Get Tweeting for Your Business with our Beginner’s Guide to Twitter.

You’ve heard of Twitter right?

That social media thing where people write about what they had for breakfast?

If that’s what you’ve heard about Twitter then I can understand why you probably want to give it a miss. This idea of Twitter however isn’t really accurate. Sure there are some breakfast obsessed people in there but it’s certainly not typical and you can most definitely avoid them if you so desire.

& if you’re taking it one step further and avoiding Twitter for fear of endless breakfast updates then you would be missing out on a pretty powerful and free marketing tool.

For today’s post I wanted to create a ‘Beginner’s Guide to Twitter’. What it is, how you can use it for your business, should you use it for your business and how you get started.

Be warned, this post is detailed but it does just cover the basics. I will create a more advanced guide soon for those of you who have been using Twitter for a while. OK, let’s begin …
What is Twitter?

Twitter is a social media or ‘micro-blogging’ platform launched in 2006. The website and associated apps allow users to connect with people, groups and businesses they find interesting.

Users tailor the updates (tweets) they want to see by following other Twitter accounts. When you follow someone new their tweets instantly appear in your account’s timeline.

Each tweet is a maximum or 140 characters and can share a moment, an idea or information. A tweet can include text, links, photos and videos.

As of February this year the Twitter platform had 288 million active users per month, sending 500 million tweets per day.*

Although it wasn’t designed to be a promotional tool, Twitter has been embraced by the business community. Many businesses use Twitter as a way to share information about products and services, conduct market research or build relationships with customers and suppliers.

While I wouldn’t recommend Twitter for every business I do think it can be a good fit for the greeting card and gift industries. On Twitter you’ll find card and gift associations, suppliers, publishers, designer-makers, retailers and consumers.

Who you choose to follow will depend on what you want to gain from Twitter. Individuals using Twitter may follow friends and family, their favourite TV shows or celebrities. For business you need to follow people that will help you fulfil your goals.
Is Twitter right for your business?

Like any social media platform adding Twitter to your marketing will be an extra job, so it’s essential that you decide whether it’s right for you before you get started.

Before you start tweeting think about what you want from the platform.
Do you want to build relationships with your existing customers?

Do you want to send people to your website?

Knowing what you want to achieve with Twitter and always keeping this in mind will ensure you are tweeting for your business and not wasting your time.

If you’re not quite sure if it’s right for you take a look at other businesses in your niche. By seeing how competitors or businesses you admire are using the platform you can get a more realistic idea of what potential it has for your business.

Once you’ve decided to take the plunge it’s time to set up your account and start tweeting.
Setting Up Your Twitter Account

Setting up an account on Twitter is very straightforward and should only take a few minutes at most.

Simply go to the Twitter homepage and you’ll find a sign up box. Enter your name and email, choose a secure password and click ‘sign up for Twitter’

At the next page you’ll be asked to choose your Username. Your username is visible to everyone and is how people will find and interact with you so it’s worth taking your time and choosing a name suitable for your business.

All usernames are prefixed with the @ symbol to show they are a username (e.g. Card & Gift Network’s is @cardgiftnetwork).

In choosing your username you have 15 characters and it has to be a unique username that no one else is using. As Twitter has been up and running for a while now and has millions of users this can be tricky.

The Twitter site will let you know if your choice is available so it’s a matter or trial and error till you find a name you want. If Your business name is taken or too long get creative. For example the super cute card publisher Love From Lemonade can be found under the username @LFLTweets, while their full company name would have been too long for Twitter their chosen username is the right length and a cute, quirky and memorable option.

When you have a found your username click ‘sign up’.

After signing up the Twitter site will next ask you to add your phone number to secure your account but you can skip this step if you prefer.

Once you’re done with the basic account set up Twitter will take you through some final steps of setting up an avatar (a small profile picture that accompanies your tweets), setting your interests and finding some Twitter accounts to follow. Once you’ve completed or skipped these stages you’ll be taken to your homepage and be ready to tweet!

On a side note, while you’re going through these quick set up steps you’ll also be sent an email that will confirm your account. Check your junk mail if it doesn’t come through to your inbox.

 

Card & Gift Network on Twitter

 

Customising Your Twitter Profile

After the basic set up you can now set about customising your profile to add your own personality and branding.

This stage is all about making your profile appealing to other Twitter users and attracting people who may be interested in following your business.

These are the sections that you will need to customise:

Pictures

Your Twitter profile has two pictures; an avatar and a header.

Your avatar image is a small square image that is shown next to your username on every tweet you compose. You’ll need a square image approximately 400 x 400 pixels to use. If you’re an individual or a personality-driven business this could be a photo of you. Alternatively if you want your account to reflect your brand you might use your company logo.

There’s a lot of contrasting opinions as to whether you should use a photograph of the person tweeting or a general logo. Personally I like simple, colourful logos with a bright or dark background. In a stream of tweets I find these stand out best against the white background. You can then use your Tweets and your header picture if you want to add a little more personality to your profile.

The second picture is your header image, this shows at the top of your profile when someone looks at your account. The header image is a landscape picture approximately 1500 x 500 pixels. As you have a much bigger space here

Your Twitter Bio

Your bio is a short description to tell people who you are and what you do. You only have 160 characters so keep it short and sweet. Use keywords relevant to your business or niche so people searching Twitter for their interests will find your account.

Location

If you’re a bricks and mortar retailer or a local business be sure to add your location. There are Twitter Directories online that provide this information to people searching for a local business so it’s worth including.

Website

Nice and easy. Add your website address to your profile so you can send interested people to your site.

Theme Colour

Last of all is the theme colour section. This lets you choose the colours used in your profile. Another chance to brand your Twitter account to match your business.

Once you’re profile is set up you can now start to use account, finding people to follow and send your first tweets. Luckily the platform itself is fairly straightforward but here’s a run down of the main sections you can start with.
Your Twitter Account

Home

Your homepage gives you access to everything you need. The main area shows your timeline, which has a real-time feed of tweets from everyone you’re following. You’ll also find a small box with your account details, links to your tweets, followers and following. Below this you’ll also find a box dedicated to trends. The trends box is tailored to you and can be changed to reflect your interests. On the right side of the page you’ll find a ‘who to follow’ suggestion box.

The homepage also provides an update box where you can write a tweet, share a picture or post a video.

Notifications

Notifications updates you when someone retweets or favourites your tweets, replies to you or mentions you.

Messages. Also known as Direct Messages (DM)

Messages enable you to send private messages or have a private conversation with your followers. A user has to be following you for you to be able to send them a private message. Be careful not to get tweets and private messages mixed up. You don’t want to accidentally tweet something that you intend to be private.

Discover

The Discover section enables you to explore the wider world of Twitter. Find new people to follow, see what’s popular and sort your interests. This section enables you to tailor Twitter to your own personal tastes and needs.
Your Profile
Next to the search bar you’ll find a picture of your avatar. This gives you access to your account information and lists, as well as all the general settings and help sections.

Once you’ve familiarised yourself with the different sections of the site you’re ready to start tweeting.
Sending Your First Tweets

Composing a Tweet

As mentioned earlier a tweet can be text, a link, an image or video. You will also often see tweets using hashtags (the # symbol in front of a word or group or words smushed together). Hashtags add a topic to your tweet. For example tweets with the hashtag #MothersDay are about just that. Click on the hashtag and you will see all the tweets linked to that topic.

I’ll go into more detail about types of tweet, strategies and effectiveness of your updates in the next Twitter guide but for now (as this is a beginner’s guide to Twitter) let me give you a quick run down on the other things you can do on Twitter. These options can be found as icons below each tweet on your timeline.

Reply

The reply function allows you to comment on a tweet or join a conversation. Similar to replying if you want to compose a public tweet to a particular individual you can start the tweet with their username. For example you might type @cardgiftnetwork Hi Charlotte! – if you wanted to say hi to me. Starting a tweet with my username means only I and people following us both will see this tweet live in their timeline. Adding a fullstop ([email protected] Hi Charlotte!) in front of a username will allow it to be seen by all your followers, whether they’re following me or not.

Retweet (RT)

Share a tweet with your followers. You can send it exactly as it is or add your own comments before it’s published.

Favorite (Twitter’s an American site, so it’s American spelling!)

Clicking favorite on a tweet lets the author know you like it.

More

The more section has a few extra options such as sharing via Direct Message, copying the link, embedding the tweet, mute, block and report.

 

When you’re first getting started it’s worth having a look around, observing what others do and just trying things out. Get yourself used to using the site and all the functions and once you’re comfortable you can start adding strategies and getting serious. I will however give you 2 quick tips to get you started.
2 Quick Tips for Tweeting

1. Mix Up Your Content

People are going to be looking at your tweets to see if you’re worth following so don’t be dull. A Twitter account that is an endless stream of promotion or links to your website will not be tempting for new followers. Mix up your content with your own updates, retweets, links, articles and conversations. You can even mix up the type of content so your tweets are a mix of text, links, photos and videos.

2. Consider Your Timing

My second starter tip is to consider your timing. Whether you’re live tweeting or scheduling your tweets (more on this in the tools section). Try and space your tweets out over time periods when your targeted audience is most likely to be viewing their timeline. I’ve seen accounts that will post 20 tweets one after the other in a ten minute period. If you do this then you could be swamping someone’s timeline with your tweets, which could annoy some people and cause them to stop following you.

By now I hope you have a good idea of what Twitter is, how you can set up your account and how to start using that account. You’re pretty much ready to launch yourself and your business into the Twittersphere. But before I finish want to close with some basic tools that can help save time and effort as you’re getting to know the site.
My Top 3 Tools for Getting Started on Twitter

Canva

Canva is an online picture editor that can help you create high quality graphics. It’s particularly helpful for Twitter as it offers pre-made templates for creating your own Twitter header image.

 

Beginner's Guide to Twitter - Tools - Canva

 

Tweetdeck

TweeDeck is an official Twitter tool. Unlike the Twitter website where you have to navigate between different pages. TweetDeck allows you to customise what you see on one page. You Simply pick and choose the information you want to see in columns. This allows you to see your timeline, mentions, lists and direct messages side by side. You can also compose and schedule your tweets right from the dashboard.

 

Beginner's Guide to Twitter - Tools - TweetDeck

 

Buffer

If you want to schedule your Twitter updates but also use other social media sites such as Facebook or Linked In then it’s worth taking a look at Buffer. Unlike TweetDeck which is Twitter specific, Buffer allows you to schedule updates for several social media channels all from one account. There’s both free and paid options for Buffer. The free option allows you to link up one social media account for each platform so is good for most businesses.

 

Beginner's Guide to Twitter - Tools - Buffer

 

That’s it! You’re ready to take the Twitter world by storm & don’t forget to tweet me on @cardgiftnetwork.

 

Sources

* Statistics from #TwitterAcademy Webinar, 25th February 2015.