Twitter for Small Business Part 1: Setup and Terminology

If you are a small business owner, you have probably been watching social media explode. At first it was considered a trend, then a new way to communicate with friends and family, and now it is the most effective way to advertise and communicate with the people you value most: your customers.

But where do you start? Since we recently published a blog on Facebook Fan Pages, Twitter is next in line. It is as influential as fan pages and the combination of the two are lethal. But Twitter is not as straightforward as Facebook, and 140 characters can be intimidating.

Part One of the series on Twitter for Small Businesses will discuss implementing a foundation from the ground up, starting with the very basics. It will cover the necessary assets to set up a Twitter account and explain Twitter terminology.

Twitter Page Setup For Small Business

1. Profile picture.

Deciding on a profile picture for a small business can be tricky.

The best choice is a personal picture because people are more inclined to interact with a personal face. However, if a logo is the best representation, make sure its a high quality picture and fits nicely in the profile picture slot. Aesthetics are important.

2. Background picture.

This is the large background area your viewers see when coming to your Twitter homepage. It is an excellent place to include personal or team related pictures if you chose to use a logo for the profile picture.

The best measurement for a background design is 1600×1000 pixels. This size ensures the design will cover every monitor screen size up to 27’ and look professional.

Some businesses add a static information box to the background picture displaying pertinent information for customers and potentials. It fits in the top left corner of the design and the best measurement is 110×700 pixels.

These measurements may need to be adjusted to get the exact look you are going for, but serve as a starting point.

3. Bio and business website link.

A solid biography is one of the most important features of your account, as is including a link to your business website. The biography gives your account validity and the website link offers interested consumers and followers a direct link to what the business offers.

Make sure to include keywords in the biography like, marketing, restaurant, etc. so other people in the same industry are able to locate you easily.

These are the three necessities to get a Twitter account up and running. But what about the new Twitter lingo? What do the #’s and @’s mean? Let’s discuss them.

Twitter Terminology for Small Business

1. Follow

To follow someone on Twitter means to subscribe to their tweets, which are comprised of personal comments, news pieces, industry information, pictures or videos. These status updates or tweets appear in the timeline, which is the vertical flow of information you see on Twitter.

2. Follower

A follower is a Twitter user who is following you. They do not need permission to subscribe to your tweets unless your account is private. But having a private account for a business is not advisable, under any circumstances.

3. Following

This is the number of Twitter users who are following you or other people.

4. Hashtag

Represented with a # symbol, the hashtag is used to mark topics or specific keywords in a tweet. It is an invaluable way to landmark tweets and make it easy for users to find them.

5. Mention

By using the @ (at) symbol in front of a tweeter’s username you are mentioning a specific user in the body of a tweet and may include as many users as possible.

6. Reply

Very similar to Mention, the Reply is used to respond directly to a user. Click on the Reply button next to a tweet and the username will automatically generate.

Both Mentions and Replies will show up in the Connections tab (more on Connections, below).

7. RT or Retweet

RT is the abbreviated version of Retweet and is placed directly in front of a user’s tweet. By RT’ing a tweet, it forwards the tweet to your followers and shares the information.

It is an easy way to share industry-specific information with your followers, spread news and begin relationships. By RT’ing someone you push their name out into a new pool of tweeters who may become followers or appreciate the shared information and start a conversation.

But remember, when RT’ing be polite. Make sure to thank tweeters who RT your tweets. Start a conversation or say hello. Not everyone thanks their RT’ers, but those who do have a much richer Twitter community around them.

8. Favorites

Favorites can be used in many ways. Similar to Reply, it is a button on a tweet that adds it to your Favorites list.

This list can be used to save articles or tweets you want to read later, important information or a reminder of those who interact with you.

It is a powerful way to save information.

9. Listed and Lists

To be Listed is to be included in someone else’s Twitter list. To create Lists is to generate your own lists based on criteria decided by you. They are labeled in whatever manner is best for you, whether an industry “Social Media Peeps” or region “New York City Socialites.”

By creating a list, it generates a Twitter timeline solely compromised of those users tweets. It filters out excess information and is useful to check out local activities or industries of interest.

Be aware, lists are not private and users know when they are added to a list you created.

10. Trends

Trends are trending topics based on who you follow and your location. It includes worldly and local trends and can be customized to focus in on a desired location. However, some trends populate regardless of the personalization on the account.

11. Connect

The Connect tab is a focused stream of your interactions, whether through mentions, RT or follows. It shows all the account activity and is useful to stay on top of who is interacting with you.

12. Discover

The Discover tab is a playground of sorts, dedicated to making Twitter more engaging and fun for you. It will tell you Who to Follow, share Stories and give you a chance to find friends among a few other features.

Basically, it is discovering what Twitter algorithms think is good for your business and how it may enhance the experience.

13. Direct Message or DM

The Direct Message feature allows you to message someone privately or receive their messages privately, but you must be following one another to share a message.

DM’s are sometimes used to send automatic messages to new followers and while this may seem like a good decision, most users are turned off by the practice.

It removes the genuine interaction that should occur when a user begins following another. Taking the time to send a Mention to a new follower is the best choice because you welcome them in a public format and thank them for becoming a part of your community. These interactions are very beneficial and start real relationships.

The setup tips and terminology are the basics to creating a solid Twitter foundation. Stay tuned for the Twitter for Small Businesses series, and please share any information you think is useful for new users.

Twitter for Small Business Part 2: Strategy.

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