Short and snappy

Twitter was created to be a micro-blogging platform where you send out useful, condensed posts that grabbed attention and encouraged people to click a link that would direct them back to a website or blog post. The format quickly caught on, and Twitter now has over 240 million users, and runs more than 500 million tweets per day.

Never underestimate the power of Twitter and it’s ability to drive back high-quality traffic to your website or blog. It is also a very useful tool to follow your competition and see what they are currently tweeting about. The use of hash-tags makes it very easy to closely follow a hot topic and read ongoing exchanges.

How easy is it to use?

It is really easy to find and follow businesses that could complement your own, and they can follow you too, as long as you have your account set up as public and not private. When setting up your business account on Twitter, you may wonder if there is any advantage to setting your account to private. The main advantage would be that you have total control over who you accept as your followers, and you would have to manually accept them before they could read any of your posts.

There is a great potential for a small business or an entrepreneur to profit from Twitter, and being so well-established means that it will already be used by many of your new potential customers. It is obvious that you will want to be right where your customers are, so if you want to attract new business and get your customers talking about your products or services, you need to be live and available on Twitter to help answer questions, offer support, and promote your brand.

Why is Twitter useful for my business?

When handled correctly, your posts can quickly help to establish you as an honest, serious, knowledgeable, helpful and approachable person or business. If you can offer plenty of sound advice and helpful information, then people will read your conversations with interest, and see that you are genuinely there to help, and not just using Twitter with the sole intent to sell a product and service with every tweet you post.

There is little doubt that Twitter has now established itself as one of the most well-known and effective social media platforms to use for business. Its ease of use being one of the main reasons for this. For a new business or entrepreneur, the most effective way of getting yourself known is to search for related conversations that you can read and join in with, swap useful information, build trust with other contributors, and then once you are seen in a favourable light can you think about selling your product or service.

People will be more willing to listen and find out more about you and your company once they are familiar with you, and have been impressed with your input.

Engage – don’t sell!

Bear in mind though that you must be careful to use Twitter as a means to engage with your new and potential customers, and not to sell! Selling only comes later, and only when the individual you are engaging with is actively seeing more information from you.

When you first start out out Twitter, you may wonder who you should spend your time following. This really depends on what sort of business or service you plan to deliver in the long-run. For example, if you are setting up and promoting a business that will only be servicing your local area, you will want to focus on local people that would be interested in your business. It would be a great waste of your time to engage on a global scale and be talking to people in Australia or America if you were a carpenter or pizza parlour looking for local customers within a few miles of your base.

Start by searching for specific conversations or people relevant to your business or area of operation to begin with. Join in with conversations, start to follow people who you find interesting, or have the potential to be very useful for you in the future.

How do I get people to follow me?

You will obviously want people to follow you, and picking up followers is easier than you may think. When you start to follow people, make a point of re-tweeting their tweets, join in with their conversations, and offer sound advice and positive compliments about others. You will find you will pick up quite a few followers from your re-tweeting activities, and new people joining your conversation via the hash-tag may also start to follow you out of interest.

You may be worried about what to talk about on Twitter. Maybe you are looking for an ice-breaker, or a way to introduce yourself, but are a little stumped about what to write about. Rather than jumping in with a ‘hello world – here I am’ type of post, why not start by researching the topics currently being talked about within your particular niche or industry. You can then share links to articles, discuss an opinion on a particular topic, ask questions, or simply write something creative on your blog and invite people to comment.

At the end of the day Twitter is still a social media platform, so the objective should always to be to provide quality, useful information in a relaxed manner to encourage conversation and engage people, rather than dictate information that offers no means of response, or encourages discussion.