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The SmallBusiness.com WIKI Guide to Twitter is a collaborative project created by users of the SmallBusiness.com WIKI. It provides an overview of basics related to this topic. Find more guides at The SmallBusiness.com WIKI Guides Hub.
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Twitter is a free social networking and micro-blogging service that allows users to send "updates" (or "tweets"; text-based posts, up to 140 characters long) to the Twitter website, via short message service (SMS), instant messaging, or a third-party application like Facebook.

Updates are displayed on the user's profile page and instantly delivered to other users who have signed up to receive them. The sender can restrict delivery to those in his or her circle of friends (delivery to everyone is the default). Users can receive updates via the Twitter website, instant messaging, SMS, RSS, email or through an application.

Small Business Uses of Twitter

Like blogs, Twitter and other micro-blogging services allow a small business to distribute messages and information to any audience who wants to subscribe (on Twitter, this is called "following.") As "followers" (for example, your employees) can "unfollow" you with a click, it is important that you learn the type of messaging your audience desires.

And in some cases, you may want to provide multiple Twitter accounts for various types of messages. For example, some customers may want to sign up for special announcements related to sales or marked-down items. Other customers may want not be interested in sales, but may want to be alerted whenever you offer a special educational program.

Getting Started With Twitter

The first step is to create a Twitter account. If you're wanting to promote your brand, feel free to use it as your username. However, stay away from names that are overly spammy. For example, "free_ebook_4success" is probably not a good choice. If your brand isn't suitable, then go with your real name or a persona (fake name).

After you create your account, fill out your Profile settings. It's important to add an avatar (profile image), enter a URL for your website and also a brief description about yourself. That will let people know that you're a real person and will increase the chances of getting people to follow you.

Now you're ready to go! However, don't get too excited and start promoting your products. Twitter is about conversations, not shameless self-promotion. There is a sociological and psychological approach that must be adhered to in order to market successfully through this medium. Marketing via Twitter is what I would call Indirect Marketing. With Twitter, you participate in a community, and as you gain trust and contribute to that community, they will in turn show an interest in what you do.

Best practices for using Twitter for small business marketing

Twitter's small business website provides the following advice for the best way to use the service for marketing purposes[1]

  • Share. Share photos and behind the scenes info about your business. Even better, give a glimpse of developing projects and events. Users come to Twitter to get and share the latest, so give it to them!
  • Listen. Regularly monitor the comments about your company, brand, and products.
  • Ask. Ask questions of your followers to glean valuable insights and show that you are listening.
  • Respond. Respond to compliments and feedback in real time
  • Reward. Tweet updates about special offers, discounts and time-sensitive deals.
  • Demonstrate wider leadership and know-how. Reference articles and links about the bigger picture as it relates to your business.
  • Champion your stakeholders. Retweet and reply publicly to great tweets posted by your followers and customers.
  • Establish the right voice. Twitter users tend to prefer a direct, genuine, and of course, a likable tone from your business, but think about your voice as you Tweet. How do you want your business to appear to the Twitter community?

Twitter Lists

Twitter Lists are a feature introduced by Twitter in November, 2009, that allows users to organize Twitter users into groups that can be categorized in an endless number of ways. As an example, using the SmallBusiness.com Twitter account, [@smallbusiness], SmallBusiness.com's SBTeam can create lists [@smallbusiness/lists] related to small business topics; and other lists of small business owners and managers who use Twitter who promote their businesses.


  1. Twitter.com - Best Practices List from the official Twitter guide for small business.

See also

External links