You've heard it before: If you have a business, you should be on Twitter. But what if you don't know a tweet from a snap?
Twitter can definitely be a beast, but it doesn’t have to be. Think of the Twittersphere as a place where companies and people come together to share ideas, news, interesting stories and cat photos.
If you've been on the sidelines, hopefully these tips below will give the confidence you need to enter the fray. If you've been on Twitter awhile, here are some reminders of good practices.
1. Put up a profile photo. Depending on your business, use a logo or a photo of yourself. The default “egg” graphic is a dead giveaway of your beginner status.
2. Follow relevant brands & people. This is how you will see what others are posting and it's a good first step in cultivating relationships. It's also ok to unfollow people. If you're not enjoying what someone is saying, purge them and make room for someone else.
3. Inject some life into your tweets. Of course your main goal is to sell products or services, attract new clients or broadcast your cause, but not every tweet has to be related to your business. Is your dog visiting your store or office? Tweet a photo of that. Come across a helpful article about how to structure your day? Tweet that and let your followers know why you liked it.
4. Quality not quantity. Don’t have anything to say? It’s okay to keep quiet and let there be some dead air for a little while. That said, don't disappear off the map altogether; it's important your followers hear from you or they might forget you exist.
5. Use hashtags sparingly. Hashtags are useful for social campaigns or for following along at events like the Oscars or conferences. But use too many and you’re bound to look desperate. Tweets with a massive amount of hashtags look like an ad (or worse, spam!) and your followers will blow right past it. More hashtag tips here.
6. Include photos. Tweets with photos are more likely to get retweeted which will then increase your brands exposure. Keep in mind that Twitter recently adjusted its presentation to give more exposure to photos. If you use other people's photos, make sure you credit them.
7. Interact with others. If someone mentions you in a tweet, say "Thanks!" If someone you are following shares a useful article, tell them! That is how you get noticed. On the flip side, if someone doesn’t respond to you, don’t sweat it. Everyone is doing a million things these days.
8. Remember the big days and moments. If you don't know what to tweet about, try looking at the calendar. For example, when it is St. Patrick's Day, tweet something green (like your green shoes or green beer). If it the anniversary of your storefront opening, offer a special discount code to fans. You reached 1,000 followers? Awesome! Thank your fans for your support - and they'll likely start tweeting about you. Check out what is trending that day. (If you're using your phone, “Trends” can be seen when you swipe left; on the web, you'll find them to the left of your feed.) Do you have anything to add to the conversation?
9. Be nice. Don’t fight. Everyone has bad days, but you don't need to take to Twitter to share yours. Of course this doesn’t mean you need to pretend everything is perfect either. There is definitely a balance…you’ll figure this one out! Important: Whatever you do, don't start or participate in a Twitter fight. Nothing good comes from that.
10. Be patient. You know that most businesses aren't successful overnight. So know that you won’t amass tons of followers as soon as you sign up. That said, do not buy followers. It’s misleading and these robots don’t interact with you.
11. Avoid politics. Unless you’re involved in politics, keep your views to yourself. Everyone has opinions, right? But most fans aren't following an Etsy shop for its views on Obamacare or a flower shop for its feelings on gun control. Strong opinions on divisive issues can be seen as off-topic and polarizing -- and could end up hurting business.
One important thing to remember is that it is just Twitter. It is definitely an important piece of your marketing plan, but it’s supposed to be fun, not a source of stress. A good rule of thumb is to think before you tweet so you won't say something you'll regret later. Have fun out there!