Insightly Insider presents: Tweet it up! Tips for Using Twitter to Grow Your Business

Twitter is hugely popular, and can be an incredibly helpful tool to leverage when trying to grow your business. But getting started can definitely be intimidating. Who wants to look like a total newbie in front of a gazillion people? Well, getting started doesn’t have to be a nerve-wracking endeavor. And even better news, adding Twitter to your marketing toolkit doesn’t have to add a lot of time to your already overly-packed work week.

Hi everyone! I’m Jess, and I’m a member of the Customer Success team here at Insightly. Prior to joining Insightly, I’ve held marketing roles at various startups, including VerticalResponse, Mindjet, and Zendesk. I’ve used Twitter to help those companies get more followers, create and find content that engages those followers, and network with thought leaders in their respective industries. I’m really excited to spend the next 60 minutes with you and share my tips for getting the most out of the time you spend on Twitter - and answer your questions, too. You can post those questions as comments below (don’t forget to login!). And if you’ve got an ace Twitter tip up your sleeve, don’t keep it to yourself - I’d love to hear what works for you!

 

Part I: Get Started

I’m sure you’ve all heard that Lao Tzu quote, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”. Well, the journey of a thousand tweets begins with signing up for a Twitter account! Similar to signing up for any other online account, you just need to fill out a few fields and you’ll be off to the races. If you’re going to be using this Twitter account to promote your business (and I hope you do), you’ll want to choose an appropriate user name for it, as that’s what people will see when you tweet and are retweeted. So, save “Princess23683” for your personal account, and choose either your business name, or something related to your business.

PRO TIP: when you create your account, make sure you upload a profile picture, too. If you don’t, Twitter will display an image of an egg by default, and it will give others the impression that you’re not really invested in Twitter - and you’ll likely see less engagement as a result. Not to mention the fact that it’s a great opportunity to show some character!

Next, you’ll want to follow some folks so that you can see what others are tweeting. Go ahead and search for people you already know and follow them. You can do the same for any thought leaders or experts in your industry. How about celebrities you like? And if you like tips about small business, the customer experience, and customer support, you can even follow me - @jgpierson. And I think we can all agree it’s a no-brainer to follow Insightly, too.

Finally, the last item on your to do list: tweet something! I know, this last part can be a bit scary, but it’s best to just get out there and do it. You can keep it short and sweet, with just a quick, “Hello world - this is my first tweet!”, or you can even be a bit more strategic with something like, “I’m looking forward to learning and sharing tips about (your industry)”.

If you’re looking for more tactical tips here’s a great guide for getting started with Twitter.

 

Part II: Get Organized

If you use Insightly to manage your tasks or projects, you already know that staying organized can help you to get more done faster. Well, the same can be said of your use of Twitter. If you get yourself organized, you’re setting yourself up for social media success.

To stay organized, I use an application called HootSuite to manage my tweets, and it’s enabled me to spend just a few hours a week on social media, rather than tens of hours. Here’s how:

1) Rather than scrambling around each day to figure out what I want to tweet about, I can use Hootsuite to schedule my tweets in advance. We’ve all had days where we leave the house in the morning expecting our day to go one way, only to arrive at the office to find we need to shift gears and priorities quickly, and tweeting might not make it to the top of your to do list. If you schedule your tweets a week ahead, you can rest assured that you’re still able to engage with your Twitter followers regardless of any fires that pop up.

PRO TIP: I usually schedule a few tweets for each day, with enough space in between so that I can tweet or retweet something on the fly if something inspires me.

2) Both Twitter and Hootsuite allow you to organize the Twitter accounts you follow into groups. On Twitter, they’re called lists, and in HootSuite, you can actually set up a stream for each list so that you see the tweets from folks in that list all grouped together. Here are some examples of streams that I have set up:

  • Insightly: This stream shows what is being tweeted from the Insightly handle, as well as from my Insightly coworkers
  • Customer Support: Here I include thought leaders in the customer support space, as well as support vendors who share great resources, like Zendesk
  • Small Business: This stream includes small business thought leaders, media sites like Entrepreneur or Lifehacker, and vendors who share useful tips and tricks for small businesses, like Xero and MailChimp
  • Just for Fun: Just as the name implies, this stream has absolutely nothing to do with my professional life, and includes the accounts of celebrities, sports teams, my friends, and even funny animal photos that I follow

Once these streams are set up, it’s incredibly easy to find content to retweet, as you don’t have to search through a bunch of fun tweets to try to find the more serious, business-related items you want to retweet. And similarly, if you’re having a rough day, you can go straight to your “Fun” stream to find something to brighten your day a bit.

PRO TIP: You can even set up a stream to group your customers or prospects together. This can prove really valuable if you want to help them promote their businesses, or just to learn what’s on their minds before you call them.

 

Part III: Get Engaged

So, you’ve got a Twitter account set up, and all of the folks you follow in lists or streams so they’re easy to find - what now? Now it’s time to get engaged - to tweet, retweet, and hopefully be retweeted yourself.

Here are some ideas about what to tweet to help you get started:

  • News that’s relevant to your industry: you can either retweet someone else, or share your thoughts on the topic
  • Milestones: if you’ve got something to celebrate, tweet about it! Your company’s anniversary, hitting 1,000 customers, shipping your 500th product - these are all great reasons to make some noise!
  • Blog posts: if your company’s got a blog, go ahead and schedule a tweet or two every time you publish a post. You can continue to tweet about older posts, too.
  • Upcoming industry events you’re attending: this is a great way to network before you get to the event, and even make plans to meet up with folks IRL (in real life) who you’ve only connected with online before.
  • Career opportunities: Are you looking to expand your team? Tweet about it! Just keep in mind that Twitter is global, so be sure to include the location if the position isn’t remote.
  • Ask for help: Is there a business problem that’s keeping you up at night? Turn to Twitter for answers! You can tweet something like, “Help! I need an AWESOME business proposal template - do you have one you love?”
  • Looking for more ideas? Sprout Social shares some great options in this blog post.

Dos and Don’ts

Do spell check before scheduling or sending a tweet out; while Twitter is still a very casual way to communicate, if you’re using it to promote your business, you want to put your best foot forward.

Do give more than you receive. You know that guy at a party who you start talking to who only talks about himself? He’s not really someone you want to stay in contact with. The same holds true for Twitter. So, I use the rule of 3; for every 1 tweet about my company, I schedule 2-3 tweets about other things.

Don’t tweet about controversial topics. Thinking back to that party, any topics that you’d steer away from in polite casual conversation should also be avoided when promoting your business on Twitter. So save the discussion of religion, politics, or any topics that are not safe for work for your personal account, or direct messages with your buddies.

Do have some fun with it. Twitter accounts that only tweet about business can be very informative, but also really one dimensional, and you’re far more interesting than that. Retweet things that you find funny or inspirational, or something that you’re passionate about. I love animals, so in addition to tweets about small business and the customer experience, you’ll also see goats, sloths, and other animal pictures if you follow me. Not only does it let your personality shine through, it gives your followers more opportunity to engage with you.

Do retweet folks who are influential in your industry. Not only does it help position you as a thought leader, too, but you might even find that those influential people start to retweet you, too, giving your tweets even more reach.

 

In conclusion

It’s absolutely normal to be a bit nervous about getting started with Twitter, but when you break it down into small, actionable steps, you’ll find that social media success is well within your reach. Here’s a recap of a few tips to get you started:

Here’s a recap of a few tips to get you started:

  1. Sign up for a Twitter account (and don’t forget to upload a profile picture!)
  2. Send out your first tweet
  3. Use Twitter lists or HootSuite streams to get yourself organized, and schedule tweets out ahead of time
  4. Be a giver: tweet about others more than you tweet about yourself
  5. Don’t miss an opportunity to use Twitter to promote your business; milestones, blog posts, even cries for business help are all great things to tweet about
  6. Have some fun with it, and make sure your personality shines through

 

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Comments

37 comments
  • Hi Brenda & Jessica,

    I would love to be part of the discussion though am unavailable all day today. Can you send a link to the discussion to read afterwards...maybe I am now part of the discussion thread...?

    Looking forward to this.

    In the meantime, here are a few questions:

    1. I have a couple of Twitter names (handles?). Both have my name in it though not my company. Is there some 'rule of thumb' on choosing a twitter handle

    2. Would you tweet the same info you are putting on say for example LinkedIn and/or your website or use twitter to draw attention to these items?

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  • I would like the answer to Melissa's 2nd question as well! I'm also wondering how to get more followers, especially because we are B2B.

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  • Hi Melissa & Jessica - Fantastic questions! Jess will be here, live very shortly to answer them. :) Look out for more great Twitter tips from Jess throughout the hour starting at 9am PT!

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  • Hey everyone, it's Jess. I'm so excited to be here chatting with you guys about Twitter today!

     

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  • Hi, Melissa and Jessica - those are great questions!

    1) My recommendation is to use or include your business name somehow in your Twitter handle - that way, if someone is searching for your business on Twitter by name, they can easily find you. And it's totally okay to have say, one handle for personal use, and another for your business. 

    2) That's exactly what I would do - you can share the same content on Twitter as you do on LinkedIn or on your website, but use Twitter as the vehicle to drive more traffic to that content (a blog post, for example). And if you use Hootsuite, you can actually schedule your tweets and LinkedIn updates at the same time - which makes things super easy.

     

     

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  • Hi Jessica,

    Twitter is new to me. Do I need to pay to have a professional headshot taken for my profile picture?

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  • Hi Jessica - thanks for your question!

    There are a lot of services out there that promise to gain you Twitter followers for a cost, and like other things that sound too good to be true, this one definitely is. Generally these aren't real people, so you won't see much engagement, or any benefit to your business by going down this road.

    The key to getting more followers in my mind is really engagement. Join the conversation on Twitter: comment on someone else's tweets, retweet content you find helpful or interesting (and add your two cents!), and make sure you're promoting your Twitter account in all of your makreting communications (newsletters, your email signature, your website, etc.). 

    Another great way is to join Twitter chats. A Twitter chat is similar to what we're doing here: it's scheduled for a specific day and time, and usually about a specific topic. The main difference is that it happens on Twitter instead of in the Insightly help center. Here's a great blog post with more details if you're interested in giving it a shot.

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  • Thanks Jess!

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  • Hi Bengt!

    Thanks for your question :-)

    You don't need to have a professional head shot taken by any means; after all, your profile photo isn't that big, so the resolution isn't so critical.

    However, you do want to make sure that you look professional in your profile picture if you're using that Twitter account to promote your business. I'd suggest saving say, the photo from last weekend's party for your personal Facebook account, and choose a photo where you look friendly and approachable - someone you'd want to do business with.

    Even better? You can use your company logo as the profile picture!

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  • You're very welcome, Jessica :-)

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  • Hi everyone - Part II of Jess' tips, "Learn how to use Twitter to grow your business" has just been posted. Please refresh your screen if you don't see them. Part III will be going up shortly!

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  • Hello Jess,

    We’re a small company and resources are tight - are there any free tools that do what Hootsuite does?

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  • This is really helpful! Is there any etiquette around how to retweet someone?

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  • Hi Lily - 

    I definitely understand where you're coming from. If it makes you feel any better, I think companies of all sizes struggle with the idea of paying out of pocket for a tool before they know how helpful it will be.

    The great news is that Hootsuite actually has a pretty robust free version - that's what I use, and it works like a dream! You can check out their various plans here.

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  • Hi Wendy!

    This is a great point - if you're promoting your business on Twitter, you definitely want to make sure that you're interacting with folks in the kindest way possible. 

    My rule of thumb is to do two things:

    1) Give credit where credit is due: if you're tweeting about a blog post or article that someone else wrote, and you can find their Twitter handle, be sure to mention them in your tweet. This can be as simple as adding "via @twitterhandle" at the end of your tweet. Sure, it uses up some of that precious character count, but in the end, the kindness is worth it.

    2) Add some value: sure, you can just hit "retweet" and post exactly what they posted. But what's even better is to read the blog post or article that they're pointing to, and add your own comment or spin to it. That shows that you actually took the time to read what they've written rather than just blindly retweeting.

    Hope that helps!

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  • Great! Thank you!

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  • Happy to help, Lily!

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  • Good to know. :) Happy Tweeting!

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  • Can the people I have in Twitter lists see that I’ve put them in a list, and what is that list called?

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  • Thanks, Wendy - happy tweeting to you, too :-)

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  • Here's a fun fact: Did you know that Jessica is recognized as one of the “Top 50 Contact Center Thought Leaders on Twitter” by ICMI. :)

    Keep those questions for Jess coming!

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  • Hi Humphrey - 

    Thanks for joining us today!

    By default, Twitter lists are public, which means that others can see them. However, you have an option when you create a list to make it private, and then the list would only be accessible to you.

    Twitter has a great help center, and an article all about Lists that's really helpful - you can find it here if you'd like to learn more.

     

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  • Part III is up - Be sure and check out Jess' useful Do's and Don'ts!

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  • One last question? -- What’s the best way to compose a Tweet? Sometimes I’ve got to try a few times before getting the character count right.

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  • Hi Bengt - 

    That's a good question: there's nothing more frustrating than writing the perfect tweet, only to find it's far too long to post!

    I like to use a Google doc or Word document to write my tweets; that way, I can get the character count before I try to send it out. It's really easy to edit it and play around with the wording, not to mention that you can also do a quick spell check.

    One quick way to decrease your character count is to use a link shortener. So, instead of using the long link above to promote this session, I could use something like "http://bit.ly/2a9FEz1". I like to use bi.ly for this, but you can do a Google search for "link shortener" to find others.

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  • Please post your last Twitter questions for Jess. We're at the final 10 minutes of her online discussion. Thanks!

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  • Sorry to join so late. I've got 2 quick ones -- How often should I tweet and should I follow back everyone who starts following me?

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  • I learned a lot here. Thank you for hosting.

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  • Thanks Jess, this was very informative.

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  • No worries, at all, Miles - so glad you could join us!

    How often you should tweet is absolutely up to you! I usually recommend to walk before you run - schedule one or two tweets a day for the first week, and see how it goes. Then you can build from there. I generally do anywhere from 3-7 tweets per day, and see a fair amount of engagement. But the key here is making sure you're not just tweeting to tweet - tweet when you have good content to share. 

    And keep in mind that the lifespan of a tweet is super short, given that there are so many people tweeting at any given time, So if you're scheduling a tweet for this Wednesday morning, go ahead and schedule it to go out again in a week or two. 

    As for who to follow, you definitely don't need to follow everyone that follows you. When I get a notification that I have a new follower, I take a peek at their account, and check to see if the things they tweet about are important to me. If not, it's totally okay not to follow someone back.

     

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