In just a few short years, Twitter has grown from the indulgent preserve of ego-maniacal celebrities, into a core means of communication with customers and clients at the heart of a business. It allows interaction and feedback in a similar way that Facebook does but with a more casual, free-flowing method in a more openly public way.
Making it work for your business
Once an account has been set up, you need to make it yours. Egg on your profile pic (the default icon for users) is a great way to get ignored. If you already have a Facebook business page, then using the profile picture from that promotes a unified brand identity, otherwise keep it clear and unique – initials or a simple logo are good choices, screenshots of your website homepage reduced to 73px square less so.
Twitter also allows customised backgrounds and header images. Backgrounds can be huge to allow for widescreen monitors, but large backgrounds will be lost on smaller monitors. The key area is the left hand side of the background. A good average background size is 1280px x 800px, with any important info or text in the left most 66-194px.
Customised header images are possible with the new layout but remember to keep the contrast with the image and text so your location and website are clearly visible. For Photoshop users, Design Shack has an excellent template for the Twitter header.
Integrating your account into other social media – Facebook, LinkedIn and Pinterest – is an efficient way of cross-pollinating social feeds, so don’t forget to tell your Twitter followers about your Facebook page and vice versa.
Bear in mind if these are linked then how often you tweet becomes increasingly important. A new update every thirty minutes will clog up news feeds and get your fans ‘unliking’ and ‘unfollowing’ you, but it’s equally important to reach your followers with at least one tweet a day.
Tweet on the Go
The rise of smartphones has meant updating Twitter has become much easier and more time efficient. On the bus, in a taxi or whilst having your lunch are all easy places to type 140 characters, but the real bonus is incorporating phone cameras. Finishing a project, construction, design, meal – anything with a visual element can be tweeted instantly. Non-smartphones can also tweet via SMS – set it up by going to your Twitter account ‘settings’ menu and selecting ‘mobile’.
Be very wary of tweeting under the influence, especially if you have both personal and professional accounts, not everyone has the American Red Cross gift for PR disaster recovery…
Was the now infamous tweet by one PR professional, which stayed up for around an hour before Red Cross intervention:
Fortunately humour and understanding meant the damage was limited – brewery Dogfish Head even encouraged people to donate to the Red Cross using #gettingslizzered, but it’s easy to imagine someone ‘tired and emotional’ after a break-up or watching their team lose doing something much worse. Bottom line, if you drink, let others tweet.
What to tweet?
Blending business, industry news and humour are key to gaining followers. Sign up to Google Alerts to keep up to speed with industry news based on your profession or geo-location. This will help you keep a ready supply of useful information for followers on quiet days. As well as work updates and images from your company, it’s worth remembering the human element too. This is social media, so if something funny, interesting or beautiful has happened then share it, just be sure it is one of the above and not the 17th photo of your lunch!
Interacting in the Twittersphere
Don’t just tweet into the void – start a conversation! Whilst it’s good to be tweeting regularly, it can be better to try and speak to somebody rather than just shouting into a torrent of updates or talking to yourself in the corner. Asking questions and replying to the tweets of others are likely to do more for you than just a statement on its own. This can be a particularly effective way of posting links to your main website and generating higher click-through rates. Don’t forget to check when people follow you and give them a follow back –like all social situations, good manners go a long way!