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Twitter 101

Okay, so as the title implies, I'm not going to cover every single aspect of Twitter in one post. Twitter has blossomed into a massive platform that's used for dozens of different reasons for countless different groups and communities. You'd have a book-length how-to guide on your hands if I tried to cover everything! No, I'm going to cut this up into two or three posts and give you important stuff - the stuff that relates to your company.

Twitter is a very complex platform that is used by companies, social media influencers and average Joes alike. From being able to follow and connect with businessmen and women across the globe to having the opportunity to chat one-on-one with clients of your business, Twitter is an excellent tool for companies big and small to utilize.

I've discussed in the past how it's important for companies and individuals alike to take advantage of social media. So hopefully you've gone ahead and signed up for the bigwig sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn since then!

Now that you're all set up on these sites... what now? How do you know what content to put out or who you should follow?

Have no fear! We're about to cover the basics of using Twitter for business:

What's the culture of Twitter?

This may not be a question you've asked yourself yet, but it's an important one. Each social media site has its own purposes, culture and users. If you're a photo-loving fiend who documents your travels for a living, you wouldn't turn to LinkedIn to promote your latest blog post.

Twitter is a place with many microcultures. There are writing communities, blogging communities and aspiring artists looking to share their work. In addition, many turn to Twitter for personal reasons. Many like to simply check out the news, share their opinions and post about life experiences. Twitter users come from all walks of life and use the platform for a number of reasons - this means that you have a wide, diverse audience to work with.

It's worth noting that companies on Twitter have become more "friendly" with their customers. It's become the norm to interact with users one-on-one by replying to tweets they've sent that mention your company, or by responding to tweets that they've written in response to one of your tweets. Twitter allows for company-customer interactions that we've never quite seen before.

This also means that many companies use Twitter as a means of addressing customer service issues. Airlines reply to tweets describing a bad flight with them or even to allay fan fears over upcoming movies. Bottom line - don't be afraid to speak with customers online! Even if a customer service problem has to be addressed in more detail over email or direct message, that initial, public response will do wonders for your brand.

Keep all this in mind as you become more active on Twitter. It's a balancing act between keeping the company brand consistent in each post, while also making your company approachable and appearing competent.

Who should I follow?

This can be a tough one. Who do you follow? This is a business-oriented account, so you can't just follow your favorite celebs or the local news.

Your best course of action is to follow like-minded businesses! If you're a small coffee shop, follow the bigwig coffee shops like Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts.

Be sure to allow follow other accounts that are simply relevant to your field. Follow the coffee brands that you use in your store, like Folgers and Nescafe. If store-brand coffee is your shop's go-to, follow that supermarket chain (and who knows? That could be a good way to lay some groundwork for a partnership in the future). And if you use a Keurig, hey, follow their account too!

The important thing to remember is brand consistency. Everything has to have a theme, a focus. If you look too disorganized, even if it's just following account that interest you as an individual instead of accounts that make sense for the company, the company brand will appear confused and sloppy.

What content should I be putting out?

Content is the most important part of Twitter. Now that you know the overall tone of the website and what people you should be engaging with, it's time to make your account come to life.

Of course, the most important thing to keep in mind is to keep content relevant. It may be tempting to retweet posts from famous people or let your personal feelings out. Don't fall into this trap! Many a business and celebrity have fallen from grace by posting without thinking, or valuing likes and shock value over quality content. Being irresponsible on social media is a surefire way to kill your company's brand.

Make sure that your content relates to your company, while also being fun or interesting. If you run a company blog, be sure to constantly push new posts on Twitter. Be your own advertiser! Not only will it let get a foot into the blogging community, but it'll grow your readership and increase traffic to your website.

Think about your company brand for a minute. If you're a fun and family-friendly restaurant, your tweets should be fun and family-friendly, too! Post pictures of happy families at your restaurant, put up coupon codes and announce sales. Your posts will be very different than, say, the Twitter of a mysterious fortune teller or a fine restaurant in the heart of a big city. Keep your brand consistent!

And them's the basics! As with most aspects of business, it's a lot of trial-and-error and finding your groove. But if marketing is something that you've been putting on the back burner for a while, don't be afraid to schedule a consultation with me here, and see if we can figure something out!

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