Last summer, I wrote a series of guest blog posts for Stirring Up Success, a B2B blog run by Dawn Foods, a manufacturer of bakery ingredients and products and distributor to the bakery industry. According to a case study by Crossroads, StirringUpSuccess.com has been featured in top industry trade publications as a unique and helpful tool for bakery owners.
Here’s my third post in the series, offering bakeries some pointers for getting started using Twitter as a marketing tool. Even if you don’t run a bakery, I hope the basics apply, but I apologize if you find yourself suddenly craving a cupcake.
Using Twitter for the first time can feel like hearing people speak a foreign language – or for those old enough to remember, it’s like turning on a CB radio, where voices you don’t recognize are using slang you don’t understand in conversations you aren’t sure how to join.
Getting started on Facebook probably feels a little easier, because its format is closer to websites or blogs. But with a little watching and listening, you can use 140-character tweets for business communication.
Here are five tips for using Twitter for business:
- Set up your account – Go to Twitter and fill in your name, email and password. On the next screen you choose your user name, sometimes called your Twitter handle. If you’re new to Twitter, I recommend using your personal name so you can experiment without attaching your business name to your trial and error. Because Twitter users communicate with each other by using handles, choose something short and easy to spell. JessSmith is better than Jessica_Lynn_Smith-Kluczyk, for example.
- Add a photo and a description. Your Twitter photo, also called an avatar, helps identify you with your tweets. Your photo and profile description both help create a credible presence, and demonstrate you’re real, as opposed to the spambots you will encounter.
- Set up saved searches. Start with the name of your business, then any related ways people might talk about your business or product, to scan Twitter for what people are already saying about you. Enter a term at the top of the page, then click the gear on the right of the results screen to get the option to save. Your saved searches will appear when you click your cursor in Twitter website’s search box.
- Follow people. The quickest way to learn is to watch others. Try following some of Twitter’s most popular accounts, some of Time magazine’s best Twitter feeds, and use Twitter’s profile search or a directory like Twellow.com to find people with your interests.
- Talk to people. Twitter can initially feel like you’re talking to yourself. The easiest way to make sure someone is listening is to tweet at another user. When you see an interesting tweet in your saved search or news feed, click “reply” and Twitter will insert an @ symbol ahead of that user’s handle, letting him know you’re answering. RT means retweet, sharing someone else’s tweet with your followers, and MT means modified retweet, generally because you had to shorten it to make 140 characters. Be sure to read your own @ replies so you know when someone’s talking to you.
If you’re stuck figuring out what to say, start by figuring out your strategy for social media and let that guide the kinds of tweets you post. We’ll talk more about strategy and content in a future post.
Colleen Newvine Tebeau is a former reporter and editor who then earned her MBA at University of Michigan with emphases in marketing and corporate strategy. She is a marketing consultant who helps small and midsized organizations with strategy and tactics, including social media and communications.