Tweet Tweet! Six Ways to Use Your Business Twitter Account (with Examples)

“When you’ve got 5 minutes to fill, Twitter is a great way to fill 35 minutes.” (Matt Cutts, former head of the webspam team at Google.)

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By Jess Dixon

I’m going to assume you haven’t been living on the moon for the last 14 years and are at least vaguely familiar with the concept of Twitter. This micro-blogging and social networking site launched in 2006 and has 330 million active users worldwide. This means it’s a channel you really can’t afford to ignore.

What you need to understand about Twitter is that it’s not, first and foremost, a platform for making sales. (“What’s the point, then!?” you might be asking. I’m getting there.) Yes, you can advertise products or services sometimes, but if most of your tweets are just variations on “buy our stuff!” you’ll find yourself ignored, muted, or unfollowed. Instead, Twitter is all about having conversations and building relationships. It’s a place where you can put a friendly and approachable face to your brand. If you use it well, it can both get your business in front of new audiences and have a significant impact on how your existing customers see you.

But many small business owners have no idea how to go about using Twitter, with its fast-moving timeline and 280 character post limits, to engage with their target audience in the ways they’d like to. Read on to learn about some of the ways that I, and my clients, have found the most effective in growing our businesses through Twitter.

Ask questions

Twitter, perhaps more than any of the other major social media platforms, is a conversational medium. Its quick-fire nature and bite-size posts make it ideal for back-and-forth dialogue. Asking questions is one of the best ways to get your audience to engage.

Your questions can be related to your business, but they don’t have to be. Anything that people are likely to have an opinion on works (though you should avoid highly controversial or divisive topics! A heated political debate in your mentions is probably not something you want, trust me.)

Here’s an example from Ohh Deer, a stationary subscription box company based in Leicestershire:

Run competitions and giveaways

Everyone loves a freebie, and Twitter is a great platform to run competitions and giveaways. The best way to do this is to announce a prize and a closing date, and then ask people to take an action (such as retweeting the post, tagging a friend, or answering a question) and make sure they’re following you to be in with a chance of winning.

Here’s how Bookends, a co-project run by three publishing houses, recently did it:

Don’t forget to announce the winner on your page, too!

Use your pinned tweet

Your pinned tweet stays at the top of your page until you remove it, rather than getting pushed down the feed as you add more content. It’s the first thing anyone clicking through to your Twitter profile will read. This is valuable space, so make good use of it!

Your pinned tweet could contain an announcement of an exciting upcoming new product or event (your post-COVID reopening date, perhaps!?) You could also use it for a giveaway post like the example above, an FAQ, or an invitation to sign up to your mailing list.

Here’s an example from Spence Bakery in London, who are using their pinned tweet to announce their revised opening hours (and stocks of hard-to-find items!)

Respond to customer queries and feedback

If you build up enough of a following on Twitter, you’ll start getting customer feedback publicly on the platform. Hopefully most of it will be glowing! You might also receive occasional negative feedback, though.

You should respond to both! I’ll tell you why: customer feedback is a gift. If it’s positive, it both gives you a little boost and tells your customer’s friends and followers that your company is awesome. And if it’s negative, being aware of the problem gives you a chance to fix it – and information to help you do better next time.

Here’s an example of a great response to positive customer feedback from beauty blogger and retailer, Beauty and the Boutique:

And here’s a fantastic demonstration of putting things right in the face of a tweeted customer complaint from Totallee, a company that makes mobile phone cases:

Everyone makes mistakes sometimes, but how you respond to them can make or break your business. This is especially true in the very public arena of social media.

Engage on relevant hashtags

A hashtag is a word or phrase preceded by the # sign. Hashtags are clickable and are a quick and easy way to find content on a relevant topic or theme. Engaging with hashtags is a great way to get your content in front of a wider audience.

But be cautious! Twitter recommends no more than two hashtags per tweet. You should also make sure that the hashtags you’re using are really relevant to your content. If not, you’ll be seen as hashtag spamming and this will turn people off!

Look under the “trending” tab on your Twitter app and check out your competition’s feeds to find out which hashtags are currently popular. You can also add generic or evergreen hashtags that are relevant to your content.

#HandmadeHour is a hashtag where artists and creators promote their handmade work. Here’s some examples of how small business owners are using it:

Use polls

Polls are simply multiple choice questions with up to 4 possible answers. They can run for anything from 5 minutes to a week. Polls can be used for information gathering, customer feedback, or A/B testing new product ideas. They can also be used as fun engagement tools and conversation starters in and of themselves.

Here’s an example from Mastro’s Ice Cream, who used a poll to determine what their limited edition summer flavour should be:

Have you used any of these strategies, or come up with any other fun and creative ways to grow your Twitter following and engagement? Tweet me (of course) to let me know, and I might use your ideas in a future article!

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