The Ultimate Guide to Twitter for Small Businesses

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Twitter is one of the largest and most active social networks, with over 302 million active monthly users sending more than 500 million tweets a day. Often referred to as a micro blogging service as it limits your status updates to 140 characters, Twitter is a real-time information network that encourages its users to share and discover interesting content. Businesses have utilised the benefits of Twitter, recognising that it is one of the quickest ways to get a message out to people who may be interested in your products, services, ideas or events and also gives the chance to get real time feedback from customers. Perhaps the greatest feature of Twitter is the ability for your followers to share your tweets with their following at the click of a button, this is called a ‘retweet’ and is what cements Twitter as a successful word-of-mouth platform that can help your message reach an entirely new audience of prospective customers.


What’s good about Twitter?

  • The Twitter feed is public which can help give your business greater exposure in web search results
  • The site is like a public forum, so it’s easy to build a community of potential customers
  • It is a quick way to share links to content to help spread your message to a wide audience.
  • It is an open network so anyone can read your updates regardless of if they are a user or not

What’s not so good about Twitter?

  • It’s sometimes challenging to create a meaningful post in only 140 characters
  • Building an active following takes time and requires a daily commitment to sharing content
  • With so many identical-looking tweets, it’s hard to make a single one stand out
  • Users are very vocal, so if they have a problem they will say so
  • The lifespan of a tweet is very short

Which Businesses Should be on Twitter?

Twitter is very popular tool for use as way of speaking to people directly and for quick, snappy updates. From this, if you are a business that regularly and frequently shares breaking news, updates and likes to engage with fans directly then it is worthwhile having a Twitter presence.


Need to Know Facts, Stats and Tips about Twitter

  • 40 % of users worldwide simply use Twitter as a “curated news feed of updates that reflect their passions” ultimately preferring to read, rather than send out tweets themselves (Twitter, 2014)
  • 26 percent of UK consumers use Twitter and most popular amongst the 18-24 demographic, with 64% active on the platform (Kantar, July 2013)
  • 80% of UK users access Twitter via their mobile, with 70% of those saying it is their primary way of accessing Twitter (Twitter, 24/02/14)
  • Twitter’s penetration throughout the UK breached two in five people in 2013 and this figure is expected to climb in the years to come, reaching 26.6 percent by 2017 (Kantar, December 2013)
  • 62% of UK mobile users follow brands (Twitter, 2014)
  • The ideal length of a tweet is 100 characters (Buddy Media, 2014)
  • The ideal Twitter posting schedule is a minimum of 5X per day and no maximum as you can share more because of the fast pace conversations happening. (Constant Contact, 2014)
  • The Ideal size of image to use for you header is 1500 x 500 pixels. For your profile photo it’s 400 x 400 pixels. A shared photo is 1024 x 512 pixels. For the in-stream photo preview it’s 220 x 440.

Why You Need Twitter For Your Business

Connect With Customers
Twitter is a great channel for connecting with your customers and providing customer service. It can be used beneficially for your business in that you can listen to and develop a relationship with your customers and gain feedback on how you can improve your product and services both of which can greatly benefit your business in the future. In terms of providing value you can easily respond quickly and positively in real time to those that are interacting with you, showing others how you positively interact with your audience and are active in responding to complaints, queries and general communications.

Keep Up To Date With Your Industry and Competition
Twitter will help you stay on top of your industry and market as it allows you to find out what people are saying in real time about a particular topic, enabling you to keep up to date with posts about your business, industry and your competition.

It Shows Your Personality
The internet can often be an impersonal place; however using Twitter offers a real time, informal and chatty platform for your opinions, stories, humour and advice that gives your business a human face. People are more likely to purchase products or services from a business they feel like they already “know” and having a profile that you regularly update can help create a community and allow your followers to feel like they know your business.

Networking
Twitter is a great tool to use for networking as through the use of tweet-ups and general sharing of content you can meet and interact with many new businesses, customers and other individuals local to you and within your industry that will grow your network and potentially lead to new business opportunities and relationships.

Brand Awareness
Millions of people use Twitter actively on a daily basis and so it is likely that your existing customer base and potential customers and prospects are already users. From having the ability to display your brand through a customisable profile together with being able to engage and directly interact with your followers who can easily share your content, Twitter becomes a powerful tool for helping small businesses to expand their reach and brand awareness across an active network.

Monitor Your Reputation
Knowing if people are talking about you and what they are saying is critical for your business and Twitter users are renowned for their frequent sharing of opinions (good and bad) about their experiences with businesses. Whether users are positive of negative about you on Twitter, ultimately you need to be there to address what they are saying either through a thank you or an acknowledgement of an issue and then a solution provided. By publicly responding to those that are talking about you, you tap into Twitters use as a powerful customer service tool and you build trust with others as responding to them shows you are listening and genuinely interested in what they have to say and acting upon it will help you to better your business and experiences of customers.


Questions to Help Form a Successful Twitter Marketing Strategy
Before you jump in and start tweeting there are several key strategic elements you must consider in order to create a Twitter marketing strategy that will ensure your Twitter profile is going to be in line with your business objectives and ultimately be a successful addition to your social media marketing strategy.

Why is my Business on Twitter? What are my Goals?
One of the first things you must do is determine what you want your Twitter profile to achieve for your business. Whether you want to use it to support sales by giving potential customers useful information in the form of relevant news updates or use it as an outlet for customer service or to build your brand by providing content that supports your offering, having clear objectives for your profile help optimise its reach and impact. Having clear goals and objectives will guide and dictate how to develop other parts of your Twitter strategy so it is vital that you pick realistic, achieve able and effective objectives for your business.

Common Twitter Marketing Goals

  • Grow an Engaged and Relevant Following
  • Generate Brand Awareness
  • Generate Sales and Business Leads
  • Customer Service Tool
  • Establish Authority

Who Will be in Charge of Managing my Twitter Account?
Whether you will maintain your Twitter in house or hire an external social media manager or agency, you need to establish who will be maintaining your account and ensure that they are the right person who will present your brand well and effectively across Twitter. Part of this process is also ensuring the person running your account has a good understanding or your branding from the voice you want portrayed to how they interact and deal with queries/complaints etc. as they need to be able to confidently ensure they can represent your brand at all times.

Is my Target Market on Twitter, Who am I Going to be Tweeting to?
In addition to determining your objectives, having a clear idea of your target readers is paramount. Firstly as you can ascertain whether your target market is actually on Twitter in the first place and also knowing who you are tweeting too is key to being able to tailor your tweets around content that maximises interest and engagement from your readers.

What am I Going to Tweet? Have I Got a Content Strategy in Place?
Creating a content strategy is a key part of your success on Twitter as it will give you clear and consistent guidelines on vital aspects such as what to post, when and what voice you will portray. Deciding on what major content categories you want to include regularly helps you to stay focused and maintains a clear direction for your tweets to go in order to ensure your content is in line with your business goals and is targeting reader’s needs. Having a clear understanding of the frequency you will be posting is also paramount in order to ensure it is in line with your wider social media strategy. An important part of the content strategy development is also choosing the right ‘voice’ to portray for your business. Your tweets should reflect your personality as Twitter is a great way to show a ‘human’ side to your business that customers appreciate and prefer. From this, it is important to have an idea of what voice you want for your profile that can be consistently applied across all your posts, especially if your profile is going to be managed by several different contributors. In general many find there are several key characteristics of successful tweets such as showing a personality and being contextually relevant that ensure tweets are as engaging and interesting as possible. Put simply, avoid generic corporate speak and replace it with your own unique voice and customers will be more drawn to and engage with you on Twitter.

How am I Going to Measure my Success on Twitter?
In order to measure the success of your Twitter presence you need a solid understanding of the initial objectives you want to achieve for your business from using Twitter. Whether you want to use Twitter as a customer service tool or to drive traffic to your blog or website, having a clear vision of why you are using Twitter will automatically shed light on what metrics and other data should be looking at in order to measure your success. An important part of measuring your success is also learning what works and what doesn’t so as your strategy develops you may find you need to adjust your objectives so it is vital you don’t neglect your analytics as they will help you to build a solid, successful and competitive Twitter presence.


Tweeting: What, and How Often?

Now it’s time to start tweeting, there are several fundamental basics to follow to ensure you create powerful and engaging tweets.
With over 5,700 tweets posted every second and each one having an average life span of 3 hours, it can be hard to make your tweet stand out from the crowd. For small businesses without an already established brand this is an even more difficult task to manage. There are however several guidelines available to aid you in what to tweet, but always remember these four key things;

Never Go For The Direct Sell
When you first start tweeting it may be tempting to go with the direct sale approach tweeting information about how wonderful your business is and all of the things you sell or offer. This however is not a successful approach and in most cases will see you viewed as a spammer and will quickly lead to people unfollowing you or not following you at all. To avoid making this mistake you must strike a balance between subtle business tweets and ones centred on customer engagement, with a favourable emphasis on the latter.

Say Something Interesting and Useful
Write your tweets with your target audience in mind so rather than trying to appeal to a generic wider audience, write content that contains specialised information and analysis that those interested in your services or in your sector would read. For ideas simply think about questions you had when starting out in your industry or flag up interesting case studies or advice. By openly giving out advice and information you will become an online repository of specialist knowledge and this will attract the attention of your target audience.

Try to Include Some Form of Media Within Your Tweet
A common mistake made with tweeting is not including some form of media content such as a relevant video or picture that can lead tweets to look uninviting and not capture a reader’s attention. To avoid making this mistake make sure to tweet insightful and valuable content that your readers will want to read and looks visually appealing also. Tweets with some form of media such as a photo or link always get more clicks so it is vital that you try to include some form of relevant media.

Be Creative
People always respond better to something that is new, fresh and clever so always brainstorm ideas in the mind-set of producing something that is creative and breaks the mould of other generic tweets. You are competing in the fast-paced and growing industry of social media marketing so you need to make yourself stand out and give potential customers a compelling reason to choose you over your competitors.


Engagement on Twitter is reflected in five forms: retweets, favourites, clicks, lists and @mentions. Here are several ways to create the right type of customer engagement with your posts;

  • The Humanising Tweet
    Twitter offers an informal and chatty platform for your opinions, stories, humour and advice that gives your business a human face. These types of tweets, whether they are photos of staff, office celebrations etc., are designed to show your audience that there exists real people behind your brand and helps them to connect with you and get to know you and your story better.
  • The Promotional Tweet
    By giving discounts or other benefits to your Twitter followers, you give them a reason to follow you and as a result acquire a new audience that will then see your other business updates. Common twitter promotions offer a free gift or service upon receiving a certain number of retweets or followers.
  • The Answering Replies Tweet
    Twitter is a great tool for customer service but if you fail to monitor and reply to what is being said about your company you’re making a big mistake. Only when you engage with your customers and respond appropriately will you get the full value of Twitter as a customer service tool. This does not mean that you have to respond to every negative statement, but when there is a real issue or if a person has a specific question or wants to praise you, you need to address it quickly and honestly.
  • The Relevant Industry News, Trends or Events Tweet
    To build your authority within your industry you need to act as a resource for people who come to you for relevant and up to date industry advice/news/ trends/ opinions and any other relevant articles that you know would be of interest to your target audience.
  • The Question and Participation Tweet
    You will get a lot more out of tweeting if you enable and encourage your customers to respond to what you write. Beyond asking questions with your tweets, you also need to remember the conversation is two-way, so respond to the comments readers leave and you are likely to develop a community on your Twitter profile that can help turn your customers into fans who will promote your products and services and provide you with quality feedback.
  • The Get to Know the Business Tweet
    Successful tweets often share something with followers that they can’t get anywhere else, something that is interesting and beneficial that lets them know more about a business. People are more likely to purchase products or services from a business they feel like they already “know” and having a profile that you regularly update can help create a community and allow your readers to feel like they know your business.
  • The Relevant Resources and Links Tweet
    If you regularly read industry news and find interesting articles, share them with your audience and add your own thoughts. This will go a long way in developing your reputation as a thought leader and as a source where people can come to find valuable and interesting industry insights.
  • The Fun Tweet
    Sharing updates that are entirely business related all the time can lead to a monotonous twitter presence and may lead to unfollows as people think you are just trying to hard sell to them all the time. Instead look to strike a balance between business updates and ones that are fun, light and full of humour as you will attract followers and also go a long way towards humanising your business.
  • Miscellaneous Tweets
    There are many options for what information you can tweet to your followers and as you move forward you will find the content that works best for you and your target audience. Ultimately, share what you feel is interesting and relevant and will interest your readers and encourage them to engage with you and share your content. For example many businesses use Twitter to tweet quotes that inspire them, promote a charity the business supports and to share the news if the company has won an award, received a great review, garnered some major press or has a great testimonial.


Although it takes some experimentation to find the best schedule for you, there are two things that should always be considered and will dictate your tweeting schedule; your company goals and what your audience wants.

In general, 3-10 great content tweets per day are a good general amount to sustain an active presence on Twitter. This however may vary depending on what works best for your company, goals and readers so it is important to experiment to find a tweeting schedule that works for you. For example, if your goal is to become a cutting edge information resource, you might be continually posting breaking news and events in your sector or industry, on the other hand if your main audience is mostly interested in technical or behind-the-scenes details, you’ll probably tweet information less often. So the first step to determining your ideal tweeting frequency is to find the perfect balance of what you want and what your audience wants.

To maximise the benefits of having Twitter you need to ultimately ask yourself, Can you keep this schedule consistently?, Can you always tweet high-quality content at this rate? And will you have enough content for this schedule? Once you’ve discovered the best times to tweet, being consistent with your publishing schedule has the benefit of encouraging new followers and the potential for retweets that will enhance your brand and impact.


How to Write an Effective Tweet

Start with a Relevant Following
The key to a successful presence and indeed tweet begins with you having built up a relevant and engaged following that wants to engage with you. If you only followed others in the hope of gaining an easy follow back or bought followers then you are wasting your time as both of these types of followers are useless for your business as they will not engage with you and are likely to never become customers. Instead, look to build a relevant following by searching industry hashtags and follow those users that appear, include a follow me on Twitter link on your website and blog, tell your existing business contacts and customers you are on Twitter and utilise your other social networks to bring audiences over from your other networks.

Establish Your Objective for the Tweet
Every tweet you share needs to have a purpose. Whether you want to create interest in your latest blog post, promote a new product or service or generate engagement through a Q&A, knowing your objective will dictate and affect every aspect of what you include in your tweet from the links you’ll include, where they go, the tone of the tweet, the CTA you include, right through to how you will measure the success of your tweet.

Create a Headline That Grabs Attention
At any given time there could be hundreds of tweets in your target audience’s Twitter feed and to ensure you stand out people need to be given a good reason to click on your link which is why creating a well-written, clear and attention grabbing headline is vital. Before you tweet simply ask yourself if you would share and click on that tweet based on its headline and if you wouldn’t then you need to change it.

Keep the Tweet the Optimal Length
The limit for characters within your tweets is 140; however you do not have to use them all. Rather it is suggested that the optimal length for a Tweet is around 70-100 characters as this makes your tweet short enough to digest within a few seconds and is the right length for anyone who wants to retweet and add on a couple words for their own comment.

Include Some Form of Media
To make your tweets attract more attention it is recommended that you include some form of media content such as a photo or video as this makes the tweet more interesting and appealing. So make sure to tweet and share insightful, informative and valuable content that your readers will want to click on and looks visually appealing also.

Pay Attention to Spelling and Basic Grammar
You represent your brand with every tweet you post so don’t leave your audience with a negative and unprofessional opinion of your business by not taking the time to proofread for spelling errors and not checking your general grammar. Ensure your tweet is clear, concise, the punctuation use is correct, you have correct spelling and you clearly spell out your words instead of using abbreviations to save characters as many followers may not be familiar with certain abbreviations.

Include a Clear Call to Action
Ensuring you include a clear call to action in every tweet you post ensure that each tweet will be purposeful for your business. Whether you want to direct the reader to a new blog post, a product page or to a newsletter signup page ensure you make it clear and concise to the reader what the next step is that you want them to take.

Utilise Relevant Trends and Hashtags
Hashtags are a great tool for connecting to a wider audience so ensure you utilise them within your tweets. For ideas you can relate them to the content you are posting to enhance the tweet or for content ideas you can do a search within your business community to see what is trending and if relevant, add your thoughts. It is important not to jump on and use any hashtag that is trending as many won’t be relevant for your business, rather the key is to be selective and only utilise those that are relevant and will enhance your business in some way.

Using Links? Ensure They’ve Been Shortened
Using a link shortening tool such as bit.ly to shorten your URL’s not only helps you easily gain more characters to use, it also provides valuable insights into how the link is being shared which is essential for future content creation and link selection.

Actively Learn From the Tweets of Others
Be active in looking through your feed and looking at the tweets that stand out for you as this can give you valuable tips that can help guide you in creating better tweets in the future. To those tweets that stand out to you and made you click on them analyse why and look to what makes that tweet so good then apply it to your own tweets. By consistently looking at others and learning you will gain the necessary knowledge to know what makes a great tweet that your audience can’t resist which in turn will make you gain more followers, respect, authority and ultimately make your Twitter presence more successful.


How to Build a Following and Amplify Your Impact
Writing your tweet is only the beginning. The next challenge is to promote your profile in order to get maximum exposure and attract attention. Rather than relying solely on search engines, there are several other key techniques you can employ to help get your content noticed.

Get talking…
Central to building your followers is interaction and creating conversation. Asking questions is one of the best ways to get conversational on Twitter, but just as important is to participate in other people’s conversations and provide information to them that they will find engaging, relevant and useful. The key to maximising your impact and gaining followers is to share ideas with and reply to those who have shared interests with you, therefore write your tweets with your target audience in mind rather than trying to appeal to a generic wider audience. Include content that contains specialised information and ideas that those interested in your services or in your sector would read. Be conversational about topics that will be of interest and provide value to others and this will encourage your followers to reach out to their own networks and help spread your message and build your brand following.

… And Stay Talking
Building an active following takes time and requires a daily commitment to sharing content. With hundreds of millions of tweets been sent daily it is very easy to get lost in the crowd if you don’t maintain a strong presence on Twitter. It is therefore vital that in the very beginning you figure out a comfortable tweeting routine that works with your editorial calendar, be it tweeting 5 or 20 times daily, and stick to it in order to maintain consistency and maximise your impact.

Use your Followers to get more Followers
Create tweets that encourage your followers to retweet. A common method is to announce that you’ll offer a discount or some other benefit to everyone who retweets your offer, but only if you get a certain total number of retweets. Offer your customers a reward if they mention your business — a discount, free trial, or extra service, whatever is relevant for your business. It’s also a good idea to include a link to the terms and conditions of your offer in the Tweet.

Promote your Twitter @username
Anywhere your customers interact with your brand is an opportunity to encourage them to follow you on Twitter. Once you begin tweeting, remember to promote it across all your other social media platforms and that includes mentioning it on your e-newsletter, your email signature, business card, product packaging and anywhere else your customers will see it. This also applies if you’re an active participant in a forum or membership site, placing a signature with your Twitter link will direct more attention to your page.

Use Twitter Directories
Directories categorise Twitter users into areas of interest and expertise allowing you to easy find, follow and interact with industry influencers and other similar business owners and businesses relevant to you. Not only does this allow you to connect with quality people on Twitter it opens you up to the potentially valuable information that they share and also opens you up to their audiences if they interact with you and share your tweets.

Utilise Relevant Hashtags and Trends
Ensure that you actively pay attention to relevant trends and hashtags and act when you can see an opportunity that you can utilise. Things that are popular at a certain time creates a great opportunity for you to attract new followers so whether it’s a person or event that is trending and relates to your business ensure you jump on board and share a piece of content that fits in as you will stand a good chance of gaining some of the traffic and attention that comes with a trending topic thereby opening you up to a new audience and potential new followers. (Here’s a great comprehensive list of UK Hashtags)

Go to Tweet-ups
Tweet-ups are a great way to connect in person with those that you follow and interact with on Twitter. Whether you attend an already established Tweetup or you create your own remember to extend the Tweetup invite to the networks of your followers as this has potential for greater reach and audience which is a great way to network with others leading to new relationships and potential future business opportunities.

Promote Your Profile
Anywhere your customers interact with you both online and offline is an opportunity for you to direct them to your Twitter account. Share a link or include a follow me box on your website, blog, Facebook profile, email signature, e-newsletter, LinkedIn profile and anywhere else that you have a web presence will help expand your audience and boost your follower count. Offline you can utilise word of mouth and place your Twitter handle on business cards, signage and any other corporate literature.

Optimise and Refine Your Twitter Bio
Your Twitter bio constitutes one of the most important aspects of your profile as your bio is crucial in persuading or dissuading another user from following you. Users will often make a snap decision based on what you have written so it is crucial to present yourself in a professional, targeted and interesting way. Your bio should clearly tell people what you do, what updates they should expect from following you, and why they should follow you. In order to attract and encourage your target audience and the people in your niche to find and follow you, you need to include the right keywords and details

Stay Human!
The key to success on social media is to remember that you are dealing with people, and people respond to people! To encourage engagement, deepen relationships and attract attention it is vital to present yourself as a ‘real’ person through a relaxed, approachable and ‘human’ tone. One of the worst things a business can do on Twitter, and any other social media, is to be ‘automated’ and ‘salesy’ and provide boring updates rather than actively engaging their audience with informative, engaging and entertaining content. Make yourself attractive to social media users by letting them know there exists a ‘real’ person behind the brand by sharing your brand story, making them laugh and encouraging engagement through create content.

Be Active and Post Consistently
When someone checks your Twitter profile, they are able to see how active you are and when you last posted. There is nothing worse than for them to see an irregular posting schedule or no postings at all, as they will immediately make the decision that you are not worth following. Being regular with your Twitter activity shows others that you are interested in interacting and engaging with a community which encourages others to follow you and join in. People are on social media to be informed, engaged and interact with friends, family and their favourite brands etc. so show them you are interested in what they have to say by joining in with, encouraging and utilising the conversations others are having online.


Tips for Success

Utilise Keywords in Your Tweets
Choose several keywords that accurately and best describe your business and industry and strategically use them within your tweets. Doing so gives each of your tweets a purpose as you will likely show up in search results relating to your keywords and potentially get found by a new, relevant audience.

Connect and Interact With Relevant People
One of the most important parts of a successful Twitter strategy is following and interacting with quality, relevant people not just anyone who you think will follow you back. You need to be selective and targeted with those you choose to follow as you need them to be the right people who will be interested in your content and from whom you can build a relationship with. Importantly, you need to actively and regularly seek out relevant people through directory searches, influencer twitter lists and through looking at who others are following and then listening to, starting and joining in with conversations with them. Remember to also show your excellent customer service skills by regularly searching for anyone who talks about your brand and interacts with you and interact with them back. Also actively listen to conversations surrounding your industry and by adding your thoughts to the conversation you can establish yourself as an authority within your sector. Doing this will get you more noticed by others and increase your brand exposure resulting in a successful Twitter presence.

Be Social
If someone has taken the time to connect with you, start a conversation or retweet you then remember to reciprocate and interact with them back. Twitter is a powerful tool for helping spread the word about your business so it pays to deliver a good, personal customer service for all those who are looking to interact with you. A simple retweet can go a long way towards helping another business in your community so when relevant look for great content from others to share with your audience and you will be rewarded with greater exposure and develop a genuine rapport within your Twitter community. Remember the purpose of using social media is to be social so look to get to know others on Twitter by actively looking for great content that you can share and comment on, conversations that you can join and by encouraging engagement and fostering good relationships.

Stay Relevant and on Topic
One of the important aspects of having a clear strategy is that is keeps you focused on what content you share with your audience and what kind of content is acceptable to retweet etc. Without a strategy it is easy to share and retweet a broad range of content that may not always be relevant for your business, so to ensure you are developing a quality audience that is relevant to you and also in order to help develop yourself as an authority within your sector it is vital that you stay relevant with what you post and ensure the content is tailored to meet the needs of your target audience.

Don’t Be Tempted to Automate Everything
There are many tools available to help you automate your posts on Twitter which is an attractive option for a very busy business owner. However do not be tempted to automate everything as this defeats the purpose of using a social network as you deliberately miss out on the vital social aspect. From this, you need to be real and post in real time as this is the only way engage in real conversation within your community and show them that you are genuinely there to give value to them and interact with them. In addition if you automate everything you potentially open up yourself to an embarrassing event of one of your scheduled tweets being no longer relevant or cause offensive/ thoughtlessness etc. if events happen outside of the online world that may affect your tweet.

Keep Your Profile Updated and Optimised
Your Twitter profile represents your business in the online world and as such you need to ensure it represents you accurately. This means you need to regularly check your profile to ensure all information is updated and optimised, from an informative bio to a good headshot of yourself and a Twitter Header Image that is consistent with your branding and contains your contact details. Part of this process of staying relevant is to look to tailor your background image and/or profile picture to coincide with national holidays and other special events that are relevant to you.

Stay Updated on News and Changes of Twitter
As Twitter evolves it is likely to make important changes that you as a business need to be aware of. Remember to follow the official Twitter business page and subscribe to their blog to make sure you are aware and up to date with Twitter’s business updates.

Be Visual
Tweets that contain visuals such as photos, infographics and videos get the highest amount of engagement on Twitter, so you need to actively and consistently incorporate visual elements into your tweets. Photos and videos are more visible and take up more space on a user’s feed than a simple text based post so look to include high-quality, eye catching and relevant visuals and you will encourage your audience to interact with and retweet your content.

Include Strong Calls to Action
By ensuring you include a clear call to action in your tweets, you are making sure that each tweet is purposeful for your business. A call to action could be asking for a retweet, directing the reader to an external site or simply asking a user to interact with you, whatever your call to action is you need to ensure you consistently form tweets that encourage the reader to continue the interaction with you.

Create and Share Curated Lists
Twitter lists are a great tool to utilise for filtering information. With Twitter lists, you are able to categorise Twitter users into areas of interest, characteristics and expertise allowing you to easy find, follow and interact with industry influencers and other similar business owners and businesses relevant to you. As you follow more people, your feed gets noisy and crowded with tweets which may result in you missing important messages. To make sure you never miss an important message utilise Twitter lists and categorise the most important people you follow so you can easy see their messages and they don’t get lost in the noise of everyone else. Not only does this allow you to connect with quality people on Twitter, it opens you up to the potentially valuable information that they share and also opens you up to their audiences if they interact with you and share your tweets. Another great feature of Twitter lists is that you can set them to be private or public. This allows you to be able to do a range of important tasks from ‘secretly’ monitoring your competitors with a private list or show off and share your impressive roster of brand advocates in a public list. By creating and sharing lists you position yourself as an authority in your field and are able to grow your Twitter community as people begin to trust you to curate the information they are seeking.

Reply to the Right Audience
Many users assume that every tweet they send appears in every one of their followers’ feeds; however this isn’t actually the case. If you begin a tweet with a @username only that user and any followers you both have in common will see the tweet in their feed, which limits a tweets visibility greatly. Whilst limiting the visibility of a tweet can work in your favour, for example if you are responding to a user about a particular bad customer service complaint, by starting your replies with the @username you decrease the number of people who will see the potentially negative conversation. On the other hand, in most cases you want your tweets, especially your positive ones about recommendations, new product launches, customer testimonials etc., to have as much visibility as possible. In this instance you do not want to start a tweet with @username, instead you can use the common method of starting your tweet with a period then the username: .@username or the other method you can apply is to move the username further into your text, for example, “Thank you very much @username! We’re glad you love our product.”

Don’t Just Tweet Article Headlines
Simply retweeting an article or sharing an article without modifying the headline is a common mistake seen on Twitter. It not only makes the user seem lazy and boring, it shows a missed opportunity for you to engage others. So instead of simply tweeting or retweeting the article using the headline already generated automatically for it, put in more effort into it by adding your thoughts and opinions based on the article, taking a retweetable quote from the article, pose questions about the article (e.g. “Have you tried this new tactic?”) or ask your followers for their opinion (e.g. “Has this marketing tactic worked best for you too?”) to get people curious about it. This also has the added benefit of not only encouraging engagement, but shows yourself as an authority in your sector as you are sharing with your community valuable and trusted information and adding your valuable thoughts and creating debates. The added benefit of sharing content in this way, especially if it is your own article you’re sharing, is it also allows you to use all three methods to tweet about the same article multiple times. This is a great way to promote an article several times, each in a different way, without spamming your followers feeds.

Show Your Personality and Remember to Be Yourself!
The most successful businesses on Twitter are those that show the real people behind the brand. Twitter and social media in general offers an informal and chatty platform for your opinions, stories, humour and advice that gives your business a human face and it is through this great ability to humanise your business through the content you tweet that ultimately makes your business appear more engaging, relatable and trustworthy to others. Ensure you utilise this opportunity for your customers to get to know the real you better, so whether you are sharing industry expertise, reviewing a product or sharing an aspect of your brand story, each post gives your customers helping them to better understand who you are, what you do, and ultimately tells them why they should care about you.


Common Mistakes to Avoid

Only Tweeting About Yourself
The essence of social media marketing is about creating social engagement. Therefore you need to encourage interaction from your followers by sharing valuable and informative information and comments and listening to and joining in with conversations. Whilst you have a presence as you will ultimately want to drive sales, your tweets should not blatantly reflect this, rather you need to make people love your brand by sharing stories, responding to interactions and sharing and retweeting information they are going to find useful and interesting. A successful Twitter presence is one which is achieved through social interaction and not through pushy sales promotion tweets.

Begging for Followers
The more people that follow you results in the more reach you have for your tweets. This leads many businesses to beg for followers rather than earn them through posting engaging content, interacting with others and giving incentives to encourage people to follow. Begging for followers affects your businesses reputation online as it makes you appear untrustworthy and desperate.

Randomly Retweeting
Retweeting is a great practise for businesses to get into however many businesses make the mistake of using retweets as a way of replacing their own content and randomly retweet any content with no real thought to whether the content is relevant to them or their own audiences. Don’t make this mistake by ensuring the content you are retweeting is relevant to your audience and in line with your own overall branding and marketing strategies.

Using Too Many Hashtags
Hashtags are a great way to gather traffic and attention by utilising relevant trends and highlighting keywords, but only if they are used correctly and effectively. The maximum number of hashtags to use per tweet is 3 as anymore can make it unclear to the reader what the main focus of your tweet is in addition to general making your tweet look unprofessional and demonstrates someone that doesn’t really know how to use Twitter effectively. By making sure you have a clear goal and message for each tweet you will ensure you know where to clearly put your hashtag to maximise effectiveness.

Rapid Tweeting
It is clear when a business has no posting strategy as a look to their feed shows days go by without a tweet then there will be a sudden, rapid surge of tweets on a particular day. Do not let your business fall into this approach as not only will you lose and fail to attract new followers you also make it clear to people that you do not understand how to use Twitter making you appear unprofessional. There is no rule as to how often you should be tweeting as this is different for each individual so to ensure you are providing a consistent and effective tweeting schedule for your followers you should actively check your engagement rates to gauge the responses from your audience as this will show you what type of and how many tweets are the most effective.

Choosing a Long and/or Irrelevant Twitter Handle
Your Twitter handle needs to be clear and representative of your business. If your handle is too long then you’re losing valuable space and if it is irrelevant then you come across as unprofessional and the lack of a handle that is clear to the brand may mean potential followers may miss out on finding you as it is not clear with your Twitter handle who you actually are.

Using Automatic Direct Messages
Sending an automatic direct message to followers is a common occurrence and one that reflects badly on your business. Don’t make your first impression a negative one for the reader by sending an automatic and impersonal direct message. This makes you appear like a robot and often leads to unfollows and an overall general bad impression for your business.

Not Checking Your Tweets for Spelling and Grammatical Errors
You must remember that you represent your business with every tweet therefore it is vital that you review each tweet carefully before you post. A tweet that is grammatically incorrect, incoherent or riddled with spelling mistakes will affect your reputation negatively so ensure you double check your grammar, spelling and ensure your tweet is clear and concise before you post it.

Only Tweeting 9-5
Just because your working hours are only 9 – 5 doesn’t mean that your audience is only going to be online and interacting at that time. Therefore you need to take the time to monitor your account at several points throughout the day, respond to any interactions from others and find out when your audience is most active on Twitter.

Connecting Your Facebook and Twitter Account
Connecting your Facebook and Twitter feeds is not recommended as each platform requires a tailored use of content from the tone right through to best time to post, therefore you need to treat your Facebook and Twitter accounts as separate entities and share your content individually by tailoring them to each one as opposed to having Twitter automatically tweet the same message you posted on Facebook.


Measuring Success
Like any other marketing strategy, the success of your Twitter profile must be measured against your business objectives. Analysing your Twitter metrics will show you a wealth of information and insights and help determine whether your profile is having a measurable impact and whether the data is reflective of the overall goals of your business Twitter profile.

Follower Growth
Tracking your follower count is important as it shows you whether your Twitter strategies and campaigns are worthwhile and you are successfully attracting people to your profile and business. If your following remains constant over time, this could indicate that you’re not utilising Twitter as well as you could and show areas in need of improvement. Your goal should always be to increase followers so you can grow your reach as greater reach results in more visibility of your tweets that could potentially lead to more leads and customers.

Follower Quality and Engagement
Engagement is about gauging how much people interact with you and the number and quality of retweets, favourites, @mentions, and lists and link clicks are a good way to measure engagement. Tracking these metrics on a regular basis offer the biggest returns in helping you grow your audience so it is vital that you utilise what each individual metric is showing you as using this information will help guide your strategy and ensure you are targeting your readers needs and encouraging interaction and engagement.

Conversion
Another piece of important information about your Twitter success that can be taken from your analytics is how much traffic that Twitter brings to the rest of your website. In other words, how many Twitter followers/readers are converted into potential customers. If a significant number of website visitors were referred from Twitter, you know that your tweets are generating interest in your products or services and are possibly helping to drive sales. Tracking this number is the true measure of your Twitter marketing ROI as even if you’re generating traffic and leads from Twitter, if they’re ultimately not turning into customers you may have to re-evaluate how much time and effort you’re putting into Twitter as a social media marketing channel.

Link Shares
Particularly if you are sharing a lot of links from your website or blog, a metric you should be analysing is how many times your content has been shared on Twitter. An easy way to do this is by using a URL Shortener such as bit.ly as this tool not only shortens your link creating more character space for you in your Tweets, it also helps determine what types of content are most popular which will ultimately allow you to see which type of content you should focus on creating in the future.

Lists
Creating lists enables the user to filter the Twitter ‘noise’ and focus on what and who is important to them on Twitter. Therefore if you have been added to a relevant list then it shows you that you have been considered influential and that user wants to ensure that they always see your tweets. This is good indicator to you that the content you are posting resonates well with others which goes a long way to show you as an authority within your sector.


Twitter Maintenance Checklist

Daily

  • Post several original tweets sharing blog posts, tips, news etc.
  • Go through news feed and retweet, favourite or mention any relevant items
  • Engage with targeted people, prospects and industry influencers
  • Search for tweets mentioning your business, product or service
  • Search for and monitor hashtags and keywords relevant to you and/or your local area
  • See who competitors, industry influencers etc. are following and if appropriate follow them too

Weekly

  • Go through your weeks tweets and see how they are performing
  • Look to see if any new connections from other social media platforms have Twitter and follow them
  • Go through your follow lists and unfollow anyone who is inactive
  • On a Sunday or Monday plan the upcoming weeks content

There you have it a guide to Twitter for small businesses! What are your thoughts?

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