Twitter Guide for Small Business Part 1 Setup and Terminology


If you are a small business owner, you have probably been watching social media explode. At first it was considered a trend, then a new way to communicate with friends and family, and now it is one of the most effective ways to advertise and communicate with the people you value most: your customers.

But where do you start? We hear this question all the time from small businesses and beginners just starting to use Twitter so below you will find a Beginners Guide to Twitter For Small Business.

The guide takes beginners through 5 steps for using twitter effectively;

  1. Twitter Setup and Terminology
  2. Good and Bad Etiquette
  3. Twitter Strategy
  4. Growing Your Community
  5. Measuring Impact

Twitter Page Setup

Part One of the series on Twitter for Small Businesses will discuss implementing a foundation from the ground up, starting with the very basics. It will cover the necessary assets to set up a Twitter account and explain Twitter terminology.

1. Profile picture.

The best choice is a personal picture because people are more inclined to interact with a personal face. However, if a logo is the best representation, make sure its a high quality picture and fits nicely in the profile picture slot. Aesthetics are important.

Profile Photo/Avatar Dimensions

Twitter recommends a 400×400 minimum here, and the image should be a square (although you can crop during the upload). Again, I recommend saving to as high a DPI as you can – I believe the maximum file size is 2MB although this is no longer specified by Twitter.

The profile photo scales down to 200×200 on your profile page, gets even smaller in timelines, and blows up to full size when somebody clicks on it, so make sure your image looks clear at all scales.

2. Header Photo

This is a new feature that rolled out with the recent Twitter profile design. Some say it mimics the Facebook design, and it kind of does, but we still like it.

Header Photo Dimensions

This is the main image across the top of the screen. Twitter recommends 1500×500 pixels but the header photo will always blow-up to be screen-wide, which means a 1500×500 image can look pretty lousy on a 27-inch monitor unless it’s saved at a very high resolution. Otherwise, it pixelates.

So, either upload a 3000×1000 photo or save your 1500×500 image at the highest possible dots per inch (DPI) you can you manage to squeeze it under the 5 megapixel limit.

3. Bio and business website link.

A solid biography is one of the most important features of your account, as is including a link to your business website. The biography gives your account validity and the website link offers interested consumers and followers a direct link to what the business offers.

Make sure to include keywords in the biography like, marketing, restaurant, etc. so other people in the same industry are able to locate you easily.

Twitter Terminology

1. Follow

To follow someone on Twitter means to subscribe to their tweets, which are comprised of personal comments, news pieces, industry information, pictures or videos. These status updates or tweets appear in the timeline, which is the vertical flow of information you see on Twitter.

2. Follower

A follower is a Twitter user who is following you. They do not need permission to subscribe to your tweets unless your account is private. But having a private account for a business is not advisable, under any circumstances.

3. Following

This is the number of Twitter users who are following you or other people.

4. Hashtag

Represented with a # symbol, the hashtag is used to mark topics or specific keywords in a tweet. It is an invaluable way to landmark tweets and make it easy for users to find them.

5. Mention

By using the @ (at) symbol in front of a tweeter’s username you are mentioning a specific user in the body of a tweet and may include as many users as possible.

6. Reply

Very similar to Mention, the Reply is used to respond directly to a user. Click on the Reply button next to a tweet and the username will automatically generate.

Both Mentions and Replies will show up in the Connections tab (more on Connections, below).

7. RT or Retweet

RT is the abbreviated version of Retweet and is placed directly in front of a user’s tweet. By RT’ing a tweet, it forwards the tweet to your followers and shares the information.

It is an easy way to share industry-specific information with your followers, spread news and begin relationships. By RT’ing someone you push their name out into a new pool of tweeters who may become followers or appreciate the shared information and start a conversation.

But remember, when RT’ing be polite. Make sure to thank tweeters who RT your tweets. Start a conversation or say hello. Not everyone thanks their RT’ers, but those who do have a much richer Twitter community around them.

8. Favorites

Favorites can be used in many ways. Similar to Reply, it is a button on a tweet that adds it to your Favorites list.

This list can be used to save articles or tweets you want to read later, important information or a reminder of those who interact with you.

It is a powerful way to save information.

9. Listed and Lists

To be Listed is to be included in someone else’s Twitter list. To create Lists is to generate your own lists based on criteria decided by you. They are labeled in whatever manner is best for you, whether an industry Social Media Peeps or region New York City Socialites.

By creating a list, it generates a Twitter timeline solely compromised of those users tweets. It filters out excess information and is useful to check out local activities or industries of interest.

Be aware, lists are not private and users know when they are added to a list you created.

10. Trends

Trends are trending topics based on who you follow and your location. It includes worldly and local trends and can be customized to focus in on a desired location. However, some trends populate regardless of the personalization on the account.

11. Connect

The Connect tab is a focused stream of your interactions, whether through mentions, RT or follows. It shows all the account activity and is useful to stay on top of who is interacting with you.

12. Discover

The Discover tab is a playground of sorts, dedicated to making Twitter more engaging and fun for you. It will tell you Who to Follow, share Stories and give you a chance to find friends among a few other features.

Basically, it is discovering what Twitter algorithms think is good for your business and how it may enhance the experience.

13. Direct Message or DM

The Direct Message feature allows you to message someone privately or receive their messages privately, but you must be following one another to share a message.

DM’s are sometimes used to send automatic messages to new followers and while this may seem like a good decision, most users are turned off by the practice.

It removes the genuine interaction that should occur when a user begins following another. Taking the time to send a Mention to a new follower is the best choice because you welcome them in a public format and thank them for becoming a part of your community. These interactions are very beneficial and start real relationships.

The setup tips and terminology are the basics to creating a solid Twitter foundation. Stay tuned for the Twitter for Small Businesses series, and please share any information you think is useful for new users.

14. #FF (Follow Friday)

This is an addition to the Twitter lingo section as #FF (short for #FollowFriday) created back in 2009 by Twitter users, and has since become a customary Friday activity.

An #FF is a shout out, a show of appreciation, a nice thing to do.

Each Friday, you recommend Twitter profiles that you appreciate and enjoy to all of your followers. The idea being that your #FF recommendation will encourage others to check out that profile, generating more followers for them.

Tip: Most people just do something like “#FF @person1, @person2, @person3, @person4, @person5″, I would suggest taking a different approach. Do 1 person in each of 5 #FF. Spotlight that person and say thank you or give some other info about them – this makes it more impactful and personal. Also, don’t forget to hashtag (#) the post #FF.

Now that you understand the basics of setting up your twitter account and some of the lingo used on Twitter, be on the look out for part 2 of the Twitter Guide for Small Business.