3 Rules of Using Twitter for Business

April 2, 2009

Social

twitter-marketing-strategyA lot has been made of Twitter as its popularity grows (significantly, I might add), so have the reasons for having a solid Twitter marketing strategy.  In this post you’ll learn the three rules every online and small business entrepreneur should know when using Twitter for business, and why.  Without these in place, your experience with Twitter will be of minimal value, and can even hurt your business altogether.

3 Rules of Using Twitter for Business

Ok, so you have heard of Twitter by now, but many questions remain.  Why should I use this service?  How can it help my business?  Let me encourage you to watch how others are successfully using it and follow their lead.  Here are three things I’ve observed others doing successfully, and am patterning my own profile after as well.  These are general and open ended rules, feel free to comment at the end of the post and add to the conversation.

1.) Have a Strategy

It doesn’t have to be rocket science, but after you get familiar with how the service works, with a few “tweets” of your own, it’s time to think about how to best use it for business.  Here are some strategy points to consider:

* Give them a Reason: Are your Twitter updates (tweets) useful to your target market?  Do they give followers insight into you as a person, as well as useful information?
* Show them you care: I’m not a fan of a lot of updates in a day, unless it is for good reason (event, or otherwise), many forget to update their status, and as a result become forgotten, unengaged, and unfollowed.  I generally have 3-5+ tweets per weekday.
* Mix it up: While building a profile for business, remember people ultimately do business with with people.  Feel free to mix up your updates with some of your own questions, observations, or personality.

Your Twitter marketing strategy should address these three areas.  As you use it, you’ll find even more ways to enhance your strategy.

2.) Have Targets

Have targets of how many tweets per day, as well as the subject of your tweets.  To start out you might only have a couple tweets a day, and build up from there.  Beyond that consider what you are tweeting about.  Here is guideline of what to tweet about:
* 5% – About yourself
* 50% – Useful information for your target market
* 5% – Thoughtful questions (which create responses)
* 20% – Industry news (other sources) with your commentary
* 10% – Stuff which can make your followers lives better (who doesn’t want  better health?)
* 10% – Resources available on your site

If you only tweet about one subject all the time, you will alienate some of your followers.  Regular updates spread across several subjects, allows you to remain interesting and valuable.

NOTE: While it is important to have targets, don’t be enslaved to Twitter (or any other tool for that matter)!  It can be addicting, and all the more reason you need to have a strategy…and make sure you stick to it.

3.) Plan to Participate

Involve yourself in a two-way conversation.  Watch what those you follow are saying, and respond with meaningful comments.  Doing so not only allows you to engage in more meaningful discussions, but it creates an opportunity for others to learn about you, your expertise, and your business.

The biggest thing you can do is get started.  As you follow these three rules, you will begin to see how powerful and useful Twitter can be in extending your reach and building relationships.  As you do, refer to this post as a reminder of these 3 Rules for Using Twitter for Business.

You might also be interested in the Ultimate Twitter List for Online Marketers

Your Turn: What is holding you back from using Twitter for business?  What is missing from these rules and your Twitter marketing strategy?  Your comments are welcome (hint: please include your twitter ID in the appropriate box ;-)

Image credits to juice digital

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About Travis Campbell

Husband. Dad. Marketing automator. Author. Educating and coaching others in their online business endeavors. Here's his Google profile.

View all posts by Travis Campbell

57 Responses to “3 Rules of Using Twitter for Business”

  1. Eric Dye Says:

    Great solid advice. I feel like from the advice given I am on track for most part but picked up some helpful hints!!! THANKS!!!!!!

    Reply

    • Travis Campbell Says:

      Thanks for stopping by Eric. Many are overwhelmed by the amount of info on this subject. Post is designed to distill it down, and create actionable steps for business professionals and online marketers. Glad you are on board and ahead of the curve!

      Reply

  2. Patsi Krakoff aka The Blog Squad Says:

    Travis, thanks for this important post. I’m afraid I lack purpose and strategy on Twitter, just pop in and out to lurk and share my own stuff and retweet other good stuff I see.

    But I don’t know why I’m doing this other than I hate to miss out! Your post will make me think about this a little further. If I don’t find a higher purpose I know I will drop out, eventually. So will many others, I’m sure.

    Your post is excellent and I’m going to write something about it over on my own blog. Your 3 rules have bigger implications. These same guidelines should be applied to business blog content writing.

    Patsi Krakoff aka The Blog Squad’s last blog post..Content Marketing Pioneers: The Dawn of a New Era

    Reply

    • Travis Campbell Says:

      Patsi-

      You make a great point, that I didn’t mention in the post. Without a solid actionable strategy, you won’t find value and drop out (as with anything in business). Great thing is, this is so new, that we all can take corrective action. My big thing is not to be *enslaved* to any tool. This is a guideline, clients, family, and friends get my attention before Twitter does (which is why I sometimes schedule tweets in advance).

      Reply

  3. Mark Lanigan Says:

    Really agree about 50% should be about them. The corporate stars of Twitter focus on CRM and usefulness not just an endless stream of promotions

    Mark Lanigan’s last blog post..Why more is less in email marketing

    Reply

    • Travis Campbell Says:

      Good point. One exception to the ratios are for those among us who are *stars* fans want to hear more about them, @the_real_shaq does a good job with pictures and more.

      Reply

  4. Shari Weiss Says:

    Travis, you have done an AWESOME job of boiling down pages worth of advice into three simple rules. I particularly like the percentages you list re: content of Tweets. While it is good to show your human [and sometimes humorous self], it is most important for business Tweets to offer “non-sales/non-promotion” content to address reader challenges. This strategy helps build trust for the brand/company — a huge goal for this online tool. Twitter Rocks! And you suggest: the best First Step is to get in there and try it.

    Reply

    • Travis Campbell Says:

      Shari-

      Many don’t get it, because they don’t try it. I know, I was one of them. Since I started working a strategy, I have got access to people I never would have beforehand (including some expert interviews on the YouTube channel, http://www.TravisOnYouTube.com).

      Some have said it is like a cocktail party, not a sales party, and there are purists mounting on either side of the arguement. I agree with that sentiment to some degree, but the argument will rage on for some time. It’s important for online businesses to get in the game now before it becomes more mainstream.

      There are other benefits to twitter that aren’t mentioned here (one hint: web traffic).

      Reply

  5. Anil Prajapati Says:

    Twitter is a great communication tool and an eco-system that offers enormous opportunities for businesses. Nice article. We at Cynapse have been using Twitter to converse with customers, to provide support to users , listening to feedback and feature requests and more.

    Anil Prajapati’s last blog post..Help is just a Tweet away

    Reply

    • Travis Campbell Says:

      Anil-

      Glad you have found Twitter useful to reachout to customers in that way. I believe companies that embrace such a progressive approach will be in a much better position for getting new customers than those who don’t. Are you finding customers more careful with their words since what they post is public (unless a DM)?

      Reply

  6. Rabiya Jilani Says:

    Nice, useful and practical tips! Thanks for sharing!

    Reply

    • Travis Campbell Says:

      Rabiya-

      Glad you found it useful. What was the number one thing that stood out for you in the post?

      Reply

      • Rabiya Says:

        To me tip #2 hit a spot.. I was paying attention to other things but didn’t really have a defined strategy, you gave me a lot of food for thought !

        Reply

  7. Lisbeth Tanz Says:

    Great post, Travis! I especially liked the percentages, because you’ve given folks a place to start. Each person can decide how much of each area to focus on. Well done!

    Reply

  8. Travis Campbell Says:

    Lisbeth-

    Appreciate the feedback, subscribers seem to be eager for concrete details when it comes to using social media sites like Twitter. Yes, the percentages are designed to help move people in the right direction.

    Reply

  9. Eric Pursh Says:

    I agree with your post, but would add that your Twitter strategy should really dictate your content.

    i.e. I’ve found Twitter, for me, to be more of a place to find industry information, and less of a place to solicit or advertise. I let that fact dictate how I use it.

    Keep up the great work, Travis!

    Reply

    • Travis Campbell Says:

      Eric-

      Thanks for taking time and offering some good insight. It is important to understand what is valuable to your market, and service that need. As you point out (industry information / research), Twitter has huge potential in providing a lot of useful information for business (and more).

      Reply

  10. Eddie Garcia Says:

    Hello Travis,
    This is a very informative post and I think I am doing most of what you have suggested. I haven’t got a lot of time to spend on Twitter so I was happy to hear we need to take a break every now and then. Our posting should be about others and not self and I do not care for those that are always posting about their business opportunities. It needs to be more personal and down to earth. This is what I like and look for in a person. I want someone that is real to communicate with and build a relationship. Thanks for your input and I will visit again soon.

    Friends 4 Life!

    Reply

    • Travis Campbell Says:

      Eddie-

      Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts on this. Yes, you hae to take a break sometimes…Twitter is getting better identifying and disabling spammy accounts, though it will be an ongoing battle for some time.

      If you only entered your Twitter ID in the comment area, so others could connect with you Eddie! ;-)

      Reply

  11. John Godfrey Says:

    Thanks Eric,

    Solid advice to keep me focused on the goal. Keep up the great work & thanks for sharing your success. It is the way things should work for the good of us all. Happy May Day!
    John

    Reply

    • Travis Campbell Says:

      Hey John-

      Thanks for chiming in here.. Happy May Day to you too. Following you on Twitter.

      Reply

  12. Tom Kennedy Says:

    Thank you, Travis. Great tips for anyone looking to become the resident expert at their business or to just get started at a personal level.

    Reply

  13. Susan Gray Says:

    We will launch MAPnSAV.com within weeks.

    Your 3 points are a really timely for us, because we have just begun formulating our Twitter strategy.

    Thanks for your sound advice.

    Reply

    • Travis Campbell Says:

      Susan-

      Congrats on your upcoming launch. Glad you found the info here helpful. Here to serve.

      Reply

  14. Linda Kay Burk Says:

    I like the Targets percentage chart shared in this article. It makes it very clear where to put your attention when sharing information. I’m glad to be aware that only 5% of the Target material should be about me!

    Reply

  15. Clyde Says:

    My lifestyle as an owner operator in the trucking industry does not allow me the time to tweet every day but after reading your “rules” I understand I need to be more “regular” with my tweets, even if it is only several times each week instead of 2 or 3 times each day.

    Thanks,
    Clyde

    Reply

    • Travis Campbell Says:

      Don't let it cramp your style too much. Be as consistent as your work schedule permits, add value, and remain before your followers on a somewhat consistent basis. That is further ahead than most 90 days after signing up for Twitter. :-)

      Reply

  16. Mirit Eder Turley Says:

    Thanks… this is one of the more reasonable insights to using twitter for business that I've seen

    Reply

  17. kimjimmerson Says:

    I agree with you on everything but the amount of times that you should tweet. I have found that you have about a 5 to 10 second window (if that) to capture someone's attention, especially if they follow a lot of people. I tweet once an hour and schedule these tweets ahead of time. I also schedule these tweets around the clock because a lot of the people that I'm connecting with are awake at the time that I'm asleep since they are all around the world.

    The short tips are helpful for people. I would also add that using a program such as TweetDeck that allows you to know when someone mentions you so that you can stay connected with everyone is a good idea. It's just a shame to miss someone saying something nice about you and to completely miss it!

    Reply

    • Travis Campbell Says:

      Excellent points. I'm testing out some other products that help buy you time back when it comes to using Twitter profitably. I agree, we all need to capture those nice things people say about us! Thanks for stopping by, and taking time to share your perspective.

      Reply

  18. licitatii Says:

    Is always good to have first a strategy before you start doing your job, to know where you will end up.

    Reply

  19. Tim Read: Ripplenet web design Says:

    Thanks for this. Your targets bring out the point that one shouldn't just tweet the same stuff. One question I have though is, what's the point in following more people than you can read stuff from? I'm following 164 people right now – and I can't read 20% of the stuff they put out. I dont' really get why people follow hundreds and hundreds of others…

    Reply

    • Travis Campbell Says:

      With Twitter lists, you can better organize all those you follow. For the most meaningful conversations, the more you scrutinize who you follow the better. However, if you are targeting a specific market, it is 'polite' to follow back. Idea being if you follow those in your market, they will reciprocate, and vice versa. Not always the rule, but the idea.

      Thanks for stopping by Tim!

      Reply

  20. james nader Says:

    Thanks for the info, really trying to work out if business is available on Twitter!!!!!

    Reply

  21. Travis Campbell Says:

    Have a balanced approach, and stay true to your core business, keeping twitter and social networks on the periphery. Once you have on that works, allocate more resources, but not before, ok? See point #15 in this lessons learned series post:
    http://www.marketingprofessor.com/misc/12-lesso

    Reply

  22. Jessica Says:

    Excellent tips! What a great resource. Looks like others have benefited as well, thank you!

    Reply

  23. Mark Says:

    I use several Twitter clients for different reasons. I use Social Oomph as I like the way you can use “drafts” and schedule tweets for the day with slightly different wordings. I try to remember to only sell 1 out of 4 times. I sometimes wonder aloud about a recent event just to see if someone is thinking the same thing. Sometime I become a cheerleader for local events that I have no involvement in. Having about 10 different Twitter accounts makes it hard to remember who I am at any given moment though. How about you?

    Reply

    • Travis Campbell Says:

      Great insights Mark. I really like your idea about getting behind local events.

      Having several different Twitter accounts can be tricky. I would advise making sure you have clarity of what the purpose of the account is, so you can publish tweets that will attract your target market. Of course there are overlap tweets, humor, human interest, and trends that can span almost all accounts.

      Thanks for chiming in.

      Reply

    • JustinMski Says:

      I hear tell that anymore than one link per day dramatically reduces conversions
      I was taught 1 in 4 also, so split test is needed if I can’t remember that source

      Reply

  24. CoreyReferrals Says:

    Thanks for a very concise article on your 3 rules for using Twitter for business. As an active user of Twitter, I am amazed at how well so many can get their point across in a short message. That has got to be one of the biggest challenges in starting out. I think that’s one reason why you do have to schedule your tweets and keep it to topic – your percentages were excellent on this. I, however, love to find good informational tweets and retweet them. That’s the referral passion in me. Out of all the online social tools to use in promoting yourself/business, I love twitter the best. And like with everything – water seeks its own level. #3 Rule is my favorite. ;-)

    Reply

    • Travis Campbell Says:

      Thanks for sharing your feedback and experience. Like anything online, twitter requires an investment of time. Tools that help manage twitter accounts are important maintain sanity!

      Reply

  25. John Kelly Says:

    This definitely has a lot of great tips on how to use twitter. I will have to incorporate more of these strategies.

    Reply

  26. Custom iPhone Applications Says:

    A very good, I love, I hope you will take another job as soon as possible Thanks Great information!
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    Reply

  27. R Holscher Says:

    Great tips Travis! I think one thing that articles like yours overlooks is the ‘shock factor’ that some people are looking to create. In attempts to shock their audience they use lude/crude comments/curse words. I guess it really depends on what they are trying to accomplish. I may read a post from start to finish, but if it has anything questionable in it such as curse words or lude/crude comments I will most likely NOT retweet it. It is not my desire to offend people and I try to be careful about what I retweet. Does anyone else have a comment on this? Am I alone on this one? 

    Reply

    • Travis Campbell Says:

      You are not alone on that. Personally not a fan of divisive dialogues online, they never go anywhere good. That includes foul language and the like. Thanks for chiming in.

      -Travis

      Reply

  28. JustinMski Says:

    Step 2 talks about content. Twitter user’s use it to follow celebs 25% get news 25% socialize 25% and market products, boredom and other make the final 25%

    Reply

  29. Phil Lauterjung Says:

    Good points Travis. I might add one thing that I think helps those who are new to Twitter. Start out using it as a listening post, and follow some of the influencers in their chosen area. Newbies can learn a lot by listening and observing – I know I did. ;-)

    Reply

    • Travis Campbell Says:

      Well stated Phil. Reminds me of the sage words of wisdom, “Be quick to listen, slow to speak…” Most of us were given 2 ears and one mouth for a reason, right?

      -Travis

      Reply

  30. Jason Stuart Says:

    Good solid guidelines, Travis. Participation is really the key, and tweeting frequently (but not too frequently) ~10-20x a day. And when people engage you, you’ve got to be responsive. It’s a two-way street. (Just look out for the spammy types, but they’re pretty easy to spot.)

    Reply

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