What is Twitter?

In short – The lifeblood of Twitter is ‘Tweets’. These are short messages (up to 140 characters long) that are speedy to write, quick to read and accessible anywhere.

Twitter is defined as a real-time information network. Anyone can post, view, and share messages (Tweets). You can follow people, groups or themes you are interested in and you can build a community of people that follow you. A follower will see all of your Tweets in their timeline.

Why are businesses using it?

Twitter – when used well – is a brilliant tool for businesses. It can be utilised in many ways – including:

Sharing offers/product news quickly
Building relationships with your customers
Gathering market insight
And SEO (search engine optimisation) – Google loves Twitter and when used well it can help your search engine visibility

The Twitter jargon

What is:

A ‘Mention’? My user name is @SamElevate. If someone wants to mention me in a Tweet they include @SamElevate. An example would be ‘Great job on the new website @SamElevate’. I would then be notified of that mention.

A ‘Retweet’? If you see a Tweet you like you can push the Retweet button bellow it. That will then share that Tweet with your followers. Note – people like being Retweeted – so you can build bridges this way.

A ‘Direct Message’? To send a private Tweet to an individual you can start your Tweet with DM or D. An example is ‘DM @SamElevate – sorry about your late delivery’.

A ‘Hashtag’? If you place a hashtag (that is a #) before a word you have categorised it. I often Tweet about #socialmedia. Note – if you put a # before a subject that you wish to categorise then no spaces should appear, i.e., #social media is wrong – it should be #socialmedia.

What should you do with Twitter?

Set the tone.
Make sure your businesses tone on Twitter is in tandem with your core values and the marketing tone you wish to set elsewhere.

Be aware of what is being said about your business and engage with it before taking action. Remember – Listen, Engage, Act.

Drip feed your followers with valuable updates, insights and events around your business.

Learn from your followers and the wider audience. You can get real time valuable feedback on an idea, project, piece of marketing or product. It’s a focus group at your fingertips.

Respond and reward
You can respond to feedback about your business in real time. You can also reward individuals or followers with discounts, offers or time sensitive deals.

Engage your customers and followers by Retweeting a good post by them. Remember – people like to be Retweeted.

Display leadership
Share industry news and topical information as it unfolds.

Successful Businesses do this

Customise it.
Change your background to represent your brand and provide contact information.

Build a following.
Have a memorable ID, follow people who interest you/share your interest, get to know the people following you (read their bios), use Tweetdeck.com to manage your following, add your Twitter ID to your other signatures, and promote others – we love being Retweeted.

So is there etiquette?

In short – absolutely. This will help:

Don’t send anyone’s personal information on Twitter (phone numbers etc).

Don’t criticise anyone on Twitter – it is public and embarrassing for the victim

If you want someone’s attention then direct message them (D) – note you can only do this if they are following you

Don’t have multiple Tweet conversations with an individual in public. People will get bored of you and stop following you

Thank any new followers you receive

Over the next few weeks I will be posting similar guides for all the major social media sites that businesses can use – watch this space.