Twitter has millions of loyal users and, as any entrepreneur will tell you, where there are people, there are potential customers and clients.
To get the best from Twitter you will have to learn to communicate using a limited number of characters (Twitter plans to increase the number of characters in a Tweet from 140 to 280, shortly). Fortunately, with only a little inventiveness, you can communicate your message, despite these restrictions.
This makes Twitter a deceptively powerful tool and there is a ‘pot of gold’ hidden out there for entrepreneurs who are willing to put in the time and effort to master this platform.
If you are new to Twitter, or you have an account but just never ‘got’ what it was all about, I want to share my top tips for anyone wanting to get more out of Twitter.
1. Choose a good Twitter username
Choosing the right username matters, as this is how you will be recognized on Twitter. Usernames always start with ‘@’ and although the maximum length of a username is 15 characters, the shorter your username, the easier it will be for people to remember. Wherever possible, choose your name, your business name or a meaningful variation of either as your username. Avoid adult, political, or other usernames that might give people an impression of you that is incompatible with your business.
2. Customize your profile
It is highly recommended that you customize your Twitter Profile. This will become your ‘homepage’ on Twitter and the page people see first when they search for you using your Username or follow your link back to Twitter.
There are 4 steps to customizing your Profile:
i. Choose a background color for your Profile.
ii. Complete the free text boxes. This is an opportunity to tell others a little more about you and what you do. The Bio field offers up to 160 characters to sell yourself and you can also share your ‘Twitter name’ (this can be different from your Twitter Username), location, birthday and link to your website, using the fields provided.
iii. Choose an appropriate header photo (1500 x 500 pixels). This is usually something pertinent to you or your business.
iv. Profile photo (400 x 400 pixels). For business purposes this should be your head-shot rather than your business’s logo.
3. Learn the language
Twitter has its own language and if you really want to get the best out of using it, you really need to learn the lingo. Here are some of the most common Twitter terms you need to know:-
Tweet — A Tweet consists of text (up to a maximum of 140 characters).
Follow / Un-Follow — When you ‘follow’ another Twitter account their Tweets are listed on your home page. Un-following stops their Tweets appearing on your homepage.
RT or R/T — Short for Re-Tweet, this is the act of taking a Tweet from someone you are following and ‘broadcasting’ it to everyone who follows you. Re-Tweeting is usually seen as a form of endorsement of the information in the shared tweet.
HT or H/T — Hat Tip or Heard Through, use this to acknowledge that someone else made you aware of the content you are sharing. For example: “This article explains how it all began ….H/T @JohnSmith”.
DM — Twitter has a direct messaging function where you can send private messages to someone who is following you.
@ — the ‘@’ symbol the identifies every Twitter username as in @raykay.
# — The ‘#’ or hashtag symbol is a way of categorizing tweets. The great thing about using hashtags is that when you click on a word preceded by a hashtag any other Tweets with the same hashtags are also listed. Well known Tweets include #Election2016, #SuperBowl and #IceBucketChallenge.
Blocking — Blocking is a function that you can use to stop someone from seeing or responding to your Tweets and gives you control of your interactions with other Twitter users.
4. Follow the experts in your industry
Follow the experts in your industry, niche or profession. Twitter suggests who you might want to follow, and although they do not always get it right all the time, it is still a useful feature. Additionally, you will be able to see what others are tweeting about. Furthermore, you can respond directly to those tweets, join a conversation or even re-tweet their tweets to your followers. With a bit of luck, they might even follow you back.
5. Interact with potential customers
Interact with potential customers but be careful not to pitch your services, too early. In the beginning, just make them aware of your presence, for example by sharing information with them, offering advice or re-tweeting their tweets to your followers.
6. Grow your list of followers by tweeting often
The more active you are on Twitter, the larger your following is likely to be, up to a point. If some of your followers find that you are tweeting excessively they may decide to un-follow you. So, spend no more than 15 to 20 minutes each day on this task and space your tweets out over the course of the day.
Of course, Twitter is a relatively simple platform, especially when compared to Facebook. However, it is precisely its simplicity, and ease of use, that makes Twitter one of the most popular social media platforms in the world today.