Editors note: This post was originally published in March 2017 and has been completely updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
Twitter can be an incredibly powerful and useful tool for your business but it can be a difficult thing to grasp at first glance. Getting started with Twitter might seem a tad difficult.
This goal of this article is to give you an overview of how to get set up and use it for your business.
Getting started on Twitter doesn’t need to be scary. Follow this step-by-step guide to getting started on Twitter.
The first step in getting started on Twitter is creating your account. When creating your account, it’s important to remember that your username—or as it’s called on Twitter: your “handle,” is outward facing and will be what the public uses to identify your business.
Hopefully, your business name will be available (Itchy Fingers Design's handle, for example, is @itchyfingersweb), but if not, you’ll want to come up with something that will still make sense to your followers. For example, Social Media Examiner had to use @SMExaminer.
You want your handle (@ItchyFingersWeb) to be around 10 – 15 characters so your customers can “mention” your business without using too many of the 280 characters they now can use.
Twitter is widely recognised as one of the most open social networks, in that, most of the communication on the site takes place in front of people in the news stream (rather than on individual pages or groups). Keep in mind when creating your bio, more people will find you on Twitter that have no previous knowledge of who you are or what you do than on any other network.
If you had just a few seconds (or in this case 160 characters) to explain your business to a complete stranger, what would you say? That will be your bio.
Don’t underestimate the importance of picking the right picture or image for your profile and please, please, please don’t send a tweet until you have uploaded one. For businesses, the perfect profile image will be one that your customers already know and associate with your business—like your company logo. For individuals, you’ll want to use a professional close-up.
For businesses, the perfect profile image will be one that your customers already know and associate with your business—like your company logo.
For individuals, you’ll want to use a close-up headshot and make sure you are the only person in the photo. (You do have the option to change your profile picture in the future, but I don’t recommend it, at least until you’ve established yourself.)
A great tool for creating header images is Canva. It has a free plan and you just select the Twitter header template, upload your logo and use some of their other design elements to create a header image that's right for your business.
Some people may disagree with me here, but I think now is the perfect time to send your first tweet. It’s not going to be anything earth-shattering, and you won’t have any followers (yet) to see it, but it will let people know you are a real person or business and not a robot or spammer.
Make the tweet something simple; your introduction to the Twitter world.
Here are two examples:
Welcome to our Twitter Page. Why not call in for some delicious food in our warm and cosy cafe. #myfirstTweet #cavan #cavantown #cafemana pic.twitter.com/VYBvzhxDDg— Café Mana (@Manacoffeehouse) February 28, 2017
Who you follow on Twitter will dictate the type of content you have access to and the quality of the relationships you’re able to establish.
For this reason, you’ll want to set up some criteria, based on your experience, your industry, and what you’re trying to accomplish.
People you want to follow could include: friends, professionals in your industry, industry publications, other local businesses, colleagues, and even current or potential customers.
When you’re starting out, the key is to follow businesses, similar to yours that are doing it well—don’t mimic everything they tweet, but pay attention to how they are engaging and the type of content they share.
Keep your eye on Twitter’s “Who to Follow” feature (in the right column) for recommendations for people and businesses that fit your interests.
Before we go any further, I need to tell you something you need to know: growing your following on Twitter is not easy — especially if you’re starting from scratch.
However, lucky for you, your business already has a following and many of those people that shop at your business.
If someone has already joined you email list, they most likely would love to connect with you on Twitter too.
Send out an email to your contact list, inviting people to follow you on Twitter.
Like anything else, if you want to be successful on Twitter you want to make sure you have the right tools. These can be considerable time-savers and make scheduling tweets very efficient.
There are a number of tools out there but here are three you’ll want to have access to from day one.
Twitter Lists are a really useful feature provided by Twitter to let users organise the people they follow into specific groups based on industry, relationship, expertise, etc.
When you’re first starting out, Lists won’t need to be a top priority because you’ll still be growing your community. However, I do recommend creating at least one List to let yourself get accustomed to using them. It’s much easier to keep your contacts organised from the beginning than to try to organise them later when you really need them.
Learn how to set up your first Twitter list here.
Similar to Lists, Saved Searches, let users organise their content, but do it based on a specific topic rather than on specific users.
Saved searches work exactly like they sound. You find a topic of interest or relevance to your business, search for it in Twitter’s “Discover” tab, and then save it for future reference. After saving it, you can easily go back and see results as they appear in real-time.
Some ideas for searches to save include; your business name, your name, the city/town that you’re in, industry-related topics, popular hashtags, etc…
Learn how to set up a saved search.
A recent study found that 80.5% of small business websites do not link to social media networks.
Please do not make this mistake.
Connecting your website to your Twitter profile will help drive traffic and organically build your social following. An article from CoSchedule goes into great detail of where is the best position to place your social icons on your website.
You’ll also want to make sure you’re inserting a link into your email newsletter and email signature with a strong call-to-action.
Never miss an opportunity to share what social networks you are on.
We hope you've found this article beneficial and useful for getting started with Twitter but most importantly..
Don’t forget to have a plan!
Let’s rewind quickly to the point when you first decided to sign up to use Twitter for your business.
Just being on Twitter won’t be enough to accomplish those goals, even if you follow these 10 steps to getting started.
What will allow you to achieve those goals is having a social strategy about the way you plan to engage on Twitter, the type of content you want to share, and the milestones you hope to achieve.
Your strategy probably will change once you get started, but without having one before you launch your first tweet, you won’t make it much further than these first 10 steps.
Are you on Twitter? How has it helped your business? Let us know in the comments below!