Use Twitter for your Business the Right Way

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More and more Businesses are getting onto Twitter. The word’s out – but so many businesses get it wrong. In this post Aira Bongco (@airabongco) shares some tips especially for businesses wanting to use Twitter effectively. Image by photoj :-]

You may have seen a lot of companies using Twitter to promote their products and services. Some do it discreetly by sending in various links to your direct message box while some generally tweet their website links on a constant basis. However, these people got it all wrong. We, Twitter folks, view these promotions nothing more as spam. Trust must be built from the ground up in Twitter. It’s a social networking site. It is not called “social” for nothing.

Here are some tips to rub your Twitter followers the right way. Soon you’ll find out how loyal and supportive these people can be if only you took the time to get to know them.

1. Be more interested in helping than making money

Twitter followers are people. They don’t have dollar signs plastered on their foreheads. Help these people out and they will help you back. They may not always have the money to purchase your products but they will happily retweet a product for you.

2. Create relationships first

Before you go into blasting business messages through Tweetlater, it would be advisable to create relationships first. Twitter is a huge community. No one will care about your tweets if they don’t know who the hell you are. Talk to people first. Interact.

3. Introduce your company at the right time and place

I remembered encountering a Twitter follower and we had a nice chat. The only problem is he loves his company and product too much. Of course that is not really the problem. The problem is that he introduced it to me almost right after I said “hi” to him. I tried to change the conversation but then he would steer the conversation back to his company and his product.

You know what I thought during that time? Hey! This person is more interested in my money than me. He didn’t want to have a relationship with me. He just wants my money right away. And as you can expect, I lost the interest to buy. Furthermore, I didn’t think about promoting him to my friends.

The lesson here is to promote your product at the right time and place. Your Twitter profile is there for a reason. Use it. And learn to warm up conversations. Ever heard of an icebreaker? Don’t steer conversations to your product immediately.

4. Don’t repeat the same message

One of the most popular problems of Twitter users today is spam. There are idiots that think that if they repeat a particular message a gazillion times, they will get sales. Well let me tell you something. Your message will quickly get trashed into the bin with a fast unfollow from the person you spammed. Even if you are promoting, there is a right way of doing it. Post your message once and ask people to retweet your message for you. Repeat only after 2-6 hours if necessary.

5. Reach out a helping hand

Help other people in your niche. Retweet their tweets as well as help them in other social networks such as Digg and StumbleUpon. Don’t concentrate on you and your products. Promote the products of others without asking anything in return. Concentrate on building a network of people who help each other, a community.

A lot of Twitter users are wary of businesses entering the Twittersphere. They are thought to be sources of spam and impersonal relationships. Truth is, there are two types of business people on Twitter. The first one is the one who talk to himself and promote his own product or site over and over again. While the other is the one who manage to get customers not only because of his charm but because he had an authentic intention to help. Which type you want to be is up to you.

What Tips Would You Give a Business Exploring Twitter?

From Darren: There’s a lot more to say on this topic – in fact we’re planning on publishing quite a bit more on the topic of businesses and how they should approach Twitter.

In the mean time – what would you add to the tips that Aira has shared in this post?

Also – what businesses do you see approaching Twitter in an effective way? What are they doing right? I’d love to see some examples.

Comments

  • November 10, 2008

    Excellent tips, Twitter has quickly become my best friend, I have gotten a lot of great connections, both ways, from Twitter. The main thing for me is Helping Others, watching for areas where I can assist someone.

    Just being there and helping others is a great way to advance your work.

  • November 10, 2008

    Twitter has helped my business and my network in general.

    Thanks for the post Darren :)

  • November 10, 2008

    I’ve been using a few of the more well-known twitter apps thru add-ons. With your insights this can help to get our small page seen by even more users of the web. What we like is the way you can drill down to whomever you like to reach within your niche.

  • November 10, 2008

    Oi! The spam! I never understand that kind of viral advertising. I think if you are going to add someone in twitter, ensure that they fit into the market range you want. For example, I do cigar reviews. Not surprisingly, I searched out people that would be interested in cigars. I talk to them about what they like and what they don’t like and when I post a review, it gets twittered — but only ONCE!

    Quality, not quantity, is what makes a good Twitterer (is that a word yet?). The only “Twitterer” (or is it “twit”?) that should do quantity are my news feeds like CNN and Fark. :P

  • November 10, 2008

    I’m no social media expert, but think networking online operates on the same same principles as the offline world .

    Which means approaching it with generosity, not self interest as thi spost suggests. It’s not what contacts can do for you – but what you can do for your contacts. Connecting them with other people, offering articles, links and info they would value, tweeting abiut their great articles and products. The more people you help, the more people you’ll have helping you and the more help you’ll have helping others – it’s a loop.

    When businesses do that, the customers and money just show up. Often not from the same souce – but it comes. So best not to keep score, to be generous, helpful and have fun.

  • November 10, 2008

    I think that healthcare is a great target. Conversations between providers and patients would seem to be a natural bridge between the lack of access that so many complain about. But how do you handle confidentiality, liability, etc? I would love to spearhead this somehow but see so many roadblocks.

  • November 10, 2008

    You nailed it Darren..way too many tweeters focus on ‘taking’ rather than ‘giving’.

  • November 10, 2008

    I’d love to hear people’s thoughts on business Twitter profiles vs. personal profiles. What role does the business profile play? A media site Twitter profile ( like our ecopreneurist or NPR or Sprig) is purely a feed for blog/MSM posts. A retail player like Whole Foods, has a Twitter profile and uses it to disseminate information including customer service info, promotions, etc.

    So, what big business does it right on Twitter? Thoughts?

  • November 10, 2008

    Great job Aira. You’ve pointed out how business twitter users make it all about them and their product. Twitter is a community of real people, and to be welcomed and accepted into the community of Twitter, businesses must reach out and show themselves to be real people too.

    I can’t think of anything to add to your Business Twitter Do’s and Don’ts list, but hopefully businesses will take note and make necessary changes of how they use or abuse Twitter.

  • November 10, 2008

    I would add “Share/Give your Expertise”. Nothing highlights your willingness to help someone than to give something at no cost. I’ve often given tips and advice that either push revenue opportunities away from my company and to other services or service providers or cause the asker to pause and reconsider their direction. In the long run, I know if the asker has another question and previously respected my answers, they are more likely to come back and ask me again. I get a lot of business this way because the demand is from the requester side. The value has been established!

  • November 10, 2008

    I think the best examples of corporate twitter usage I can see is @comcastcares and @zappos. If you’re on twitter you’re probably already aware of them of have heard their stories. I think what makes them special is that they’ve done what this article has suggested. They’ve built relationships and being a contributor to the the network as a whole. They’re interesting to follow and have made me feel like I know them personally. I believe ay business that’s already using any other type of social network has an opportunity to use twitter. However, as your post said, there’s a reason it’s called “social” networking and not “revenue” networking.

  • November 10, 2008

    Found this page following you at twitter and then found the squidoo lens and lots of other resources. Twitter has become the third source of traffic to my site, so doing things the right way is very high priority.

  • November 10, 2008

    A number of charities (as well as businesses) are using Twitter very effectively. Take for example the Dogs Trust in the UK (http://twitter.com/dogstrust). They promote their rescue dogs, share videos of dogs and raise funds through Twitter and other social media applications. An example many businesses could learn from.

  • November 10, 2008

    I think your message is great and extends well beyond Twitter. If your not providing useful content your message will be ignored.

  • November 10, 2008

    Enjoyed this Aira, I probably made plenty of faux-pas with my first tweets unfortunately! But then, I hadn’t read this article.

    If there’s one ‘wrong way’ that really winds me up, it’s twits who include a link every time they tweet, without giving an indication of what it’s about. I don’t have time to click every link so a few words really help me to decide if it might be of interest, and therefore whether to click through.

    In fairness, I should add that lots of tweople use Twitter very well – with a good mix of personal & business tweets, quotes and observations, as well as links.

  • November 10, 2008

    Great post Aira! I concur with most of your points that you’ve brought about over here..esp. point number 3. I’ve had similar encounters with people that are more interested in selling people and forgetting they are talking to a human on the other side and not a money generating robot!

    Hope to see many such articles from you!

  • November 10, 2008

    Funny after I read this post I finally typed up an email to one of my favorite companies/products of all time, Penzeys.com (the *most amazing* spices ever), and I gave ComcastCares & Zappos as examples. I think some types of companies are better suited to Twitter, but I think that every company can do well, if they are willing to give up the idea of control and approval processes and give the ability for one person (or several, with different ID’s as in the case of Zappos) to speak on behalf of the company. THAT is what makes me love companies that interact with us on Twitter, the fact that there is a human being talking with us (not at us) and not some watered down customer service call center.

  • November 10, 2008

    Some businesses do kiss before they’ve had enough dances. The folks are so wrapped up in what they’re selling that they ignore/forget what using Twitter is all about.

    My practice is to give a gentle nudge or reminder and hope they get the message. If they don’t then my next “@” is direct followed by a no follow.

    I am on Twitter as an aid to my business for sure, but I always keep in mind that business is about people. If I engage, entertain or otherwise interact, I’ll build a community of loyal folks who will (hopefully) listen to what I’ve got to say while I listen to them, with genuine interest.

    Cheers

    George

  • November 10, 2008

    Hopefully after this post most businesses will clean up their act.

    I would really like Twitter to be a “Friend” than an annoying “Salesman”.

  • November 10, 2008

    Even those who are helpful and community-minded and who don’t blatantly sell their services can be guilty of spamming – or something very much like it. Tweeting the same message several times over a day or a week, and just plain over-tweeting, can be annoying and brand-damaging. To me, it also appears that these same people have way too much time to broadcast links they’ve researched. Also, constant retweeting just to appear “relevent” can be tiresome. So I’d say check your tweeting frequency; be choosy; tweet wisely.

  • November 10, 2008

    Nice writeup and I couldn’t agree more. I’ve seen people end every sweet they send with their website or affiliate link and it couldn’t be more annoying, and needless to say I don’t follow those people anymore.

    If you have a website or product you want to promote, be patient. Wait until a conversation is going that’s related to your website, then you can drop your link into the convo without seeming like a spammer, but that’s about the only way you can do it.

  • November 10, 2008

    Points 1 and 5 are key for me. In some ways, businesses shouldn’t act differently than anyone else on Twitter. They need to think very hard about how to use it to create value for others so they can become relevant members of the community.

    If the primary motivation to use online tools is greed or self-promotion, people will smell it instantly and stay far, far away. But if a company can honestly create value first, it will build trust, brand, and an increased likelihood that Twitter users will visit the company website.

    One other tip – the value being created should be consistent with the area of the company’s expertise. By providing ongoing value / help in a particular niche, the brand is built and strengthened.

    Love this new blog, Darren – it’s great.

    Steve

  • November 10, 2008

    I think you hit the nail on the head. Generally, before following someone I will check out their previous tweets to see if they are balanced in what they talk about. I don’t mind hearing about what you are promoting if I feel like you aren’t shoving it down my throat and you are more interested in me as a person. I don’t follow people when it seems like one hard sell (or soft sell) after another.

    I have to say I’ve been a subscriber of problogger for a long time and follow you on twitter. Very excited to hear about this new blog and will be signing up soon. You have been a huge influence on me and my blog. Thanks! twitter: tjonsek

    By the way, I found out about this post through twitter!

  • November 10, 2008

    People tend to forget that the ways to attract people to us in the offline world are the same ways we should be using in the online world. You don’t run up to someone at a party and start pitching your stuff (well I guess some do, but I’m thinking that that is not a successful tactic)…I like to think of Twitter as a big cocktail party where you run into people casually and gradually develop relationships based on interests, viewpoints, etc. Every opportunity is a chance to put a part of yourself out there so tweeps get to know you! Great post:)

  • November 10, 2008

    You are right. We don’t need any morespam. Here is how I do the things: for me is information on the first place. If I get a useful info over Twitter, I re-twitt it by giving a credit (with “via”) to the person who twitted the info. With this I’m saying to this person that his/her info was useful.

    I promote my blog with Twitter Tools: it’s a WordPress plugin which passes my blog post to Twitter. And I’m doing this only once. Once is enough.

    Darren, twitip.com was a fantastic idea. A separated blog with your thoughts about Twitter only.

  • November 10, 2008

    One thing I didn’t mention and think of now after reading everyone else’s comments is that your twitter usage should be more than just a regurgitation of your RSS feed. I have my RSS feed updating into twitter, but it’s not the bulk of my updates by any means. If I just want an RSS feed, I’ll add you into my reader program. Twitter is much more about the convesation in dialogue, not a monologue.

  • November 10, 2008

    Excellent points Aira, thanks for writing about this topic.

    In the “how you do anything is how you do everything” category, it is easy to ID the tweeps that are there for both their business and their community and you can get a quick insight into the values of a person/business.

    Lots of great common sense, business relationship development ideas here. Thanks for helping to guide and build our Twitter community!

  • November 10, 2008

    Amen darren. Twitter is still in diapers and learning to walk. Once businesses learn how to use twitter as a viable communication tool they will have found a whole new audience that they may have not been reaching. Twitter marketing is coming and it will have to evolve, but it is coming and coming fast. Great post and blog! Rocking Hot!

  • November 10, 2008

    Twitter is a phenomena. I have counted 27 websites just from twitter alone and they keep coming and coming. Its going to get saturated and eventually pass like other things. Twitter is a tool and should be used carefully, because now you get recorded in 27 places and Google pages as well. I make sure I get enough leverage out of it what it does on its own…

  • November 10, 2008

    That is right, it is never good to jump the gun, getting to know a person first is a good way of networking. Another great post.

  • November 10, 2008

    I’ve learned also to stay focused on my tweets. Personal,non-business stuff goed on a separate profile.

  • November 10, 2008

    thanks for the tips,
    it surely is helpful, twitter is a very good tool if use wisely ;)

  • November 11, 2008

    Well i hope companies and some other twitter use or atleat read this it will be good for them and for me also.

  • November 11, 2008

    thanks for the tips are very useful and specially for me, i have account in twitter but i think i cant get the best of it.

    thanks for this article.

  • November 11, 2008

    I really need to follow this blog closely. The tips are really helpful to me (zero experience in twitter)

    Cheers
    Vincent
    Personal Development Blogger

  • November 11, 2008

    I also hope companies and some other twitter use or atleat read this it will be good for them and for me also.

  • November 11, 2008

    Oh, so helpful! I’m putting a link to this article in my next blog post…watch for it at http://www.suzipomerantz.com

    Thanks for being cool!

  • November 12, 2008

    This is a timely and useful post on the appropriate uses of Twitter; I am particularly miffed by what I percieve to be ‘automated’ responses which immediately push some product or website with a terse generic ‘Thanks for the follow…and an invitation to buy some product or visit some website etc.

    I like those who respond and mention my name; it shows they are real pepole – everyone on Twitter should be a real person – who took the time to reveiw my twit and or blog.

    I make it a point to review a Followers or Followee’s ‘bio’ – to determine what they are about before following them. I also ‘Reverse-Follow’ anyone who follows me. If they have taken the time to follow me, it is only courteous that I return the favor, even if I do not really like what it is they do or write about.

    I will be honest and admit that I have not been able to visit the web or blog of each and every person I am following or who follows me. That is increasingly becoming a daunting task given the furious pace at which I am building my twiiter base.

    I have taken a gamble and invested all my social networking resources into Twitter. Fortunately my ‘Twits’ are auto-populated on my blog and Facebook page. So I am in essence ‘killing three birds with each twit!

    Ha!

  • November 16, 2008

    I was recently looking for other people who blog about personal finance on Twitter. The most attractive ones were the ones who linked to their posts AND had tweets with no links in them, which let’s you see that they’re a real person.

    If I like their blog, I’ll just subscribe to that- why would I want to also subscribe to their tweets announcing every blog post and nothing else?

  • November 17, 2008

    Terrific advice, especially about keeping your business info in your profile. I like to use social networking for social, finding and getting to know people. I do tend to broadcast what I do, maybe to give an insight to folks about who I am through what I do. This does triggers conversation and I love to read what others broadcast about what they do too.

    The best part to me is not having to explain what I do because if folks find they like what I chat about they will check my profile and see if I can help them. This is what I do when iIlike someone too. For me, Web 2 media is a far healthier way to do business than the ways we used to do it. Even better, is when we actually meet and have a social with the new friends we meet online.

  • November 18, 2008

    There is some very valuable information in this post – thanks for putting it out there. I’ve read some other writers who give tips on using Twitter successfully for business and it seems that a thread is to provide both business related tweets and personal tweets…you’re a business person and a person with a personal life…people can relate to that I think.

  • November 21, 2008

    Just respond to complaints and suggestions. At least this is how I see branding with Twitter.

  • December 18, 2008
    Dev Raheja

    I don’t have Twitter id. How do I get?

  • March 31, 2009

    Good Article – Great comments!

    Get a Second Twitter account for your personal tweets.

    hootsuite.com helps manage multiple
    accounts.

  • April 3, 2009

    Great post! A few of my tips are as follows:
    • Quality tweets. Nobody wants to hear what you ate for dinner.
    • engage conversation
    • 5 -10 tweets per day
    • quality followers. don’t follow everyone under the sun (wish i learned this one earlier)
    There are many more but can’t give away all my secrets in one place. :)

    Serena Carcasole
    http://www.vbsondemand.com
    Your 1STOP Business Shop
    Outsource your way to success!!!

  • April 8, 2009

    Dear Darren,

    Thanks so much for sharing this information with me. It is very useful information. Great tips and information.

    This is a useful post on the appropriate uses of Twitter, thanks for putting it out there. I have some people following me, however they don’t even know my name and what I do. They sent me a message for this information. I don’t think it is a good idea to follow this kind of people.

    Thanks once again for this valuable information and I am looking forward to your next article.

    Best regards,

    Susie
    http://www.twitter.com/susiecheng

  • May 26, 2009

    Excellent, just came across this after writing about a company (graze.com) using Twitter in an effective way to engage with their customers and potential customers..

    You said you wanted to hear about companies using Twitter properly. In my books, Graze.om are one of them.

    More info on what impressed me about their approach here:
    http://www.pixelwave.co.uk/news/2009/05/22/twittering-the-right-way/

    Al.

  • July 1, 2009

    Before reading this post – I was just a registered member of twitter.com, But after reading this post I have decided to become a regular twitter. Thanks

  • July 28, 2009

    Our company builds our expertise by connecting with other leaders in our industry. Some recruiting and outsourcing companies use their Twitter accounts only as a means of posting a stream of jobs and nothing else. This completely diminishes the idea of building relationships on Twitter. We don’t post any jobs and instead offer our followers useful links, insights and company updates (when it’s something we feel contributes to our audience and customers).

  • August 14, 2009
    Minnie
    @minja77

    Excellent article, I have HAD it with Spammy tweets!

  • August 15, 2009

    You asked how I have seen businesses use twitter effectively. I would like to point to @starbucks. They offered a twitter coupon for a free cup of coffee and pastry a while back. The only proof to receive the products with the production of the tweet or (i think) you could go to their website and print out a coupon. However, I believe Starbucks notified the franchisee and they knew what to expect. So, offering coupons through twitter is most effective, particularly if you use a particular brand and I tend to follow companies whose products I use.

  • December 16, 2009

    Twitter has to be treated like a business networking event or social. You have to listen to other convesations first, exchange some small talk, establish relationships, know when, what, and how much to say, create relevant and appropriate business conversations and add value first. Then after you’ve established credibility and helped others you can occassionally talk about your business- even promote it. Just do it tactfully and mind your manners.

  • January 19, 2010

    Excellent information, im new to twitter! :-)

  • January 25, 2010

    Thanks Darren Rowse really it’s very nice, Interesting, Helpful and Excellent article. Really it’s very Good thanks again to tell us about the secrets of people’s nature.

  • March 6, 2010

    As a matter of fact willingness to give will bring more fervent followers for you on Twitter who are going to remember you and may even buy from you, but focusing on sale will not make you friends who may buy one day.

  • December 13, 2010

    Hi,

    Thanks. We are doing mistake

    4. Don’t repeat the same message

    We have to rectify that. But all points are very useful for twitters.

    Thanks,
    Mani

  • January 11, 2011

    Really helpful post. Our company is starting to get in very deep with Twitter. The main point you make about building a relationship seems obvious but is constantly overlooked. Too often Twitter users just send out self-promotion after self-promotion because it is a free service. If building a relationship with your followers by showing them you are an authority with a personality you will will realise the potential of Twitter. Thanks again for the post and the high quality comments!

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