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How to use Twitter for business

The ultimate break-down of everything small businesses need to get started on Twitter. Find your foolproof strategies for success here

There’s no getting round it anymore – social media is a must for small businesses. And if, like many small business owners, you're keen to channel your social media presence into two or three core networks, Twitter is a great choice.

First, let's look at why you'll want to use Twitter for your business. Twitter is an ideal space for connecting customers with brands.

According to a survey by Edison Research, Twitter users are three times more likely than Facebook users to follow a brand, and in Twitter's own study, 69% of its users had purchased from a small business after following it on Twitter.

Plus, people are there to discover new things – Twitter found it was the top reason people go to their site. So, if your goal is to get more eyes on you, Twitter is the place to be.

Now, let's turn to the big question many small business owners will be itching to have answered: how do you use Twitter to promote your business effectively? We're about to reveal all.

In this article we cover:

What's the best way to use Twitter?

With 80% of Twitter users having tweeted about a brand, businesses big and small are at the heart of the tweeting community. This makes Twitter a dream for small business owners and entrepreneurs.

Above all, Twitter will help you:

Get your message out
The Twittersphere is one of the fastest moving social media networks – sometimes stories break there before reaching the news. And now that you can advertise on Twitter, the sky's the limit.

Sculpt your brand
So long as you're not just shouting about your products on Twitter, it's a great place to curate the sort of content you'd like people to associate with your business identity. And best of all, you get to shape it.

Grow your business

Below we'll tell you about a tool, Crowdfire, that can help to boost your followers. Shortcuts like this are always an option to kickstart your Twitter journey if you're still finding your feet.

But in reality, there's only one way to build your business on Twitter – and that's through a super social media strategy.

Provide top customer service

Airline lost your luggage? Nowadays, many customers pick up their phones to tweet about it, before dialing any helpline. And since – according to Twitter’s own research – 77% of Twitter users feel more positive about companies after they've replied to them on Twitter, it's a must-have app for keeping you in the driving seat.

Having a Twitter account for your business opens its doors to people – both locally and worldwide – you might otherwise never get to connect with. But most importantly, it's a great place to engage with your customers.

Who can I engage with on Twitter?

In general, Twitter users are evenly split by gender, located in urban, suburban and rural areas, and more likely to be aged between 18-29.

We mentioned that Twitter is a social network for people looking to discover new things, but it's also many people's go-to for customer service.

As a small business owner, it's useful to zoom in on the types of customers you are likely to find on Twitter. After all, how will you make sure your messages speak to the right people if you don't have a clear understanding of your audience?

Here's a more detailed break-down:

twitter demographics

How to get started on Twitter


  1. Use hashtags – Twitter makes it easy to expand your audience reach using #hashtags. That's because people who are following #hashtags can find you, even if they are not your followers. There are even tools available which can help you discover the most relevant hashtags in your industry. We'll explore the best ones for small businesses on Twitter below.
  2. Schedule your tweets – Because you can't always be online, scheduling your tweets will be a life-saver. Again, there are tools that'll do it all for you, plus they can tell you when your community is most active. Just be careful to keep an eye on them, so you can jump in if anything needs changing in the interim.
  3. Shorten your links – Twitter is known for its bitesize posts – these used to be 140 characters (the size of a standard text), but they've just been doubled to 280. Still, if you want to pack as much into your tweets as possible, shortening links help you go that extra mile., HootSuite and Buffer will all do this for you.
  4. Find influencers – It's vital to start talking to the right people to turbocharge your marketing efforts. That means reaching out to industry influencers, so you get to piggyback on their huge followings. Just remember, 49% of Twitter users say they rely on influencers for product recommendations.
  5. Here's how a little web comic called The Oatmeal got Elon Musk talking:

    Twitter influencers Elon Musk

  6. Retweet away – Spotted an important tweet? Something your followers might enjoy seeing too? Retweets (RT) are perfect for giving members of your community a pat on the back, and benefiting from the great content already out there. You can either click the retweet symbol under the tweet (two arrows in a circle), or if you'd like to edit the post, just start your tweet with: “RT @username: …”.

Twitter etiquette and guidelines

Joining Twitter is like joining any community – there's a set of best practices to follow to be successful there.

Here are the three golden rules of Twitter:

  1. Don't spam – This is Rule Number One for social media marketing in general, and just as important for Twitter. Spamming is the quickest way to get unfollowed. You'll want to make sure you're sharing content your target audience will want to see. For more tips on this, you can read our three bullet-proof rules for small businesses on social media.
  2. Twitter isn't a megaphone – No one likes spending time with people who only talk about themselves – and it’s no different online. Think of Twitter as a telephone, not a megaphone. The best way to promote your small business is to add valuable content to conversations that draw potential customers to you, rather than scaring them off.
  3. Use Twitter handles – Twitter handles are the names people give themselves on Twitter. Whenever you're talking about someone, it's good practice to use their @username. Not only is it polite, but it encourages the people you mention to reciprocate with your posts, and help build your community.

How to get started on Twitter


How to use Twitter to promote your small business

We've given you the tips and tricks you need to get your small business started on Twitter. Now, we'll cover what you're really here for: how do I market my company as effectively as possible on Twitter?

Just remember these six strategies to give your small business the best chance of success:

Create content your audience wants

Of course, if this were easy, we'd all already be marketing pros already.

But to start you off, you'll want to check your content is at least one of these three things:

  • Engaging
  • Informative
  • Shareable

Just think about giving your audience a take-away, something they didn't know before.

And to help you structure your ideas, it's helpful share content that relates to three key areas of your brand:

  • Exciting business updates – Are you moving location? Or do you have a shiny new promotion?
  • Your company culture – What's your business about? What's it like to work there?
  • Select retweets – If you spot a tweet that resonates with your brand, share it
  • Know when to post

    Tweets can be impactful. But they do have a short life span. That means the key to fueling engagement with your brand will be posting at the right time.

    It's a good idea to tweet regularly (about once a day for most small businesses), and the times to aim for are 12pm, 5pm and 6pm – that's when most people are active on social media.

    But of course, it all depends on the day of the week, your industry and the timezone of your customers. If you're keen to get it spot on, there are tools available like SocialFlow that will fine-tune your posting times, based on your specific target audience.

    And most marketing tools will let you schedule your posts – we know you've far better things to do.

    Use multimedia

    Multimedia is a quickfire way to drive more engagement. 79% of customers would rather watch a video than read text about a brand (more on this next). And given the bite-size word count of tweets, images and GIFs will be your best friend on Twitter.

    Use Twitter video

    Social media video marketing exploded in 2017. An eye-watering 82% of Twitter users now watch video on the site.

    Plus, whereas most people use YouTube as a search engine, they turn to Twitter for video discovery. That means you have a chance of being seen on Twitter, even if you're still growing your followers.

    And you don't need to have any video experience to get some out there. There are free apps available like Lumen5 and Wotchit that can do the work for you. Or, Twitter's live video is an effective option.

    Consider advertising on Twitter
    Of course, the goal is to create content that's so dazzling everyone gives it the attention it deserves. But that's not always possible.

    So, Twitter gives you three advertising options to suit your budget and aims: promoted tweets, promoted accounts and promoted trends. Approximately, the first two could cost you anything from 30p to £3 per engagement, while promoted trends cost £150,000 per day.

    Advertisements can offer a good ROI (return on investment) when used in tandem with an effective marketing strategy.

    Recycle your content

    This strategy might seem counter-intuitive. But remember, tweets don't quite have the organic reach they used to. The average Twitter user has around 700 followers, so there's a good chance they missed your tweet the first time round.

    So, rather than sounding like a broken record, tweeting the same big news a few times a week or month is now considered best practice to give you a better chance of being heard.

    Check the weather

    Being active on a social media channel like Twitter can do more for your small business than you might expect. There are a number of tools that will let you measure how you're doing, who's engaging with your business, when your audience is most active, and much more.

    These insights will help you hone not just your tweeting skills, but can even inform your whole marketing strategy. And your Twitter account is a free source of all this invaluable data. We'll explain more below.

    Zoho Social analytics

    Here's an example of Zoho Social's easy-to-digest analytics

    Finally, just get tweeting
    Like any new toy, Twitter will take some getting used to, and the best way to learn how to use it is just to start. Now you know the basics, you'll find what works for you as you go along.

    What are social media management tools?

    Twitter can be a game-changer for small businesses. But like any social media platform, it can take time to get the hang of it.

    If you think your time is best spent elsewhere, or you’d just be keen to leave it to a pro, social media management tools are a great option.

    Perhaps you’ve already heard of social media managers like Hootsuite, SocialPilot or Sendible. These apps let you plan, create and track your social media content across all your accounts from a single interface.

    hootsuite dashboard

    Here's what the Hootsuite dashboard looks like


    How can they help my small business?

    Media management tools can give your posts an extra boost by scheduling them for the best times to get in front our your target audience. Plus, they provide expert feedback on your marketing strategy by offering up easy-to-digest analytics.

    This reporting feature can equip you with key insights into:

    • Your posts– How are your tweets performing?
    • Current trends – What's moving and shaking your industry?
    • Hashtag research – How do you speak your audience's language?
    • Your audience – What’s making your customers tick?

    This level of analysis can give you a leg up on your competitors, and help you stay in control of your business.

    Top 5 social media management tools for Twitter

    The list of social media management tools available today is vast. Here are the must-haves if you’ll be using Twitter – but most of them are also great to combine with your other social networks like Facebook:

    Tool Review Link Great for…? Star Rating
    Sprout Social Sprout Social Action-packed media management ★★★★★
    socialflow logo SocialFlow Getting heard on Facebook on Twitter ★★★★★
    AgoraPulse Agorapulse Fool-proof online marketing ★★★★
    crowdfire logo Crowdfire More followers! ★★★★
    socialoomph logo SocialOomph A hike in social productivity ★★★★

    We have a full page devoted to reviewing these social media tools – including the chart-toppers for shoestring budgets – as part of our list of the 15 Best Social Media Management Tools for small businesses right now.

    In a nutshell

    How can small businesses make the most out of Twitter? Of course, much will depend on your business strategy. But to get started with Twitter, just remember these three golden rules:

    1. What's Twitter good for? – The list is long, but the key benefits are: growing your business, getting found online, and engaging with new and existing customers.
    2. Who's on it? – Again, it's growing all the time, but expect to find a global mix of people looking to discover something new.
    3. How do you best promote your business on Twitter?– If you see Twitter like a telephone, not a megaphone, you're in with a good chance. And if you're still feeling shaky, remember there are a number of entry-level social media management tools to help.

    How can I get quotes for these tools?

    If you think social media management tools could give your small business an edge, or would just like to find out more, we’re here to help.

    At Startups, we think the fastest and easiest way to find out which tool would be great for you is to talk directly to the suppliers. That’s why we’ve designed a simple quote-finder to help you work out which ones fit your needs best, hassle-free.

    To get your tailored quotes, just take 60 seconds to fill in our quote-finder at the top of this page, and see how easy it is to get your hands on your best matches.

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