Twitter is a micro-blogging platform unlike Facebook and LinkedIn, promoting your business and using Twitter has a completely different set of rules to other social networks and is much more closer to a blogging platform then a closed social network like Facebook and LinkedIn where only friends and approved connections are allowed to see your content.
What is a Tweet, ReTweet, @'s and DM's?
Twitter is all about getting to the point. You are only allowed 140 characters, including your links so brevity is highly valued. This makes it a great network for those who are time poor, and are interested in quick bursts of information.
So what is tweeting? Tweeting is more of a public announcement (made in 140 characters or less) that is published on your account and is available to any user in the twitter network, allowing them to read your tweets and republish them onto their own twitter (which is also called "retweeting"). Getting a "re-tweet" is highly sought after because it means someone likes what you are saying so much, they want to share it with their follower network.
You can also publicly reply to tweets using the "@username" symbol and this can be to anyone and can be viewed by anyone on the twitter network. Whereas private messages or DM's are only allowed between users that follow each other.
What are Twitter users like?
Being a twitter user encourages you to be more open to anyone that is interested in what you have to say, because anyone can stumble onto your tweet and decide to follow you. This is the benefit of being on the network since you can speak to and find an audience without huge restrictions on who you can see. You'll also find that twitter users have less qualms with interacting with an array of acquaintances, unlike in LinkedIn who will need to approve you to be a "connection" or Facebook which requires you to actually be a "friend" of the person you want to speak to. That being said, Facebook allows you to reach beyond your own network in the form of advertising, but there is costs associated with that.
This culture of twitter users is what makes it more like a blog then a closed connected network. Simply because with a blog, anyone can stumble upon and read your content from Google or other websites and can choose to subscribe to you if they enjoy your content. People can choose to participate in your content without your prior approval. There are also exceptions though, and twitter has privacy settings that allow you to keep a lower profile, however most business users are using it to become more public.
In fact twitter is used by a lot of public figureheads and celebrities to share little details about their lives, and it's very common for them not to reply any tweets at them. This is considered "normal" and not rude, once you become popular on twitter. However if you aren't an A-List celebrity it is advisable to reply anyone that tweets at you, or they may lose interest in being your follower.
Easy access to the public makes using twitter for your business completely beneficial since it allows you to access a wide range of people that could be potentially interested in your products or services. These people are usually harder to reach on other networks or may cost more money to access.
So what can you do with twitter for your business?
Find your customers
Twitter search is such a powerful way to find your target audience simply by searching for keywords that relate to your business, you can easily identify what users are interested in your area of business, and if they are looking for a product or service. Connect with these users by following them or replying to their tweets and engaging them in a conversation.
Do market research
Twitter can even be a great market research tool as you can find what people are saying about any topic at any time. The great thing about twitter users is that they are not afraid to voice their opinions, good or bad, and this can be great for research, and dispute resolution.
Many corporate companies have dedicated customer service accounts, because sometimes it's easier for a user to tweet a question then send an email however for dispute resolution, never have a dispute resolution in the public twittersphere as it is recorded and easily read by other users. Always aim to take this to DM and then email. However tweet publicly to the user once the issue is resolved, is a great way for other users to see that you didn't leave the original customer hanging.
Find great content
A big part of using twitter is to find and share content. Following users allow you to create a twitter update list with great content and links that are relevant to your industry. It's a good idea to follow a mix of customers and opinion leaders in the industry to keep up to date with what's relevant and what's happening.
Interact with like minded people
The great thing about twitter is the fluidity of relationships. You can engage and connect with people based on interests and topics without having to find a reason to be their friends first. It's more like a meeting of the minds, if we are both interested in the same things then you can open up a conversation easily. I've also created some great meetings through interacting with people on twitter, and it was a lot easier then doing it through Facebook (where you might seem like a stalker) or LinkedIn (which is hard if you don't have an existing connection with them, don't want to pay for InMails, and don't have their email).
Make a sale
It is not unheard of to convert twitter followers into paying customers. If you have a loyal following of followers that listens to your every tweet, you already have a captive audience to sell to. This is why it is important to continually update your twitter with great content. It can create a warm lead, and I've known businesses that have made $10,000 sales just on twitter alone. You can generate leads as well by sharing e-book links and landing page links through your tweets. However it is advisable to keep this practice minimal or your followers will soon get sick of getting sold to.
Takes a little bit of getting used to, but it's worth it
Like any social network, twitter has its own culture, rules and nuances that need to be understood to maximise your experience and returns from participating in it. Personally, twitter was the hardest to get used to, but the most rewarding of all networks. What I love about it is that it offers something completely different to all my other existing networks and it's worth giving it a go if you haven't already.
If you have any questions about twitter please feel free to ask a question or leave a comment for me :)