twitter-networkingIf someone had asked me six months ago if I were using Twitter for business, I would have said “Me”? Twitter? “Never in a million years”. The fact is, today, Twitter is one of my best sources for social media business information. It is an unrelenting beast, churning out bits and pieces of news 24/7.  I mean really, I wake up in the morning, grab a cup of coffee, sit down at the computer and start scanning the thousands of overnight tweets.

How did I get started? In baby steps, by the seat of my pants, OJT.  Yes, there is a Help tool, but honestly who really takes the time to read through all the information. I peeked at the Help Guide then plunged right in, learning by reading “tweets”, choosing people/businesses to “follow”, and pretty soon, I had “followers” a pretty mind boggling thought. It has now been several months since I seriously dove in to Twitter. Here are a few recommendations to ask yourself before you sign up for a Twitter account and deliver your first tweet.  For those savvy with Twitter, I beg your indulgence, but we all started at the same place, square one.

• What is your goal on Twitter? Promote your business? Network with like minded tweeters?

• Set up your Account. As with other platforms, like Facebook, choose a twitter username (@username) that fits your profile. You can change your twitter username in the Profile setup, but I would not recommend doing that, as users identify with your @username when scanning tweets.

• Fill out your profile. Twitter has background templates available or you may choose a background, color, and image that fits your business theme. If you want to use other applications like HootSuite or posting from Twitter to Facebook, make sure your profile is set to Unprotected or public (gulp) option.

• Add your user icon (image). This can be any photo that links you to your “tweets”. Once you choose an image, as with the @username, other users will use this image to identify you as they are scrolling through twitter lists.

• Write your bio, you know, in 160 characters or less, tell your life story.  This field has been tweaked and re-tweaked in my case.  As you spend more time on Twitter and read other user profiles, you may find more interesting words to describe your business and perhaps add a personal touch.

• Your account and profile are set, you are ready for your first burst, a “tweet”.

An excellent source of Twitter topics is inkygirl.com.  Pretty much every question you might have is covered in this detailed blog on Twitter basics.

Now that you have the basics down, there are a number of applications to enhance your Twitter experience.  Recently, I began using HootSuite to automate some posts, there are a number of auto-posting applications on the web.  A new application Tywla.com captures your tweets (must have > 100 tweets) in web site like screen, a good way to bring your brand message into focus.

As I meet with start-up and small businesses, one of the questions I ask is, do you have a Twitter account? If the answer is no, I encourage them to add Twitter to their social media profile–Twitter is a powerful customer engagement and marketing platform.