Twitter is currently the second most popular social media platform in the United States. It has more than 255 million users worldwide generating more than 500 million tweets a day.
Despite its popularity, many small business owners are perplexed as to how 140-character tweets can help their business. The keys are to create an excellent business profile along with gathering a relevant group of followers who will be interested in your tweets.
So how do you accomplish this? The first thing you need to do is create your profile; think of this as your Twitter face. This is what people will see when they find your company on Twitter. The more clear and creative it is, the more relevant it comes across, the greater the likelihood those who find it will want to follow you.
Your Twitter profile includes the following:
User Name: This is your company’s unique identifier on Twitter and it is always preceded immediately by the @ symbol. It needs to be something users will remember and can easily find.
Photo: This is something that best reminds people about your business. It is here that some people really shine. Groomers can choose an interesting grooming picture; pet stores an interesting pet photo or logo. This image not only appears on your profile page but on every tweet you send, so pick something memorable.
Bio: This is your business’ story on Twitter in 160 characters or less. Here is my company bio for Animal Behavior College: “Where animal lovers pursue animal careers. Career Certifications in: Dog Training | Dog Grooming | Veterinary Assistance (888) 200-6795.”
Link: Include a link to your website or Facebook page so that people who want more information can easily get it.
Header Image: Finally, there is your header image. This runs across the top of your profile page. I highly recommend that you try to be as creative as possible here. Dogs, cats, children with pets, dogs and cats interacting together, other pets, your products and people using your products could be effective as header images.
Building a Following
Congratulations! You have a Twitter business profile. Now what?
First, encourage your existing customers to follow you on Twitter. Put the Twitter follow button and a call-to-action on your website and in your email signature. Don’t forget to note it on cards, brochures, fliers and other advertising materials.
Some businesses take a more assertive approach and ask for their customers’ Twitter usernames with an explanation that they are trying to build a following and would like to follow these clients.
Keeping a Following
That leads us to the next question: Once you have followers, how do you keep them?
To keep followers, as well as gain new ones, you need to tweet useful or interesting information on a regular or at least semi-regular basis. Tweets with images and/or links tend to be read more frequently than those without. With a limit of just 140 characters, your tweets need to be as concise as possible which is why links to more detailed information are important.
However, the tweet must be enticing enough to get the reader to click on the link in the first place. Luckily, the pet business offers a plethora of ideas you can share. These include quick grooming tips (with accompanying image of a well-coiffed pet), how to teach a cat to tolerate being crated, a mention of new toys dogs will love (with a link to your website) and many more. Tweeting about upcoming events or discounts that are exclusive to your followers is also worthwhile. Tweets such as these can be powerful not only because they encourage followers to read successive tweets but also because these types of messages are often re-tweeted.
Retweeting is when something you tweet is sent by a follower to all of their followers. Under the right circumstances, a tweet can be re-tweeted to hundreds of thousands of other Twitter users, some of whom might elect to follow you as well.
One way to encourage re-tweeting as well as enable new people to find you is by using hashtags. People use the hashtag symbol # before a relevant keyword or phrase (no spaces) in tweets to categorize them, which helps them show up in a search. Trending hashtags appear on every Twitter page.
That’s it for Twitter basics. In my next article we will focus on more advanced Twitter questions and strategies.