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Twitter basics for businesses

Twitter basics

Twitter is a great platform for businesses to converse with other businesses but that certainly doesn’t mean it’s not the place to communicate with new and existing customers.

With hundreds of millions of users and 500 million Tweets being sent per day, Twitter offers an unbelievable opportunity for businesses to reach an unlimited number of people on a daily basis at a wide range of times.

What makes Twitter so great? Well apart from the above, it’s instant, fast-paced and the go-to platform for news, information, advice and tips. People go there to discover what’s happening NOW.

For many businesses it can be a quite an intimidating network to get started on but trust us, it’s not as bad as it seems and here we’ve put together a complete guide for Twitter newbies…

First Steps

First things first, if you’re not on Twitter at all, follow this link https://twitter.com/signup and sign up by using the name of your business in the Full Name section and then simply add your email address, create a password and then click the Sign Up button.

Once you’ve done that, you then need to create a Username

1) Username

Before you can start choosing your profile photo and writing about what makes your business so good, you need to create a username which is 15 characters long. This is the Twitter handle which visitors to your page will see under your profile photo.

It will also be positioned under the full name you chose in the last step and we recommend selecting the same for both. Why? Simply because it keeps everything consistent and makes your business more identifiable and discoverable.

If the one you want has already been taken, try to make yours as close as possible to what you want i.e. If @87Tangerines was taken, we could use @87Tangerines_SM instead.

2) Profile Photo

Your profile photo is what visually represents your business/brand and on most occasions it should be your company logo.

On every Tweet you send out, your profile photo will be visible as a little icon next to it. That is why an image of your office or building entrance wouldn’t stand out and make your business easily identifiable. If you use your company logo across all social media platforms, current followers on Facebook or Instagram will immediately recognise your logo on Twitter and therefore follow you or visit your page.

Size: 400 x 400 pixels.

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3) Bio

Your bio is located underneath your profile photo and is the most important step of setting up your profile.

You have 160 characters to make your business stand out head and shoulders above the rest. Firstly, use all those characters and then write a bio which tells people what you do and what makes you different. Make it unique and chatty. Nobody likes a bore.

Note: you can also include hashtags to make your business more discoverable. E.g. if you’re a sports store in Wigan, you could use #sports and #wigan which will ensure your profile crops up when users search for those specific terms.

Alternatively, you don’t need to include the location in your bio because there is a separate section for that, just as there is for your website.

4) Header Image

Now this is the part where you can get a little bit creative. The image still does need to be something which relates to your business and what you do on a daily basis but you can have some fun with it.

Maybe add a little bit of text to an image i.e a seasonal offer which your business is running. One very useful bit of advice however, is to make sure you change your cover photo every couple of months to show your followers how pro-active you are with your social media.

Size: 1500 x 1500 pixels (on mobile it will be cropped to a 2:1 aspect ratio).

5) Twitter Feed

On your own profile this is where all your Tweets will be located. There is also a separate section for Tweets & replies (where you have actually replied to and spoken to people directly) and Media which is where you can view all your previously posted images and videos.

When you are on the homepage, your news feed will include all Tweets from the people you follow.

Language & Terminology

With your profile now ready to be shared around the Twitter-sphere, you need to start crafting your first Tweet. Before you do, here’s some of the terminology which you will come across on a daily basis.

1) Tweet – The actual message you are posting out on your Twitter page should contain text, images/video and links. All that needs to be packed concisely into 140 characters and our big tip is not to shorten the URL. Why? Because it doesn’t make a difference in terms of characters if you do, plus a shortened URL looks like spam and is unlikely to receive many link clicks.

2) Reply – Replying to Tweets shows how pro-active you are and it’s a great way to interact with followers. By keeping the other person’s Twitter handle first, the message won’t appear in your Twitter feed and instead it will just come under the Tweets & Replies section.

3) Retweet – This is where you can share somebody else’s Tweets with your followers. It’s a great tool to use if someone has Tweeted promoting your business in a positive light because you can then retweet it to everyone else. You also have the option to add a comment before retweeting if you wish i.e. Thanking someone for a tweet.

Business-twitter-basics

4) Like – This is the simplest way to acknowledge a Tweet. Just like a thumbs up on Facebook. It shows that you appreciate what your customers and community are saying, while your likes are also bookmarked so you can go back and look at them at a later date.

5) Hashtags – These are words or phrases with the # sign used directly before them. Their purpose is to group together all the Tweets surrounding a specific subject. The most popular ones can trend in different locations or even worldwide! For example, if you own a restaurant in Edinburgh and want to reach people using hashtags during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, you could use the hashtag #edfringe. There’s also various networking hours which you can use to target specific locations i.e. #ManchesterHour and #LondonHour.

6) Mention – A mention is when you use someone else’s Twitter handle but not at the start of a Tweet (that would be a reply). By mentioning them instead of replying, it will post as an actual Tweet. I.e. you could thank a celebrity for visiting your business and by including their Twitter handle as a mention, everyone else will be able to see it too and not just the celebrity.

7) Image/Video – Every post you create on Twitter should include an image or video. Twitter is such a fast-paced platform that your Tweets could be lost amongst the rest in a matter of moments. By using an image or video it will make your Tweet stand out more and will gain more interaction.

Following & Unfollowing

There’s no point Tweeting and setting up the perfect profile if you don’t have anyone to look at it.

To increase your number of followers, be active. Post content which is both relevant and interesting. Fun content will get you more followers! You can also get involved with #FF which is a specialised hashtag meaning Follow Friday. It gives you an opportunity to ask your followers to follow someone else. If you do it for other businesses and people, they’ll return the favour.

You can also increase your following by promoting your Twitter page as much as possible. Add a follow button on your website, whilst you can also put it on business cards and menus etc.

One thing to avoid is directly asking people to follow you. It comes across as desperate. Instead, like, retweet and reply to people and by building up solid relationships on there, they’ll begin to retweet your content and if people like your content, they’ll follow you.

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What to tweet?

Tweet as many times a day as you possibly can but we’d recommend at least four times. The peak times to Tweet are 8am (having breakfast/commuting to work), 12pm (having lunch), 4pm (just before the end of the day) and 8pm (when people are relaxing at home).

There’s also a Twitter etiquette you need to follow to be successful on there and we’ve put together a detailed guide.

Our two main tips:

1) Keep your Tweets simple. You only have 140 characters so don’t try and over complicate things. Ensure each Tweet has just one simple message, instead of trying to pack loads of information into them.

You can add a link which takes followers to your website where they will be able to find that information which you couldn’t fit into your Tweet. Remember: Don’t shorten the URL. It makes no difference in relation to characters, plus it looks like spam if you do.

twitter-following-social-media

2) Use visuals and hashtags! Use an image, video or GIF in every Tweet. Doing so gives your Tweets more personality, increases the engagement in them and most importantly, it helps them stand out in a very busy crowd.

You can add up to four images in a single Tweet, whilst you can post videos which are around 2 minutes 30 seconds long.

With all that information in your head, why not try creating your own Twitter profile? Follow our guide, test a few Tweets, follow a few people and see what happens!

Adam Woodhouse
Adam Woodhouse
Journalist working as an account manager and content curator for @87tangerines and @87food_SM.

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