The first steps I’d take with Twitter as a small business.

Twitter is popular with the media.

It’s also popular with customers who want to get a hold of CS reps by raising a stink in an open forum.

But what if you’re a small business owner? What are your options?

Top of mind, this is what I’d start with:

Make your Twitter feed a utility for your business. This could be industry leaders, vendors, trade publications, influential personalities, business partners, known customers, whatever. It’ll depend on the type of business you’re in. A local brick n’ mortar shop is going to be very different from a remote client services business.

Respond and share. Listen in. Join conversations. Share stuff from others and tag them when you do. If you decide to provide customer support over Twitter, use a tool like Buffer Reply to manage requests in one spot.

Provide context. If I’m a potential customer and I check your profile and see what you’re sharing, I get context. I learn more about you than what a short profile bio can cover. This can build a bit of brand affinity.

Create lists. Take a moment when you follow someone to categorize them. This lets you sort the main Twitter feed into separate list feeds. Then, in Tweetdeck, add a list as a column. (I really, REALLY wish that lists were easier to manage in Twitter. It’s a neglected feature.)

Use Nuzzel. I love this thing. It automatically curates the links people are sharing into a daily digest. Super helpful for catching up on trending topics or important stories you may have otherwise missed.

Twitter is what you make of it, and your experience is entirely dependent on how you use it. If I was starting up a new Twitter profile for a small business, this is what I’d start with.

And yeah, I didn’t include anything about promotions or advertising in here, because I wouldn’t start with that. I prefer to start with lurking and listening.

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