I don’t have enough fingers and toes to count the number of times I’ve heard business people say “What’s the point of Twitter?” Usually I’ll hear that followed up with things like “why do I care what you had to eat or when you took a shower“. Right then and there, I know I’m probably talking to someone who has done absolutely no research on their own and is more than likely repeating some silly response they heard from someone else.
I love Twitter. I think it has wonderful potential for connecting like-minded individuals. And, I honestly believe that it can help your business, regardless of size. But Twitter isn’t easy. On the contrary, it requires skill and dedication, coupled with a strategy for implementing it into your mix of communication tools.
Recently, I sat down with a new client who thought they would like to explore Twitter but they didn’t know where to begin. I’d like to share some of the tips and tricks I showed them to help get them started.
Your Twitter Username
When choosing your Twitter handle (user name) you have a lot of options. You can use your company name and have a business account or you can your own name. You can even select something completely creative to represent yourself or your business but I suggest that you use your real name. This is really important for two reasons. One is for reputation management, especially if your name IS your brand. Also, if you are representing a brand, having a name behind the brand allows people to connect with the company on a more personal level.
Twitter allows your username to contain up to 15 characters. But, I recommend you keep your Twitter name as short as you can, ideally no longer than 10 characters, including the @ character all Twitter usernames contain.
When you ‘Tweet’, you are allowed 140 characters. Everything counts including spaces and punctuation. So if your username is @mybusinessname you are at 15 characters. Some simple math… 140 characters minus 15 plus a space and you’re left with 124 characters for your message. The following message is 137 characters –
@mybusinessname launches product such and such to solve your dilemma in choosing correctly when buying organic something from our company
Whew, you kept it under 140 characters! BUT, you want your message to spread. So your followers will see this, think it’s a great message and want to RETWEET it. (Share it with their followers) Now we might end up with something like this..
@missjanedoe RT @mybusinessname launches product such and such to solve your dilemma in choosing correctly when buying organic something from our company
Now we’re at 153 characters because @missjanedoe’s username and the RT (retweet) is included. So, your original message is going to get cut off, leaving you with something like this..
@missjanedoe RT @mybusinessname launches product such and such to solve your dilemma in choosing correctly when buying organic something fro (last 13 characters gone)
Perhaps you’re thinking, yes but even if I had kept my user name to 10 characters my message would have still been cut off. That’s right. The point here is that the shorter you can keep your username, while still reflecting our business the better.
Here’s an example of how my Twitter feed looked this morning. You can see how challenging it can get to have a conversation on Twitter.
Your Twitter Profile
Another extremely important part of Twitter is your Profile. It tells the world who you are, what you’re interested in and helps people know whether they want to connect with you. You get 160 characters here, so use them wisely. You might try including a little about your job or business and some personal items that people might want to connect with you about… perhaps something like this:
I run a xxxxxx business that produces x y x. I also love music, tennis and mountain climbing. My blog (or website) is http://www.xxxxxxx.com.
Don’t forget to include a photo. You can use your brand logo or your personal pic. I think people like to associate with a person, so I use my photo not my company logo. Here’s what mine looks like.
That should get you started. In my next post I’ll go into more details on the strategies of using Twitter for your business.