Alongside other social networks such as Facebook and Google+, Twitter has grown in popularity over the past few years. There are now over 100 million active users worldwide and you can now 'follow' almost everything and anything, from local newspapers (@WakeExpress) to the US president (@BarackObama). It can offer businesses a great opportunity to connect with their customers.
What is Twitter?
Twitter is different to other social networks in that it focuses on short text based messages, similar to SMS text message sent on mobile phones. Twitter users 'follow' other users, and in turn can be followed. A status update, or post, on Twitter is called a tweet and can often mention other Twitter users by using the '@' symbol and their username. When someone mentions you in a tweet, it is shown in your account as a 'mention'.
How it works
Once you've started following users you'll see a list of their tweets in your feed. Your followers will see your tweets in their feed. If one of your followers takes a liking to one of your tweets, they can 're-tweet' it and it is then shown to all of their followers. This is particularly effective for exposing your tweets to other users and potential new followers.
Although not specifically part of the design of Twitter, many users aim to get as many followers as possible. For a business this has some significance as the more followers you have, the wider your reach and more people will hear what you've got to say and connect with you.
The benefits for business
Twitter offers a quick and cost effective way to keep in touch with people who interest you and your business. This can be all sorts of people, from government organisations, suppliers, industry experts and, of course, customers. In addition, it gives these people a way to connect with you, to keep in touch with what's going on. Many businesses are also starting to use Twitter as part of their customer service strategy as well, answering customer questions and queries.
A good approach to customer service on Twitter can be a great asset to your business, as can be a good, fair and reasonable approach to any potential problems that customers may have.
Twitter is free and you can set up an account in just a few minutes. Go to http://twitter.com and sign up on the homepage. Make sure you fill in the biography section to tell other users who you are and what you're about. You can also add your company's web site address in your profile; you should definitely do this as it can assist your visibility in search engines.
The next stage is to follow some people; this can be anyone from relevant public figures to customers. After this, promote your username and encourage people to follow you on Twitter by publicising your username everywhere, for example, on your web site, email signature and on other social networks.
The last stage is to start posting. You want to share interesting updates such as useful articles, photos of new products, relevant videos and updates about what's going on in your business.
Avoid the pitfalls
Twitter offers so many benefits, but just remember that it's a public forum. You do have the option to hide your tweets to the public, but that would miss the point of social networking. Just remember to post responsibly and only tweet what you'd be happy to say to a customer, supplier or colleague in person. Also make sure you show some personality; social networks are about people and interactions and Twitter users respond well to appropriate humour and a good personality. Most importantly, enjoy the opportunities to connect and make the most of what Twitter can offer you and your business.
Once you've got up and running, take a look at http://business.twitter.com/ and read Twitter for Business to get more specific, detailed information about how Twitter can be used in your business.
If you want some more tips and advice, we do offer social media as a marketing strategy so don't be afraid to contact us!