social media marketing | your one-stop guide to using twitter for your biz

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because a lot of the readers of this blog are also fans of the facebook page i tend to focus a lot on facebook as a tool for building your little biz. but facebook is not the only social media site out there!

so it is time to give twitter a little love. twitter deserves a little love! it is different from facebook. the way you use it is different. and it can make a great addition to your little biz building plan.

i sometimes say that facebook is sort of like standing out in front of your shop or setting up a stall at a local event: handing out flyers, chatting with folks, enticing people to come and like your stuff.

i think twitter is more like hanging out at the pub with your supportive friends, community members, fellow little biz owners, favourite customers, maybe even a celebrity or two. it is different to facebook and just as useful of a tool

here are a few reasons why you should try twitter:

  • if you are feeling like you have a grip on your facebook page and it is working well for your biz then it might be a good time to add another strategy to your marketing plan
  • if you are not really into facebook or don't love spending time there then twitter might be more enjoyable to you
  • the way you connect with people is different. you don’t have to friend people or be accepted as a friend. you can follow whomever you like and unfollow them whenever you like. it can be reciprocal but it doesn’t have to be. because of this, it can feel easier to connect with a stranger and meet new people.
  • it can be easier to find people to connect with: because of the search features and the way people get listed and mentioned you can find new connections rapidly.
  • awesome people hang out there! customers & clients, mentors & leaders in your niche, colleagues and people with similar interests & expertise as you.
  • it’s fun!

the twitter philosophy

there seems to be one common message from people who are really rocking twitter as a tool for their business - they all say 'twitter is a conversation'.

just like being down at the local pub, you could hide in the corner and watch what is happening, but it is more fun and better for your purpose if you join in on the conversation. "talk don't stalk"

you could hide behind your menu, but that wouldn't really invite converstation. or you could only ever show up in your work uniform and only talk biz, but people won't be interested for long if they never get to know you. be you!

and just like going to a new pub where nobody knows your name (did you get my tv trivia reference?) it can be kind of intimidating. hard to join it at first. you might need a little liquid courage (wine + twitter = good times!) but the more you jump into the conversation, the more you try, the easier it gets. i promise.

getting started

signing up for twitter is super easy. fill in your details and choose a user name. be you, or be your little biz name – there are pros and cons to each - it is totally up to you. and don’t sweat it if you change your mind down the road, you can change your username without losing followers or those you follow.

brand your page

add a profile picture that matches your photo on facebook, your website etc. be consistent! (don't leave the little egg photo up there, it is creepy and makes you look like a spammer.)

some people use their logo for their image, particularlily if they use their biz name as their username and only plan to use twitter for their biz. i prefer to see a photo myself, i feel like i am talking to a person instead of a business robot. but do what works for you!

write a profile for yourself that explains in simple terms who you are and what you sell. choose a background colour, image or pattern that matches your logo/colours/brand. 

more than one account?

some people choose to have a personal twitter account and a biz one. if you are going to use them for different purposes, have more than one business site, or would like to do this to keep things seperate and organized, then this might be a good option.

if you do start more than one account - tweet different things from each! consider your purpose with each and use it to reach that goal. do not just tweet the same thing from each account repeatedly. people will end up following both and it is really irritating.

find people to follow

generally the more people you follow on twitter the more people follow you. it does not pay to just follow a few people that you already know and like (like with facebook friends) or to keep your list small because you think it will be easier. the whole point of twitter is to connect with people. so you need people.

when you sign up, twitter will check your email address list to see if any of your connections are already on twitter. follow them.

think of people you would like to follow: people you could learn something from, people who could learn something from you, people you would find entertaining, people who might want to buy your thing. think of keywords that fit your biz or your right people, and do a search for that keyword to find out who is talking about it. follow them!

if you follow someone they will often follow you back - particularlily if you say hi to them, share one of their tweets, or say something really awesome about them. if someone follows you, you can follow them back.

if people are spammy or don’t suit you, unfollow them. simple. and sometimes people will unfollow you too. that's ok. don’t sweat the numbers, concentrate instead on finding your right people and being the right people to your ideal connections.

ask your right people (customers, fans, mentors etc.) to say hi on twitter so you can follow them. if you have people in your world that aren't on twitter yet teach them how to join. share the fun!

make it easy for people to follow you - post your link on your website, your facebook page, your newsletter, your blog, your marketplace site etc.  when you have awesome people follow you, go see who else the follow and connect with those people too. 

this post has some tools for finding followers.

start tweeting!

tweets can only be 140 characters long. twitter is actually a great tool for improving your writing skills; you get good at being succinct and to the point. and unless you are 14, don’t use slangy online writing crap: r u goin 2 da show 2nite? seriously, only if you are 14.

tweet often! twitter is an 'in the moment' tool - people who are on twitter right then will see your tweet, but those that aren't probably won't scroll through their whole feed to get caught up. so if you only tweet once a week, chances are very few people will see it.

what to tweet

remember the key here is to be part of a conversation. like any conversation you have in the pub consider what the people you are chatting to would like to talk about. (hint, it is not all about you and your biz!).

let people get to know you, share your passions and interests, be entertaining, be funny, be thought provoking, ask questions, answer questions, share tips & tricks, be helpful, demonstrate your expertise, build trust, ease objections and fears, respond to concerns, share other people's awesome tips and links, mention and introduce people, say thank you...

consider whether you want to connect with customers & clients, with mentors & leaders, with colleagues and consider what kind of tweet would help you do that. 

don’t be spam-ish

if you popped into the pub to have a drink with fans and friends and mentors you wouldn’t go on and on about the sale you are having on your stuff. so don’t do it on twitter.

good rule of thumb for every one post you make promoting your stuff, make 10 posts that are not about selling your stuff (go back to the list of what to tweet above.)

if all you do is set up an automatic posting to share your website links, or the only tweets you make are pushed from your facebook page, or you only ever tweet about the product you sell, then people will probably unfollow you. or just ignore you. either way you have wasted your opportunity on twitter.

shorten links

because you only have 140 characters to tweet with you should shorten any URL links you post (say if you are sharing a blog post with your followers). use bit.ly or goo.gl to shorten links and also track the link and analyze who shared it. 

retweeting (RT)

if you read a post that is interesting, helpful, entertaining etc retweet it. (this sends it out to all of your followers.) there is a RT button or copy and paste the message including the owners user name with a RT in front. this allows you to include your own comment in front of the RT.

people love to be retweeted and will generally thank you or follow you back.

if you want to be retweeted, keep your tweets to 100 characters. this leaves room to add your user name and an added note to the tweet, and makes it easy to retweet your post.

mentions (@)

to mention another twitter user in a tweet, add the @ before their name. your tweet then shows up in that user’s stream and they can see what you had to say.

@ mentions are a great way to connect with people, they will often respond or follow you back.

if you start a message with an @ mention then only that person and people who follow you both will see it. if you want everyone in your feed to see the post then have something written before the @ mention.

direct messages (DM)

if you want to have a bit of chat back and forth with one person, use the direct message option. it is private to the two of you and doesn't fill the twitter streams of your followers with your one on one conversation. unless of course you want people to see your convo and join in. then by all means, tweet away!

don't set up an auto DM to automatically message people who follow you. generally people in the twitter-verse find this to be annoying, spam-ish and not a very real connection. do send a 'real' direct message or @ message to people who follow you. say hi and say thank you, people love a real connection =)

follow friday (FF)

generally, people tend to promote other users on twitter using the #FF tag. you can suggest other users for your fans to follow and click on recommendations from your fans. this is a good way to make connections with new people and it can also be helpful 'market research' to see who your customers follow and recommend.

instead of listing a heap of people to follow, just suggest one user that you think your followers should get to know and include a reason why they are awesome.

people love an #FF and will often RT it or return the favour.

hashtags (#)

hashtags are a way to follow a conversation or a topic. for example if you are tweeting about christmas gift ideas try turning it into a hashtag #christmasgiftideas. this becomes a clickable link and you can see who else is adding this tag to their tweets and what they are saying.

hashtags are also used to create twitter chats about certain topics that you can join in on. don't wait to be invited, you are meant to just join in the converstation! add your two-cents, answer or ask a question, reply or respond by using the chat hash tag. (or start your own chat with your right people!)

hashtags are also a way to make certain topics trend. if everyone is talking about one thing using the same hashtag it will show up as a trending topic for your location or world wide. 

or you can be like me and just turn random thoughts into hashtags. i swear my brain thinks in tweets and hashtags theses days... #couldbethelackofsleep

link twitter to facebook & vice versa. or maybe don’t.

there is an option to link fb & twitter so that if you post on twitter it shows up on your facebook feed and vice versa.

the benefit of this is to save you time, one post goes to two places, and theoretically everyone sees it. i know many little biz builders who do this and swear by it.

there are even more who say do not do this. the point of social media is to be social, to be present. pushing your fb posts to twitter (and vice versa) is NOT being present and a lot of people find it spam-ish.

(if your fans follow you in both places they definitely don't want to see the same message twice. if they only follow you in one place it is because they prefer that platform - give them what they are looking for.)

personally i am in the second camp: be present on each platform you are on. if you can't be, then stop using it before your lack of engagement hurts your biz. i especially find facebook posts pushed to twitter to be very annoying – if a facebook post is longer than 140 characters (and it probably is) then the tweet gets linked to facebook and i have to leave twitter to read what you are saying. that is like asking me to leave the pub to go to your shop to chat some more. yah, not going to happen.

create lists

right from the start, create lists. if you are already on twitter, start making lists now! as you start to follow more and more people (which is the point of twitter) lists will save you time when you just want to check what a group of people you follow are talking about rather than read through your whole twitter stream.

one cool thing about lists is that if you get listed you will see who has listed you, in what sort of list and who else is in that list. it is a cool way to find people to connect with.

also, if you find someone great to follow and want to find more great people to follow click on one of their lists – you can follow the entire thing at once.

apps such as formulist will make automatic lists for you and provide you with more list options than the twitter lists alone.

set up a social media dashboard

you already have to keep track of your newsfeed on facebook, and maybe adding twitter feels like too much to keep up with. there are many popular ‘dashboards’ available that you can use to keep track of all of this social media stuff in one spot. try hootsuite, tweetdeck or seismic

set up automatic posting. or not.

a dahsboard like hootsuite will allow you to set up autoresponders to post tweets even when you aren't online. again, there are some people that love this tactic, others who say it is not really being present and engaging. 

my take is this: if you can only be on twitter (or facebook for that matter) for a short time once a day then it is hard to engage with everyone. i would rather see a number of tweets spread out by autoresponders than a whole bunch in a row at one moment in time. (i usually skim over people who do that, but that's me.)

if you do set up autoresponders, then be sure to be present and engaging when you are on twitter in real time. make an effort to reply, RT, comment, ask questions etc. 

market research

one of the best things about twitter is the ability to search for key words in your niche. this can be a great way of doing some market research in your niche. you can find out what people need, what gaps exisit in the marketplace, what objections/fears there are surrounding your product or service and so much more. use this info to get better at marketing, selling, and coming up with new product ideas.

another thing you can do is informal surveys and polls with your followers. ask questions and find out what your target or others in your niche think. include a hashtag to make it easy to track replies and ask people to RT your question.

you can find competitors and complementary businesses to keep up with what is happening in your niche, find gaps that need filling, find out what your target seems to respond to on twitter and build relationships with other business owners. twellow and wefollow are directories you can use to find other businesses on twitter. (while you are at it, add your business to these directories!)

you can also monitor your brand on twitter: see what people are saying, respond to any complaints or concerns, say thank you for praise, collect comments for testimonials, and show your fabulous customer service. 

use the search box at the top of the twitter page/your search tool on your dashboard or use the advanced search for more options.

be real

as always, my advice is this: be you. be real. be engaging. be helpful. stand out. social media is for connecting with people. people can't connect with a sales pitch. use twitter to build the 'you' part of your brand. there are some really awesome people on twitter, go be one of them!

and remember, don't wait to be invited to join a conversation or follow someone. twitter doesn't work that way. man up and jump in!

ok, so that is my version of twitter 101. do you have a question that i haven’t addressed? do you have a tip to add about twitter?i would love to hear from you, please add a comment.

and come find me on twitter, i am @karengunton. say hi and i will follow you back, add you to a list, and impress you with my long and random hashtags. =)

further reading: