Social Media How to use Twitter

Published on May 31st, 2013 | by Rob Zazueta

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How to Build Your Twitter Community from Scratch

Twitter is the perfect social media network for keeping track of what’s happening in your industry and the areas you care about while also keeping your followers up-to-date with your business. It rewards brevity, originality and interesting content and is the lowest effort, lowest risk form of social media out there. You don’t need to read every post that comes across your feed to make the most of Twitter, but you should post on a consistent basis and find people who can make your feed a valuable place to check in each day. Follow these simple steps to spread your wings on Twitter in no time:

Step 1: Create Your Twitter Account

The username you select will stick with you throughout your Twitter life, so make the right choice. If you’re tweeting on behalf of your business, your Twitter handle is part of your brand, so choose a username that fits – typically your company name. If you’re tweeting on behalf of yourself, consider using a variation of your name or a nickname. When I created my account in 2006, I used the crusty old standby of first initial plus last name (@rzazueta). I wish I had gone with something a bit less cold and a bit more familiar, like @RobZ or @TheAPIGuy. Twitter allows me to change it, but none of my followers would recognize me. Like it or not, my handle is now my personal brand on Twitter.

If you already have a personal Twitter account, create a new one just for your company. Unless your personal brand is your company’s brand, keep the two identities separate.

Step 2: Set Up Your Profile

Take the time to create and upload your Twitter profile image. This is the face you present to others on Twitter. If you don’t include an icon, Twitter uses one of its default egg pictures, which is a sure sign of a neglected account. For a company account, a version of your logo is fine, but be sure it clearly states what your business is about. A better icon might be a picture of one of your products, or someone using your product, especially if your username is the same as your company name. If nothing else, use a picture of yourself. Seeing a face attached to the profile reminds your followers that there’s a human on the other end.

Twitter asks you to craft a bio in its familiar 140 character format. Start with the URL to your site – People who want to know more about you will go to your profile looking for that link. Fill in the rest with a brief synopsis of who you are or what your business does.

Step 3: Identify People to Follow

Your Twitter feed is only as valuable as the people you follow. When you first sign up, Twitter will make several recommendations using their algorithms based on your identified interests, industry, etc. Go ahead and look through these and follow the accounts that sound interesting to you, but don’t think these are your only options. Everyone and their cat has a Twitter account these days, so you should be looking for folks to follow everywhere you look for interesting information – blogs, websites, business cards and more. Unlike Facebook, following someone on Twitter does not require them to approve you, and if you decide to unfollow them later they’ll likely not be alerted to it. Follow whomever you want – you can always adjust later with no consequence.

Step 4: Start Posting

Here’s where many people falter. You go to Twitter, you click to compose a new Tweet, it asks “What’s Happening?”… and you’re blank. The good news is that, right now, you have little-to-no followers. You can post whatever you want! But, you should limit yourself to posting the kinds of things that will attract the followers you want. If you intend to attract new customers, post your daily specials, a new product you’re excited about, or a link to a blog post you’ve written. If you’re attracting industry luminaries to establish yourself as a thought leader, post links to interesting articles you’ve found and your favorite online resources. Posting about what you’re eating or where you’re going is passe – focus on sharing meaningful information that will keep potential followers seeking you out. But don’t be afraid to periodically post personal information as well – personal victories, customer stories, pictures of the kids or pets. You’re human after all, and your followers will appreciate it. Your posts should be a mix of all the things that make you interesting, unique and worth the follow. The more you use Twitter, the more interesting things you’ll find to share.

Step 5: Promote Yourself

Tell your customers, tell your colleagues, tell your friends – let everyone know that you’re on Twitter! Include it in your next email newsletter and encourage your subscribers to follow you. Post it on your Facebook page. Start building your follower count using your current connections. In time, they’ll share your posts with their followers by retweeting you, which will attract even more followers. Make sure you follow your contacts back, but be judicious about following strangers. I jealously protect my feed, only following those who post things I’m willing to read. Beware of “followbacks” and other schemes promising you thousands of followers. It’s better to have a handful of dedicated followers hanging on your every word than to be lost in a throng of bots and inactive accounts that do nothing more than pad your follower count.

Step 6: Share and Share Alike

Whenever you see something interesting in your feed that you think would be of interest to your followers, retweet it. Twitter fosters a culture of sharing, and you’re doing a service to your followers by sharing something they may not have seen elsewhere. Even better, Twitter lets the original poster know that you shared their content, which can get you on their radar. Identify the people in your industry with whom you want to connect and look through their recent posts for items to share or reach out and converse with them directly. You’ll be surprised how many people who are too busy to answer their emails or pick up their phones will respond to a tweet.

Step 7: Get in the Habit

Check in to Twitter at least once a day. Set aside a little time when you need to unwind and go through your mentions and your feed. Respond to anyone who has tweeted to you directly, and thank anyone who has retweeted your posts. Create a personal connection and treat your followers as members of your own community.

As you read articles online, share them immediately on your Twitter feed or use a tool like VR Social or Buffer to schedule your tweets to go out automatically while you work.

Install the Twitter app on your smartphone in order to immediately share photos and videos from wherever you are. This is a great way to share what you’ve learned at conferences and trade shows, or to let your customers in on the excitement of a new delivery to your store or the process of creating a new product.

The key to Twitter success is persistent consistency – that is, keep posting interesting links, keep retweeting cool content, keep following the people who you want to hear from and keep checking in daily to stay on top of it. In no time, you’ll have created a personalized Twitter community that will continuously educate you while keeping you connected with your customers and fans.

For more tips, grab our 7 Tips to Make Your Tweets Sing guide. It’s free.

© 2013, VerticalResponse Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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About the Author

is an Evangelist at VerticalResponse.



4 Responses to How to Build Your Twitter Community from Scratch

  1. Mark Webinar says:

    Excellent article! It’s nice to see someone write on the challenges of starting a network from scratch and how you won’t see results right away. It could take months before you see any traction. A lot of businesses aren’t prepared for this, so their social media efforts fail before they even get started. The beginning phases really are all about listening, listening, listening… It’s the only way to really get to know you audience.

  2. Tom Walton says:

    Very good starter information for a business looking to use Twitter.

  3. ronald says:

    Thanks for the post.

    In Step 1, as you’ve indicated, the choice of a username/handle, whatever platform one uses, is quite important. I’m glad you didn’t end up choosing “@TheAPIGuy” because what stood out for me with that handle, due to the capitalisation, is “A PIG” ;-)

  4. Rob – Great post!

    I think the hardest part of building your Twitter community is around your step #5. If you Tweet it, will it come? I recently read that your tweets should be a 4-1-1 breakdown:

    • Tweet 4 pieces from others (keep it interesting)
    • Re-tweet 1 relevant tweet for every 1 self-promoting tweet

    Happy Tweeting!

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