To tweet or not to tweet: How to use Twitter successfully from the start

If you’ve decided Twitter is right for you as a method for promoting your business, you next need to get tweeting. Here are some tips on getting started.

Many understand that Twitter is part of the “social media” world. Unless you’ve taken the time to learn all about it, however, you might not understand if you should invest time in it as a way to reach customers. This article will address the “how” of Twitter (See also articles on the "what" of Twitter and the "why" of Twitter) .

Once you’ve decided that Twitter would be a good way to market your business, you can get started rather easily – you go to the website and create an account with a unique username, also called a “handle,” that is linked to an email account.  You can spend time creating a profile with a picture and a statement about your business. Twitter does not limit the number of accounts you have but users can have only one account per email address.  As a result, you can only be logged into one account at a time.  Twitter is really about regular communication. Each message is a short idea, so you need to think headlines not a full story. 

Michigan State University Extension offers some ways to get followers and get started with Twitter:

  1. Find people to follow. This is the best way to get people to follow you.  You may start with an allied business or a local organization that your business partners with, like the local chamber of commerce. 
  2. Let your customers know that you are using Twitter and what kind of updates that they might find if they subscribe to your Twitter feed.  For example, if you are a farm or farm business, let them know what you are doing on the farm or what is fresh from the farm.  Comment on activities that give a glimpse of your business, what is upcoming, or common factors like holidays, weather, local events.  You can also ask your followers to respond to a question in a few words.  These are all ways to get more eyes on your feed and keep your business in their minds.  
  3. Offer incentives for users who reply to or retweet your messages. The incentive could be a small discount or some kind of branded marketing item like a shopping bag. This will encourage more people to follow you. 
  4. Reach out to your followers by putting their username in a tweet or retweeting their messages about you.  Again, you are keeping your farmers market or business in their thoughts throughout the week.
  5. Embed links to your website, Facebook page, or to photos to keep your followers interested in what is going on with your business or farm.

Maybe you see the logic and value of Twitter (or other social media) for your business but you still don’t know how you can do all this and run your business.  Keep in mind that you don’t have to be the one who does all of this but you do want to make sure that it is serving your business.  There are businesses – including media companies that will manage social media on your behalf.  Businesses can pay for this service just as you would pay for advertising. You can also get someone that you trust with an interest in social media to help you with this – maybe you have a volunteer, friend or family member that will do this for you.  For more information on finding the right person to manage your social media, read the MSU Extension article Managing social media: finding the right person.

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