Many People come to me asking how Twitter can help them or their business, a lot of advice is going around about how everyone should be using social media such as Twitter and Facebook, but this isn’t always correct. The most important attributes to get something back from Twitter are trust and conversation.
Twitter and Facebook have their place and not every business lends itself to this model, another common misconception is that by setting up a page on Twitter and Facebook for your business you will automatically get followers and traffic to your site. Of course many people set up these pages and wonder why they aren’t working.
Twitter, like Facebook, Myspace and Bebo have all become victims of Spammers, some are easy to spot with posts like see me naked but others aren’t. Don’t become a spammer, build up trust and show people you are a real person, not just an RSS feed from your blog, or a sales person shamelessly self promoting. Give sensible opinions, read articles, share good articles you have read, either on your site or other peoples. By showing you are a real person with a valuable contribution to the Twitter community you will naturally gain followers.
By setting up a Twitter page people won’t automatically follow you, they don’t know your there amongst all the other Twitter pages so you need to follow conversations and join in. You can follow 1000′s of people on Twitter but unless you are picking up on what they are saying, reacting through comments or retweets then you are just another silent page. Don’t follow people expecting them to automatically follow you back do it because you are generally interested in what they have to say. It doesn’t matter if they follow you back, you may get followers who you don’t need to follow back but you will be making a contribution to them.
There are different ways in making Twitter work for you and your business and I will give you two examples of ways you can benefit.
SEO Creative has a business Twitter which is used by myself and other members of staff, we tweet from this to share ideas, build our own reputation, add online presence for our website name and promote the site. We have branded our Twitter page to reinforce our own brand and if you search for our company name our Twitter page will come up helping us manage our reputation.
We are careful on this Twitter account not to express too many personal opinions but to share knowledge and advice to followers, we follow respectable people within the industry and re tweet or comment on their own posts.
By building up trust and not self promoting this allows us to plug our own site from time to time but we make sure this is limited in comparison to conversations. Twitter is an intelligent community and you won’t get more followers by self promotion and any sales messages will be disregarded if lost in other promotions in your tweets.
If you use a Twitter for your business remember that this is a personal representation of your brand, engage with other users as you would in a business meeting and be professional, try not to save charachters by using abbreviations such as ‘Gr8′ for ‘Great’ it may save those precious 140 charachters but it doesn’t represent professionalism. People will follow you based on the quality of your conversation and how trust worthy you are. Shameless self promotion will not inspire followers therefore any sales messages will be unheard.
Another way of making Twitter work for you is as a learning tool, many people don’t have time to sit and go through thousands of articles, blogs and case studies to keep up to date with their industry.
I have a personal Twitter page, I use this to follow ex colleagues, friends, leaders in my industry and other people I respect, in this I can be myself and joke a bit more as it is not representing my business although I am careful not to write anything that will cause people to question my professionalism.
I use the same Twitter etiquette of crediting posts I respect with re tweets and mentions for the original author but the real value is what I learn from these people. When people I trust twitter about articles I will go and read them as they have almost been pre approved as being correct or close to the truth, I engage in more conversations to get more information from these people and I try to give back where possible.
You can combine a business and a personal Twitter, but I prefer the freedom of having the odd text about my life without worrying it may damage people’s perspectives of SEO Creative. The most important thing is trust and conversation, build up trust and follow people you trust, and watch the conversations, you may learn something or gain more trust by helping someone out therefore when you do want to promote an aspect of your business your followers will retweet, comment and help you.
You may think it could be very time consuming managing a successful Twitter account and be tempted just to feed the RSS from your blog into the Twitter stream, but don’t! Although feeding your RSS can be a good way of promotion, make sure this is balanced out with genuine tweets and conversations even if you are just re tweeting.
A good timesaving method is to use applications such as Tweetdeck or Echofon. These can run in the background while you are working and you can just check the conversations from time to time and join in if you have anything to say.
If you are really struggling to manage your Twitter then you can use Twitter management services but I would recommend doing some tweeting yourself. Always remember that just because everyone else is doing it, it may not be right for you, some businesses won’t value as much from Twitter and wuld be better spending the resources on other social media such as blogs.