20 Ideas for Using Twitter for Business

Promote Your Site | December 17th 2009

Technology and its discontents

While Twitter boasts over 18  Million Users who visit or use Twitter at least once a month,  for many small business owners “What to do on Twitter?” remains an exasperating question. Unlike Facebook, where communication flows intuitively enough, Twitter has more of a vague, techy appeal. Your first time on Twitter may feel reminiscent of your first teenage existential experience. You find yourself staring at the status message window, alerted to the fact that something ‘real big’ is going on, but what exactly? This is one of Twitter’s main hallmarks, the unspeakable mystery that gnaws at its first time users: What the heck do I do here?

Internet and web 2.0 guru Guliamo (@guliamo) helps shed some light on the Twitter mystique:  “Twitter is a teleprompter of life. A tool that informs you of every burp and hiccup of people you know, want to know, or want to stay in touch with. Statistics show that 60% of Twitter users abandon their accounts within their first month of use. That’s because they either don’t get what Twitter’s all about – a quick, frequent exchange of information, or worse – they realize they have nothing to say”.

So far for optimism. But what do you do if you’re looking to leverage your business and don’t know where to start? Guliamo recommends that you start by ‘mixing it up with at least 200 contacts’. Translated to plain English, this means you should follow at least 200 people and/or companies, the idea being that by following diverse contacts you’ll be able to see the ultimate power of this medium.  Once you feel you have the hang of it, we recommend you try the next 20 tips (courtesy of Chris Brogan):

First Steps

  1. Build an account and immediate start using Twitter Search to listen for your name, your competitor’s names, words that relate to your space. (Listening always comes first.)
  2. Add a picture. We want to see you.
  3. Talk to people about THEIR interests, too. I know this doesn’t sell more widgets, but it shows us you’re human.
  4. Point out interesting things in your space, not just about you.
  5. Share links to neat things in your community. ( @wholefoods does this well).
  6. Don’t get stuck in the apology loop. Be helpful instead. ( @jetblue gives travel tips.)
  7. Be wary of always pimping your stuff. Your fans will love it. Others will tune out.
  8. Promote your employees’ outside-of-work stories. ( @TheHomeDepot does it well.)
  9. Throw in a few humans, like RichardAtDELLLionelAtDELL, etc.

10.  Talk about non-business, too, like @astrout and @jstorerj from Mzinga.

Ideas About WHAT to Tweet

  1. Instead of answering the question, “What are you doing?”, answer the question, “What has your attention?”
  2. Have more than one twitterer at the company. People can quit. People take vacations. It’s nice to have a variety.
  3. When promoting a blog post, ask a question or explain what’s coming next, instead of just dumping a link.
  4. Ask questions. Twitter is GREAT for getting opinions.
  5. Follow interesting people. If you find someone who tweets interesting things, see who she follows, and follow her.
  6. Tweet about other people’s stuff. Again, doesn’t directly impact your business, but makes us feel like you’re not “that guy.”
  7. When you DO talk about your stuff, make it useful. Give advice, blog posts, pictures, etc.
  8. Share the human side of your company. If you’re bothering to tweet, it means you believe social media has value for human connections. Point us to pictures and other human things.
  9. Don’t toot your own horn too much. (Man, I can’t believe I’m saying this. I do it all the time. – Side note: I’ve gotta stop tooting my own horn).

10.  Or, if you do, try to balance it out by promoting the heck out of others, too.



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