Social Media

Tweeting helps businesses to fly

Think tweeting is just for the birds? Not anymore.

Tweeting is what millions of people are doing daily on the free micro-blogging service Twitter to keep others in the know.

While it's not clear how many businesses are now on Twitter, more and more companies, including Starbucks and Dell, are using Twitter to help build and monitor their brands, manage their reputation and improve customer relations, say experts.

"Twitter allows companies to connect with the people that matter most to their business," says Rodney Rumford, author of "Twitter As a Business Tool" (Click here to download from and president of Gravitational Media, an online branding consultancy in Solana Beach, Calif.

But it can be confusing at first glance, say experts. When you register for Twitter at, it displays a box where you can post what you're doing at any particular moment in 140 characters or less.

Many people can't figure out what to do beyond that point, explains Twitterer John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing, a Kansas City, Mo.-based marketing-coaching firm that provides a guide to using Twitter for business at

There are several ways to use Twitter for business. You can use it to position yourself as an expert source by posting, aka tweeting, helpful tips and advice.

You can also use it as a resource to follow key people and decision makers in your industry, explains Arthur Germain of Communication Strategy Group, a brand marketing agency in East Northport, who's on Twitter.

You can find people on Twitter by putting their name into the site's "find people" search tool or through online directories such as or To follow someone, you would click the "follow" button next to their name, says Germain.

By doing this, you would then see any posts, or "tweets," they make on Twitter.

"I follow people that matter most to my business," says Rumford, who's using Twitter to create buzz around the launch of a new Twitter photo-sharing service called TweetPhoto.

Many times by electing to follow people, it helps build your own Twitter following because they in turn follow you, explains Iyna Bort Caruso of Sweet Lime Inc., a Rockville Centre editorial agency.

If you're looking to use Twitter as a lead-generation tool, you can try following people who could be potential customers. There's also an advanced search function in Twitter accessible through that allows you to specify down to the topic and geography or radius key terms you're looking for, says Jantsch.

For example, a franchise broker can search key terms like "buy a franchise" to see who has been posting about that topic. You can also punch in your company name or competitor's name to see what's being said, good or bad.

There are tools like and that scour Twitter and help you find keywords you want to track, explains Andrew Hazen, author of "Search Engine Optimization: Plain & Simple" (Angel Dough Media; $29.95) and chief executive of Prime Visibility, an Internet marketing firm in Melville. Hazen uses these tools to track conversations daily on Twitter that mention search engine optimization or Hazen and Prime Visibility.

There's an abundance of Twitter tools on the Internet, notes Hazen, who has compiled a list of them at

He uses Twitter to position himself as an expert source by posting helpful URLs and tips daily, as well as to drive traffic to his news aggregator site,, by posting headlines of the day on Twitter and providing a link back to the BreakingNews site.

The key is to post helpful information your target audience will find of value, says Caruso, who holds workshops on using Twitter.

"There are some people that, every other tweet is about them," she notes. "I now know to skip over their posts."

So make every tweet count.

After all, you've only got 140 characters to engage your audience.

Optimizing Twitter

bulletCreate a custom Twitter background so people visiting your page know exactly who you are.
bulletCheck out
bulletAvoid being too self-involved; figure one out of every seven or eight tweets can be self-promotional.
bulletActively tweet.
bulletPost content about events.
bulletRetweet other people's substantive tweets.
bulletTweet questions to engage your audience.
bulletTweet links to helpful Web pages.
bulletAdd your blog posts.

       Sources: John Jantsch, Arthur Germain, Rodney Rumford, Andrew Hazen, Iyna Bort Caruso

About The Author: Jamie Herzlich writes a "Small Business" column for Newsday, Long Island, New York.

Source: Newsday * April 20, 2009  *

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