Answered: How do I set up a business twitter account?

So, you’re going to set up a business twitter account.You may have got lumped with this task because you’re the only person in the company who actually uses twitter. Or it could have just been most appropriate for your job description. As someone who’s advised a few people about setting up their social media profiles, I’ve realised that I’ve started saying the same things over and over again, so might as well put them all in one post.

Getting started: Your profile

When people choose to look you up on twitter, your profile can often be a deciding factor as to whether they follow you or now (for both business and personal accounts). Giving enough information will let them know who you are and that they can trust you.

What’s in a name?

When you’re setting up an account, it’s worth thinking about the name. If you’re a sole trader (or your name sells the company) you might want the account under your name. However, if other people are involved (and may man the account), it’s worth setting up a proper account.
If you can get the name of your company, GRAB IT. Even if you don’t use it immediately, it’s like a domain name in that people will often guess first. If you can’t get it, consider adding ‘org’ or something related to your location (e.g. ny/nz/london/ncl) to differentiate you.

I picked the wrong name!

You can easily change your twitter name (providing the one you want is available), and it will retain your following/followers. However, all old mentions will be lost, and there can be a bit of confusion if you don’t tell people you’ve changed your handle.

Recommendation: get the name you want as early as you can. If you do change, point it out to your followers so that they know.

Some tips:

Add a URL and location

If you have an official website, put that in the URL field as it’s a natural funnel (and credibility checker). Similarly, if you have an official location, add that as it helps followers to know which country you’re in (especially if you’re looking for hires!) especially in regards to time taken for replies. If you don’t have one place though, either put multiple locations or have a bit of fun with the field.

Have a descriptive description

Say what you are/do succinctly. If you have one or two people with twitter accounts of their own, add them to the profile (it also helps with credibility). If there is an element of customer service involved with your accounts you might even consider adding hours the account is manned.

Don’t be an egg.

As in, do set up a proper profile picture. It can just be your logo. However, some businesses regularly change them (Tyneside Cinema changes it based on what they’re showing at the time).

Managing multiple accounts

There’s nothing worse than tweeting something personal from an official account (there are various horror stories about this). Most apps (including the official Twitter ones) allow for multiple accounts. One potential gotcha is if you have notifications on for iOS, selecting the account will take you to the account for that notification (I’ve had a few near misses here as I’ve forgotten I’ve changed accounts).

However, if you’re web only, it’s not so easy. If you’re really conscious of not getting accounts mixed up, I suggest using different browsers for different accounts (e.g. using Chrome for your personal account and Firefox for your work one etc).

Recommendation: don’t make it easy to use the wrong account by accident. Use an app, or different browsers.

Connecting your services.

In a post-Google Reader world, Twitter is one of the main ways of sharing news. This means that you should make it easy to share news through twitter.

Website content management systems such as WordPress make it easy to connect your twitter account to the system (e.g. with their Jetpack extension) so that any new blog posts or news items are automatically posted to twitter. (Sadly, showing your twitter accounts in other places aren’t as easy as they used to be, but that’s another story). Take the time to connect things to save you having to do everything manually.

Services such as Hootsuite or Buffer allow you to schedule tweets ahead of time. Don’t go overboard with them, but they can be useful if you have potential clients in different timezones.

Conversation is a two way street.

If there’s one thing to be aware of with twitter is that it’s about conversation: it’s not all about you. If people ask you questions, you should probably respond to them within a day if possible. (Despite popular belief, it doesn’t have to be instant, though it helps. And you should have someone monitoring the account if you offer time based services like transport or even online hosting).

Early social media leader Tara Hunt used to talk about being “memorable, useful, and interesting”. (Actually, some of her old suggestions are even more relevant today). Be prepared to follow other relevant people and companies (or put them on a twitter list if you’re not keen on that) and even retweet other tweets that might be of interest to the people that follow you.

Don’t retweet every nice thing said about you. Especially if you choose to ignore any bad tweets. (One nice way to get around this for testimonials it to favourite them and then direct people to the list for testimonials. Hostgator used to do this up until recently).

Don’t flood their twitter stream. Share interesting links that aren’t related to your work.

Finally, make sure you know how @replies work. If you start a tweet with a @ and a twitter account name, only people who follow you *and* that other account will see it. If you want it to be seen by all your followers, put a . before the @ or rewrite your tweet.

Strategy

Think about who will be following you, and tweet accordingly. If you’re aiming at fellow business owners, share useful links relating to your work. If it’s people who are fans of your brand, keep the tone there.

Your twitter account should also have the voice of your company. For example: if you’re known for being reliable and trustworthy, your tweets should reflect that language (e.g Sage and Mint). If your brand is a bit more chatty and informal like, then your twitter account should reflect that, as with the Innocent or Moo twitter accounts.

Where can I get more tips?

There are a number of sources to help you navigate the business twitter world.