A lot of companies are jumping on the Twitter bandwagon, but before you make your move, make sure you know what you're getting into.
Twitter is what's called a microblogging application. It provides a convenient Web-based platform that lets you send and read updates, called "tweets." Tweets run no more than 140 characters in length, and can be sent to subscribers, called "followers." You can update by going to your Twitter page, sending a message by phone, or via a Web plug-in.
Many companies use Twitter in conjunction with Facebook and other social media applications. It provides a means of periodically reaching out to people interested in your company with brief, minor updates or even big news.
In the best situations, Twitter acts as a clearinghouse of first-hand news, informative Web links, and insights into the activities of prominent leaders in everything from retail to Congress.
For example, Whole Foods keeps a lively and useful Twitter account here. (http://twitter.com/wholefoods) The Zappos CEO keeps his own Twitter account; so does Senator John McCain. (http://twitter.com/zappos, http://twitter.com/senjohnmccain )
But, as many Twitter users discover firsthand, this hobby can quickly turn into an all-consuming obsession. If you're not careful, you can end up Twittering about, say, the chorizo breakfast burrito you'd like to have, http://twitter.com/diiskrej/status/1577310161
or the symbolism behind cleaning your cat's litterbox.
As a small business owner, you want to project a professional, knowledgeable image to your universe of current and potential customers. In order to do that, here are some tips:
1.If you keep a corporate blog, you can have it automatically send an update to Twitter every time you post something new. That will encourage your Twitter followers to check out your blog, where they'll find useful information (you are posting useful information on your blog, right?).
2.Link to books, blogs, or items in the news that are relevant to your business.
3.Write about upcoming events, if you're hosting a lunchtime seminar or giving a presentation to your local Rotary Club, let people know.
4.If there's information you want to share with a customer, think about whether it might interest other people, too. Let's say you're a veterinarian treating a dog that just came in with heatstroke, you might tweet a few helpful tips for keeping your pets cool in the heat.
5.Sign up to follow Twitter users who are authorities on topics that interest you.
6.Don't overload readers with too many updates in a day.
Twitter can be a fun, easy way to reach out to customers and show people another side of your business. Just make sure it's the right side, and leave more personal musings to your personal Twitter account.