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A beginner’s guide to Twitter for business

I think Twitter is the perfect social media platform for a small business. Even if you’re not using Twitter yet, you’ll see Twitter appearing in your Google search results, especially when looking for news updates, companies & celebrities. Twitter is one of the best social media platforms for engaging with new audiences and potential customers, yet when compared to Facebook, Twitter can be overlooked. As far as users go, Facebook and Instagram outrank Twitter, however the Twitter level of engagement is on par with Facebook and beats a lot of other social platforms.

The chances are you are already one of the 1.94 billion active Facebook users, so you’ll already know the basics of Facebook and how people interact with each other on the platform. If you have a pet cat or eat nice looking food you probably have Instagram too. We all have our favourite platforms when it comes to social media, however I’m here today to talk about how small companies can use Twitter to improve their business.

 

Who should use Twitter? You should!

Twitter is a conversational social media platform. You can tweet thoughts, create conversations, join in conversations and learn. Years ago you’d get a phone call from mum after watching the six o’clock news, but now the news is reaching Twitter first. It’s an amazing social media platform for us as individuals with opinions and personalities, pet peeves and shareable memories.

But that’s you, not your business. How would you use Twitter for business? My answer to that is a question: Why should your business be treated any different? Maybe with toned down opinions and personal thoughts but the saying “People buy from people” rings true on Twitter. Twitter is a great place to connect with your clients informally, helpfully and with imparted wisdom. You can talk to your clients directly and indirectly at the same time. As Facebook is known for its exclusive inner circle, clients won’t always want to connect with you through this platform. With Twitter it’s a different story and a more public audience. So if you are a small business, joining Twitter is a no brainer. After all your connection with your clients is paramount. Nobody sells your business better than them.

What should businesses use Twitter for?

  • Branding – Your brand is much more than the products you sell. It’s how good your customer service is. How quickly you respond to clients. What your overall message is. How ‘with-it’ you are and how much you care. Twitter gives you the necessary tools to communicate this in 140 character, bite sized chunks.
  • Staying relevant – By following certain hashtags you like the look of or searching for the subject in general, Twitter allows you to keep an ear to the ground on what is new and exciting and what you can be tweeting about. You can easily keep an eye on the competition, too.
  • Networking – Have you heard of Twitter chats? They’re a great way to meet new people interested in the same subject as you and provide an opportunity to tweet your thoughts, make new acquaintances and maybe even impart your wisdom on a subject without directly selling yourself. There are many other ways to network through your daily interactions, or network through Twitter lists.
  • Engagement – Twitter is a powerful tool to wield, to engage with your existing clients and coax new clients to your brand but you still have to be a sensible human being on Twitter. That means don’t fill your posts with self advertisement and don’t shark in on potential sales. If you build up a good following of happy customers and followers, you won’t need to. They will do both of those for you!

 

What name should I use for a Twitter account?

Right now there are 313 million active Twitter users – June 2017, which sadly means your perfect Twitter username will almost certainly have been snapped up already. It happens to the best of us. Even Taylor Swift with her 85 million followers doesn’t get her to have her own name as a Twitter handle.

My point is, don’t call it quits before you have started. If Taylor Swift can handle having an added 13 at the end of her name, we can afford to be a little more creative too. It’s not all about your company name, as long as you reference your company/website in your profile you can use keywords in your name too. If you are an avid Instagram user, you may have noticed the new trend in this recently. Many Instagram businesses are changing their usernames to relevant search terms. If you go on Instagram to look for weight loss photos, you won’t be searching for a business relating to this, you’ll be searching for the term ‘weight loss 12 weeks’ etc. The same can be applied to Twitter. You may see your beloved popular Twitter hashtags such as #WednesdayWisdom actually bring up related accounts too:

Screenshot of popular Twitter #WednesdayWisdom

 

I’ve found my perfect Twitter username, it’s taken but it doesn’t look active“. There’s a second chance here too: You can apply to Twitter to release the username. They’ve been known to follow through on these requests in the past but if your company name is taken, your keywords are taken and everything else feels like it’s taken, don’t despair. As long as you keep the following points in mind you can still make a positive impact online:

  • Your Twitter handle can be up to 15 characters long. If it’s long make it easy to remember!
  • Try and avoid underscores. When I chose @SiobhanLHancock it took me a long time. My maiden name was unpopular and subsequently really easy to register! My new surname Hancock is much more common. I thought about @Siobhan_Hancock or something with an underscore to give me more options, much like some companies do when they add a hyphen to a domain name. It’s too risky. You risk other people linking to the version without the extra characters and it will happen.
  • If you have enough characters left, consider adding an abbreviation for your location instead. For example, I live in Manchester UK, so I could have chosen @SiobhanHancockMCR. You could use an extra letter in your Twitter username, such as a middle initial (which is what I did) or abbreviation for your field of work.

 

What email address should I use for Twitter?

First of all consider who will have access to your company Twitter account and if it will be more than one person. What if that person leaves? What if you decide to use an external company to help you out on social media marketing? There’s a way to give them access to Twitter whilst keeping your Twitter account with you and most importantly safe.

Most people using Twitter for their own personal accounts use a personal email address. That’s not ideal for small businesses. The way we advise you to do this is to use internal email aliases. For example our most used email address is support@34SP.com. We could set up an email redirect, something along the lines of twitter@34SP.com and have that email address redirect to our support@34SP.com email address. We can then do the same for facebook@, instagram@ etc. This allows you to keep control over your social media logins.

set up an email alias in 34SP.com control panel

You can set up an email alias easily through our 34SP.com control panel. We recommend however that your email redirects are set up with internal emails only similar to the above example. DO NOT redirect your emails to a third party such as gmail or hotmail.

 

What password should I use for Twitter?

We recently wrote an article on what makes a secure a password. The exact same rules from our blog post apply to your Twitter password.

  • Make it long and memorable. Additional numbers and symbols are good but as long as it has a good length that’s perfect. 12 or more characters is what we usually advise and Twitter themselves advise at least 10 characters in length. It’s easier to create a long password than you think and most importantly to remember it. Especially when you use the XKCD password generator.
  • DON’T reuse your favourite password from another website. Keep it unique.

 

How many hashtags should I use on Twitter?

It’s tempting when you first start with Twitter to go OTT with hashtags. It happens with all new things! With Twitter I think we’re still in the honeymoon phase of the reaction GIFs that have now been built in to Twitter. Sometimes (very rarely) it works but to avoid looking like a spammer use 2 hashtags or just one. Studies have shown that you lose engagement when using more than two Twitter hashtags by as much as 17%. That being said, hashtags have become a new universal language. Twitter’s own research, albeit quite old now, talks about how hashtags can improve your engagement by 50% for brands and 100% for personal accounts.

There are many popular hashtags you can jump on to start with such as #MondayMotivation. This one trends almost every Monday in the UK and it’s widely loved by small businesses on Twitter. As with everything, however, there’s a balance to be struck. Have a good mix of tweets; have informative tweets, fun tweets, polls, hashtags and quotes. That way if you have a tweet to make about a trending hashtag you have a great balance. Another good thing about tweeting a trending hashtag is that your followers should see your twitter handle appear when they view the trending tab:

Screenshot of Twitter trending panel

Why should I use Twitter instead of Facebook?

The two platforms have two hugely different audiences. Unless your target audience is your Uncle John twice removed or did I spell it right Siobhan from year 10 English lit class, you should attempt to engage with clients further afield.

Remember Facebook became so popular because of its exclusivity, because you can connect with your inner circle of friends and select how exclusive your posts are with each post you make. It’s a good thing to remember when you create a Facebook ‘business’ page. Your inner circle are most likely not your clients. I can’t be the only person who gets annoyed when a friend on your Facebook starts plaguing your feed with juice fast products or make-up. Don’t get me wrong, your Facebook business page will connect with new-to-you Facebook users, but your potential new client will need to be logged-in to Facebook to see your business page, creating a potential barrier. You can still connect organically with potential clients, however speaking from experience you’re more than likely going to need to put your wallet where your mouth is and pay for some Facebook ads.

Given that Facebook ads are so cost-effective, the competition for new Facebook traffic is fierce. We live in a world where social media platforms are now saturated with content and the click through rate struggle is real. Facebook will therefore always go to the ads over organic reach, whereas with Twitter it’s different again. Twitter have an ads feature too and a very good one but it’s not as necessary to use Twitter ads. Organic reach may be declining on most social media platforms but right now you can grow your organic following much much easier on Twitter than most. Features such as pinned tweets have been known to do better than ads:

Example Twitter organic reach over Twitter ads

Why should charities use Twitter?

It has been said that Twitter is a charity’s best friend and that’s very true. Why? Quite simply charities attract a record number of supporters through social media. Almost 47% according to a survey by SSIR. Gone are the days of donating through the post.

With Twitter chats like #GiveWP and the hashtag #CharityTuesday, charities are gaining more and more exposure to a younger audience. It also allows the charity to connect with their audience on a more personal level, exactly like a small business would, so if you plan to set up a small charity make sure to get on Twitter, join in with Twitter chats and also save yourself some money by moving to our free Charity hosting. Have a look at a list of charities using 34SP.com free charity hosting.

 

Why should I use Twitter lists?

The goal of having an online presence is not only to connect with your current clients, but also to climb the rankings and attract new visitors. Any tweets you make will be indexed by search engines and just like those tweets, Twitter lists get indexed too. You’ll find some of your followers like to create Twitter lists and add you to them. This is by far the best feature of Twitter for a small business. For example, our 34SP.com Twitter account has been added to many lists by many different people. Some people add us solely to their list of ‘Potential web hosts’ whereas other people add us to ‘Tech’ lists; web design, UX, web development, Manchester businesses. You can click on the lists you’ve been added to for inspiration, or simply to keep an eye on your competition.

34SP.com Twitter lists

Everything you’ve always wanted to find out about your customer, such as the last company they used, what they want us to tell them, what they are interested in is all publicly available on Twitter for you to look at without trying too hard.

Twitter a place that is so saturated with content that I’ve known individuals to create separate Twitter accounts for different interests. Others use Twitter lists to organise the people they follow and the things they want to see depending on mood. I favour the lists option myself and like to separate the content I see from business related content, to meme type posts to causes I believe in. It’s not an uncommon practise. Try it out and see if it works for you.

 

Other good tips for Twitter:

  • Images and Twitter GIFs – You only have to Google social media tips to find about how adding an image improves your visibility. It’s just common sense: Images are eye capturing, they speak a thousand words and a moving image is even better. If you are not up to the task of creating videos for Twitter yet, Twitter have a built in GIFs function for you to use. Choose wisely!

  • Set up Twitter on your phone – So you can be notified and promptly respond. Your customer service on Twitter is public so it pays to show you are active.
  • Tweet questions – Don’t be afraid to ask questions. It shows your clients you care about improving your services.
  • Schedule tweets – If you’re away on holiday with little access to the internet, use Tweetdeck or Buffer etc. to schedule tweets before you leave. Just be careful with this: Here are some examples of badly scheduled Tweets. Oops!
  • Make it easy for people to tweet your content – Add social media buttons to your blog to make it easier for people to share. Make sure the title is pretty catchy when they share it. Add your own Twitter handle to it so you’ll be notified when they share your content.
  • Tone of voice – If you’re having more than one contributor, keep the tone of voice consistent. This applies to marking tweets with your initials. The use of slang, spelling and punctuation. Formal or informal. Keep it unified.

Thanks for reading our beginner’s guide to Twitter for business. Which tip do you like best? Make sure to connect with us on Twitter @34SP. Tweet us, send us your opinions, photos of your pets, we love it! Thank you.

– Siobhan @SiobhanLHancock

 

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