hope this article was of use to some of you. Twitter is great fun and it is a great tool for your business when used well.

If you already have a twitter account, why not:

If you liked this article, please digg it or leave a comment (or both 😉 )

One Comments

  • Charlie Marks

    January 12, 2009

    Hello Alex, one of my online marketing guys sent me a link to your post and suggested we joined twitter to have a ‘finger on the pulse’ as he put it. I do enjoy your writing style, please keep it up!

    Charlie Marks

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