Are you scratching your head about how to get started on Twitter?
Twitter, as simple as the concept is, can be overwhelming for many small business owners to grasp, as a result it is often placed in the too hard basket. Alongside hashtags, Twitter is the topic that causes the most angst in the small business social media workshops I run.
Its reputation, gained during the early days, as a frivolous social media platform full of tweets about having cups of coffee and random observations still follows it, but Twitter has grown up. Over the past 2 years or so, Twitter has reinvented itself into a reputable social media news site and solid business marketing tool. User numbers have increased at a rapid rate, sitting at around 288 million monthly active users, of which 77% reside outside the US, and there are 500 million tweets sent per day (Twitter).
So if you are thinking of getting into Twitter as part of your small business social media marketing, here are 4 quick ‘how to tips’ to help you get started.
How to create a profile
Make sure you:
- Choose a Twitter handle that is short (to allow for Retweets), representative of your business and easy to remember
- Use an image, such as your logo or head shot, which is consistent with your other social media accounts or online presence – this will help build brand recognition.
- Write a profile bio that is short, sharp and to the point whilst capturing the essence of your brand
- Include a link to your website, after all this is where you want your audience to end up
- Pepper your profile with relevant hashtags to increase your chances of coming up in search results
How to find your audience
You don’t want to start tweeting with a zero balance in your follower or following accounts, so invest some time upfront finding your audience. Without over complicating it, use the search bar found at top right of your Twitter home page (see below) and enter keywords or hashtags relevant to your industry, target market and areas of interest. I am interested in social media and want to find others who are interested in social media, so I do the following:
- Enter socialmedia into the search bar
- Look through the suggested relevant hashtags and Twitter accounts of people who tweet about social media.
- Click on the hashtags or the Twitter accounts to see if they are aligned with me
- Look at who is having the hashtag conversations and dive deeper into the Twitter accounts
- Follow the accounts that appeal to me
TIP: Dig further and look into who is following the people you have just followed. Once you get started, you will be faced with thousands of potential peers and customers. Don’t forget to tell your existing customers, friends and family that you are on Twitter and ask them (if they are on Twitter) to start following you.
How to compose a tweet
A tweet is what you write on Twitter, and it works on the premise of 140 character ‘tweets’ – that is it. So you need to make sure what you tweet is concise, with enough characters left over for hashtags, URL links you want to include (back to your website) and for fellow Tweeters to be able to Retweet your content without editing. A good rule of thumb is 90 – 110 characters for your content and 30-50 for your hashtags and links.
Tip: Remember to shorten your URL links to minimise the amount of characters it needs. A simple URL shortening platform is bitly.
How to select the right hashtags
Singularly one of the biggest hurdles I have seen hinder social media newbies is hashtags. Quite simply, a hashtag will put context around your content and also index or place it into existing conversations already happening around that topic. Hashtags is the way people search for content on Twitter, so if you don’t add hashtags the only people who will see your content are those that are already following you.
TIP: If you are unsure of what hashtags best suit your brand or product, there are two quick ways you can find out what you should use:
Use Twitter search – run a quick search on Twitter using keywords from your industry or product offerings. For example if you are a financial planner, use the search function in Twitter to look up keywords such as, #finance #financialplanning #budgeting #superannuation #investingtips.
Tagboard – jump onto Tagboard and simply enter a keyword like you would in Twitter and this great tool not only shows you what conversations are already happening around that hashtag right at that moment on Twitter, it will also show you the other platforms it is popping up on, such as Facebook and Instagram. Not only that, it will give you recommendations for other hashtags, trends around the hashtag and hashtag sentiment.
Like everything in business and marketing, you will only get out of Twitter what you put in to it. Invest some time to understand it and find your audience and you will reap the rewards of a growing social media audience.