The barrier to entry for creating a Twitter account is pretty low. An email address, password and idea for a handle that doesn’t exceed 14 characters, and you’re set. But there’s so much more to understanding what Twitter is all about, including how to best use it for your small business and what Twitter practices to avoid in order to realize Twitter’s full benefits.

Below is a list of 20 tips on how – and how not – to use Twitter for your business.

Tips for your Twitter Page

Choose a Relevant Handle – Your handle (i.e. @EliRoseSocial) should represent your business name. If your business name is too long or your preferred handle is already taken, choose the next best alternative. Your Twitter handle is an extension of your brand and coordinating your handle with your business’ name aids in customer recall.

Choose a Relevant Twitter Name – You get a few more characters here, so perhaps if your entire business name is too long for your handle, you can use it here.

EliRoseSocial-Twitter-Handle

Our Twitter name and Twitter Handle

Craft a Relevant Twitter Bio – A Twitter bio can include up to 160 characters. A descriptive-yet-concise sentence that explains exactly what your business is about is your goal. For some, your Twitter bio will be their first glimpse into your business and brand, so it’s important to not leave them confused nor guessing.

Use a Branded Profile Photo – Ideally, your regular business logo would become your Twitter profile photo. But if your regular business logo doesn’t work well as a square icon, consider an alternate logo that others would obviously associate with your brand.

twitter-profile-photo

Brand your Twitter Page Design – The default Twitter blue sky and clouds is pretty generic and not helpful for building a consistent brand online. You could choose to hire a designer to create a custom Twitter background for you. Or if you’re on a tight budget, check out BGPatterns for free color and texture background options, and tweak the Design settings under Edit Profile to change the font and link colors.

Twitter-Page-Branding

Include your Website Link – And consider if a page other than your home page would be best to use.

Include a Location – Listing your city or (at least) your major metro area is incredibly helpful. People and other businesses frequently search for and follow back accounts that share a common location.

Twitter Practices to Avoid

Retweeting Too Much – You want to be sure you are engaging others and putting out fresh content. Too much retweeting can feel unauthentic and read like a Twitter bot account vs a stream that is actually managed by a person.

Not Retweeting Enough – Retweeting someone else is like giving them a virtual pat on the back. It’s a good method for building a sense of camaraderie with others, and should serve as a complement to your overall stream.

Using Auto-DM services – Often packaged as “direct marketing” and including teasers like, “Follow us on Facebook, too!“, the vast majority of Twitter users dislike receiving these automatic direct messages (typically received minutes after following your account). In fact, some Twitter users will instantly unfollow an account who sends them an auto-DM.

Not using Twitter Lists – As the number of handles you follow grows, Twitter will begin to feel cumbersome. Organizing the accounts you follow into lists will make your Twitter time more efficient and manageable.

All Talk, All the Time – Twitter can be a great promotional tool, but following the 80/20 rule with regard to self-promotion is important. Be sure to jump into active discussions in your stream, ask other people questions and talk about things beyond just your business. Taking an interest in others will pay off in social media spades in the long run.

Creating App Spam – Twitter accommodates a high volume of tweets, however it’s important to be aware of the number of app tweets that come from your account. Too many Paper.li, Triberr, FourSquare check-ins, daily horoscopes and sponsored tweets can lead to unfollowing.

Tweeting Links with an @-Mention – A practice I’ve been seeing a lot of recently is when a legitimate business account tweets directly to me with a link and a request to check it out. The Twitter culture is not one of direct selling. Beware that this type of tweet behavior can get your account blocked and/or reported as spam.

Locking your Account – Privatizing your tweet stream discourages others from following you since a follow request needs to be sent and approved before following is allowed. Also, a tweet sent from a protected account often cannot be seen when retweeted.

Not Responding to @-Mentions – Even if you are busy and don’t have a lot of time to initiate conversations on social media, be sure to at least regularly check your @-Mentions. Not responding to direct tweets is an immediate turn-off for your social savvy customers.

Not Responding to Questions or Complaints – Along with the point above, it’s even more crucial to respond to questions or complaints directed at your company. Often, a timely response with either an answer to their question or a “We’re sorry for your issue and have started looking into it” is enough to calm the situation.

Incorporating Twitter on your Website

Include an Active Link to your Profile – Make it as easy as possible for your customers to be able to find and connect with your business’ social profiles by including linked social media icons on your website.

Include a Retweet Button – Be sure to install some type of social sharing functionality to your site. Others sharing your website’s pages and blog posts can help drive traffic to your site. Plus, social sharing help with your site’s SEO.

Personalize your Retweet Button – After installing your social sharing tool to your site, be sure to take a few more moments to adjust your settings so your Twitter handle is included in your outgoing tweets.

Each social media platform that you use for your business gives you one more avenue to attract and connect with your customers. It’s important to not only make the most of each platform, but also to be sure you aren’t turning off your customers and potential customers with your practices.

What else you would add to this list?

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