Tips for using Twitter

Below are some tips for using Twitter in your business. Some of these tips are common sense, some apply to other social media as well and some are specific to Twitter.

Plan your approach

Your business should have a clear agenda for using Twitter. Like any other business strategy, using Twitter is best planned. Think through:

  • what you want to achieve
  • who you are targeting
  • what you want your target audience to do
  • who is going to do what to make it happen
  • how you will know it's working.

Developing a simple action plan is a good way to be clear about why and how you would use Twitter. In the process of answering these questions, you might decide using Twitter is not for you. If you decide to proceed, you are much more likely to succeed once you are clear about how you're going to use Twitter.

Integrate with your other marketing

Twitter works best when it's used in conjunction with other marketing tools, including other social media. Learn more about Facebook, YouTube, location-based marketing, coupon marketing and mobile applications.

Remember Twitter's limitations

Twitter is not a magic bullet to improve a business. It can work well as part of a marketing plan if you invest the time and effort into using it well. But remember, only a small proportion of the population use Twitter, and many people who use it do so irregularly. If they don't happen to see your tweet within a reasonable time of you posting it, they are unlikely to ever see it.

Attract followers

Twitter will only work if you have followers. It's not enough to establish a great profile and regularly tweet great material - you need to attract attention. Some ways to do this include:

  • making sure all your other marketing tools, including your website and Facebook page, invite people to follow you on Twitter
  • promoting your Twitter user name widely
  • encouraging people to tweet that they're at your business, using location-based marketing tools
  • following other people or businesses so you can join their conversations.

Fresh is best

Keeping your followers interested relies on you having interesting things to tweet. Social media users have told researchers that they want discounts, giveaways, invitations to events and product information from businesses. Don't tweet unless you have something to say that your audience wants to hear - but be aware of the importance of maintaining regular conversation.

Consider sharing photos and behind the scenes info. It's great if your followers get information or offers through Twitter that they can't get any other way. For example, Tourism and Events Queensland has attracted more than 129,000 followers with its mix of competitions, offers and news.

You're in people's personal space

People use Twitter and other social media primarily to connect with friends and family, to share photos and videos and - for younger users - to coordinate events and find out about entertainment and popular culture.

Businesses that use Twitter are intruding into a social domain, and need to be careful of how they are perceived. Being seen as a 'spammer' is a cardinal sin of the 'Twitterverse'. You need to be seen to be giving followers something special or helpful - information, connections, discounts etc., rather than just selling your wares.

Be a good conversationalist

Twitter is designed for conversation, not advertising. You can ask questions in your tweets. You should reply to comments, complaints or compliments as close to instantly as possible. You can join in conversations with people or businesses that you follow. And you can retweet interesting tweets from others, as long as you credit the source.

Harness your followers' followings

Being 'retweeted' is a great opportunity for your business to expand its reach beyond your existing audience. This means one of your followers forwards your tweet to their followers. People are more likely to retweet tweets that are interesting or funny, or that they have a personal connection with. To make retweeting more likely, share material that is interesting, not widely known, topical or funny.

Segment your audience

You can set up more than one Twitter account if you want to engage differently with different audiences. For example a coffee roastery with a café attached might have different messages for wholesale buyers and for café customers.

Assign responsibility

Twitter works best when it's a recognised part of somebody's role (i.e. the Twitter face of a business). Ideally, the person tweeting on your business's behalf will be savvy with the Twitter style and language and will be in tune with your Twitter audience. In many small businesses this is the owner or manager.

Track your Twitter results

Many businesses that use Twitter don't monitor the results. It's worthwhile to monitor the impact of your Twitter activity on your business, so you know what works and what doesn't.

You can evaluate success by seeing how many followers you have or how many times your tweets are retweeted, but it's much more meaningful to track outcomes like impact on sales if you can. For example, you could tweet a promotional code or word that people need to use at the point of sale to get a discount, then track the uptake of this. You can also use internet analytics tools to see how much of your website's traffic is coming from Twitter.

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