How to Build a Personal and Business Following on Twitter
If you're not already familiar with it, Twitter is an interesting microblogging application that allows you to send small messages — called "tweets" — to people's cell phones and Twitter homepages. These messages are limited to 140 characters, the maximum length of an SMS text message.
I’ve been using Twitter for a short time now and have built up more than 100 followers. Many followers subscribe to my Twitter feed unsolicited.
Here are some basic Twitter tips for either building a personal following or marketing your business:
Build a personal following
1. Speak in your own voice. Add in your own personality and flavor. Offer insights, but keep them relevant and topical.
2. Tweet articles of interest. I do a lot of writing, so I’m always tweeting links to my articles. If you or your company has a blog, by all means post links to it.
3. If you see an article that you think will be useful to your followers, post that, too. Many people post random thoughts. I’m not a fan of this. Keep it on topic and true to your mission.
4. Forward other peoples’ tweets — also known as retweeting. If you receive a tweet that warrants forwarding, do it. Add “RT” (for retweet) before the text.
5. Add your Twitter URL (mine is http://www.twitter.com/gilbertdirect) to your e-mail signature. This will remind people to look there for updates from you.
6. If you use LinkedIn, use its Blog Link application. This enables you to connect your LinkedIn account with your Twitter feed. Another social networking site, Plaxo, also enables you to connect with your Twitter feed.
Market your business
1. Call out and provide specials to your customers. Make sure these are real-time specials or offers. However, try to not be too pushy. Fit the offers and specials into the context of your customer conversation, and don’t overpromote.
2. Link to your blog. Same concept as personal tweeting above. Stay on topic.
3. Tweet news and information about your company and products. New products, company news, press releases, corporate milestones, testimonials and “meet-the-employee” articles are great examples of things to tweet. Anything you think will get people both familiar and, more importantly,emotionally involved with your brand.
4. Ask questions. Twitter, like any social network, is all about conversation. Make sure you have someone who can spend time working with your followers to answer their questions. Engage your followers to provide information about how to make your company even better. And, harnessed correctly, Twitter can be an exceptional customer service tool as well.
5. Encourage your employees to create Twitter accounts as well. This will create more than one voice for your company. Have them add their Twitter addresses to their e-mail signatures.
6. Add Twitter badges to your Web site. This enables customers and prospects to easily follow in on the fun.
Jim Gilbert is president of Gilbert Direct Marketing, a Boca Raton, Fla.-based catalog and direct marketing agency. His LinkedIn profile can be viewed at www.linkedin.com/in/jimwgilbert. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/gilbertdirect.