Get started with Twitter in 7 easy steps

So you’ve heard all about the benefits of social media marketing and want to get a presence for your business on Twitter. For first timers, Twitter can be confusing. Don’t be turned off by talk of “hashtags”, “retweets” and “mentions”. The basics are quite straightforward and you’ll soon get the hang of it.

Here’s our guide on how to get your business on to Twitter:

Step 1: First things first.

Twitter birdWhat are you actually trying to achieve on Twitter? Define your goals and clarify what you are hoping to get out of this. Twitter can be a great tool for customer service, information dissemination, relationship building, networking and spreading the word about your business. Don’t expect to get many followers if all you do is try to sell stuff.

You also need to take into account resources. You won’t get much out of Twitter if you only tweet once a month. Ideally you should commit to tweeting daily, or at least 2-3 times a week. If you have a smartphone, you can tweet right from an app on your phone when you have a few spare minutes.

Step 2: Sign up.

Go to, enter your details and choose a username. Your username must be a maximum of 15 characters and can only contain letters and the underscore symbol “_”. If your desired username is already taken, it’s time to get creative. Don’t worry too much at this stage as you can still change your username later.

Step 3: Fill in your business details

Enter your details in the profile and upload an image, either of yourself, your business logo or something else that represents your business. This image will always appear next to your tweets and identifies you on Twitter, together with your username. You can also customise the background image of your Twitter page if you wish.

Step 4: Do your first tweet.

Tweet about anything broadly related to your business or industry that could be of interest to your target audience. You’ll soon learn what sorts of tweets get a positive reaction. Make the conversation about more than just your products. Your tweets are limited to 140 characters in length. If you want to insert a link into your tweet, this will often blow the limit; in that case use a link shortening service such as bitly.

Step 5: Find people to follow.

Click on the “Who to follow” link at the top of the page and then enter some terms related to your business into the search box. Go through the list and find people who are talking about things related to your industry. Click the “follow” button and you will begin to see their updates in your newsfeed. Twitter will also suggest people for you to follow based on your interests (this should get more accurate over time as you build up your Twitter profile). Following people is the first step to engage with the Twitter community, and often these people will follow you back.

Step 6: Interact.

Have a look at the newsfeed on your Twitter home page. If any particular tweets stand out, hover over the tweet and click the “retweet” button to broadcast the tweet to your own followers. You can add a comment to it as long as you stay within the 140 character limit, but don’t remove the “RT @….” bit as this identifies the retweet and the original author. The retweet will be sent to your followers, and the original author will be notified. This is a great way of showing your support and getting noticed by other popular Twitteratis. You can also reply to their tweets directly by hitting the “reply” button instead of the “retweet”. To check if anyone has retweeted or replied to your own tweets, look in the “retweets” and “mentions” sections on your Twitter page or, even better, set up an email or SMS alert on the “settings” page (under “Profile” –> “Edit your profile”)

Step 7: Measure.

Remember those goals you set for yourself in Step 1? After three months of regular tweeting, ask yourself how you are doing in relation to your goals. Have you managed to improve customer service? Got a better feel for your market? Improved relationships with customers or influencers in your industry? Maybe even got some new business leads through Twitter? Evaluate your performance and take appropriate steps if you fall short of expectations.

Make sure you give it some time and stick with it. Sometimes you might feel as though you are talking to yourself. But with good content, regular tweets and a good dose of persistence, you will build up your followers and begin to have real two-way conversations with customers and prospects, which will hopefully result in a healthier bottom line for your business.