5 Tips for Using Twitter for Business

1. Begin with a goal.

One mistake a lot of marketers make when getting started on Twitter is not being clear about what it is they want to get out of it.

If you don’t have a clear goal in mind, you’ll have a difficult time attracting the right followers and making fruitful connections.

So define your goal. Is it establishing your business as an industry leader? Helping existing customers with issues they may be having? Attracting new customers?

It's all right to have more than one goal. Just make sure your goals are compatible with each other and can be combined into a unified whole.

Once you’ve defined your goal, the next step is creating a Twitter profile.

2. Post a winning profile.

If you’ve spent any time on Twitter, you’ve probably seen a lot of “egg” profiles (profiles with Twitter’s default image) with little text, misspelled words, user names full of numbers, and no listed website.

This will get you nowhere fast.

Instead, when creating your profile, try to choose a name that will rank well in the search engines for your chosen keyword. Also use the bio space provided to describe the company you want others to see.

Don’t forget to put your top keywords and web address in your profile, too.

And get rid of the egg. People like to have a face attached to a name, so be sure and upload your company logo.

Your color scheme and background are also fully customizable, too. So why not create a look that speaks to who you are as a company?

Once you've put together your profile, it's time to get started creating your network using Twitter’s search tool (located at the top of every page) to locate individuals and companies you’d like to follow.

3. Build relationships.

A lot of marketers think Twitter is a vehicle for endless company promotions.

But unless you want to run the risk of being labeled a spammer and losing all your followers, try to keep the balance of your tweets focused on bringing real value to your followers.

A good rule of thumb is to share four to five pieces of engaging content for every one promotion.

And since social media is all about making connections, be sure and keep it conversational.

Also, don't be afraid to throw in a little personality. After all, with 200 million tweets a day, you want to stand out, not get lost in the crowd.

Run across an interesting post from someone you follow? Retweet it -- and include a personal comment.

Ask thought provoking questions that get your followers talking, and show a real interest in what they have to say.

Expand your network by including hashtags on trending topics (easily located using Twitter’s search tool) in related posts.

Set yourself apart from your competition by providing advice and insights no one else is.

But remember, you only have 140 characters, so think about how best to say what you want to say.

For example, since Google is now including tweets in their latest Panda update, be sure to check your spelling and incorporate keywords in your posts.

4. Gather feedback.

One way for businesses to get the most out of Twitter is to utilize the search tool to find out what your customers’ needs are.

Using hashtags or keywords, you can find out what people are saying about you, your products or services -- even your industry.

This is a great tool, because it allows you to proactively engage existing and potential customers. And that can mean both converts and referrals.

Is someone dissatisfied with a prior purchase they’ve made? Send them a tweet and offer to help make it right.

Or maybe someone has a question about your industry or the products you provide. This is another great opportunity to jump in there, answer their question, and possibly create a new fan.

You can also use the search function to monitor what customers want in a product or service and what your competitors are doing.

And one of the best things about Twitter is it's almost instantaneous, which means you can monitor your company, your customers, and your competition in real time.

5. Integrate with other marketing channels.

If you want to get the most out of Twitter -- or indeed any social media platform -- don’t forget to integrate it with your other marketing channels.

Not only will this increase your overall reach, it will also have a positive impact on your search engine rankings.

So have a new white paper you want to promote? Provide a link to it on Twitter.

Having a sale, contest, webinar, or event? Let the world know on Twitter.

Link your Twitter profile to your LinkedIn and Facebook pages. Put widgets on your website and in your newsletters and emails.

After all, the more ways people have to find you, the better. So anywhere you can provide a link, do -- even your sales letters.

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