December 22, 2014

Getting Started with Twitter

For us that deal with social media on a daily basis – Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, RSS feeds, etc – there is a risk that we become disconnected with understanding where the rest of the country is in their understanding of the tools we take for granted. This point was emphasized to me last week through a conversation I had with Bob and Carol Marek – owners of American Period Furniture on Ponce in Atlanta.

Twitter

Twitter

Bob and Carol are great people that have run the store for years. As with any business owners, they want to reach their target audience – they have a high quality product with great service and know there are patrons that would love to find them, but the challenge remains how to reach them? They have heard all of the buzz about online promotions, but don’t know where to start – what is Twitter, what is Facebook, what are blogs, what are iPhone apps? More importantly, how does an organization use these technologies and which ones are best suited for changing needs? This conversation has inspired me to write some very basic posts about this new world… starting with Twitter.

What is Twitter?

To answer this question, I refer people to my post for a super basic introduction – http://www.o2p.org/twitter-super-basic-intro-for-organizations. This covers the topic in a very easy to understand way. My next post in this series will cover the topic of how to gain Followers on Twitter (http://www.o2p.org/attracting-followers-on-twitter).

What is the value of Twitter?

In my conversation last week, I emphasized that tools like blogs and mobile apps are more about delivering unique to people and not direct advertising. Twitter, however, seems like a good place to start for someone that is used to traditional promotions, but wants to move efforts online. It’s a place to start building a more intimate relationship with patrons, but can still be used to announce special offers and business-focused news without offending Followers. Twitter is a way for organizations to connect to patrons real-time (or close to it). Users choose the people and organizations they want to Follow – they want information from you!

Setting Expectations

  • Your Followers will not see every announcement you post (called tweets).
  • Your Followers are looking for short posts that tell them what is new with your organization – upcoming sells, new shipments, change of hours, special events, etc.
  • Your Followers will not respond to every tweet they read. They won’t come in for every sell, event, etc., but you will have a way to keep them informed.

Think of Twitter as a bulletin board that is full of short messages. Some posts get read and some don’t, but it’s a public way to connect with your target audience and every now and then your message gets to the right person at the right time, leading them them to take action (come in and buy something, attend your event, whatever). If this sounds ineffective, think about advertisements that you might have posted in newspapers or other print publications – there are lots of people that flip through the pages, but how many see your announcement much less take action? The advantage of Twitter is that people have indicated that they actually want to plug into you. Extending the analogy, imagine a newspaper where the classifieds are limited only to the organizations of interest to the reader – when they want to find information, they only see posts from organizations they like. Here’s how it works:

  • People discover you on Twitter (more information in later posts)
  • They choose to Follow you, which means all of your tweets will be sent to them in Twitter alongside everyone else they Follow. Sometimes they are paying attention and sometimes they aren’t.
  • By periodically looking at their stream of tweets (ordered chronologically) people are able to take the pulse of what’s going on with everyone they follow.

Creating your Twitter account

Twitter Sign up page

Twitter Sign up page (click for full size)

This is super easy. Go to https://twitter.com/signup and follow the directions to setup your profile. Make sure to select a username that identifies your organization. For example, American Period Furniture chose APFurniture, meaning that their profile can be viewed at www.twitter.com/APFurniture. This isn’t rocket science and creating your account is super simple, so don’t be intimidated!

Customizing your Twitter Profile

At any point after creating your Twitter account, you can customize it by logging in and going to Settings (http://twitter.com/account/settings). You can play around with the properties, but the most important are:

Twitter Settings (click for full view)

Twitter Settings (click for full size)

  • Name – this helps people find you on Twitter. American Period Furniture should be used for APFurniture, for example.
  • More Info URL – this provides people with a link to other places you might promote online, such as your organization’s website. You can also use a link to your Facebook page, profile on a local search solution like Yelp or Citysearch, etc.
  • One line bio – enter something descriptive here so that if people find your profile they can determine if they want to Follow you. Also, think about keywords – if you deal in antique furniture, include that in the bio.
  • Location – make sure to indicate what town or city you are. A big driving factor for people is local organizations.
Twitter Design (click for full size)

Twitter Design (click for full size)

You also want to make your profile stand out a little more by customizing your background.

Under settings, there is a link to Design where you can set this. At the very least, you should choose one of the pre-defined templates, but at the bottom you can also upload your own custom image.

Finally, make sure you click the link to Picture. This allows you to set an image for your profile that will show up to the left of any tweets you post as well as showing up on your profile. Try to choose a picture that represents your organization – for instance:

  • A DJ might show turntables
  • A restaurant might show pictures of entrees
  • Any physical location might choose a picture of their building

Congratulations, you are now a Twitter user! Watch for additional posts to see where to go from here.

Notes:

American Period Furniture is on Twitter at www.twitter.com/APFurniture and is located at:

1097 Ponce De Leon Avenue (map)
Atlanta, GA 30306
(404) 892-8576

Help them get their feet wet by Following them!

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