The Startup’s Guide to Twitter in 3 Easy Steps

As a startup, there are so many important business processes that go into making your great idea successful. Social media can often get pushed to back of the line, but it should be a key part of your outbound PR and marketing plan.

The most important first step is to determine which social media channels are appropriate for your business and will most directly reach your target audience. Between Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, Google+, LinkedIn and more, there are a lot of options and it can be overwhelming. Let’s use Twitter as an example. Here are a few tips to ensure you’re getting off to a good start and using this popular platform in the most effective way.

  1. Create your profiles— First, if you’re in stealth mode, consult with your PR advisor about how to build and engage with your audience, while preserving your launch.  For companies that are launched, the first step is to determine how many Twitter accounts you should establish for your startup. The most obvious one should be one for your company with a recognizable username such as @companyname or @companyapp.After that, decide if it makes sense to create a separate Twitter account for different divisions or functional areas such as customer support. It’s best to keep the company Twitter account separate from support/customer questions so your Twitter stream isn’t filled with technical questions, problems and responses.Lastly, it’s important that the E-Team have separate, individual Twitter accounts. Customers, partners and the press like to associate a “face” with a brand; it humanizes the company and reminds customers that they are dealing with real people, not a cold entity. Pete Cashmore (@petecashmore) of Mashable has done an excellent job of this.
  1. Build Followers— You need to build your audience before you can engage in conversations. This should include following your customers, employees, partners, investors and most of all, your key influencers. Be sure to follow all of your target publications, reporters and market analysts.If you want your company to be in TechCrunch, you should be following all of the TechCrunch reporters who cover your space on Twitter.  If you want your customers to support your PR activities, you should be following them on Twitter.   Following anyone on Twitter also gives you valuable insight into their personality and what’s important to them.
  1. Engage—While it’s important to tweet on a regular basis, you want to make sure you maintain a good balance between discussing important trends, industry news and company news. It’s easy to get caught up in talking about what you’re doing internally, but your Twitter followers also want to see what your thoughts are on the latest business, industry trends and news. Many companies also inject humor and discussions of interest to their followers, but not necessarily directly related to their business.You’re already following your most important publications and reporters so monitor their conversations, share their articles, add your perspective, and ask your followers questions.  And if a tragedy occurs you shouldn’t be tweeting what could appear to be promotional or insensitive remarks.  Some companies chose to remain silent during these times, but many express what many others are feeling, e.g. Toyota Racing after the Napa Earthquake last month.Remember, Twitter is about conversations and relationships, it’s not a one-way broadcast platform.

Now you have the foundation set for Twitter and you can continue to build your audience and your company’s exposure. You are well on your way to hosting joint social media chats with market analysts, community hours, webinars with customers and advertising your account for more leads.

Cameron Smead, Account Director @cameronsmead