Twitter for Business

Recently I gave a talk about how to use Twitter in business. Ever one to recycle, I thought the abridged notes might be of interest. 

First thing I did though was read part of Dorky Mum’s brilliant Twitter Is like… post.

Why tweet?

  • Twitter can be the easiest kind of networking you’ll ever do.
  • Twitter can be the quickest source of information.
  • Twitter helps you with market research.
  • Twitter is human.

But first things first. How do you get started?

Go to and sign in. Create a profile and have a look around.

If you’re familiar with Facebook, forget all you know – Twitter is nothing like Facebook.

Twitter is like a flowing river of chat – you don’t have to read everything. In fact, you’d quickly go mad if you tried to. And, to a certain extent, you can be fairly relaxed about what you say and do as it’ll have flowed away before too long.

Obviously – follow the rules of real life online too – tell the truth and play nice.

Take time to have a look around – follow some people (Everyone follows king of tweeters Stephen Fry) –  but what you do is not binding, you can unfollow people whenever you like.

Experiment. Try searching for some things you’re interested in. Look for your friends and say hello. If someone follows you – if you like the look of them, follow back.

Have a look at people like you and people you like. What are they doing? How do they look?

About now, you’ll decide that you probably need to do something about your Twitter profile. Please upload a photo of yourself that looks like you.  For two reasons – Twitter is the interaction of people therefore knowing what the person looks like helps. And if you do meet them in real life, they’ll know who you are and vice versa. I very much dislike talking to people on twitter if they only have a logo – or worse still, the generic twitter bird logo.

Then fill in a few words of profile. It takes a few goes to get this right. Explain what you do but – above all – be a real person.

So once you’ve got a profile and a few people to follow. What next?

Search for yourself and your business. You might be surprised – hopefully you’ll find positive feedback, but if you don’t you have the chance to talk directly to someone doing the complaining.

Search for your competitors. What are they doing? Can you do it better?

Search key words and terms. Is someone talking about your specialism? Do they want something you can help with? Are they talking about something you need to know?

Search other relevant things – I imagine Three SistersBake will also search for “Quarriers”. They might find someone asking if there’s somewhere you can get a cup of tea near the cycle path.
What are you going to tweet about?

By all means tell Twitter what your business offers – but not all that often. People will very quickly get fed up with it.

Tweet about new things in your business. ‘I’ve just created a new rhubarb and custard inspired wedding cake’. You can tweet pictures – ‘Look at this wonderful cake I’ve created’.

Tweet about your industry – “What do you think of government measures to increase the tax on marzipan?”

Offer your special knowledge generously and for free – what goes around comes around. For example – does anyone want our fool-proof Christmas cake recipe?

You don’t need to limit yourself to business related tweets either. “Did anyone see X Factor last night?” “It’s pouring down here, when’s it going to stop?” Think about that extra room full of people you’d like to talk to. What might you say to them?

Here are some dos and don’ts:

  • Do – be genuine. Try to talk in as human a way as possible. Remember it’s a wee tweet in a flowing river, don’t get knotted up about it.
  • Do – be legal, decent, honest and truthful. It’s useful to apply the ‘would I say this to the person’s face?’ test. If you aren’t sure – don’t do it.
  • Don’t – tweet while angry or drunk.
  • Do tweet regularly, but not too frequently – you’ll find your pace. If you’re not sure aim for two or three tweets a day. If you’re too busy to do this, you can use a programme like tweet you later to schedule your tweets.
  • Do – check regularly for responses, people taking to or about you and respond.
  • Do – follow people back. Generally it’s a good idea.
  • Don’t – link your tweets to your Facebook or linked in profile. They are different things should be used differently. Be careful if your twitter feed appears on your website too.
  • Do – use hashtags. A hashtag is a way of catching all the tweets and twitter conversations on a certain subject. It’s an easy way of fishing the tweets you want to follow from the twitter stream. For example an event like this might use #business&bagel, during a game of sport or tv show, you’ll find tweets on a subject by searching the hashtag #oldfirm or #xfactor, say. It means you can see what people you don’t directly follow are saying.
  • Do – use lists. Once again it helps you find what or who you want quickly. You can create lists of people under a certain topic. For example you could create a bagels and business list. You can also follow other people’s lists – does a competitor have a list of industry people they are interested in? Then you can follow that list too.
  • Do – listen as much as you talk. More than even. Reply to other people – answer their questions.
  • Do – be generous. Share things you like, recommendations and kind words. It goes a long way.
  • Do – be nosey. Use twitter to see what people you’re interested in are saying, what they are posting. Talk to them if you want to get to know them.
  • Don’t – be a stalker. Don’t bombard one person.
  • Do – delegate if you’re too busy. But make it clear which human being is talking, better still start twitter accounts for each person in your organisation.
  • Do – talk privately. Use the Direct message – DM – facility to talk privately when you need to.
  • Do – let people know what’s new – have you written a new blog post or offered a new service for example.
  • Don’t – hesitate to block and report people. Spammers and idiots are a pain for everyone, just get rid of them.
  • Don’t – be miffed if no one replies to you. There are a lot of tweets out there. Have another couple of goes and if it doesn’t work maybe you’re not saying something that‘s engaging people.

The last one – above all 
  • Do relax and have fun – once you get the hang of it, it’ll be the easiest kind of networking you’ve ever done.

If you want some one-to-one advice about how to set up and run Twitter for your business drop me a line, @ellen27 or
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  1. says

    Good post, Ellen.

    Can I add one suggestion under your “don'ts” column?

    Don't engage endlessly on Twitter in a response and answer exchange with one person. It's OK for a couple of Tweets but, generally, I go to Direct Tweeting if, for example, you and I were discussing the merits, or otherwise of marzipan.

    Hope this might be useful.

  2. says

    It was you who got me into Twitter and it has definitely increased the interest in my blog. I think it needs to come with a time wasting warning! I love the comprehensive outlook and new look here!

  3. says

    This is a highly informative post, Ellen. Thank you. I am also really enjoying your unputdownable book, Blogging for Happiness. Call me nosey, but I particularly like the autobiographical snippets!

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