Getting Started on TwitterUnfortunately, Twitter doesn’t come with an instruction manual. So if you want to promote your small business on Twitter and would like a better understanding of the basics, then read on!

Select a Twitter handle related to your business name.

If you’re promoting your business as opposed to tweeting for fun, incorporate your business name into your Twitter handle. I’ve been unable to find businesses I was looking for on Twitter because their handles were their personal names. For example, the business Handyman Matters has the easy-to-find handle @HandymanMatters. If the handle was @JoetheHandyman, it would be less likely to show up in a Twitter search for “Handyman Matters.” That said, feel free to use a photo of yourself for your icon. It makes followers feel like they’re interacting with a real person — and they are.

Be sure to include your website in your Twitter profile.

This may seem basic, but I’m surprised how often I click on someone’s Twitter handle and see no website, blog or anything in their profile. I never follow these people. I like to have a clear sense of their purpose in order to follow them.

Follow Twitter users who interest you both professionally and personally.

For my DexKnows Weddings Twitter page (@DexWeddings), I follow wedding bloggers, planners, photographers, florists and more. If someone is generally in-the-know in your field, definitely follow them. But think outside the box as well. If you’re a sporting goods store, perhaps follow local sporting events, like marathons, or the local sportswriter. They could give you good ideas for promotions. Looks like rain for the day of the marathon? Then Tweet about those rain jackets you have for runners. And don’t be bashful about following the competition on Twitter – it’s fair game. I follow a few folks who interest me personally as well, like food trucks. You never know when a personal interest can become professionally beneficial.

Start tweeting.

You have 140 characters to say what you want – use them wisely! I recommend using a url shortener with a timer to give you room to play within your 140 character count. Keep the tone of your tweets light and fun. Nobody is going to click on a tweet full of marketing terms. And if you have a question, consider throwing it out to your followers. Trying to decide what socks to carry at your sporting goods store? Ask your followers to tell you their favorite brands and styles.

Start retweeting.

If you’re at a party and someone is only talking about themselves, would you listen or move on? Twitter is similar to that party. If your tweets seem too self-centered, you may lose people’s interest. Instead, retweet quality information coming from other people. You can push the retweet button or, even better, comment on the tweet in the “What’s Happening?” space, then type RT (meaning “retweet”) and the person’s Twitter handle, then copy and paste the tweet and send. It’s more personal and more likely to start a conversation.

Love the Temperley one! RT @ Spring is here! Look at these gowns! @

Display your Twitter name or a Twitter button in places where it makes sense.

Place a Twitter button linking to your profile in a prominent spot on your website and blog. Include your Twitter information in your email signature as well. It will help people find you on Twitter who may not have realized you were there.

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