More and more companies are using Twitter for business – for market research, brand advocacy (and reputation management) as well as a resource for providing selected highlights from a conference or event.

Twitter allows you to expand your brand and thus generate new opportunities.

Web Tips How to Start

  • Build an account and use Twitter search to search/listen for your name, your competitors’ names and words that relate to your space (Listening always comes first.)
  • Add a picture – people want to see you.
  • Point out interesting things in the industry, not just about your company.
  • Share links to neat things in your community and the industry. Be wary of always promoting your products and services. Your followers will love it but others may tune it out. Moderation is key here.

What Do You Tweet?

  • Instead of answering the question, “What are you doing?” answer the question, “What has your attention?” and “What matters to your business?”
  • Have more than one “tweeter” in the company. It’s nice to have a variety.
  • When promoting a blog post, ask a question or explain what’s coming next instead of just placing a link.
  • Ask questions because Twitter is great for getting opinions.
  • Follow interesting people. If you find someone who tweets interesting or useful things, see who they follow. Then, follow that person and select some of the companies/people they follow.
  • Tweet about other people’s stuff. This shows your interest in the industry in general and then you don’t appear self-important.
  • When tweeting your content, make it useful. Give advice to your customers, post blogs, pictures, link to the presentations and videos. Sharing knowledge and expertise builds credibility.
  • Run special deals and promotions by offering incentives to those who follow you on Twitter. Twitter marketing is a task that involves two-way audience engagement.

Benefits of Twitter for Business

  • Twitter works well as an opinion poll.
  • Twitter at events helps people build an instant “backchannel.”
  • Twitter breaks news faster than other sources.
  • Create brand loyalty. With Twitter, you can always stay in touch with your followers and all followers are potential customers.
  • Twitter brings great minds together, and gives you daily opportunities to learn (if you look for it, and/or if you follow the right folks).
  • Twitter gives your critics a forum, but that means you can study them.
  • Look for leads on Twitter – Twitter can be used to direct traffic to your websites. You can share information that is useful for prospective clients or customers to enhance your reputation.
  • Interact with your competition. Our advice: read the tweets of your competitors daily. Although the timely ability to know about competitors’ programs and promotions rarely happens in the real world, Twitter has changed this concept for the better. You can follow companies, experts, leaders and competitors in your industry and “borrow” ideas from them that benefit your own business.

Things to Note

  • You don’t have to read every tweet.
  • You don’t have to reply to every @tweet directed to you (try to reply to some, but don’t feel guilty).
  • Use direct messages for one-to-one conversations if you feel there’s no value to Twitter at large to hear the conversation.
  • Since you are limited to how many characters you can use, use the URL shortening tools like TinyURL or BitLy. It helps tidy up your tweets.
  • Commenting on others’ tweets and “re-tweeting” what others have posted is a great way to build community.

Twitter Jargon

  • Here are some terms that are essential to understanding the Twitter network:
  • Tweet: A 140-character message.
  • Retweet (RT): Re-sharing or giving credit to someone else’s tweet.
  • Feed: The stream of tweets you see on your homepage. It’s comprised of updates from users you follow.
  • Handle: Your username.
  • Mention (@): A way to reference another user by his/her username in a tweet (e.g. @username). Users are notified when @mentioned. It’s a way to conduct discussions with other users in a public setting.
  • Direct Message (DM): A private, 140-character message between two people. You can decide whether to accept a DM from any Twitter user, or only from users you are following. You can only DM a user who follows you.
  • Hashtag (#): A way to denote a topic of conversation or participate in a larger linked discussion (e.g. #CdnAg, #Herbicide). A hashtag is a discovery tool that allows you to find your tweets, based on topics. You can also select a hashtag to see all the tweets that mention it in real-time ― even people you don’t follow.

Twitter also offers an online glossary, found here, to refer back to, should you get overwhelmed by the terminology.

Twitter offers an experience in which the more you use it, the more resourceful it will become. Lastly remember to be yourself. The bottom line is to be authentic and true to your values. When you start to situate yourself as an expert in a specific subject area (e.g., in agriculture), you’ll notice that people will begin to follow you for advice and expertise. You may not know who they are, but that is perfectly acceptable. Twitter isn’t about following people you already know; it’s about engaging interesting people from all over the world.

Follow CAAR on Twitter @CdnAgRetail.

Editor’s Note: This article is Part 2 of a 3 part series in The CAAR Network on inbound marketing tools for your business.

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