Twitter – business generator or energy-suck?




Do you use Twitter for business? Great!

Are you on top of it and in control? Or do you find yourself in a bit of a tweet quagmire, risking getting submerged every time you go back in?

Twitter can be one of the biggest time vampires in your business, if you use it without thinking through what you want it to do for you, or planning how to use the time you do spend on it.

Twiiter can be a banana skin to small businesses

To get results, you need to hit the right balance of extending your reach (ie. the number of people who hear your message), letting your target audience know what you’re about, building relationships and having one-to-one conversations with the right people. You also need to know and pre-empt what people will want to hear (but we’ll go into that in another post).


Those who manage the twitter accounts of big brands and businesses can’t afford to waste their time messing around on Twitter. So why not follow their lead and get really savvy with your time?

1. Know what you want.

Take the time to work out what you want Twitter to achieve for you. Is it raising brand awareness, establishing a great customer service channel, lead generation, driving traffic to your website? Prioritise one action (knowing that the spin-off from your activity will also tick all of these boxes to some degree) and stick with it for at least 3 months.


2. Do your housework.

Make time each week to follow at least 30 people that are relevant to your goals for Twitter use. They may be prospects, local businesses, other businesses in your sector, current customers, suppliers, or people with a certain interest or in a certain location.
By the same token, take time to unfollow those who are now inactive (ManageFlitter is a great tool for this.)
You might also wish to unfollow people that you’ve followed who haven’t followed you back. However, if you’re interested in hearing what they have to say, make sure they are on a list first, so that you can stay up-to-date with their tweets.

3. Stay tidy

Organise the people you want to listen to into lists. If you don’t, you will spend hours each week scrolling through the newsfeed trying to find tweets that you could/ should respond to. By adding key people to lists, you are providing yourself with an alerts system, so you can check into their updates as a priority. (You can keep those lists private if necessary.)
Note – you don’t have to follow someone to add them to a list, so it’s a crafty way of listening in without attracting attention to yourself. Plus, you don’t affect your followers: following ratio by listening in this way.

4. Stay focused

On that note – how do you find tweets to respond to? One of the best ways is to use the Twitter search function and to search for key words or phrases that the people you need to meet and tweet with might be saying. Once you’ve found 2 or 3 key phrases that bring up tweets worth responding to, you can save them as searches, then you just need to check in once or twice a day for updates.

5. Write to a plan

Using a tool like Hootsuite (it’s free) you can schedule tweets weeks and months in advance. So get into the habit of creating at least a week’s worth of tweets at a time and scheduling them in for times when you know your target audience will be active on there. Note- this doesn’t cover all your Twitter activity – you still need to engage with and respond to people too.

6. Stick to a schedule

You want to get results from Twitter, right? Well, it’s like anything – you need to stick at it and do it regularly to get the results you want. Dedicate at least 20 minutes a day to it, plus extra ‘maintenance’ and monitoring time and you will start to see the magic working.
So, spend 5 min twice a day checking for direct messages, @ mentions and re-tweets and responding to them (always trying to make conversation, rather than stall it.) In addition, check tweets from people in your lists and the results of your saved keyword searches at least once or twice a day.
Having a plan and schedule like this will ensure that you’re not just having a one-sided ‘broadcast’ conversation not aimed at anyone in particular, but building relationships with the right people as well as increasing the reach of your brand every single day.


What do you do to get the most out of both Twitter and your time? Please add your own tips to the comments below.

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  1. Reply

    When I first started out in social media marketing I was very dismissive of twitter.
    Now having a few years under my belt I see results every day.
    You have written some good tips, the only thing missing is the mention of Automated Tweets which can save you a lot of time and reach out to potential customers when you are otherwise engaged in other aspects of your business.
    Scheduling well-formed tweets about your latest products and services will help keep existing customers up to date.
    I use Sweeter Tweet which is currently free to tweet article links to my website.
    This has resulted in increased website traffic and increased enquiries.

      • Julia
      • January 9, 2014

      Hi Brian,
      Thanks for your comment and yes I agree wholeheartedly with scheduling info and content tweets – I use Hootsuite for this purpose (it has some fab inbuilt analytics too!). However, you can’t schedule interaction and engagement, so a mixture of pre-scheduling with checking-in live twice a day is the prescription I would advise!!

  2. Reply

    Good post, Julia. It’s also a good idea to schedule some of the time on Twitter to be joining in Tweet-chats which are relevant to your business. For example, we have a regular #ScotlandHour monthly for Scottish tourism, then #EdinHour for hyper-local networking around the city of Edinburgh. Food businesses – restaurants, farm shops, cafes and food festivals are starting a new #ScotFood chat monthly too.
    Of course these are Scottish-based, but there will be Tweet chats in relevant sectors or geographic regions which businesses can participate in, and it’s a good way of getting to know people who may be creating useful content in your sector.

      • Julia
      • June 2, 2013

      Thanks Susan – a great tip that business owners should definitely take note of. You can use the Twitter search function to find relevant Twitter chats for your sector or region.

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