Bird’s the Word: Using Twitter for Your Business

Whether you want to send updates, share your latest blog post, or interact with local politicians in a public setting, with twitter, the world is your oyster…in 140 characters or less. The messaging platform is free and widespread with more than 500 million tweets (or messages) sent every single day.

When creating a profile, you have the option to write publically, so anyone can see your updates (most accounts are set to public) or you can elect to be private.

Users “follow” one another to keep up with specific people or industries. Many celebrities, politicians (including President Barack Obama (@BarackObama) and billionaires like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett tweet on a regular basis and have a huge number of followers.

Of the registered 2 billion twitter accounts, 288 million of those are what twitter considers “active monthly users”. Social media sites like twitter who fit into the microblogging category pulled in an impressive $1.4 billion in revenue in 2014, according to sources like AdWeek.

If you’re ready to join the conversation and hatch your own account, here’s a few key pieces of terminology you should get to know:

  • Tweets are the messages you compose and send. All must be 140-characters or less.
  • When you want to re-share someone else’s message you Retweet (RT) it to give them proper credit.
  • Your Feedis comprised of the tweets on your homepage. It’s a constant stream of updates from everyone you follow.
  • Your username is also known as your Handle which is denoted by an @ sign [@USERNAME]
  • If you want to reference someone by username, either to alert them to a post or start a public conversation, you do so my giving them a Mention (@) within your tweet to notify them.
  • To send messages out of the public eye, Direct Message (DM) a user. It’s a private message visible by the two of you.
  • Hashtags (#)Are a way to link to wide-spread public discussions (e.g. #Obama). Using a hashtag allows others to access your tweet and serves as a discovery tool. Since they act like mini links, users can click on a hashtag to see all the messages containing the topic.

If you’re still looking to brush up on your vocab, or want a handy reference to keep at your desk, visit Twitter’s online glossary.

Now that you’ve been given a brief introduction, here are some good steps to follow when you’re ready to join the fray.

Create a Profile

Signing up is quick, easy and, best of all, free! Start by creating a unique handle that is representative of your company and inline with your branding. Think of this as your online address.

Be sure to include a profile picture (such as your logo), a header (perhaps of an image of the product or service you sell) and a short bio where you can add your physical address and a link to your website.

Start Following and Get Followers

Next you’ll want to search out companies you do frequently do business with, industry leaders, and other known contacts. If your handle is something recognizable, like your business name, those who already know you are likely to follow you back.

Begin Conversing

As you scroll through your “feed” (see definition above), keep a watchful eye on tweets you find particularly interesting or relevant to your business. Then you can start interacting, either by “replying” to add your thoughts, or by “Retweeting (RT)” (see above definition) to post to your own page and share with your followers.

Don’t forget about “mentions (@)” and “direct messages (DM)” (see definitions above) as an additional means of communication.