Business Guide to Twitter – Part 2

Part 2 – Create an Online Profile

Twitter, launched in July of 2006, has emerged as one of the top social media platforms enabling users to connect with friends and companies and stay current with constant streams of information. With over 200 millions users generating 190 million tweets a day, Twitter has become a great resource for businesses to engage with consumers, but most are not realising it’s full potential.

In order to start conversing with other users, you must first introduce yourself. By creating a handle (username) you can quickly describe who you are. A handle is essentially your address or calling card, and is how people will interact with you and include you in conversation. Your bio and profile pic should also reflect who you are. Unless you’re planning to create a spoof account, you should use your actual picture and real name, so people feel more comfortable interacting with you. In this first part of the IntelligentHQ Business Guide to Twitter, we look at some of the best ways to help you get the most out of your Twitter account.

1. Decide What You Want To Achieve

To start off, you need to determine what it actually is you want to achieve through Twitter. You might want to establish yourself as an expert or authority on a specialist subject, or you might want to increase the online presence reach of your business. The first thing to do before you start interacting with fellow users, is to create a good user profile. One of the main goals of Twitter is to attract followers, and few people will want to follow someone that has a badly laid out profile.

2. Create the Right Brand

Having the right branding is essential for any business, and all businesses need it to get their message across clearly and concisely. Make sure that you have a good brand established and that when people hear about you they will know what to expect, this will ensure that you get followed by the right kind of people. The more focused you are on your brand the more relevant followers you will attract.

Another good idea is to keep following news and events relating to your business, this will ensure that in time you will become known for twittering on a subject related to your topic of expertise. By linking to different quality resources, people will look at you as an expert who knows where to find the best information and who shares knowledge with their followers. The overall effect of you only posting quality and relevant tweets will be cumulative in the long run, as branding is a subtle process that occurs over time. You will become branded as an expert who provides regular insight into your topic and this will expose you to other people who are interested in your subject.

3. Choose a Good Username

Choosing your username is a very important part of the branding process too. When deciding on a username, try to pick one that is unique, easily remembered and original. Keep in mind what your business is aiming for and think what you are trying to do with your account, what people do you want to connect with, what are they likely to find attractive. If you pick a username that doesn’t seem to be working for you or is unsuitable, change it! You can easily do this in your Twitter control panel.

These 5 points are helpful when deciding on a username

  •  It Should Be Real: If you decide to make you Twitter user name your real name, people will feel more comfortable following you on Twitter because you are less likely to be a spammer.
  • It Should Describe You: If you are using Twitter as your business account, make sure the name of your company describes what it is you do, and what tweets followers should expect from you.
  • It Should Be Short: The shorter the better, since this makes it easier for your followers to retweet your tweets and mention you.
  • It Should Be Unique: “@Puppylover”, “@Doglover” and “@Lovespuppies” are not that unique, you want to use a user name that will be remembered.
  • It Should Be Sincere: If you are not a guru, don’t claim to be one in your user name, this applies to everything else ranging from claiming to be a doctor to claiming to be an active tweep.

4. Use a Striking Avatar

Your avatar (image on your profile) is an online visual representation of yourself, and can quickly say something to prospective followers about who you are, what you’re about and what you have to say. Even if people have never seen you before, a good avatar will immediately allow someone to decide to take the plunge and hit that follow button. The big avatar on your profile page (73 pixels square) is shown smaller (just 48 pixels square) everywhere else. An avatar that looks good when big, often looks rubbish when small. If you’re going to use a picture of yourself, follow these simple rules:

  • Use a well-lit photo (ie with your face lit, not with a bright background).
  • Concentrate on the foreground. Think about using a photo editor to replace the background with a solid colour (try a free online photo editor like picnik).
  • Concentrate on your face. A close up will be much clearer. We don’t need to see your shoulders or chest.
  • You can still be creative – luminous zigzags, words, colour washes etc can all help your Twitter avatar stand out even more.
  • Don’t use your mobile phone. Really – a picture you take of yourself using your mobile will look really bad. If you have to use it, at least get someone else to take it.

If you are going to be Tweeting under your company logo, make sure other users can work out who you are. Some tips to follow:

  • Words need to be readable – If your company logo has its name on it, make sure the letters are big enough for it to be easily readable.
  • Crop your logo sensibly. Twitter avatars are square. Your logo might not be.
  • Think about the colours. Make sure your logo has well chosen colours and is easy on the eye.

5. Write a Short but Detailed Bio

If you’re using Twitter to promote your business your products or yourself, followers are the key to your success. However, on Twitter you don’t want just any followers, you want the right kind of followers, people who will enjoy what you have to say and will therefore pay attention. Fill in your bio with a short description of what people can expect from you, include any important keywords and information and make it short, concise but fun and interesting at the same time. A good way to get people following and interacting with you is by having an interesting profile and bio. Try to include the following:

  • Tell people what you do
  • Show a little personality
  • Reveal something personal
  • Don’t include religion or political affiliations

6. Include a Location to your Profile

Location is becoming more important these days. Mobile is critical and with the advent of tablets and smartphone, location is going to be even more critical. Location for twitter profiles is key, you need to think about who your ideal followers are and where they are likely to be from, if regional followers are important to you, add the location where they are most likely to be found.

7. Get a Custom Twitter Background

Since the visual impact of your Twitter background is the strongest tool you have available, customise it to give people an eyeful of who you are. A striking and well thought out twitter background can quickly convey numerous pieces of useful information about who you are, and for businesses in particular it can convey what your brand is all about, what people can expect from you and can become an extension of your website.

It’s a good idea for your twitter background to include important information about you, such as your email and website address, if you have stats about the typical screen resolution of your target market take those into account when designing the background, if not, design with a low screen resolution in mind for example 1024×768.

8. Start to Promote Your Account

Once you have your account set up, it’s time to start spreading the word. It may seem obvious but if you start off by telling people you already know about your account, they are very likely to follow and read what you have to say, and this can also be a great way to start trying out interaction on Twitter. Another way is once you have at least a few thousand real, engaged followers, start to tweet more often, and use 1-3 key hashtags on many tweets.

Tweeting a lot will also cause a few people to unfollow you, but it will generate more retweets, more followers, and higher “influence” scores Some accounts that Tweet popular content slowly increase the frequency of their tweeting as they get more followers to increase retweets. Overtweeting can definitely backfire, but for accounts that mainly tweet only popular content (see above) it seems to work well.

9. Announce On Your Social Networks

A really good way to tell people you already know about your new twitter account is to make an announcement on all your other existing social networks. These announcements will draw more people in and make them more aware that you have started your online business presence. It’s best to do this more than once and frequently at the beginning of your effort to gain followers. If you use facebook a lot, posting to facebook from twitter will allow people to know that you are now actively using twitter aswell.

10. Spread the Word Offline

Every time you record a podcast, shoot a video, give a speech or a presentation, find a way to let people know about your twitter account, and give them a specific reason to follow you. Once you begin letting people know you will find that your twitter follower count will start to go up. Another useful way to promote your account  offline is to put your Twitter username on your blog, in your email signature and on your business cards. If you don’t have those you could always give your twitter username along with your telephone number when you meet people.

See the other parts of the Guide

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