Twitter for Business: The 5-Step Starter Kit

Last October we wrote “Social Media for Business: The 5-Step Starter Kit,” a primer for businesses looking to get started in social media—whether you’re dipping your toes in or jumping right into the pool.

A year later, social media is more important than ever, and our starter steps still hold true: Set a framework for participation, generate good content, promote yourself on Twitter and Facebook, and track your efforts.

Now it’s time to dig a little deeper. Today’s topic: How does a business promote itself on Twitter, anyway?

Our answer?

1. Set up your account.

It sounds obvious, but there’s some prep work required for this step, because you’ll need to know what information to fill in when you create your Twitter account. For example, what’s your corporate profile username going to be—the company name, a slogan or some other combination (and if that name isn’t available on Twitter, an alternate)? Keep in mind that usernames are limited to 15 characters and can’t contain spaces.

What email address will be attached to the account? You’ll need your company or organization bio, and it can only be 160 characters. You’ll also need an icon image to replace the blue-and-white Twitter bird with a max size of 700K.

2. Determine communication standards.

This is the Twitter-specific version of setting a framework for participation. Who is maintaining the account and posting the tweets? How often? What are the guidelines for what can and can’t be said?

3. Determine a link-shortening strategy.

Because of Twitter’s 140 character limit, you’ll first need to shorten the URLs you include in your tweets before you insert them. Some company websites already have short “friendly URLs” for standard pages, such as www.example.com/aboutus. But for long URLs you’ll need to use a shortening tool. There are many out there, so decide which tool will you use, whether it’s Bit.ly, Goo.gl, TinyURL.com, or some other option.

4. Stay engaged and have fun.

The first 3 steps are setup. This is the fun part. Find other users to follow. Retweet interesting posts. Like any other type of organizational communication, it’s important to plan your content. Shameless self-promotion won’t work; what can you offer your followers that has value? Share links other than your own. Be sure to check your followers list regularly and follow back.

5. Keep learning.

Here are a few of our favorite resources.

Your Turn

  • What questions do you have about getting started with Twitter?
  • If you’re already a veteran, what tips do you have for businesses just starting out?
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