Since 2007 I've been teaching Twitter basics to businesses and up until two years ago I was traveling all over the country for conferences and in-house workshops teaching big rooms of business folk what to do on Twitter. A couple years ago I got struck with a permanent case of chronic vertigo and decided to duck out of the spotlight and let others teach my presentations. One time in London, someone played my 90 minute webinar on Twitter in place of a session. Hilarious.
Vertigo stinks, but all it means is that I get more time to write blog posts like this instead of speaking them out loud. Except that time I made the how to Tweet effectively for business video for About.com. Now that I have your attention, and you think that I might be cool enough to trust with your social media, here are a few Twitter basics for business.
1. Be you. Twitter is for your brand image, but it's more so for your values. Who are you? What do you support? Whom do you support? My favorite business Tweeters are chefs who post photos of themselves cooking in the kitchen or foraging in the woods for ingredients. Anything you can do to bring people closer to your brand and the people who work for you is a good thing.
2. Show off the cast. Speaking of getting to know who works for you, who does work for you? I love the tiny retail boutiques who have employees pose with their favorite in-store product, or with their favorite sandwich in your deli. Let your employees speak for you. Well, maybe not all of them. Keep the interns off Twitter.
3. Put out fires. When @ComcastCares arrived on the scene, putting out fires whenever someone ranted about hating Comcast, they received high praise from users. Sure, Comcast can't fix every issue, but at least they're trying. Now, every big consumer-facing service business has their own version of a customer service account that they divert complaints to. And from Twitter, they divert issues to a unique email account dedicated to Twitter users, whom they know can be very loud.
4. Talk in real words. There are plenty of places for you to slap down your perfectly copy written sales line, but Twitter isn't a place to re-use it. Try Tweeting without the lingo, in the voice you'd use when talking to your friends. It's totally cool to say "cool" or "awesome" in a casual tone when talking about your products. Being passionate about what you're selling and talking like you would about someone else's product will sell more than a boring sales line.
5. Don't auto-tweet. Auto-posting from Facebook is a no-no. Nobody thinks you're listening when they see a feed full of Facebook links. And let's be honest, you aren't.
6. Use scheduling for all the necessary things. There's this thing called scheduling in apps like Hootsuite that will allow you to schedule Tweets ahead of time. Use them! Just don't abandon ship once you schedule everything out. Use scheduling to set up promotions and re-occurring events so that you never forget.
7. Come up with a Tweet editorial calendar. Before you can schedule Tweets, you're gonna need an editorial calendar. Will you do promotions every day? Just on Wednesday? Do you have specials on Monday nights? Do you have a secret Twitter sale page, like @JetBlueCheeps does every Tuesday?
8. Tweet about others. Want a great way to rub elbows with the Twitter elite? Follow them and Tweet about them. Retweet their articles and posts, give them virtual high-fives and get in front of them. As a business, you'll be doing more than most and trust me, you'll impress people. If you're reading this post, you're already way ahead than most businesses on Twitter.
9. Tweet with customers. Your customers are the most valuable things on Twitter, so don't pass up a chance to respond to the Tweets they send you, even if they're not pleasant. Unless you're willing to do this, you may do more damage than good on Twitter by ignoring them.
10. Find your hashtags. There are hashtags and Tweet chats out there that any business can get into. I'm a content and social media gal, so I attend Tweet chats like #blogchat on Sunday night and #journchat and #socialchat on Monday nights. And Tuesday? #muckedup. You can probably learn some from those chats too!
11. Talk about what's relevant to you. So everybody gets that you have to Tweet your promotions, links to your site, articles, etc. But in the middle of all that, try to talk about everything else that's important to you and your followers. For example, a bookstore can post a 140-character review of a book, can ask followers what they're reading, can post DIY bookshelf projects and the latest Amazon-is-killing-bookstores article rant.
12. Don't typo. Everybody flubs, but for Pete's sake don't put someone behind the wheel of your Twitter account that can't type 140 characters without mucking it up.
13. Use Twitter Search. If you're a local business, like a restaurant or coffee shop, use Twitter search to find people in your neighborhood who are Tweeting things like, "looking for good pizza in Boston!"
14. Give them a reason to keep following. Follow the above basics and you'll give people plenty of reasons to follow you. If not, have secret pop-up Twitter sales where the only way they'll find out is through Twitter.
Tweet me at @About_Tweeting if you have more ideas you think I should add!