Getting Started with Twitter Social Media Marketing
While still relatively new compared to the traditional forms of Internet marketing, social media marketing has taken the business world by storm. It is simply something that businesses can no longer afford to miss out on. Social media marketing refers to marketing via websites such as Twitter, Facebook and many others. These sites are immensely popular with hundreds of millions of users around the world. Twitter, in particular, is well-equipped for social media marketing and almost any company can benefit from it. If your business is serious about succeeding in the highly competitive world of Internet marketing, one of the first things you should do is claim your brand on Twitter, among other websites. The following guide will walk you through the basics of getting started with Twitter marketing.
Claiming Your Brand and Setting up Your Twitter Account
Claiming and protecting your brand or business name on Twitter is something you should do as soon as possible, lest it end up being taken by cyber squatters. Creating a Twitter account costs nothing and the process generally only takes a matter of minutes.
Go to the twitter.com/signup page to begin. Enter your full name or alias followed by your email address and preferred password. The username should be the name of your brand or business. This will be reflected in the web address for your Twitter account as in twitter.com/yourcompanyname. Note that the username can only be a maximum of 15 characters long and it may not contain the words "admin" or "Twitter."
Unless you are using a shared computer, it is generally a good idea to check the box beside "Keep me logged-in on this computer" to save manually logging in every time you visit the site.
Click the "Create my account" button to continue. That is all there is to starting an account.
Customizing Your Twitter Account
Log into your new account and click the icon immediately to the right of the search box and click "Settings." In the menu to the left of the page, click "Design." Here you can customize the appearance of your Twitter page. This will allow you to establish a unique page which suits your business and helps to give your future visitors something to recognize you by. While there is a choice of premade themes to experiment with, a Twitter account for the purposes of Internet marketing should ideally be more uniquely personalized. Alternatively, you can choose from a wider range of thousands of themes by clicking the link "Check out Themeleon."
Under the section "Customize your own," you can customize your own theme from scratch. By clicking "Choose File" beside "Upload Image," you can choose your own background for your Twitter account. Note, however, that the file needs to be no more than 800KB in size. The background image can be designed in such a way that, to the left your Twitter feed, you can have, for example, a list of well-known users of your products or other promotional material. If you wish to place such information in the background image, however, be sure that it forms a sidebar with a maximum width of 108 pixels. This will allow the sidebar to be viewable on the most popular screen resolutions in use today, provided the Twitter website is in a maximized browser window.
Click the "Profile" option in the sidebar. Here you should specify the primary Web address of your business, location and a maximum of 160 characters to briefly describe your company in the "Bio" section. This will appear beneath the username on your Twitter homepage. Make it something active, informative and preferably followed by a call to action.
You should also upload a profile picture by clicking "Choose File" beside "Picture." This should ideally be your company logo.
Finally, you may find it useful to activate the Twitter text messaging service. You can do this by clicking on "Mobile" in the left sidebar, entering your country and phone number and clicking "Activate phone."
What, How and When to Tweet
Now that you've got your Twitter account up and running, it is time to start posting. On Twitter, posting is referred to as "Tweeting" and a post is called a "Tweet."
Twitter is a great platform for providing regular updates about your products, services and website content. You will then be able to share this with your followers and drive more traffic to your blog or website via your Twitter account.
Good starting points for a Twitter post include things such as a new product update, a new blog post or anything else which you feel is worth sharing with your visitors and followers. Some people post on Twitter far too much, however. If you are using Twitter for Internet marketing purposes, try to restrict your posts to those which your potential customers are most likely to find interesting.
One of the main limitations with Twitter posts is that they can only contain a maximum of 140 characters, plus your username. The reason for this is that Twitter is also designed to work with SMS messaging and there is a 160-character limitation for each SMS message. Fortunately, unlike some SMS services, Twitter does support Unicode, so you can write your posts in almost any language or alphabet.
When you want to post a link in a Twitter post, such as a link to a new blog article that the post is advertising, you should use a URL shortener so that you do not reach the 140-character limit so quickly. There are many free URL shortening services available such as bit.ly, tinyurl.com, is.gd and ow.ly. To use any of these services, go to the URL shortener website of your choice and paste the full web address. You will be provided with the shortened version which you can then copy and paste into your Twitter post.
It is also advisable to time your posts so that they get the maximum attention from your followers (more on followers later). Some of the best times to post are at the beginning of the working day, during common lunch breaks or shortly after the end of the working day.
Building up a Following
You have your customized Twitter account and you now know what, how and when to post. However, you won't get very far unless you build up a following, since almost no one will be looking at your Twitter page to begin with. When someone "follows" you on Twitter, it means that they are subscribed to your posts and are more likely to read them regularly.
There are three primary methods of building up a following on Twitter. These include following the Tweets of other members, "re-Tweeting" (sharing other people's posts on your Twitter page and commenting on other people's posts.
Successfully building up a following is all about getting involved in the community. On the Twitter home page, use the search box to search for other Twitter accounts which are similar to your own. For example, if you are marketing a travel-related business, follow other Twitter accounts which discuss travel. On the search results page, you will, by default, see the most popular Tweets, although you can also arrange them by the most recent. To follow someone, click on the username in the search results and click the "Follow" button. That's all there is to it. When you follow other people, they will often follow you as well.
You will be able to view all updates in chronological order on your Twitter homepage. If you want to find out more about a certain user, click on the username. You can also click "Go to full profile" for more information.
You can post a Tweet to users you are following by clicking the icon beside "Following" and clicking "Tweet to @username" where "username" is the name of the account you are following.
Replying to posts and/or sharing them are also major parts of getting involved in the community and building up a following. To do this, move the mouse pointer over the post and click "Reply" to reply to the post or "Retweet" to post it on your own page. If you have other users sharing your tweets, you will quickly build up exposure.