Not so long ago, I wrote about how a review of Soap & Glory’s website got me a lot of attention from Twitter. Ever since then, I’ve been fielding questions about Twitter, what it does, and why everyone seems so excited about it. Here are some answers.

First things first: Why on earth would you want to use a social media site for business? It’s a fair question. Social media sites have their own way of doing things, and Twitter in particular can be utterly confusing to newcomers. Since the point of most internet marketing is to open your business up to new customers, moving onto Twitter may seem a bit counter-intuitive.

Twitter, however, is a real force on the internet. Getting noticed on Twitter can mean getting noticed on other social sites, noticed in the news, and even noticed on Google, which helps your SEO. A good Twitter campaign can also net you inbound links and forge relationships across the net.

As you can see from my own experience, you don’t even need to be on Twitter to reap some of the rewards. Knowing something about Twitter is good for any online business.

The basics: what is Twitter?

Twitter is a social media site, where people post micro-blogs of 140 characters each. It’s like a whole site full of Facebook status updates. Users tend to post several updates a day, and their popularity and influence on the site is gauged by how many followers they have. Posts get sent out to followers, and really popular or timely posts get featured on lists.

Twitter campaigns: what you need to know

Twitter is a very different kind of social sphere, and requires a very different business approach. Here are the main things to know:

  • Business tones don’t work on Twitter. Social media networking is just that – social. If you walk into a party and start talking like a salesman, people are going to ignore you. This is what happens on Twitter.
  • Regular updates are vital. Twitter users check in several times per day. If you only post once a day, you’re in danger of losing followers.
  • Short posts don’t mean silly posts. There’s a lot of humour on Twitter, but there’s also a lot of sense. Read popular posts to get a handle on styles.
  • Devote some time to observing. A lot of businesses have failed on Twitter because they jump right in. If you don’t understand it, spend some time researching. It will make a huge difference.

Is it worth it? Although I’ve just talked up the benefits of Twitter, a campaign on the site takes a fair amount of work. It’s important to assess the potential Twitter has for your business. Traffic from the site tends to go to information-based and news sites, rather than retail, but being seen on Twitter has its own rewards. Your best bet is to check whether any competitors are using Twitter, and whether they’ve had success. In fact, checking out the competition can make you aware of many of the social media faux pas that can be made. As much as Twitter can be used to enhance your business, a misguided tweet can do much to damage it.

Using Twitter without using Twitter

As you can judge from my example, Twitter can be helpful even if you’re not participating. Not only can you use other companies’ campaigns to forge relationships, but Twitter also has all sorts of handy tools that are perfect for market research. You can use Twitter search for researching keywords, online trends, user statistics and what people are saying about you.

Twitter: observe or participate, but don’t ignore it.

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