Twitter guide for start-ups

Twitter is the micro-blogging platform that’s gone from a few people sharing what they’ve eaten for breakfast to a game-changing media platform that’s given some business the perfect platform to grow from.

Here’s how to use Twitter to market your small business or start-up.

What is Twitter?

Twitter is a platform that allows you to share short messages of 140 characters or less with the world, and you can share photos or picture too. You follow relevant people whose updates you want to see, and are followed by people who want to see yours. You can also direct message people if you’re following them and they’re following you, which nobody else can see. Recently Twitter introduced group direct messages, which are like a private group chat.


RT, or Retweet – when you RT something the tweet is repeated to all your followers, amplifying the message

Follower – someone who follows your tweets

Unfollow – when someone decides to no longer follow your tweets

DM, or Direct Message – a private message to another Twitter user

Hashtag, or # - a way to group your tweets. Hashtags are searchable, and hashtags show what’s popular on Twitter currently

Trending – what people are talking about on Twitter

Block – if a user is rude or spammy, you can block them and they will no longer be able to see your tweets

Favourite – if you like a tweet but don’t want to RT it, or if it links to something that  you want to read later, you can just favourite it and it will appear in your ‘Favourites’ list.

Do I need to be on Twitter?

Twitter has loads of fantastic benefits for your business (more on these later), but it works better for some businesses than others. For example, if you’re running a retail business Twitter can be hugely useful for keeping on top of customer service and buyer sentiment, as well as promoting offers. If you’re running a less consumer-orientated business you’ll likely find the experience different. There’s no denying that a Twitter platform has the potential to open up your customer base, but if you’re going to just set up a handle, tweet once, then leave it forever, this doesn’t look good. Go big, or go home.

Why is it good for my business?

Here are some of the main reasons Twitter is ace for business:

-        You can increase your reach by connecting with people you haven’t met in real life – people all over the world.

-        By sharing great stories and interesting content you can position yourself as an expert in your industry

-        You can be proactive about customer service, as people can tweet you or you can search for mentions of your business to find out what people are saying

-        By being friendly and personable you can seem more approachable to your audience

-        Get the attention of people interested in your industry

-        You can drive traffic to your website by sharing content and linking to your website

-        You can keep up to date with industry news and chatter – and join in!

-        You can spread your message without annoying people, as they can just unfollow

-        It lets customers keep up with developments quickly, eg if you have a flash sale or a special offer on

Setting up your profile

Here are some simple steps to setting up a great Twitter profile for your business.

-        Decide upon your handle (aka your @). It should be easy for people to find, such as your business name. If the one you want is already taken, keep it as close to the business name as possible – eg if your business is called Pioneers and it’s already taken, try PioneersUK, or Pioneers_.

-        As well as a handle you have a username, which is changeable (you can’t change your handle). If you’re a small business you could just use your name, or to keep things simple use your business name again.

-        Write your 140 character bio – keep it snappy, sharp and informative, and make sure to include your website address, as it will drive traffic and allow people to find out more about you.

-        Upload a profile picture, which will act as your ‘avatar’. A good choice for a business is your logo.

-        Upload a background picture if you like, which will appear at the top of your page – it’s not compulsory, but is a great chance to make your Twitter profile look more professional.

-        Common mistakes include using a handle dramatically different to your business name (it makes it tricky to find, especially if your profile is new); not uploading  a profile picture (looks unprofessional and unfinished); no bio, or one which doesn’t give any information).

How to use it

So now you’ve got a great Twitter account, how do you build a following and use it to market your business?

-        Remember that Twitter is like a conversation – don’t just bombard everyone with tweets about how great your company is, or tweets asking them to buy from you. Take an interest in larger industry issues, talk to others in your field, follow and chat to your competitors.

-        To tweet at someone, precede your tweet with @ and their username.

-        Look at who follows your competitors and follow these people – they’re likely to have an interest in your industry, and are more likely to follow you back than random people you’ve chosen out of thin air.

-        On a similar note, do not be tempted to buy followers – numbers look good but ultimately it comes down to how engaged your followers are.

-        Respond to tweets, especially negative, quickly and politely. And RT praise so people know that others are pleased with you (and say thank you, of course!)

-        Use hashtags to give your tweets wider visibility, but only if they’re relevant. Or try starting your own!

-        Promote your blog and other content by linking to posts in your tweets.

-        Images are very compelling and do well.

-        Don’t be too ‘salesy’ – talk about your business in a more personal and enthusiastic way.

-        Tweet to and RT your most loyal followers, and those with a great reach, to build a relationship.

-        A Twitter competition is a quick way to get people excited, and easy to implement. Try and work it in a way that gains tangible value for you, ie by requiring that entrants RT to be in with a chance.

-        As a rule of thumb, when it comes to selling your product, think about how you’d approach it with friends and family. Would you constantly be badgering them about it, or would you drop it into conversation now and again? You don’t want to drive followers away because they’re annoyed – nobody likes to feel that they’re just there to be sold to.

-        Tweet regularly, and favourite – it helps people feel that their tweets are acklowedged!


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