When I first joined the social network known as Twitter, I didn’t think much of it. I mean, how much can someone actually say in one hundred and forty characters or less? Not one hundred and forty words, but just one hundred and forty characters. I never thought I could actually be that brief and still get any kind of point across. Over the years, I have been proven absolutely, completely wrong. Not only is it more than possible to get an important point across in less than one hundred and forty characters, it’s done every single day with wide-ranging results.
Who hasn’t heard of the scandals and promotions that have been going on across the Twitter network? People tweet every detail of their lives as if the world is watching – as if the social networking site were some text-based, character limited version of the reality TV show Big Brother. And as much as people repost pictures of the tweets with a “no one wants to know when you’re *insert random thing here” comment, the truth remains that if they hadn’t seen it, they wouldn’t have been able to share it – therefore it’s seen. And what is it that we all want for our businesses? Exposure! And Twitter is all about exposure – one hundred and forty characters at a time.
So how do you go about making Twitter work for your business? Well, first you take out a Twitter account in the name of your business – or in some other way related to it – and ensure that your avatar is something recognizable that people can look at and identify who you are and what it is you do or stand for. Now, someone must man this twitter account – if anyone Tweets “at” you (known as “@ Replies,” pronounced “at replies”), you need to have something to answer them with. Look at major corporations like Wal-Mart. Their Twitter account is manned twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, and any time someone Tweets praise, complaints, or observations at them, they usually respond within a couple of hours. You want to make sure that – no matter how big or small your business is – you always respond to anyone and everyone who “at”s you. This maintains the professional demeanor of the Twitter account, as well as assuring your customer base that you will give a rapid response time.
Once you have your company’s Twitter account created and manned, you need to begin putting up some content. Tweets about sales or new products are alright, but the trick with Twitter is that you have to engage your readers – get them looking forward to your next Tweet, never knowing exactly what might come from it. Sharing pictures of your offices, images of new products or examples of services are only scraping the surface of the kind of things you can show on your company’s twitter account. And something to beware of is Tweet duplicating – that is, if your CEO has a twitter account, make sure that what the CEO tweets and what the company account tweets are not exactly the same thing every time. Better to have the Company account “retweet” the CEO, or vice versa. Retweeting is when one twitter account reposts verbatim the words from another account’s tweet, crediting that account with a “RT @USERNAME” before the meat of the post. However, when retweeting posts, you have to be careful! If the original post was already close to the one hundred and forty character limit, when it is retweeted and the credit is added onto the front, the last bit of the message may be lost. Rather than doing this (which does look fairly unprofessional), it’s better to take an image of the other person’s tweet using your computer’s ability to screenshot (saving in a simple program like MS Paint, or something more complicated like GIMP or Photoshop, usually as a .JPG formatted file), upload that, and tweet that image with a credit to the person who originally tweeted it. This works in a twofold way – it both allows you to share the person’s tweet, and also hopefully gets their twitter account some traffic as well, which is wonderful for all involved.
One trick is to decide on a gimick for your company’s tweets. Something memorable, specific to your business, that will catch people’s eyes and make them want to watch your twitter account to see what you do next. A common gimick is a giveaway. The wonderful thing about giveaways is that people will sign up for them (in this case, following your twitter account and tweeting a specific code word at you as an entry) no matter what is being given away. It’s a classic human thought process – if it is free, everyone will try to get it, whether they need it or not. And then you have all of those people tweeting the codeword at you, and all of their twitter followers see that, visit you, and maybe they will join as well! Now you have an ever expanding twitter userbase following you. And, most people won’t STOP following you once the giveaway is over. Now you’ve expanded your followers and all it cost you was one free item.
What it comes down to is that Twitter is a valuable tool for businesses and individuals alike. Simple to use with a wide base of potential followers for every company – and after all, it’s only a hundred and forty characters.