Jan 21, 2016

Twitter for the Non-Digital Marketer

As of late 2014, only 30% of Australian businesses had a Twitter presence. This means that 70% of businesses have either decided not to join, or will… at some point. And some of them are starting up right now. If you’ve been tasked with the exciting, exhilarating responsibility of handling your business’ Twitter account in addition to your regular job, these pointers can help you get through those first few months.


You’ll need to sign up for a Twitter account, and add your company logo as your profile photo. If you want to be a bit more original, you can use a variation on the logo – maybe your colleagues and yourself holding a placard with your logo (shows personality); a picture of your building, if it’s particularly identifiable (may only work for stadia/Flatiron building/Windsor Castle); or something else. Don’t forget though that most of the time, the image will be tiny, so clarity is important.

The header photo is a large, long image that you can use to showcase your creative talent and the best that your company has to offer. Hubspot shows off some great examples of header photos. However, if your creative talent is best kept under wraps, much like my own, a nice block of colour with a contrasting image (logo/product/business tagline) works well.

You also need to fill in the small Bio section, your whereabouts, and your company website.


In Twitter terms, when you ‘follow’ someone it means that their tweets will start showing up in your ‘feed’. This works like a live news feed, with most recent comments up the top, and older ones further down as you scroll. Most people read Twitter from their own news feeds, but on occasion (such as discovering a new account), a user might visit your profile. This profile page lists all your tweets, shows your header photo, profile pic and About Us section, and gives the user multiple options associated with your account (follow/unfollow/see all images and videos/look at tweets and replies, as well as just tweets).

Finding who to follow is the first step to actually getting followers yourself. It works like this – you research and follow brands and people related to your business, and those brands and people may follow you back. Once you start engaging with them, other people will see that you’re online, and will follow you. You may discover that you want to follow them back, and on and on it goes.

Following a user does not always mean that they will follow you back, just as you may not want to follow everyone who follows you. Be wary of spam accounts – if they follow you, it’s best to block them. They’re normally fairly obvious:

Spammy followers won't contribute to your Twitter success

By the way, I’d heavily recommend against buying followers on any social media account. For starters, they’re routinely deleted en masse by the platforms themselves, so any cachet you may have credited yourself with will plummet; but secondly, it’s about engagement – talking to people, answering questions, communicating as you would in real life – and #Get_10000_Followers won’t present any real return on investment (ROI).

But sometimes it’s hard to know where to start in terms of you should actually follow. I’d recommend starting small, then broadening.

  1. If your colleagues are tweeting in a professional capacity from their own accounts, follow them and add them to a list. A list will show a subset of your feed, only featuring the users who are in that list. You can retweet their content, showcase any photos they take when they’re out and about (on work business, of course), or just use their tweets to fuel your own ideas for content.
  1. Follow other brands related to your company. Suppliers, clients, contractors, partners, and competitors could be either advocates for your brand, or potential sources of content! Check out the accounts that they’re following as well – it’s likely that you’re looking for similar types of users.
  1. From here, see if any of the brands and people you’ve followed already have either created their own lists, or are following others. For example, a rival restaurant may have created a list of food critics. You can look at this list, and follow every account that’s listed there, without having to search through all their tweets. Liza de Guia is a food writer in New York, and here she’s made a list of local food media identities.
  1. Particularly if you’re a small business, following other businesses in your locality can help promote both a sense of community, as well as alert you to any business opportunities within your area.
  1. Depending on your business, you may want to follow media as well – magazines and blogs about your industry; news outlets who service your area; local radio; forums, etc.
  1. Lastly, using Twitter’s advanced search, you can type in words around your product and service and find accounts that either have those words in their bio, or have tweeted about the product/service recently.



Before you even start tweeting, it’s best that you get a social media policy in place and signed off. It’s important to have discussions with relevant stakeholders about the many possibilities inherent in social media – how will you react when a customer complains? Are there privacy issues involved in tracking a client’s order in such a public setting? Is it okay for the Twitter account to talk to the media on the business’ behalf?


Think about how the business is going to come across on Twitter – it might help if you give your Twitter account a persona. What does your business represent IRL (in real life)? Are you conservative? Full of excitement? (That could be hard to keep up…) New, young, and hip? This is the place you should be tweeting from – if your business was a person, who would it be?


Replying to people who take the time out of their day to ‘talk’ to you is not only good etiquette, but it can also reflect on your customer service. At this early stage, you’re likely to get a lot of tweets or direct messages simply saying ‘Thanks for following’. This can feel spammy, but unless you’re sure, it doesn’t hurt to send a friendly smile and tweet back. That could be a future customer!


Sharing posts (retweeting) is a good way to create some action on your account, but it’s better if you can add something of your own to the post. If you share a post without commenting on it, your followers may not get much value from it. Your own point of view improves engagement.

According to Social Media Examiner, including a photo in a tweet can boost retweets by up to 35%, and adding a video can result in a 28% boost. Keep it relevant, but it’s a nice tip if you’ve got the content.


One of the hardest things to get right on Twitter is finding content to keep it interesting. If you don’t naturally engage in the customer/client-friendly banter that marks the best Twitter accounts, you’ll likely be floundering for fascinating things to say. And while there are some great ways to find content (Google Alerts; reworked blogs; Feedly; LinkedIn), remember that Twitter is a bit like going to a barbecue. You can’t just walk up to a group of people already having a conversation and yell “Buy this lawn mower/software package/manicure deal!” You need to establish an identity – let your followers get to know you as a brand; talk to them about what they’re talking about; have a conversation. Eventually, they’ll learn to trust what you say, and you’ll be able to interject, when appropriate, that you happen to sell the best lawn mower in the world, so they should probably pop over to your website to check it out.


Scheduling your tweets is a great way to structure your Twitter time (which can be important when you’re doing it on top of your normal work); plus, you get real insight into what’s working and what’s not.  Only about 46% of all Twitter users log on daily, so it’s likely that many people are missing your posts. If you use scheduling, you can set it up so that your tweets are reposted automatically throughout the day.

There are lots of different programs that you can use to schedule your tweets. Hootsuite, for example, ensures your tweets are optimised for the highest possible visibility at Twitter’s peak times. It also displays a column that shows you the people who have asked you a question, so you can just reply to them in there if you like.


Finally, set yourself some goals, and start measuring your performance. Example goals might be as below:
•    Follow 10 people (daily)
•    Reply to everyone who @’s you (daily)
•    Post 2 tweets (per day) and schedule 2 for the next month (per day) (so you can start forward planning)
•    Include at least one link in your Twitter posts per day from an article or a blog post that you’ve found valuable (daily)
•    Make sure you add your own comment to at least every second retweet (a retweet doesn’t count as one of your two daily tweets – they’re extras :)!) 
You can also use Twitter’s own Analytics software (free) to gain insights into your followers, and what they find interesting – and don’t forget to keep an eye out for Twitter in the referrers to your own website!



Tweets are 140 characters. When you put the @ sign in front of someone’s username, it comes up as a notification for them. You don’t have to shorten links – Twitter will do that for you automatically.

Tag People

By inserting “@” in front of someone’s twitter name you can mention them in a tweet


Reply to a tweet by selecting the “reply” button below someone’s tweet. Your reply will then appear under the “Tweets & replies” section of your profile.
When you reply to someone, you just put the @ symbol. This communication will only be seen by you, the person you tweeted, and other people who follow both of you. However if you want everyone else to read it too, you have to put a spare character at the start of your tweet - most people use a full stop, so it looks like .@twitter-name Then everyone who follows you can see it (plus, the person you tweeted will get a notification just the same)


To re-tweet is to re-post a tweet onto your own profile. I’d recommend adding additional comments, so there are generally two options to retweet. Use the one that lets you add in your own comment – that way you’re giving more value to your followers by giving your opinion as well.

Direct message

This function can be used to send a private message to another Twitter account, provided they follow you.


Search through Twitter accounts and hashtags with the search bar in the top right hand corner of the home page.

Advanced Search

With advanced search you can further narrow down your search and scroll through trends, accounts, photos, videos etc. Search for keywords here and follow people or respond to conversations.


Twitter accounts that view your tweets on their dashboard.


Twitter accounts whose tweets you view on your dashboard.


Selecting the star icon below a tweet allows you to “favourite” it. Your favourite tweets then appear below “favourites” on your profile page. They’re similar to Facebook ‘likes’.


You can separate various people who you follow into groups eg.) clients, partners, influencers. This makes it easy to see the tweets of everyone in that list


Tag keywords by putting the ‘#’ in front of the word, making it searchable when clicked. Popular hashtags become “trending topics” featured on the far right hand bar

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