Twitter 101

Posted in For Geeks Only

Everyone on the Internet has probably either used or at least heard of Twitter. For those unfamiliar with the site, Twitter is a microblogging service that lets you answer the question “what’s happening?” in 140 characters or less. The popularity of the site has surged over the last couple of years and it has become one of the most popular social networking communities on the Internet.

Twitter is used for a lot more than just answering the “what’s happening?” question. Social media savvy businesses the world over have turned Twitter into both an effective marketing tool and a customer service platform.

Before you begin promoting your business on Twitter there are a few things you need to be aware of. First, it is important that you spend some time looking around the site and following people or other businesses that interest you. Do not just hop on Twitter and start sending out hundreds of tweets or you will be looked at as a spammer and your microblogging marketing career will be short lived.

Another important thing to remember about Twitter is that it is not just a platform to get your message out to your customers; it is a way to communicate with them. If you are not looking to interact in this way you might as well stick to traditional forms of marketing and email. Businesses like FedEx understand the value of Twitter and I have personally received a response from them a couple of times for messages I have sent. I thought this was great customer service and is the reason I prefer FedEx over other carriers when having items shipped.

So, how do you get followers on Twitter? After all your efforts will be wasted if there is nobody reading what you tweet. To get followers put links to you Twitter account on your website, business cards, and other marketing materials. Get the word out that your business is now on Twitter any way you can. It is also a good idea to offer exclusive deals to people who follow you, this will provide an incentive to follow you as well as a reward for doing so.

There are many tools available to help you manage your Twitter account. The Twitter site itself is easy to use but will quickly become inadequate if you are using it a great deal. There are several third party applications that provide additional functionality such as analytics and scheduled tweets that will make your life much easier. Some of the more popular ones are:

TweetDeck is one of, if not the most popular Twitter application available. It is written in Adobe Air and therefore is compatible with whichever operating system you are running.

HootSuite allows you to manage multiple social networking accounts in addition to Twitter such as Facebook Fan pages. Another great feature is the ability to share your blog’s RSS feed so that you automatically send a message via Twitter when you have a new blog post.

Tweetie is a very popular app for the iPhone or iPad. Tweetie is great for keeping tabs on Twitter while you are out and about.

These are just a few of the more popular apps available, there are many more on almost any platform you can think of. You will need to try them out and see which one works best for you and your organization.

Twitter is all about engaging customers and generating leads and sales for your business. Once you have built up your followers you will have the opportunity to interact with potential clients who are interested in what you have to say and offer. The Internet has basically changed the way we do just about everything, to be successful you must be willing to investigate and try new things.