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4 Basic Twitter Tips for Small Business beginners

By Anne-Marie Watson
Published Dec 15, 2011

Even though Twitter has been around now for a while, some small business owners have been reluctant to join in. This can be due to a fear of failure, lack of belief in its merit or a perceived lack of time available to invest in developing a Twitter following. Most small business owners probably feel already time poor and are not always keen to commit to another thing that looks like it will require lots of extra time to administer. That said, there are still plenty of good arguments why small businesses should devote time to gaining a Twitter presence. So if you are a new convert to this idea, this article is for you.

Starting off can be a bit confusing for the new Twitter user, as it takes a while to work out what the best approach is for getting new followers and effectively engaging with them. Many great tips can be picked up simply by watching how top Twitter users operate. Lists of some of the social media heavyweights who are expert Twitter users can be obtained by some quick research on Google. Alternatively, you could review the list of the top 5o Social media influencers published by Forbes in January 2012, and then follow some of the big Twitter names listed here, to learn how these guys go about it.

Gaining expertise by observing others will however take some time. So if you want to progress at a faster rate, here are a few fundamentals to help you get going in the right direction.

1. Use a twitter user name that reflects your business name and is appropriate.

First up, you will need to create a user name and password. Your user name (@username) is the identifier used by you to send tweets from, or receive them from others. Use your own name or a business name where possible. If your exact business name is not able to be used, try and connect your twitter user name to it somehow, to build a connection for followers to your business. Don't try to be too clever in creating your handle - the more complicated or fancy your user name is, the harder it will be for people to remember or associate with your business, especially if they are quite different. Just like domain names, simplest is best. Linking your user name with your corporate name builds recall and using something professional sounding is usually a better choice for a business.

2. Have a written profile that builds credibility

Once you have a Twitter name, and account, you now have the option of adding a profile. Amazingly, there are still users of Twitter that don't use a profile. When I receive follow requests from twitter users like this with no details of who they are, and their user name tells me very little about them, I am unable to judge whether they are going to be someone I want to follow back. My rule of thumb, like many others it seems, is not to follow anyone whose profile is blank, unless I know them personally. Twitter accounts with blank profiles obviously lose many potential followers for this reason.

To avoid this problem, use the 160 character profile space to let your followers know a bit about yourself. By a measured use of your wording, you can let people know what small business you are in, what your Twitter interests are and perhaps add a bit about your personality or background. This increases your chances of success at connecting with others of similar interests – after all the heart of social media is about connecting with people who want to share.

3. Use a real profile photo not an empty egg
As well as no profile, the other mistake some Twitter users make is to use no profile image. When this occurs, Twitter provides a generic egg image as a proxy - in the same way, LinkedIn uses a human silhouette as a default when no photo is added to an account profile. By not using your own or business image, this again adds a level of uncertainty for others, and will limit the number of possible connections that will be made. There's really no acceptable business reason why you shouldn't use one and it has the advantage of adding more depth to your profile and cementing your corporate image in customer minds. An empty egg is truly very forgettable.

4. Use a distinctive visual as a background image for your profile

The other key part of your profile is adding a background image. Not everyone has one but they do make a statement about you or your business. Since it seems all social media is moving towards the ‘highly visual' these days, having a background image is very important for presenting a complete profile of your brand. There are two options for adding a background image:

· To use one of the standard Twitter backgrounds provided (added through Settings), or

· To add a customized image developed externally, using Photoshop or other graphic software

In terms of display, only the left-hand side of the Twitter screen (300pixels width) is available, and many brands use this space to display basic information such as brand logo, contact business details, website and social media addresses. It is recommended that you keep the background simple using 1-2 brand colors and an image that is clean, bold or reflective of your business.


Through these four easy steps, you will be able to avoid some of the problems that novice twitter users often experience. Each one of these elements adds to your profile's influence and will help people decide if they want to follow you, and whether the subjects you tweet on are likely to be something they want to follow.

Read more Beginner Twitter User tips.


© 2012 Southside Marketing Solutions




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