Using Twitter for Business

We can’t deny the fact that businesses are trying out Twitter as they ease their way into the social media landscape. While it’s easy to take one look at the application and write it off as a big waste of time, there are many of us who disagree and can point out business value. With that in mind, we’d like to explain what Twitter is and offer ideas for professionals looking to use Twitter for business.


What is it?

Twitter is a free, short messaging service (SMS) that lets you keep in touch with people through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: “What are you doing?”

It’s outfitted, like most social media tools, with the ability to subscribe, share, friend or follow as many Twitter feeds as you like. In addition, developers are swiftly creating tools that allow users to bend and twist the feeds in creative ways.

While many people are using it to tell no one in particular what they had for lunch, millions are leaning on Twitter pretty hard as a way to network and communicate with contacts new and old.


How do I use it?

First thing, sign up for an account at http://twitter.com/account/create. Be sure to add a picture — we want to see you. Once you create an account you will be given a home page and a profile page. From these pages you can find other twitter streams to follow, post your own messages and even watch the entire public stream of comments flow by (we don’t recommend this, especially if you’re billing customers by the hour).

Our profile pages can be found here http://twitter.com/softwyre and here http://www.twitter.com/hardwyre. So our twitter handles are @softwyre and @hardwyre.
Why should my business use Twitter?

Like all social media and marketing tactics, before you can determine if Twitter makes sense for your company, you need to analyze your objectives. So, instead of asking why you would use Twitter, ask how it might help you achieve some other business objectives.

Twitter is great for:

  1. Connecting and networking with others in your industry or others who share you views
  2. Getting instant access to what’s being said, this minute, about your organization, people, products, or brand
  3. Receiving a steady stream of ideas, content, links, resources, and tips focused on your area of expertise or interest
  4. Monitoring what’s being said about your customers to help them protect their brands
  5. Extending the reach of your thought leadership from blog posts and other content

One of most important and frequently underused objectives of Twitter is using it as a way to monitor your brand and reputation. Anytime anything is being said about your company, products, people, or services you can track it and respond instantly. You can also use a set of readily available tools to track what’s being said about any search term you like.

Twitter Search, http://search.twitter.com/ is a little tool allows you to monitor anything you can search. You can use it to see what’s being said about you (@yourhandle) and then do searches using your name, your company name or any word related to your space. Never underestimate the importance of listening, especially in an online social context. You might learn something new about your company and your customers.


Who do I follow?

In Twitter terms, following someone simply means that their posts, or tweets as they are called, show up on your homepage (or text messages via mobile phone option).

To make Twitter more useful for many of the business objectives listed above you need to follow others and begin to have others follow you. Some people take very aggressive and, often, time consuming leaps into to this and try to follow and be followed by everyone on Twitter. Again, back to the objectives. Most often quality over quantity is best.

What do I say?

Whatever your answer, it needs to be 140 characters or less. So, to get the biggest bang out of your “tweet,” refer to your objective and start writing.

If, for instance you want some immediate feedback on something, you could pose some questions. This often stimulates conversation and can do a great deal in terms of helping you make a decision (a bit like a poll).

If, for instance, you want to expand on an idea you mentioned in a blog post last week, write an intriguing prompt and post a link to your blog entry.

Here’s some more advice about what kinds of messages you might consider posting:

  1. Answer the questions: “What’s on your mind?” or “What are you working on?”
  2. Talk to your followers about their interests, too. This doesn’t sell more widgets, but it shows that you’re human.
  3. Point out interesting things in your space, not just about you
  4. Share links to interesting things in your community or industry
  5. Be wary of always promoting your stuff. People join Twitter to stay connected, not to be pitched.
  6. Promote your employees’ outside-of-work stories
  7. Talk about non-business, too


In Summary

Twitter is another social media tool that, used appropriately, can do a lot of good for business. But before you jump on in, it’s important that you identify a business objective and focus your efforts on learning how to use the tool to that end.

Follow Softwyre and Hardwyre on Twitter.

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