Twitter 101 For Small Businesses

Carmen Rane HudsonSocial Media

In a previous post I talked about how plumbers could use Twitter. This tutorial will teach you how to get started (no matter what business you are in)!

Step 1: Create Your Account

Creating an account on Twitter is very straightforward. Simply fill out the form and follow the directions. Twitter is extremely user friendly and there isn’t anything that should give you too much trouble.

Shortly after you fill out the preliminary information you’ll be taken to a screen that will allow you to fill out your profile.

Tips on Creating Your Account:

  • Choose a username that relates to your business name in some way, or use your own name. Usually you’d use your own name if you’re a solo operation and you’d use your business name if you’re speaking for your business.
  • Decide on a photo. If you’re a solo operation then you’re going to want to add your photograph, just a head shot of your smiling face.
  • Since most contractor businesses are very location-specific you will want to be sure to enter your location.
  • Enter your website. This allows people to follow you back to your home page, which is how you will generate leads from Twitter.
  • Fill out your bio. You only get 160 characters for this, so get right to the point with what makes you unique. If you’re a plumber, for example, you might say: “Plumber with 35 years of experience,” or “The fastest plumbers in Minneapolis!” Don’t just put “Plumber” in your bio because that won’t help you distinguish yourself.

Step 2: Look for People to Follow

Go to the search box at the top of your screen to find people who you want to follow. As a plumber or other contractor it’s going to be useful to follow people in your local area. Simply scroll down to look for interesting tweets from people who you think might hire you: anyone who lists themselves as a “Mom” or “Dad” might be a good bet, for example.

When you see someone you want to follow just click on the hyperlink with their name on it and then press the follow button.

A good portion of these people will follow you back, which is how you start building relationships on Twitter. I recommend starting with 100 people. That’s not so many that you look like a spammer but it’s not so few that you won’t be off to a good start. Each week when you come back to Twitter look for 5 more people to add to your list.

Step 3: Start Adding Content

It’s very easy to add content on Twitter. There’s a small box under your name. Simply enter the content into the box and press the “Tweet” button. In the screen shot below I put what my plumber yells at me nearly every time he comes to fix my garbage disposal (I forget! I’m sorry!).

If this were my plumber I’d like his follow up tweet, perhaps, to be why I can’t put pasta in the garbage disposal, but that’s a good tip for now.

Note, you can use a #hashtag to note the subject matter of your tweet. For example, if you want people to know you’re talking about plumbing you could add the “#plumbing” hashtag. This is a really good idea, because it helps people who want to search for content just like yours.

Step 4: Schedule Twitter Time

You may have heard people complaining about all of the ways which social media in general (and Twitter in particular) can be a time suck. I recommend simply corralling the little blue bird by scheduling a little time each week to handle it.

I like to handle my Twittering on Mondays, and I like to keep the schedule as regular as possible (though I’ll be the first to admit I’m not always as consistent as I should be). When I do it, I take the following steps (in order):

First, I click on the @Interact tab at the top of the page. This tells me if I’ve gotten any @mentions. If I have, I like to tweet a thank you to the person who did it.

Do this by scrolling over the Tweet and pressing the reply button (see the screen shot below). You will see a new Tweet window pop up with the person’s @username right at the front of the Tweet.

You don’t have to enter much more than “@username Thanks for the mention!” in the box. People appreciate the shout out. It helps them promote themselves just as they’ve promoted you with the mention. If the mention was something a little more personal, if a question was asked, or if a comment was made, just respond to it just as you would respond to a normal invitation.

Second, I read over my Twitter stream. I only usually go back about 30 tweets since getting back to the last thing I’ve read is generally impossible. I’m looking for anything interesting to Re-Tweet. This is a quick and easy way to load your Twitter stream with content while promoting someone else. You can do this simply by hitting the “Retweet” button beneath the tweet.

Third, I post something interesting that I wrote myself. This is where referring to my Twitter for Plumbers post is very useful:)

Finally, I look for 5 new people to follow. Twitter makes it pretty easy with the “Who to Follow” feature on the left hand side of the page. You could also run another hashtag search, just to keep things location specific.

That’s it! If all is going well people are also deciding to follow you without you doing too much more, which means that your follower list, and thus your audience, is growing.

There are a few other tricks, bells, and whistles, but these are the basics of what you’d need to know to put Twitter to work for your business!

Today’s Action Items:

  • Set up your Twitter account
  • Find 100 people in your LOCAL area to follow
  • Send out your first Tweet or Retweet
  • Write up your Twitter schedule