TUTORIAL 2: HOW TO USE TWITTER FOR YOUR SMALL BUSINESS, FROM HASHTAGS TO POSTING TWEETS & other tips
Need to create your Twitter account? That's covered in the previous Tutorial 1 here!
First up, a few key Twitter terms:
- Tweet: a Twitter post. If you tweeted, you posted something on Twitter.
- Retweeting: a "retweet" (or "RT" for short) means sharing someone's Twitter post.
- DM: direct message (also known as private message). "DM me your email address!" = "send me your email address in a private message."
- Hashtag: the # symbol before a word in your tweet (explained in detail later.)
- @mention or @username: mentioning other users in your tweet using @ before their Twitter username. This is explained later in more detail.
- Trending topic: when a LOT of people mention particular words/phrases those words become a trending topic i.e. popular topic.
- Follow: subscribe to an account to see their posts in your newsfeed.
Here's a screenshot of my Twitter profile as it currently stands. Yours should look something like this once your account is set up. It should display your header image, profile image, bio blurb, location, and website url.
I've numbered the most important functions of Twitter you need to know at this stage. Familiarise yourself by clicking around on your own Twitter account.
- Click 'home' to access your Twitter feed. You'll see tweets from all the people you follow, posts that they've retweeted, and occasionally a 'promoted post' from a company that has paid to show you their tweet.
- When a little number pops up where it says 'notifications', click on it to see what the notification is. Usually it will be another person favouriting, retweeting, or replying to your post, or a new follower (yippee!).
- This is your private message inbox. You will receive a notification on this tab when you receive a new private message.
- Use the Twitter search bar to find topics of interest, hashtags, people you'd like to follow, etc.
- When you click on the tiny icon of your profile image, a drop-down list appears. Here you can opt to view your own profile, view your 'lists' (don't worry about those for now), check/change your settings, and log out of Twitter.
- Post your tweets using the 'tweet' button (more details in the next section below).
- Your exceptionally well crafted bio lives here!
- See which accounts you are following.
- Who is following you? Exciting!
- This is where your tweets appear.
- Click the 'edit profile' button to change your header image, profile image, username, bio text, location, website, and colour theme.
Posting Tweets: click the 'tweet' button:
Type in the 'compose new tweet' box. Click 'tweet' to post it to your timeline. Yay, you tweeted!
Add images to a tweet: click the 'media' button:
Upload your image. You can upload up to four images per tweet. Click 'tweet'!
Look at your tweet on your profile timeline.
Tweet pointers you need to know about:
- Click here to reply to a tweet.
- When someone retweets your post, a number will appear here to show how many times it's been retweeted (you can't retweet your own posts!) On other people's posts this is where you can retweet to share their post on your own timeline.
- See how many favourites your post earns. Click the heart on other people's posts to say you like their post.
- Did you post something silly? Fear not! This is where 'delete tweet' lives!
@Mentions: posting a tweet that includes an @username (e.g. mine is @thedigibloom) does 2 things:
- It will notify the user you mentioned of your tweet. E.g. in the embedded tweet below, I've posted about an interview on my blog and included the @mention of interviewee @pluckddesigns which will alert her to the post.
- My Twitter audience may seek to learn more about her by clicking through to her profile.
If you begin a tweet with a @username, it won't show up on your profile feed (unless your account is being viewed via mobile). This means you can reply to tweets without actually announcing them on your profile. It's useful if you e.g. want to thank someone for sharing your post, but don't want to fill your profile timeline with personal thank yous!
If you want to @mention someone or respond to a tweet so it shows on your profile, you can structure your post so the @username isn't the first word, or some people put a full stop before the @username.
You can find all your tweets under the "tweets and replies" tab (see screenshot below).
Hashtags: hashtags turn any word into a searchable link. You can use a hashtag before a keyword in your tweet e.g. #painting. Clicking on #painting in your tweet will show all other tweets on Twitter with the same keyword #painting. The below example uses both #smallbusiness and #handmadehour. People searching for info or accounts about small business can do a twitter search for #smallbusiness and see all the tweets tagged with that keyword.
Twitter chats: you can use hashtags to track discussions and participate in scheduled tweet chats e.g. #handmadehour where people tweet about their handmade items and use #handmadehour so everyone following the tweet chat will see all the posts.
There are some absolutely amazing products on display on #handmadehour at the minute... come and join in the fun!— HandmadeHour (@HandmadeHour) February 28, 2016
Now you are definitely ready to follow some people! Search for people you know, look at whom they are following to find more people to follow, look at your favourite websites and find their Twitter icon to follow them, and announce/link to your Twitter account via all your online websites/social media accounts!
- Goals: figure out what you want your Twitter account to do - build your brand's community? Increase sales? Spread awareness? Engage with organisations? Target your posts with your goals in mind e.g. who you direct your posts at, which hashtags you use, etc.
- Content: don't tweet all about yourself/your business. Twitter is for conversations, so be sure to listen, comment, favourite and retweet others, while talking about yourself/services/products 10%-20% of the time.
- Frequency: don't tweet for the sake of it, but do try to tweet a few times per day. At the very least a few times per week. Twitter is an effective customer service tool, so it's good practice to be visibly active on there.
- Content sharing: feel free to post content on Twitter that you've posted on Facebook or Instagram. Tweak the text so it fits into the 140 character limit of a tweet, it doesn't look good if you have content auto-posted from another platform! My biggest bugbear with social media is when people post directly from Instagram to Twitter and don't post the image along with it. Please, please don't do this! (Begging here!)
- Timing: experiment and figure out when your target audience and/or followers are online most and tweet then. Bear in mind different time zones. I find that my UK audience tend to be online on week days in the early morning and late evening.
I hope my Twitter guide helps beginners to get started with tweeting. You're welcome to practice by tweeting me @thedigibloom (https://twitter.com/thedigibloom) or just stop by to say hello! Is there something you don't understand? Have I missed something? Feel free to comment below!