Seven ways to get the most out of Twitter

You’re probably familiar with Twitter by now but perhaps the terminology still eludes you? With everyone talking about tweets, retweets and hashtags, it can be slightly daunting for the uninitiated. But it shouldn’t be. Twitter is a simple and free tool for communicating with your online audience and, done right, it can produce an enormous punch. For founders of web startups, in particular, Twitter is a great way to build a reputation and reach out to potential users. In this article I’ll give you some tips on how to breathe life into your Twitter account and take it to the next level as a marketing tool.

1. What do you expect from Twitter?

Before you start, ask yourself: Who do I want to reach on Twitter? Check how much your target audience is already represented on Twitter. Will you tweet with the aim of acquiring and retaining new customers, or to distribute company and product news? Do you want to promote aspects of your business, maintain your online reputation or recruit new staff? It’s all possible on Twitter.

2. Twitter is a conversation

With Twitter, you speak directly to your customers and prospective customers and give them the opportunity to enter a dialogue with you. Make the most of it. Nominate a person in your company to tweet who’s name appears on the account to make it more personal. If several employees tweet on the firm’s behalf, use name shortcuts to identify everyone. Take the time to answer the questions of your followers, including responding to any critical feedback. Particularly in the early stages of your business, Twitter provides a simple and effective way to gather customer feedback that can help you optimise and refine your products or services. Listening to your customers helps you to win their loyalty.

3. Tweet with discernment

Don’t just aimlessly tweet. Give careful consideration to the content you put out and ensure that whatever it is, it adds value for your readers. Characteristics of a good message are, for example, timeliness, relevance and curiosity factor. Finally, ensure each tweet is contributing in some way to one of your business goals.

4. Attract Twitter followers

Find Twitter account holders (for example, using the advanced search fucntion) who share affinities with you and follow them. If your Twitter posts are well-written and relevant, chances are they will follow you back. Also, add your friends/ business partners and search by keyword, location and industry to identify your target audience and build your list of followers.

5. Tweet straight to the point

With only 140 characters to play with, tweets initially seem to offer little room for getting your point across. But in fact, the discipline of writing in such a small space can bring the best out of you and ensure you stay absolutely on message. Better yet to work within 125 characters, because that way you allow other Twitter users to retweet your tweet! Avoid being too cryptic, but you can also use abbreviations and acronyms. Use terms of orientation such as „recommendation“ in order to save characters and explain to readers where the link you’re posting leads.

6. Time your tweets, tweet quickly

Most tweets are read in the first five minutes after publication, so try to use Twitter when your audience is actively online. If other users comment on your tweets, act quickly and respond as soon as possible.

7. Sprinkle your Twitter link around

If you have a well-maintained Twitter profile, then show it off. Link to it from all social networks where you and your company have a presence, e.g. Xing, LinkedIn, Facebook. You can also include a Twitter link in your email signature, on business cards, in your Skype profile and in all contact information in presentations etc.

Consider where your Twitter traffic will be directed? This could be the company’s web site or even a Facebook fan page, a blog or a Flickr profile. Avoid linking your followers only to pages that you have a commerical interest it. Mix in-house with external sources of news to keep your Twitter channel exciting for your readers.

There are probably at least 93 more tips that I could give you, starting with the design of the Twitter page background and using the many tools that exist now in order to optimise your Twitter experience. But implement the seven tips above and you will have made a great step forward in the use of Twitter as a business tool. Good luck!

About author Tilo Bonow:

Seven tips to get the most out of TwitterTilo Bonow is the founder and managing director of communications agency piâbo, which is headquartered in Berlin. After working in advertising, he moved into an internationally renowned PR agency. Tilo studied media management and worked as Head of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs at digital entertainment leader Jamba/ Jamster (now Fox Mobile). He works inter alia as a lecturer at Steinbeis-Hochschule and the news agency ddp active. Since 2005, he has been providing consultancy services to international start-ups in the areas of Internet/Technology, Telecommunications/Mobile and Media. He has expertise in both classical PR and online communication (social media, blogger relations, etc).

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