Twitter for Business Basics (HowTo)

August 20th, 20101:06 pm @


Twitter for Business Basics (HowTo)

Purpose of “Twitter for Business Basics”

Most people understand Facebook and how it can benefit them personally and professionally.  Starting out using Twitter can seem a little more daunting.  But it is worth pursuing as some of the most influential thinkers, industry leaders and famous faces are remarkably accessible via Twitter. We try to uncover some of the mystery and get you “Tweeting” with confidence.

Understanding Twitter

When you post and update to Twitter, it is commonly called a “tweet“.  There is a character limit posed on all updates of 140 characters to encourage you to make updates short, but frequent.

As with many of the Social Networks, by updating regularly and ensuring your updates are interesting, you will build relationships and increase your followers.  Those followers will take an interest in any links to business websites you have included in your profile, and subtle inclusion of business topics in your tweets will also drive traffic.

Twitter also serves as a real time search engine.  It is full of information and is being updated constantly.  You can use the search to mine information on any subject or news item, as it happens.

First Steps

  1. Sign up! It is recommended that you use your own name as your primary Twitter account, rather than a business name or brand name.  Tweeters are far more likely to follow interesting individuals than businesses that may have an agenda.  Alternatively, why not set up more than one account?
    Twitter Help : How to sign up for Twitter
  2. Find interesting people to follow.  Twitter will help you.  Start with people you know already.  Then try to find people who share your interests as you are more likely to be able to connect with them on a personal level.
    Twitter Homepage : Twitter Suggests
  3. Start using Twitter.  Take a look at the examples below for guidelines on tweet formats.  As with any network, post thoughtfully, and encourage others to interact.  If your followers see something of value in your updates, they will re-tweet the update to their own followers, unlocking their network and introducing you to more potential followers.
    Twitter Help : How should I get started using Twitter?

Example Tweets Sent to you

Once you log in to Twitter, your homepage shows you all the tweets that have been sent by the people you follow.  Here are some examples that you might see:

  • A Basic Tweet – ‘I find really helpful for technology reviews’
    This example is a standard tweet that someone you follow might send out to their entire network.  The senders username will always precede the tweet as a link, and by clicking on the link you can access their homepage and find out more about them.
  • A Mention – ‘I find @ScabbyGadgets really helpful for technology reviews’
    This example is similar to the last, but this time it includes a twitter username, ‘@ScabbyGadgets’. The user who is mentioned in the tweet will also see the tweet, regardless of whether they follow the sender.  Usernames are normally preceded by the ‘@’ symbol.
  • A Reply – ‘@GavinAllday I find @ScabbyGadgets really helpful for technology reviews’
    If a tweet starts with the username, it is known as a ‘reply’, and is directed at the person who’s username is at the beginning.  In this example,  the tweet will be seen by GavinAllday as it is addresses to him, but the user ScabbyGadgets will also see the tweet.  The reply will also be seen by anyone who follows both the sender and the recipient.
  • Twitter Direct Message CommandA Retweet – ‘RT @GavinAllday : I find @ScabbyGadgets really helpful for technology reviews’
    These are posts that people thought were worthy of resending to their own followers.  In this example, ‘RT’ stands for re-tweet, and the username @GavinAllday is the person credited for originally sending the tweet.  It is good twitter etiquette to mention the originator of the tweet.  Re-tweets are extremely powerful, and a good post can go viral very quickly.
    This is actually the old way to re-tweet.  You may also see re-tweets preceded by a small grey box with two white arrows in.
  • Twitter Direct Message ButtonA Direct Message – ‘d GavinAllday Thanks for the info.  @ScabbyGadgets looks great’
    A direct message will be seen by the intended recipient and no-one else, and only if the recipient is already following the sender.  They cannot be used to spam people, which is good.
    This is the old format again, with the letter ‘d’ followed by the recipient, but this time without the ‘@’ symbol.
  • Hashtags (#) – ‘I find @ScabbyGadgets really helpful for #technology reviews’
    In this example, we have added a hash (#) symbol to the word technology. The hashtag is a way to group tweets for search purposes.  Twitter is actually a really powerful search engine.  By adding hashtags, the sender ensures that this tweet will show up in relevant searches on that topic.  Sometimes a tweet will list related hashtags at the end of the post.
    Grouping keywords in this way is also known as ‘Trending’.  Take a look at for stats on the most popular hashtags.

Things to try

  • Now that you understand the format a little better, why not follow @ScabbyGadgets and send us your first test messages?
  • If you decide to Reply or Retweet to a tweet you receive, you can use the format shown above, or simply hover over a tweet and click either the Reply or Retweet button when they appear on the right.
  • Why not search on some hashtags?  The search bar is in your sidebar and has the word ‘Search’ in it.  Try some searches that interest you or try one of our favourites, #FollowFriday or #FF for short.  Every Friday, hundreds of people shout out their favourite and most useful tweeters and include the #FollowFriday hashtag.  By searching on #FollowFriday you can see all these suggestions, and maybe find some great people to follow.
  • If you know of someone that has provided great service, why not give them a mention, or even send out a #FollowFriday of your own?
  • Familiarise yourself with the sidebar.  There is lots of info there.  Find out who has mentioned you by clicking your own username.  Find out what retweets have been circulated by clicking the ‘Retweets’ link.
  • Why not group the people you follow into some Lists?  These can be seen by other users, so be careful how you name them or get to know Twitters security settings!
  • Now that you have a Twitter account, tell the world about it.  Go to, a directory of Twitter users and create an entry for free.  Whilst you are there, have a look at the lists of top Tweeters on the homepage, including famous people and some of the most influential Entrepreneurs and Industry leaders in the world.
  • You may be wondering why I have shown you the old formats for some of the Tweet examples.  There are a number of third party applications that help you manage your Social Networks, and some still work on the old formats.  You can also enable Tweeting via text messages from your mobile phone.  In which case, you will need to know the commands to enable certain features.  You will find more info here.
  • Because website links can be so long, and Twitter only allows 140 characters per tweet, it is advisable to use a link shortening service with Twitter.  I highly recommend, and you can find out more about it here.

As you begin using Twitter, don’t try to read or reply to every Tweet.  Simply check in now and then and interact with whatever is going on at the time.

Finally, don’t make the mistake of only tweeting about your business.  People want to get to know you personally before they will trust you professionally.  I have seen it suggested that you keep your updates 30% Personal tweets and observations, 30% links to interesting, pertinent articles and webpages and 30% Business promotion.  This leaves 10% to do what you like – celebrities, trending topics, what you are having for tea etc.  Only joking about the last bit!

Thats it!  We would really appreciate you forwarding this blog post out to anyone who is thinking about tweeting.  Look forward to Tweeting you soon!