twitter

Twitter is a tool for "micro-blogging" or posting very short updates, comments or thoughts. Twitter was designed to be very compatible with mobile phones through text messages, each update is limited to 140 characters.

Twitter is most importantly a tool for building relationships with users. Because people tweet what is going on in their lives and share relevant and personal information it is a way to better understand people without ever having met them. When actually meeting individuals either in person or on the phone information pulled from twitter can be great for "breaking the ice". As long as you approach Twitter from the stance of building relationships and authority first and business second it will make much more sense and you will stand a much better chance to succeed.

Business Goals from Twitter

  1. Engage your senior executives in social media. Social media is a great way to build relationships with your market. You can make and manage connections with prospects, customers, bloggers and other influencers. Senior executives typically has little time to write a blog or answer lots of messages and friend requests on Facebook. If your CEO can send a text message, they can use Twitter from anywhere in the world. Twitter is perfect for any influential senior executive who is always on the road meeting with people and who has some interesting opinions on your market.
  2. Build and maintain PR relationships media / bloggers. It is really easy to follow someone on Twitter. And you'll be surprised how often they decide to follow you as well. It's often an easier way to connect with influential people in the media instead of calling and emailing them.
  3. Monitor your company / brand on Twitter. Similar to how we want to monitor articles on the web about our company monitoring what people say on Twitter can be just as important. It's also a great way to connect and engage with individuals. 
  4. Promote blog articles, webinars, interesting news and more. Its really easy to post a link to something in Twitter like links to blog articles or other news articles relevant to your audience which in turn can drive traffic. If you have RSS feeds like a blog you can even feed that to Twitter automatically.
  5. Announce specials, deals or sales. If you are a retailer or anyone who often has special offers, you can use Twitter to announce these deals instantly to a large audience. Amazon is a great example of this. Their Amazon Deals twitter account has thousands of followers who are interested in deals that get posted to this account. 
  6. Live updates on events or conferences. If you participate in a large trade show or run your own corporate event, you can use Twitter to announce last minute changes or cool events that are happening ("Just announced, David Meerman Scott book signing in the exhibit hall until 11am"). If you can excite your audience into sharing on twitter you can get a whole lot of extra exposure. With conferences you can extend offline events into online marketing buzz.

How to Set Up Twitter

  • Visit the Twitter Homepage and click on the "Join the Conversation" button in the bottom middle of the page.
  • Create your Twitter handle; hopefully you'll be able to grab your personal brand and/or company name!
  • Personalize your profile by adding a photo, brand your background, add your location, link to your website, and write a short bio.

How to Use Twitter

Updates on Twitter have a 140 character limit. With "micro-blogging" you'll be posting very short updates, comments or thoughts. Remember, it's a discussion, not a broadcast. With the 140 character limit, if you have a really long URL, that doesn't leave much room for. Most people on Twitter use bit.ly to shorten their links.

Before you are ready to go out and begin following people on twitter it is important to understand some of the special commands used in Twitter and some potential valuable reasons to tweet.

  • @ (Reply) - to publicly say something to another Twitter user, place the @ symbol directly before their username (i.e. @hubspot Awesome blog post today!). That user will see that you have said something to him.
  • RT (Retweet) - to forward another Twitter user's tweet to your followers, place RT @ directly before their username and copy their Tweet (i.e. RT @kylejames State of the Twittersphere - Q4 2008 Report http://is.gd/d3Ms)
  • DM (Direct Message) - to privately say something to another Twitter user in the form of a Direct Message, place a "d" before the username (i.e. d hubspot Awesome blog post today!)
  • # (Hashtag) - to add to the conversation about a specific topic that muliple people are discussing, use a # hashtag before a phrase (i.e. Learning a lot from the #hubspot webinar!)

Searching your brand on Twitter is extremely valuable. This is accomplished by visiting search.twitter.com and looking for your company or a keyword, or by using the Social Media monitoring tool in HubSpot. Knowing what people are saying about your brand can be extremely valuable. Also being able to reply and resolve problems or acknowledge praise can help your brand.

How to Build Following on Twitter

It is important to begin tweeting before you go and attempt to follow lots of users. There are lots of places to find people to follow on twitter, but be careful not to follow to many people too quickly. If you are following 100 people and only have 10 people following you back not only do you look really spammy but new people you follow are going to be more hesitant to follow you back. Gaining influence on Twitter is a gradual process, try adding a few new followers each day.

For starters add people that you know and they will follow you back. It is important to engage in twitter on a regular basis. Try and post at least three times throughout the day. It is also important to engage with your followers regularly. Also, engage with followers by using the reply function to continue a discussion with them.

Originally published Feb 3, 2012 10:00:00 AM, updated January 11 2014