Getting Started Using Twitter for Small Business Owners

From the outside looking in, using Twitter for small business engagement can look a bit intimidating with its hashtags, retweets and mentions. But, lingo aside, Twitter can be a super effective tool for small businesses to listen and engage with potential customers. After all, it was initially created as a text messaging service that allowed users to quickly communicate with a small group. Now, with 200 million active users on Twitter posting an average of 400 million Tweets every day , it’s grown up a bit but the core purpose is still the same…bring people together to talk about things they care about. Whether its global breaking news or local restaurant openings, this social network has a bit of everything and that’s what makes it so awesome.

Like with any social network, Twitter takes some care and feeding, but by starting small and knowing the basics you can develop a truly loyal and profitable following for your business.

Here are the four things you can do to get started using Twitter for your small business:

First: Build Your Profile.

You can get started with Twitter in 60 seconds or less. The set-up wizard is super easy and guides you through selecting your username, following people, adding profile and background images, writing a short bio, adding links, etc. Think of your profile as the entry point for your audience so choose a username that’s easy to remember, keep your bio clear and concise and select images that fit your brand.

Second: Listen To People.

You know the saying “I’d give anything to be a fly on the wall”. With Twitter, that’s exactly what you can do – listen to conversations that you might not otherwise have access to. See what your competition is saying, learn what you best customers care about, use it to research new markets. You literally have access to real-time focus groups by searching for a few industry keywords. And, while you’re listening, you can also pick-up on Twitter etiquette. Learn what types of posts get retweets, see how people are using hashtags, see who has a large following and figure out why. You can learn so much just by using Twitter as a listening tool.

Third: Engage With Others.

Now that you’ve put some time in listening to what your audience cares about, now start engaging with them. If someone follows you, follow them back. If someone retweets or mentions you, tell them thank you and do the same for them. Most importantly, keep your Tweets conversational. The Twitterverse is very casual so you want to come across as authentic and approachable as possible while still staying true to your brand. Remember, Tweets are limited to 140-characters so use them wisely!

Fourth: Expand Your Use. 

Once you get the hang of it, now you can start trying new things. Think about running promotions, contests, posting photos and videos. Integrate your Twitter feed on your website, encourage people to follow you by including it on emails, direct mail or any other marketing channels you use.

Hopefully, by breaking it down into these steps makes Twitter a little more welcoming for your small business.

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Jill Ward
jill@outboundengine.com