2 Whether you like it or not, Twitter is becoming a marketing force to be reckoned with… Even if you aren’t yet sure about how Twitter will fit into your marketing mix, I suggest that you get yourself set up with an account and start becoming comfortable with the tools.

Select Your Twitter Name

The first thing to do is create an account on twitter.com. You will need to choose a name to represent you on twitter. My suggestion to people is that you select a name that represents you personally, even if you will mainly be tweeting for your business. The reason is that twitter is not really a “broadcast media”, even if you can send out “mass messages” on it. It is really a relationship building interface. Recently I heard twitter referred to as a “cocktail party” with lots of people in the room and you circulate around talking directly to individuals in the room.

If you are concerned about your business identity being poached on twitter, go ahead and register an account for your business name also, but I do suggest that you do your main tweeting from your personally identifiable twitter name.

Another tip for selecting your twitter name is to make it as short as possible. This might mean using some of your initials, or a nickname. Play around with variations until you find one that is available to use.

Get Some Productivity Tools

There are many different tools you can use to manage your social media conversations and postings. One you should definitely get an account with is HootSuite, which will help you get a handle on the different information you want to see, as well as provide ways for you to schedule future tweets and delegate some of your tweeting to your team.

If you have a smartphone, you might want to look into what twitter apps are available for it, so you can manage your social media while on the go.

Start Watching Conversations

Next, compile a short list of key phrases that connect with your expertise. For instance, if you are a financial planner, you might include “401(k)”, “disability insurance”, and “financial planner”.

Do a search on those terms. You can use search.twitter.com, or if you have HootSuite, set up separate “streams” for each of those phrased so you can continue to watch them.

You might notice that there are some “authority” people who turn up frequently in your searches. You can add these people to your “Follow” list to stay abreast of what the general conversation in your industry is.

If someone asks a question, feel free to reply to them with some tips. The idea is not to hit them over the head with your sales pitch, but to give something of value without expecting a return. You should also reach out and ASK questions, even if it’s just to get an idea about what sort of help people are looking for. You might even start to pick up on HOW people talk about your industry, which can be very useful when you do start putting marketing messages out there, even if via your website, blog, or articles.

This period of beginning engagement and listening can last as long as you feel is necessary to become comfortable with learning the tone of conversations around your topics.

Web Action Steps

  • Brainstorm several potential Twitter names
  • Register an account on twitter
  • Sign up for an account at HootSuite
  • Brainstorm a list of search phrases
  • Set up search streams in HootSuite for your phrases and start looking at the conversations going on around those topics
  • Reply to interesting posts with questions or free advice, not a sales pitch

Next, we will discuss putting your messages out there and automating some of your tweeting, but it is important you become comfortable with the way conversations happen before you start sending out mass messages. Feel free to send any questions to me @hfloyd.