Getting the Most Out of Twitter

One of the largest and fastest-growing social media sites, Twitter is becoming a force to be reckoned with. Some may simply view it as another way to waste time on the Internet, but, fact is, as the bulk of active Twitter users are affluent, well educated and influential, it's not a market you can easily ignore. Twitter offers a simple and quick way to keep potential customers updated and interested in what you have to offer through tweets, or status updates of 140 characters or fewer. In the fourth part of our Get Social! series, we discuss tips and tricks to using Twitter to promote your business.

Choose your Twitter username wisely.

One of the first and most important steps in setting up a Twitter account is choosing a username that effectively describes your business or organization. This username appears on your profile and in your Twitter URL. This isn't a place to get too clever, cutesy or obscure; it's best to simply go with your company or brand name. However, with the 15-character limit and usernames being snatched up left and right, this can be more difficult than imagined. If the full name of your company is taken or too long, consider using an easily recognizable abbreviation (like “intl” for “international”) or your products and services in your username instead.

Completely fill out and customize your Twitter profile.

Twitter doesn't allow much space to describe your company, so it's in your best interest to use what little space you have to the fullest. Otherwise, your Twitter profile will look incomplete and unprofessional. You're allotted a space for an image, your name, website URL and a 160-character description. For your image, upload a high-quality file of your logo or otherwise add pictures that capture the essence of your business. Your description should succinctly summarize your business and its purpose, using keywords whenever possible. If you need more room, you can always provide additional information on a customized background, which gives you the entire left-hand panel to add in contact information, more photos, your motto, etc.

Tweet things that will be intriguing to your followers.

Before you write your very first tweet, you should have a plan in mind for what to post and when. Here are a few examples of items that may catch the eyes of current or potential customers:

• Coupons or special offers
• Events
• Tips and advice
• Links to news or magazine articles about your business
• Links to your blog entries
• New products or services
• Links to photos
• Company news
• Links to news that affects your industry, including new trends, products, etc.
• Customer testimonials

Also, keep in mind that it's good to add a little variety of your posts. For instance, don't just post links to your blog. Liven up your Twitter feed with a nice mix of tweets.

Interact with your Twitter following.

Essentially, Twitter is one long conversation, and it's best to look for ways you can make it less one-sided. Respond to tweets directed at you (unless they're obviously spam, like “hey @phxautorepair check out these hot new deals on iphones!!!1111”) and look for interesting tweets from those you're following to comment on or RT.

Tweet regularly and frequently, but not too frequently.

Just as with Facebook, you need to post consistently and often to retain your following. However, as Twitter is a constant conversation, you may need to post more often on Twitter than you do on Facebook to achieve the same effect. However, posting too often or repeating the same posts over and over again is seen as spammy and disreputable. Aim for somewhere between 10 to 20 tweets per week. Also, as tweets appear in real-time, it's best to post during peak hours of Twitter usage, between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., or your following might not see it.

Use hashtags effectively.

Hashtags help others find your tweets in search results and/or to signify that this tweet is part of a group, similar to a tag used on a blog post or a photo. Hashtags, which are named so because a # proceeds the tag, are actually used in the tweet. For example: “On this day 24 years ago Maradona scored his infamous ‘Hand of God' goal against England in the quarterfinal of the 1986 #worldcup.” Use hashtags to organize your Twitter stream, but don't use them in every post. And certainly don't use a hashtag unrelated to your post simply to drive traffic.

Be selective about whom you follow.

As a general rule, it's best to be following fewer people than people following you. For the people you follow, choose people who use Twitter frequently and consistently, have quality tweets, engage in reputable Twitter practices and have a following of their own.

Grow your Twitter following.

The more people following you, the more clout you have in the world of Twitter. Give current and potential customers incentive to follow you by promising (and delivering) special offers, helpful tips and tricks and other interesting updates. Promote your Twitter account on your website, on your blog, in your newsletter and on your other social media profiles. For an even bigger boost, invest in Twitter enhancement software such as TweetAdder, which automatically follows Twitter users that meet certain criteria and unfollows those who don't follow you back.

If you'd like to get started on Twitter or would like to overhaul your current Twitter account, CyberMark can help. From setting up your account to helping you create a Twitter strategy, CyberMark can create an effective marketing campaign on Twitter for your business. For more information on our social media packages, contact us.

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