The Essential Twitter Guide for Business


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This Twitter guide is a valuable tool for any business owner or individual looking to make their
mark in the social media landscape. It is full of relevant content and is easy to read.

Published in: Business
  • My pleasure Nelson. Glad you are finding the guide useful. Feel free to pass it along. In addition, let me know if there are any tools you use that should be added to the list of resources.
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  • Thanks for this! Good brief overview providing the necessary tips and tools!

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The Essential Twitter Guide for Business

  1. 1. Written by Available from
  2. 2. Table of Contents 1. Twitter Basics……………………………………………………………………………………………2 2. Profiles………………………………………………………………………………………………...…3 3. Find People to Follow…………………………………………………………………………………..5 4. Using Twitter Effectively……………………………………………………………………………….8 5. Using Link Shorteners………………………………………………………………………………….9 6. Using Hashtags………………………………………………………………………………..…….…10 7. Using Twitter Lists………………………………………………………………………………...…..11 8. Useful Third-Party Applications………………………………………………………………………13 9. Additional Resources and Tools………………………………………………………………………15 1
  3. 3. Let’s Start with the Basics – What IS Twitter?! Twitter is a micro blogging platform that allows users to post updates in 140 characters or less. People use it to post links to interesting articles, blog posts, get involved in conversations, conduct polls and generally communicate with their connections and other Tweeps. Twitter is set up to give you the choice to follow people, retweet messages and reply to people that are in and out of your network. Unless your “tweets” are protected, anyone who logs on to the site can view your updates. There are many third party applications that will be discussed in this guide to manage your engagement on Twitter. Glossary of Useful Twitter Slang Tweet – an update of 140 characters of less Tweeps – Twitter Users Handle – The Handle is your username. Your URL is typically Replies - this is used to write a message directly to someone. Ex: If I wanted to send a message to David Meerman Scott I would tweet the following: @DMScott Did you read that article on Mashable today? Anytime you use the @ reply with a person or company’s Twitter handle, they will receive the message. Retweet (RT) – This is used to republish a message that a Tweep has tweeted. You are basically sharing someone else’s message to your followers. Tweeps appreciate when you RT their content. Direct Message (DM) – This is done when you want to send a direct message to someone without others seeing it. You can only send DM’s to people that follow you. Hashtag (#) – Hashtags are used to categorize tweets. An example of a popular hastag is #FF or #FollowFriday where Tweeps use the hashtag to mention people they recommend their connections to also follow. More on ways to use hashtags further in this guide. 2
  4. 4. Twitter Profile It is very important to choose the right Twitter handle to properly market your brand. This guide will give you tips on what to think about when choosing your Twitter handle and information on how to change it if you choose to in the future. Topics to think about when choosing or switching your Twitter handle: 1. Recognition: You may choose to make your Twitter handle your name if you want to build your personal brand or your company name. Many people originally joined Twitter with their common online username or possibly a random name (remember the good old days of AOL instant messaging and trying to conceal your identity by using a crypted name with numbers?) Make sure whichever name you choose properly portrays your company and will allow people to find you online. 2. Personalization: Some people like to tweet as a brand and others like to tweet with their personal brand attached to it. Tweet with the name you want to be known for - often times that is by tweeting as yourself. Many consultants choose to tweet with their personal name rather than their consulting business name. 3. Develop a Professional Profile: You may have started tweeting with your name and have since built a following around linking to your business or blog. In this case, if you want to focus more on the business, you can change your handle to your business or blog name if they are available. We suggest keeping your name in the profile even if you switch the handle. 4. Consistency - Stay consistent throughout social media networks. It will become confusing for people to find you if you have different names across different social media networks. Tip: You can use the website KnowEm ( to search over 350 social media networks to check if your desired handle is taken. How to Change Your Twitter Handle: 1. Choose a new handle name that will work best for how you want to market yourself or your brand. Hans Kullin has written an informative article on Strategies for Choosing a Twitter Handle that should be helpful. 2. Log in to Twitter, click on Settings and enter your desired new handle in the "username" field. Twitter will notify you if that handle is available. 3. Once Twitter accepts your new handle, enter a password and click Save. 4. Sign out of your main (the one you just edited) account and then Sign Up for a new account. This will be where you set up a new account with your old handle username. 3
  5. 5. 5. In the new account (where your old handle is used), post a tweet saying something along the lines of "I have moved to @X. Please follow me there for updates." Tip: You should make an announcement to your followers prior to making the change that your handle will be changing shortly. People love a heads up. Custom Twitter Backgrounds A custom Twitter background is key to making a good impression and building your brand identity. Twitter currently offers 12 stock backgrounds and various colors to choose from for your background and links. You can create custom backgrounds using various programs such as Powerpoint, Adobe Photoshop and InDesign. The Twitip article called “Make a good Impression with a Custom Twitter Background” offers great information on places to find patterns and cool themes to customize your Twitter background. Tools to Find/Create Twitter Backgrounds: Twitbacks – Choose from over 80 Twitter background designs or use their customizer to create your own for free. Twitrbackgrounds – Offers free Twitter backgrounds as well as custom backgrounds. Twitter-Images – This site has a multitude of free Twitter background themes to choose from and you can also hire them for custom background design. ClickableNow – This is a free browser add-on that helps you create clickable links on your Twitter background. Companies such as Shift Communications use clickable links. Remember that you need to install the add on in order to click a Tweeps’ clickable links. Custom Twitter Background Designers: Four Word – Four Word can create custom Twitter backgrounds for a discounted rate of $79 (marked down from $99 regular price with the mention of this guide). Fourword recently created a great design for @GlobalVA. Contact Marc at Furlong Design – Creates custom Twitter backgrounds with a quick turnaround time. He has done great work for clients such as @TS_Elliott. Contact Barnabas Nagy at Custom Backgrounds for Twitter – Custom Twitter backgrounds by Social Identities for $129 Create Your Own Custom twitter Background Tutorials: Mashable’s HOW TO: Create Custom Twitter Backgrounds How to Create A Custom Twitter Background Using Photoshop [VIDEO] How to Create a Free Custom Twitter Background with Powerpoint [VIDEO] 4
  6. 6. Finding People to Follow - Where to Start Once You Have Joined? The first step in joining Twitter should be to decide who your target audience is and listen to their conversations. Start following people in your industry and engage in conversations. There are several ways to find people on Twitter to follow but remember that having a distinct idea of who you want to target and communicate with is key in forming a successful social media engagement strategy. 1. Import Contacts – You can start to find people by going to “Find People” on the top navigation bar. When you click “Find Friends” you will be prompted to search your contacts on Gmail, Yahoo and AOL to import those contacts. You can follow all or select individual people to follow. 2. Use Twitter Advanced Search Tool – The Twitter Advanced Search tool helps you find tweets in real- time on various topics including top trending topics. For example, if you want to tweets about an event you can type in the event name and people discussing it will show up. You can also use hashtags (#) in your searches. 3. Use Twellow to Find People to Follow – This site allows you to search for people to follow by various categories including but not limited to location, industry and specified keywords. Twellow will show you a users’ bio, follower count and location. You can add yourself to the Twellow directory as well to increase your visibility by going to this link 5
  7. 7. 4. Auto-Follow & Auto-DM – There are various third-party applications and sites that allow you to automatically follow people that follow you, auto-follow people by keywords and auto follow someone else’s followers. There is also the auto-DM feature which people use to send automatic DM’s to people when they start following them. Depending on how you manage your time and your use of Twitter, you may want to use these features. Acceptable Reasons to Auto-Follow: Companies – Many companies typically want to engage in conversations with people that are interested in them. In this case it would be beneficial to them to auto-follow people who follow them. Tweeps with tons of new followers per day – When you are a popular Tweep like @Mashable or @jeffbullas it can be difficult to manage each new follower. For cases where people get tons of new followers per day, it is more manageable to use the auto follow feature. Social Oomph is great to use for auto follows because it allows you to auto follow new followers but includes a vetting feature. Best Uses of Auto-DMs: Rotate auto-DM messages – If you choose to use auto-DM’s to welcome your new followers, you may want to use several different DM’s. Some Tweeps choose 3-5 messages that rotate when sent to their new followers. You can use Social Oomph to rotate DM’s. Send non promotional DM’s – When sending an auto-DM, make sure that it does not include promotional content. There is nothing people hate more than receiving an auto DM after they start following you that says something like “Thanks for the follow! Check out my website for new products at blah blah blah .com.” Tip: Some Tweeps actually unfollow people that send them auto DM’s with promotional content. To completely block auto-DMs go to @optmeout and follow the directions. 5 Great Auto-Follow/DM Tools: Tweet Adder – Automated promotion & marketing tool to help you get targeted followers. Features include 5 targeted twitter searches, auto follow, auto unfollow, auto tweet, auto message, twitter trends and proxy supported. This software can also automatically have you follow someone else’s followers or follow people by keyword. This feature is great if you want to follow competitors’ followers. Social Oomph (TweetLater) – This site allows you to auto follow people who follow you, unfollow people who unfollow you, purge DM’s, multiple account function, promote yourself with extended Twitter profiles, schedule tweets and track keywords in its free version. You can set Social Oomph settings to auto follow new followers but also vet those followers – basically it holds your new followers for 72 hours for your review to follow, ignore or block the follower. 6
  8. 8. AutoTweeting – Automates Twitter accounts with follows, unfollows and can post tweets on autopilot. Features include following niche specific users (up to 500 per day), auto DM new followers, auto follow new followers, auto unfollow people who don’t follow you, schedule tweets and manage multiple accounts. Follow Formation – This is a great tool for new Tweeps looking to get started with following the top people in categories of their interest or top people in cities they live. It is similar to Twitter’s suggested users but a bit more targeted. The site is simple to use – you just choose the category of people you would like to follow and select the number of followers you would like to add (up to 50). TwiPing – A Windows Desktop application that allows you to do mass follow/unfollow based on keywords. To use Twiping just find someone influential in your industry or category of interest, TwiPing will get the list of their followers, apply a keyword to filter their followers by a category you are interested in and TwiPing will let you follow that list of people with one click of a button. This way you won’t just follow all their followers but actually follow their followers that fit into your interest category. 7
  9. 9. Using Twitter Effectively Before starting to use Twitter, many Tweeps ask themselves “What should I tweet about? What do I possibly have to say that people want to hear?” Start by listening to other conversations and communicating with influential people in your industry. Once you do that, start tweeting away but make sure you develop a clear strategy of what type of tweets you will broadcast to your followers. 12 Great Ways to Use Twitter 1. Customer Service – Connect with customers to give them updates on product/services and manage/monitor your company’s reputation. Twitter gives companies the opportunity to communicate directly with customers in real-time decreasing call center call volume. 2. Promotions/Social Campaigns/New Product Launches – When a company has a promotion or new product launch to announce, they can do so via Twitter. Often times people will retweet the offers or social campaign announcements. To celebrate their 10 year anniversary in March 2010, JetBlue tweeted that they were doing a scavenger hunt in NYC for people to win a free roundtrip ticket. The viral buzz that this social campaign created was extraordinary press for Jetblue. 3. Blog Post Links – A great way to increase traffic to your site and get more people to see your blog posts is to link to your blog via Twitter. If people find that your blog post is interesting and valuable to other Tweeps they may retweet it to their followers which will increase the exposure of the post. 4. Polls - You can invite people on Twitter to answer questions or complete polls to conduct market research for your company. 5. Event Announcements – You can announce events on Twitter and inform event participants of any updates. This may also draw interest in the event and get more people to attend. Many charitable organizations use Twitter to drive ticket sales to their fundraising events. 6. Feedback – Companies can use Twitter as an instant feedback tool on ideas they want to put in place, success/failure of events or presentations and customer satisfaction. 7. Engagement with Followers and Industry Professionals – Use the @ reply to engage in conversations with your followers and industry professionals. This will help you network more effectively and build valuable relationships. 8. Retweet Remarkable Content – If you find a tweet interesting, you can retweet it to your followers. The person who originally wrote the tweet will be appreciative that you passed along the information and your followers may find the tweet useful as well. 9. Recuiting – Twitter has become a great way to hire new and existing talent. Try using the hashtag #jobs, the industry you are in and location in searches to recruit people. Ex: “We are hiring for a #marketing director at X company. Please contact us if you are interested #jobs.” 10. Business Management – Companies can use Twitter as an internal management system to communicate with employees and for employees to communicate with each other via updates. 11. Live Coverage – Twitter is a great way to broadcast information while at an event in real time. Live coverage through streaming videos has become popular with the use of UStream and LiveStream. Wayne Sutton was able to create a live coverage at SXSW when Twitter CEO Evan Williams made his keynote speech. He posted it to his blog and had thousands of visits to his site due to this coverage. 8
  10. 10. 12. Arrange Meetups – Twitter is a great way to schedule meetups with people that may be in the same area as you at the same time. Ex: If you are in a coffee shop and want to connect with people that are in the area you can tweet where you are and an invitation to meet with other Tweeps. Using Link Shorteners Long URL’s are difficult to pass along and take up too many characters in a persons’ Twitter update. Tweeps use link shorteners to fit more content into their posts. Twitter recently announced that they will have their own link shortener called Some of the most popular link shorteners to use include the following: – allows you to shorten, share and track links. This is one of the most popular link shorteners being used by Tweeps. This link shortener is currently integrated into several third-party tools such as Tweetdeck and CoTweet. – allows you to shorten URLS, share files and track visits. It is a great tool that is used by third- party applications such as Hootsuite. This tool is popular but the drawback we have found is that when someone clicks the link, the link shows up in the URL instead of the actual URL link. TinyURL – You can use TinyURL to shorten links or use a custom alias to personalize the link which is great for SEO purposes. This shortener also gives you the option to hide affiliate URLs. 9
  11. 11. Using Hashtags Twitter hashtags help organize conversations centered around the same topic. It is a popular tool used at conferences and industry events as well as for webinar conversations. It is a way for people discussing the same topic to virtually meet and engage in conversations with each other. Tools to identify hashtags: 1. What the Trend?– Helpful site that lets you find out what a hashtag trend is discussing and the Top trends of the moment. 2. Twubs – Uses a wiki system to give out information on a hashtag. Track Hashtags 1. Twitter Search – you can search a hashtag and subscribe to an RSS feed of the results to keep track of the hashtag. Go to to start a hashtag search. 2. Monitter & TweetGrid – web based dashboard that perform real-time searches of Twitter hashtags. 3. Third-Party Application Searches – Applications such as Seesmin or Tweetdeck have search functions built in that you can use. Other applications such as Hootsuite and Cotweet have functions that allow you to set up alerts for keywords or hashtags. An example of a great hashtag trend is #FollowFriday (started by Micah Baldwin) where people suggest who to follow. It is a great way for people to expand their Twitter network and make valuable recommendations. 10
  12. 12. Using Twitter Lists Twitter lists helps you create separate lists of people on Twitter to better manage your time. This tool is great for monitoring people by category and listening to conversations more effectively while improving your credibility and visibility within your industry. Ways to Use Twitter Lists: 1. Create lists and share them – Similar to writing a blog post with a list of Top 10 people in the “specific category” industry to follow, you can just create this list on Twitter and promote it. People will be able to follow lists with the click of one button without having to manually follow each person on your list. You can even include yourself in lists! Tip: If you want to go a step further, ask friends how they want to be listed. This is a great way to start a conversation with people and categorize them the way they would want to be labeled. 2. Listen to conversation without following – You don’t need to “follow” people on Twitter to add them to your list. This is a great feature because you can choose to follow other peoples’ lists or create your own without overloading your Twitter feed with hundreds of following updates. 3. Lists can be made public or private – Twitter allows you to create lists that you can share with the public or use for private monitoring purposes. Some great ways to listen with private lists include monitoring competitors and conducting market research. Public lists should be used to strengthen your brand identity. 4. Create relevant names for your lists – List names are important for SEO purposes and targeting the right audience. Lists now show up in Google search results which would help increase your visibility and credibility. Important Note: If you change the name of a list, the URL will also change causing you to lose the people who were following that list. 5. Increase your exposure – By promoting lists and using them, members of these lists will appreciate the recognition and may retweet the list which would increase your exposure. If you create valuable lists that people in turn follow, you will build up your own credibility as a “go to” source of information. You can measure your influence by seeing what lists people have included you in. Tools for Twitter Lists: 1. Follow @ListWatcher on Twitter – By following @Listwatcher, you will receive a DM whenever anyone adds, removes or changes you on a list. This will help you manage conversations and take note of when you are added to lists. This will let you see what categories people place you in on their list and if you don’t like the way you have been labeled, you can send them a message. 11
  13. 13. Tip: If you want to remove yourself from a list, check out Aaron Lee’s Guide on “How to Remove Yourself from Stupid Twitter Lists.” 2. Twitter List Widget – The Twitter List widget will allow you to publish updates of a list on your website or blog sidebar. Directions: Scroll to the bottom of your Twitter page, click “Goodies,” click “Widgets,” then “MyWebsite” and finally click “ListWidget.” 3. TweepML – This tool allows you to share groups of Twitter users (“Tweeps”) and have people choose to select all the people in the list or choose select Tweeps to follow. You can even export lists into XML or Excel formats. 4. Listorious – You can share lists on and include them in the directory. You can add yourself or your lists with Listorious. You can add any list that you find useful, not only the ones you have created. 5. Tweetmeme Lists – Tweetmeme exposes the most tweeted links on Twitter and does the same for finding the most tweeted about Twitter Lists. This is a great way to find lists that get a lot of exposure. 12
  14. 14. Useful Third-Party Applications There are some great Twitter 3rd party applications available for people to manage their Twitter accounts. We have listed 3 useful applications we recommend looking into using. Make sure to choose the application that fits your objectives best. 1. Hootsuite – This is a fantastic tool to manage multiple Twitter accounts which also supports other social media networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn. Hootsuite allows you to schedule tweets, create alerts, track keywords and send automated messages. You can use their RSS feature to link your blog updates and send tweets when you write new posts. Another great feature with Hootsuite is that you can report Spam. Hootsuite provides 2 link shorteners, and, the former providing a social bar and the later not providing it (see below). (social bar at top provided) 2. CoTweet – This tool allows users to manage multiple accounts and include multiple users. You can manage up to 5 different accounts through a single login and invite coworkers to join the team. It also allows you to monitor trends and keywords, create notifications, post single messages to multiple accounts, schedule tweets and provides click tracking (uses This tool is used by large corporations such as JetBlue and Whole Foods. 3. Tweetdeck – This third party application allow you to manage conversation on Twitter and other social media networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Myspace. Features range from managing multiple Twitter 13
  15. 15. accounts and sending updates via Tweetdeck to creating groups to easily follow people and keeping your Tweetdeck safe with sync and back-up features. Tweetdeck also has the auto follow feature which can be effective when you have a lot of new followers per day. 14
  16. 16. Additional Twitter Resources & Tools Social Mention & Easy Tweets – Track mentions of your brand, executives and additional keywords in real time. They call themselves the Google Alerts for social media. Monitter - Lets you “monitter” the Twitter world for a set of keywords and see what people are discussing in real time. TwitterGrader – Hubspot service that allows you to see how you stack up against other Tweeps. Great to monitor your competition and see what your Twitter influence is. Twitter Counter – Gives you updates on your followers, people you follow and lets you compare your growth and additional information with other Twitter accounts. Back Tweets – Service that allows you to search for specific links on Twitter . Friend or Follow – Allows you to see who you are following that's not following you back, who's following you that you're not following back and any mutual connections. Twollo – Twollo is used to get more targeted followers based on keyword searches. (Paid service). SocialToo – This site allows you to auto follow, block auto DMs and conduct social surveys. SocialToo also has a great tracking service that will let you see who has followed you and who has unfollowed you. Twitterfeed – Feed your blog to twitter and facebook with this site. It will also allow you to track your feeds in real-time. Popular Twitter Mobile Applications: Uber Twitter - Hootsuite - Tweetdeck - Official Twitter Help Page: Twitter Help - 15