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Build your brand and SEO on Twitter

Many business owners are adding Twitter (and other social media sites like Facebook) to their marketing toolkits because they are free, reasonably easy to learn, and don't require much time.

Twitter can be a simple and effective social outlet to get your message out, engage with your customers, and build your brand.

And since Google is now including social media signals -- like tweets linking to your website on Twitter -- in its ranking algorithm, ignoring Twitter can be a major missed SEO opportunity. Don't give your competitors an easy advantage by not tweeting.
Social media marketing is also growing fast, as more people from all walks of life jump into social networks. Twitter, initially popular among tech-savvy professionals, is growing rapidly. According to a February 2010 study, 41 percent of Americans use Facebook regularly, and 7 percent use Twitter.

Twitter offers a new place to build a fan base and communicate directly with your fans and customers -- and, by the way, anyone else who's looking at your tweets.

Getting Started With Twitter

To get started with Twitter:

  • Go to Twitter.com and sign up. There's no distinction between personal and business accounts here, and it's common for people to create two: one for themselves and a separate one for their business.
    • Tip: For your username, I suggest CamelCase so it's easier to read, like JoesShoeShop instead of joesshoeshop.
  • Get some followers. Coerce Encourage your friends and family to follow you. Include a link to your Twitter stream on your website, blog, and anywhere else you can be found on the web. You can add a link to your Twitter stream from your site's page on AboutUs.org too.
    • Alert: You'll see services and websites claiming they can get you thousands of followers overnight. You don't want to use these. Any additional followers they get for you won't be meaningful -- they aren't following you because they care about what you have to say. Junk followers detract from your online reputation.

Talk to Your People on Twitter

The big advantage of using Twitter for your business is the ability to talk to your current and potential customers. When you post a "tweet" on your Twitter account, it will show up in your followers' streams. It can also be found by people searching Twitter for what you're talking about.

Don't know what to say? Here are some ideas:

  • Let your customers know about a sale or promotion. You can offer a special discount to your fans on Twitter or Facebook.
  • Link your fans to an interesting blog post, news story, or article that you (or someone else) wrote. Choose something that relates to your company's brand.
  • Update people about your company's news: an addition to your website, a new service or product, a great review from someone whose opinion counts.
  • Ask your biggest supporters for feedback. You can ask people to take a survey, or offer you feedback on a new product or service.
  • Host a mini-contest. Example: Give a free [your product here] or t-shirt to the first person who correctly answers a trivia question via a comment or reply.

Don't Shout: Engage

Twitter is not a megaphone-style tool. It works best when you engage in a public conversation with your followers. They'll comment on or reply to your posts and tweets, and it's important that you pay attention, responding in an honest, personal tone to each one. This process will help you build a good reputation.

Follow people back and reply to interesting tweets that they write. Few people like a company (or person) on Twitter that only follows a handful of the people following them.

People may post or reply to you with a customer service question or comment. It's important that you check for these on a regular basis, and deal with them publicly. The quality and timeliness of your response can have a powerful effect on your reputation with onlookers. Read our article on managing your online reputation for further tips and advice.

Twitter doesn't need to take up too much of your time. I recommend posting something at least once a week -- several times per week is great! -- and logging in to check for comments or replies even more often. You can also use various tools to track your social presence to look for tweets that mention your website or company name, but don't specifically @ you in a way that you would notice otherwise.

See also:

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