How to Use Twitter as an Online Marketing Tool

Like blogs, Twitter offers you a new way to market products, promote sales and boost revenue — if you Tweet right, that is.

Like b-blogs (that's business blogs) and social networking profiles, sites such as Twitter offer businesses a new way to market products, promote sales and boost revenue — if you tweet right, that is.

Microblogging — a type of social media Web service that has grown in popularity over the past year — lets you publish short message updates to a blog or microblog service. On some social networking sites, these short updates are called microposts (or status updates on Facebook). On Twitter they are called tweets and can be up to 140 characters in length.

In this Ecommerce-Guide.com How-To we'll show you exactly how easy it is to set-up a Twitter account. Tomorrow, we talk to B.L. Ochman — blogger, social media strategy consultant to Fortune 500 companies — to get tips on how to make Twitter-based marketing a successful endeavor.

TIP: Twitter and similar Web sites have a language of its own. Check out the Ecommerce-Guide Social Media Glossary for help deciphering the lingo.

Getting Started: Ready, Set, Tweet!
Obviously the first step for many will be to get online and create a Twitter account — something that will take you less than five minutes to do.

You log on to Twitter.com, and sign up as a new user by creating a username and password. For a business you can choose a person 'higher up' in the company that people would be interested in following, or if you plan to use Twitter to promote your site content or online deals, then you should use your company name for your Twitter account.


Twitter settings
Step 1: Set up your Twitter page.

Once signed in you will see four navigation options that you will want to be familiar with.

  1. Home is your home page where you see what the people you follow are twittering about and this is where you send out your own tweets. Your
  2. Profile shows how your Twitter page looks as others see it, and this shows the tweets you have posted.
  3. Find People is just that — use it to find interesting people to follow on Twitter.
  4. Settings. Here you can change your account settings, add a small bio, hyperlink to your own site, and also change your profile background image and profile picture.
These options enable you to customize your twitter profile to match a theme or your own corporate branding.

For a business, it is best to use a company or product picture that people will be familiar with already. You will also access mobile device settings and turn twitter notifications on or off from the Settings page.

With your account activated and customized, you can start following people sending tweets — messages up to 140 characters — from your home page. To gain a following of users to read your messages, be sure to include your Twitter link on your Web site, blog, and in your e-mail newsletters.

Make a Commitment

One of the worst things a business can do is embrace their consumers in social media then leave them hanging. When you decide to start using Twitter for business, be sure you are ready to make a long-term commitment. Start by telling your customers and brand followers that you are on Twitter. Be transparent and friendly when you address concerns and public tweets made to you. Tweet messages that will encourage a direct response and comments from those following you.

Update your Twitter status every day and make sure you throw out those special links and deals to your Twitter following—keep on giving your followers a reason to stay connected to you and reading your daily updates.

Tomorrow, B.L. Ochman — blogger and social media strategy consultant to Fortune 500 companies — offers more Twitter marketing tips.

Vangie Beal is a veteran online seller, frequent contributor to ECommerce-Guide.com. She is also managing editor of Webopedia.com. You can tweet with her online @AuroraGG.

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