Going beyond the basics with Twitter | Patti Rowlson

By Patti Rowlson
Contributing Writer 

In last month’s column, you learned about the growth of Twitter, why some small businesses are embracing it as a marketing tool and a bit about communicating and engaging with others. This month’s column shares tips that new and experienced users can use to maximize their experiences and continue their Twitter journeys.

There’s a lot to cover, so let’s jump right in.

Creating and scheduling business-oriented tweets

– Establish a consistent plan for tweeting; pick specific days and times each week to share info. New users can set a goal of tweeting two to three times per week while more established users may choose to tweet two or more times per day.

– Use content scheduling tools, like Hootsuite.com or Tweetcaster.com. These timesaving tools allow users to sit down once, develop meaningful tweets and then schedule them to roll out over the course of the week.

– Refrain from only tweeting sales messages. Tweet about trends in your industry, product tips and relevant business news; sprinkle a few marketing messages amongst those informative tweets.

– Can’t figure out what in the world to tweet about? Partner with someone who can help with content curation.

Interacting with users

– Set aside a specific time each day to log in and engage with others; invest a minimum of 15 minutes a day (try mornings, during lunch or in the evening).

– Be positive and encouraging. Support others by replying to their tweets and retweeting info they share. Chances are good that they will return the favor and help spread the word about your business.

– Commenting on photos is a great way to break the ice and start conversations, so watch for photo shares (personal or business related). Reply and comment about the image and remember to share some of your own photos too.

– If someone is talking about your business on Twitter, it’s important to acknowledge them. Respond to every “@” mention by replying to their message, retweet their comment/ compliment or “favorite” the tweet. Twitter accounts are typically set up to send an email notification to users when someone mentions their username; @ mentions and interactions can also be found by clicking “@ Connect” along the top of the Twitter page.

– Users who don’t follow back any of their followers are missing opportunities to connect and engage. Following back makes people feel good; people that feel good about a brand are more likely to refer business to that company. This can be especially important for local businesses, so consider following back a good share of profiles that follow you (but not spam profiles).

– Look for opportunities to meet groups of Twitter folks in the real world by attending local “tweet-ups” and networking events. Meeting people in person helps build deeper connections.

Building and managing your network

– It doesn’t look good to be followed by a bunch of egg-head or X-rated profiles so block naughty or spam followers (drop down box to the right of their name; select “Block @username”).

– Users that follow hundreds of people, but only have a handful of followers in return, can look like spam accounts. Monitor your follower/following ratio and try to somewhat balance the number. Start by following people who know you (they are more likely to follow you back). If the ratio becomes really off-balance, you can unfollow profiles that are not following/ engaging with you (click on “Following” to see a chronological list of everyone you are following, find the people you’d like to unfollow; clicking on the blue “Following” button next to their profile will change it to a red “Unfollow button”).

– There are sites online that will sell you bulk followers. This may seem like a good idea but remember, those followers are not interested in your business; they will not engage, reply or retweet so what’s the point? It’s also obvious to others if you go from 200 followers one day to 10,000 the next. Be real and concentrate on quality, not quantity.

Use lists to filter incoming tweets

Using lists can help filter the tweets you view into meaningful categories. Think of tweets on your home page like a river, and lists like a smaller stream off that river.

For example, setting up a list of local tweeters allows users to quickly view tweets from people and business in their own community. Select “Home,” “Following,” “Lists,” “Create List.” Add specific profiles to a list by selecting the drop-down box to the right of their profile name then choose “Add or remove from lists.” Check out my profile to see how I use lists to sort tweets: https://twitter.com/PattiRowlson.

Remember, it takes a few months of listening and tweeting to get a sense of how Twitter works, so give yourself time to learn.

Also know that Twitter is not for everyone. If you’ve tried this form of social media and feel it’s not a good match for you, go ahead and delete the account, so
it’s not a poor reflection on your business (select the “Settings” gear in the upper right corner then select “Account”. Scroll to the bottom of the screen and choose “Deactivate my account”).

Patti Rowlson of PR Consulting Services is a publicist and marketing consultant in Whatcom County. Her columns appear on BBJToday.com on the last Thursday of each month. Connect with Rowlson on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest for additional marketing tips, or visit her website at www.pattirowlson.com.

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