I've known about and followed Twitter for some time now and set-up my profile last fall. However, I haven't spent much time on it until just recently. Twitter has now reached the place were business people can no longer ignore it.
Worldwide, traffic to Twitter.com reached 10 million visitors in February 2009, up an amazing 700% from the same time last year. Until late last year, it was regarded as sort of a cool consumer novelty with no real business application. What you may not know though is that Twitter can really help businesses get closer to consumers and yes, even sell more products and services.
Twitter is a constant stream of communication. It allows you to post updates (called Tweets) as often as you want. When you follow other people on Twitter, you see their tweets. When they follow you, they see your tweets.
Setting Up Your Profile
When you first join Twitter you need to set-up a user name. This user name will display on all the tweets you make. Your user name is also how people will find you and relate to you. If at a later time you want to change your user name you can. Everyone following you will still be connected to you and you will not loose any information you have on your account.
It is BEST to use your real name for your user name. However with over 10 million users that may already be taken. When I signed up last fall BradSimon was already taken so I chose the user name BenchJeweler.
In order to fill out your profile, what you want to do is go under ‘Settings' and identify some attributes like your real name, your location, your website address and your biography. Be certain to fill them all out. You location and website (limited to just 1) will help potential customers find you and your biography will help them get to know you better.
Because you are a person communicating with other people on Twitter, you should add something personal in there like "a mom" or "a dad" or "father of three." Those kinds of things actually add a little more personableness to your biography. You do have to keep your biography fairly short. You are limited to 160 characters. Mine is:
I'm a Master Bench Jeweler and owner of Bench Media, LLC and Internet 4 Jewelers. My wife Debbie & I have 2 sons and 2 grandchildren.
You also want to have a recent photograph of yourself. This helps people see you as a real person and helps them get to know you better.
To add a picture click on the ‘Picture' tab in the settings. Then click on ‘Browse' and search through your hard drive and select the picture you want to use. Click ‘Save' and that's it.
One of the first things you will notice about Twitter is your tweet can only be 140 characters long. This is one of the biggest reasons that kept me from becoming more involved with Twitter sooner. How in the world can you say anything in 140 characters or less? That's only 15 to 20 words - a mere sentence (for me even less than a sentence).
Here are some tips for creating your tweets:
First and foremost, be aware that Twitter is a communication tool. It's not a broadcast platform. Remember that you're writing to engage, to entice, to interact with people just like you would face to face. It's important to be a good conversationalist. How? Ask questions, solicit advice, educate, share interesting articles or links, have a sense of humor, connect with others on a personal as well as on a business level.
Keep your tweets simple. Don't try to cram too many ideas into a simple tweet. Use keywords when appropriate. It will make your tweet searchable later.
Next, link directly. If you share a news link or a how-to link, link directly to the page that you're referencing. Don't try to juice up your page views by linking to the home page and then directing traffic from there.
Be thoughtful. Just like in real life, people appreciate someone who takes a little time and is thoughtful with their conversation. Consider who your audience is and speak to their needs directly.
Two Methods to Using Twitter
Micro-Blog - Twitter is a micro-blog platform where you can post (tweet) information of interest to those who follow you. You can use Twitter as you would any other Blog. At 140 characters you're limited to how much you can write. Most often it's best to tweet about an article or blog post you read and like, and include a link to it. Write a short sentence explaining why you liked it or why you think those following you will like or benefit from it and include a link to the additional information.
This is a great way to get a conversation started. Be certain to watch your tweet for anyone commenting on it so that you can follow-up with additional tweets to continue the conversation (and supply even more information).
Joining Existing Conversations - Imagine being at a cocktail party with 10 million other people. Everyone is standing around carrying on a conversation with those around them. You have the power to listen in on what all 10 million people are saying and can walk over and join in any conversation you want to.
That's what Twitter is!
There are over 10 million people a month carrying on conversations on Twitter. When you are logged in to your account you will see a search box on the right side of your screen. You can type in any topic in this search box and see all of the conversation currently going on about that subject. You can then easily follow along the conversation and join in.
Do a search for engagement rings and you just might find a guy looking for advice on buying a ring for his girlfriend. Offer the advice he's seeking and you just might gain a new customer for life.
A search for watches might find someone looking for people's opinion on what watch brand is better. You could offer your opinion and link to a page on your website that informs them about that watch brand.
Search for your city name or topic related to your geographic area. You'll find potential customers in your area for you to follow and start networking with building a relationship.
Jumping in with a sales pitch is not only inappropriate, it will turn potential customers off and do more harm than good.
Twitter is for networking NOT sales pitches! Join conversations on Twitter the same way you would join a conversation in person at a party of other social function. Build relationships and answer questions. As they get to know you they will find your store & website through your profile. And if someone else brings up the subject you can direct them to your website for help.
Helpful Twitter Tools
TweetLater www.tweetlater.com - This powerful service allows you to schedule tweets. You can sit down one evening while watching TV and create your tweets for the next several weeks and schedule them to automatically post to Twitter when you want them to appear.
There's an Auto Welcome option that automatically sends a welcome message to new followers. It looks like you sat down and wrote to them, giving you a very personal touch. The message should not be a promotional message about you or your product, but just a "Thanks for following me" type message. Another very powerful feature with TweetLater is the ability to receive e-mail digests of keyword activity on Twitter. This allows you to join a conversation or track topics and trends.
Ping www.ping.fm - If you have accounts with many services, such as LinkedIn and Facebook, this amazing site allows you to post updates across ALL of your social media sites in one single step.
Twitter for Facebook www.facebook.com/apps/application.php?id=2231777543 - If you are on Facebook, this application forwards your Twitter updates directly to Facebook as status updates.
For more information on marketing your jewelry store on the Internet, getting higher search engine rankings, or using the Internet to keep in touch with your existing customers visit www.Internet4Jewelers.com You can follow Brad on Twitter at www.twitter.com/BenchJeweler.