Twitter: The big social network with a small-town feel

  • Thu Jul 26th, 2012 9:35am

By Laura Christianson Relationship Marketing

When I was a kid, I loved wandering through my town’s hardware store, listening to the ancient wood floor creak while I fingered shiny wrenches and gawked at paint swatches. But the best part was when the store owner greeted me by name.

Decades later, small shops where everybody knows everybody still capture my heart. That’s why I like Twitter. Even though the social network is huge, Twitter exudes a small-town feel that’s ideal for marketing my small business.

Like all small towns, Twitter has its downside. There are shady characters who post disgusting tweets. There are barking dogs who yip, “Buy my stuff!” But there are a whole lot more friendly neighbors who post thoughtful conversations, albeit in 140-character chunks. In a minute or two, I can stroll down the block, find a juicy tidbit and share it with my neighbors.

During the years I’ve lived in Twittertown, I’ve learned a few “must dos” for marketing my business via Twitter.

Make it easy for people to find you. When you create a Twitter account, choose a username that reflects your brand (mine is @bloggingbistro) and enter your real first and last name so you’ll show up in Twitter’s search results. Add a link to your website and specify your company’s geographic location.

Upload a square-shaped picture of yourself. This thumbnail-sized avatar will display next to each tweet you publish; it should be a clear closeup of either your face or your logo.

Help people get to know you. Do not leave the bio area empty; it’s akin to a storefront window display with nothing in it. When you write your 160-character bio, include what you do for work and for play.

Follow strategically. Third-party tools such as WeFollow.com and Twellow.com help you find others in your industry to follow. Before following anyone, scan their profile and recent tweets to see whether they’re a spammer or scammer. Don’t feel obligated to follow everyone who follows you. Just because someone lives on your block does not mean you have to invite them to your party.

Once a month, vacuum your Twitter house using TwitCleaner.com or Tweepi.com. These third-party apps earmark people you follow who rarely tweet, those who tweet spammy links, and people who retweet too much or too little.

Use Lists. Twitter lists are a Rolodex of key people you follow. They help you filter others’ tweets so you won’t miss updates from people who are important to you. You can create up to 20 separate lists for customers, industry experts, people who inspire you or real-life friends.

Tweet often, but not too often. Effective tweeters post three to six times daily and spread their tweets throughout the day. During my daily study time, I often find an online article I want to share. I use BufferApp.com, which creates a tweet based on the article’s headline and schedules it to publish in my Twitter stream at pre-determined times each day.

In addition to tweeting links to others’ top-notch content, I use HootSuite.com to schedule teasers to my own blog posts. I balance link sharing with retweeting (sharing others’ tweets) and publicly replying to others.

Since the maximum length of a tweet is 140 characters, I view each tweet as a single brand impression. Over the course of time (I’ve published more than 6,000 tweets to date), those short clips coalesce into a full-length feature that showcases my brand.

Laura Christianson owns Blogging Bistro (bloggingbistro.com), a Snohomish-based company that serves a full menu of online marketing services, including content writing, social media consulting, and website creation. Contact her at 425-244-4242 or laura@bloggingbistro.com.