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Here are tips on how to effectively use Twitter for your small business:
1. Understand what Twitter is all about. The key to long-term success on Twitter is to view this microblogging platform as a community. While it is a great way to get exposure and even increase traffic to your web site, your success on this platform depends on how you engage your community, dialogue with them and how you make full use of this social networking platform.
2. Set your goals. Determine what you want to accomplish in Twitter and how you want to use it for your business. Some possible uses of Twitter include:
To showcase your knowledge and expertise.
To reach out and connect with other people with similar interests.
To communicate with existing customers.
To generate traffic and backlinks to your site.
To give a “human face” to your business
To post your random thoughts and display your wit and brilliance.
3. Keep on target. Focus on what you want to accomplish. If you want to demonstrate that you are an expert on eBay selling, be consistent and post only tips on how to use eBay. Steer clear of random thoughts and be true to your mission.
4. Plan what you are going to tweet. Decide what you will say on Twitter. Study what other users in your niche are saying, and how you can make your tweets more interesting, informative and engaging. Some ideas on what to tweet:
Articles or blog posts that you have written
Articles, news items or blog posts that may be of interest to your followers
New information about your business and product, including press releases, announcement of events and product features
Offers and discounts
Customer service responses
Post a question to your followers
Comments on what other folks have posted, starting a dialogue with other users
5. Carefully choose your Twitter ID. Look at your Twitter ID as part of your brand. You can use your name, name of your business, or a keyword-rich username
6. Be searchable on Twitter. Make sure that people can find you when they search on Twitter for people with common interests, goals and professions. Study how the users that show in the first page do it – look at the username, as well as the keywords they use for their name and description.
7. Give value. Like any business, success depends on how well you create value. Establish yourself as an authority in your field. If you must post an article or news item that 100 other Twitter users have already posted, tweet the main learning from the article, not just the title.
8. Increase the visibility of your tweets. Even if you have only 100 followers, you can potentially expand the reach of your tweets. Write highly informative tweets (even if that means writing great content on your blog first that you can then tweet) that will attract other users to retweet your post. You can even ask others to retweet your post. Also, make use of the hashtag # symbol in order for your users to be visible to those who are interested in the topic, even if they are not your followers.
9. Get yourself listed in Twitter directories. They may not be as effective in bringing a huge number of followers, but they can be useful in getting targeted followers, or those who are specifically interested in your sector. Good ones include:
Just Tweet It http://www.justtweetit.com
10. Use tools outside of Twitter to expand your reach and increase your followers. Some ideas you can try are:
Add your Twitter username to your email signature
Add a Twitter badge to your website or blog
Add Tweetmeme or AddThis to your articles or blog posts
If you use other social media communities such as LinkedIn, Plaxo or Facebook, consider connecting your Twitter account so you can showcase your Twitter feed to your other social network contacts.