Getting Started With Twitter For Small Businesses
Social media has been a large part of our lives for many years now and for many of us, it is the primary form of communication with friends, family, businesses and colleagues. One of the biggest social media platforms in the world is Twitter which is renowned for getting your name in front of a large audience. Today we’re going to look into Twitter and explain how you can set up an account, gain engaged followers, brand your profile, create a strategy that works for you as well as some handy tools, tips and resources to help you get the most out of the platform.
SETTING UP YOUR ACCOUNT
- Sign Up. If you never laid eyes on Twitter, then you can sign up here. You’ll need to provide an email address and password as well as select a business or personal username. This is called a “Twitter handle” such as @yourphotography.
- Customise Your Profile. Start off customising your profile by going to Profile and Settings. Here you can choose your theme colours, background, contact email, privacy settings etc. From there you can edit your profile to add your bio, URL, location and theme colour. This is also where you can add your profile image (400×400 pixels is perfect) and your cover photo (1500×500 pixels). Photos can be either JPG, GIF or PNG but not animated GIFs.
Top Tip: You can pin a tweet to the top of your profile so that it is in prime position for visitors. You might want to do this for a variety of reasons – a special discount, a key message (e.g. you’re going to be away on holiday) or a link to a special service/product you are promoting.
HOW TO BUILD AN ENGAGED FOLLOWING
Here are some tips for building an engaged following and creating an organic Twitter community.
- Follow interesting people. The first thing to do once you’ve set up your Twitter account is to find people who share content you’re interested in. If you follow interesting people, you will have interesting content to share. For example, if you were a wedding photographer you might want to start following all the major wedding blogs, publications, brands, media and other wedding photographers in your niche.
- Connect with key people. Following people you admire is a great way to build a relationship for future collaborations. If you’re using their products, mention them or connect with them regularly through their content.
- Give consistent content. People usually follow you on Twitter if you are within their niche or if you provide content they’re interested in. Therefore, it’s important you provide consistent content which is in line with your message, brand and style. For example, if you take beautiful baby images in a vintage style then share classical inspirations, traditional props and lovely retro outfits rather than loud, modern inspiration.
- Interact. Don’t just tweet to your followers, engage with them too. Join in the conversation, reply to their messages, thank them for their mentions and ask them questions. The best way to succeed is to know your clientele.
- Use Images. This won’t be difficult as a photographer but using a variety of media in your posts makes them more engaging for visitors. Mis it up with text, links, photos and videos.
- Use Hashtags. Hashtags are a way of people finding specific content. For example, if I was looking for an event photographer, I might search for #eventphotography, #corporateevents etc. If you’re stuck for hashtag ideas then check out Hashtagify.me which allows you to enter an appropriate hashtag to discover other related tags.
- The 80/20 Rule. In theory, 80% of what you share should be other people’s content and 20% your own.
- Ask for interaction. It may seem a little odd but actually asking people to engage with your content can work.
- Post at optimal times. Generally, you should post about 4-6 times a day on Twitter as your Tweets can get lost very quickly in the ever-filling feeds. Equally, posting tweets between 9am and 3pm Monday to Thursday is a good time to aim for as this is when most people browse through Twitter.
- Be positive and yourself. People respond better if you post positive, witty and humorous content as we feel compelled to share it.
WORK OUT YOUR STRATEGY
So now you know how to work Twitter you need to think about your strategy. Here are some things to consider:
- What story will you tell? Twitter allows you to tell your brand’s story so decide what sort of message you want to send. This will help you tailor your tweets and make you more consistent. If you craft a strong message you can share information, images and resources all related to that brand message.
- What is your competition doing? Find out how your key competitors are using Twitter, especially those you wish to emulate.
There are lots of tools to help you manage your Twitter account effectively including Hootsuite and Buffer. Both of these programmes allow you to schedule your tweets, monitor trending hashtags, analyse your tweet performance and find new, relevant content to share. Both programmes are great for different reasons. Hootsuite is available for free and is fairly easy to set up and use, however, in the past Hootsuite has suffered from a bug causing images in scheduled tweets to not display correctly. On the other hand, Buffer is a great system that sets all scheduled social media out neatly in a calendar so that you can see exactly when everything is going out. However, you do have to pay for the service and it is slightly more complicated to use.
My Top Tweet is another great programme that let’s you check out which tweets are going well from your feed.
Hashtagify.me is a really handy tool when you need a little inspiration. You can easily search a large number of Twitter hashtags to find the best ones for you.