Since I've been on Twitter for a little over a year now, I sometimes forget how confusing and overwhelming it can be to be just starting out. A few days ago, I posted an article about how to coordinate numerous social networking activities. Today, I want to share some of the key elements of a Twitter page that is professional and communicates messages effectively and efficiently.
This article is aimed at small business leaders and people who are clearly using Twitter as a marketing tool. As you consider these 7 characteristics, please don't lose sight of the fact that, no matter how you use your Twitter page, it should be a reflection of your unique personality and passions. In other words, don't lose your individuality in a sea of suggestions and recommendations from me or anyone else. Above all, be your authentic self. Remember: you are the cake. Twitter is just icing.
Highly Effective Twitter Pages Contain Clear Images Of You. A few weeks ago, I communicated with a fellow business owner at someone else's blog. I did not know the person personally, but when I discovered that the person was on Twitter, I Tweeted the blog post we commented on, and referenced how the comments we shared reflected our agreement on a particular topic.
In my Tweet, I referred to the person as “she,” because the name at the blog comment and on Twitter sounded female to me. That turned out to be an incorrect assumption on my part and I apologized. For this and other reasons having to do with portraying a professional image for your business, it's always best to use your photograph as your avatar.
Some people use caricatures that clearly reflect what they look like. Those are fun but not as professional as your genuine mug shot (and I see lots of people abandoning them for real photos).
People want to do business with other people, not a logo or a picture of whatever it is that's for sale. And they certainly don't want to do business with the ugly brown and blue Twitter default thingy. Your smile and the personality that shines through in a photo is far more appealing.
Highly Effective Twitter Pages Contain Your Brand Name(s) and/or Your Given Name. These days, it's not unusual for one person to use a given name and more than one brand for business purposes. Since you never know for sure how someone may find you if they are looking, it's a good idea to reserve all of the names you use on Twitter. In this way, you make it easy for people to find and do business with you.
For example, I Tweet at IndieBusiness, but I reserved DonnaMaria as well, since many people look for me using that name. To prevent confusion, note that I set up a Tweet at DonnaMaria to refer people from that page to IndieBusiness.
You will have to decide whether you Tweet from one or more of the names you reserve (and there are some inherent inefficiencies in Tweeting from more than one), but whatever you decide, make it easy for people to find you by being present at those URLs where you know your customers and other stakeholders may use to search for you.
Highly Effective Twitter Pages Are Well Maintained and Professional.
Your Twitter page is just like any other website you maintain. If you want it to reflect positively on you and your small business, it must be professional and well maintained, just like you and your small business.
This means that your Twitter page should contain coherent Tweets and a clear photo of you. I also believe (and some disagree) that each Tweet should be able to stand on its own. No one should come to your Twitter page and be confused or perplexed about what you are all about.
Example: I recently received an email from the publicist for an author who wanted to be a guest on the Indie Business Radio Show. The author's Twitter page was a string of automated ping.fm blurbs, many of them containing broken HTML code. Because I like to provide my listeners with guest who are knowledgeable about how to use technology to maximize business success, I could not invite this author to be a guest on the show until the Twitter page was cleaned up.
Highly Effective Twitter Pages Contain A Balance Of Conversational and Individual Tweets. Twitter is about conversation, but as I mentioned above, that doesn't mean your Twitter page should be a stream of one-word answers. “@___ love that!” or “@___ good job!” is OK now and then, but consider that those Tweets mean nothing to the people who are following you. They also mean nothing to the people who will visit your Twitter page long enough to decide whether or not to follow (or unfollow) you in the first place.
I know it takes longer to Tweet, “@____ Great job on getting the new job at Avon,” than it does to Tweet “@___ good job!,” but one Tweet is obviously a better reflection on you and your business than the other. It's worth a few extra seconds per Tweet to make your business look good, don't you think?
In addition to these kinds of conversational Tweets, it's also great to include a balance of standalone Tweets that point to an informative article at your blog, a fun video, an interesting news story, links to things you are learning how to do, links to other people's Twitter pages, etc. The list is endless.
Integrating standalone Tweets with conversational ones reflects a well rounded human being who has something to say and people to say it to.
Highly Effective Twitter Pages Include Multi-Media. People love pictures and videos. Pictures of rainbows after storms. Videos of kids doing cute things. Pictures of speakers at conferences. Pictures of new products. Pictures of people enjoying new products. Pictures of farmer's markets. Pictures of the decadent chocolate cake you are eating. Pictures. Videos. Pictures.
Put some color and movement at your Twitter page as frequently as you can. It's spontaneous and reflects your personality in ways that words just cannot. Here are some suggested image sharing links: YFrog, Tweetphoto, Twitpic, Flickr, YouTube and Flixwagon.
Highly Effective Twitter Pages Are Shared. It's a good idea to put your Twitter page link in as many places as you can so as many people as possible can find you on Twitter. Email signature lines, email newsletters, blogs (and also in blog posts), business cards and brochures, product labels, e-commerce sites, etc. (And see the photo at the top of this post for another great example of what I mean.)
If you're on Twitter, your Twitter page cannot work for you unless you tell people where in the world it is. No piece of marketing material should be without your Twitter URL. My friend JoAnn Hines, the Packaging Diva, has an interesting post on this topic at her blog.
Highly Effective Twitter Pages Have Backgrounds That Reflect A Clean and Professional Image. When someone lands on your Twitter page, they should get a snapshot of you as a professional business owner. Use an attractive background graphic to make sure this happens.
Some people, like Kelley Maddison, use product photos as a background. Shelley McNamara of System Bath does this too. Others, like Jamyla Bennu at Oyin Handmade, use a corporate logo. Others, like Debbie Weil, use a recent picture that is personally meaningful to her. Still others, like Ron Hudson, use a basic yet informative design with contact options so visitors can easily contact them using the method that suits them best. Each of these examples is a clear, professional and fun reflection of who the Tweeter is.
It's pretty clear that there are no hard and fast rules to using Twitter as professional networking tool, but I think incorporating these 7 characteristics into your Twitter page will help make it as effective as possible for your small business.
Question: Do you have things at your Twitter page that I left out? What other things can you add to the list?