The Twitter Guide for Your Small Business

The Twitter Guide For Your Small Business

Is Twitter part of your social media marketing? If not, here are few facts that may make you reconsider that decision:

– Twitter has 500 million users sending out 58 million tweets every day; 60% percent of these users access the network via mobile.
– 51% of all active Twitter users follow companies, brands or products on social networks.
– In Q1 of 2013 Twitter was the 4th fastest growing social network in the world by active users, and Canada is among the top 15 countries.

Twitter is a microblogging site where users send out tweets (140-character messages) and follow one another to be able to read, reply to and easily share others’ tweets with their own network of followers. For businesses it is an amazing opportunity to promote, connect and share their stories with the vast Twitter community. Here’s a list of everything you need to know for your  small business to start seeing great results:

Set Up, Customize, and Optimize

There is no difference on Twitter between companies, individuals, imaginary characters or otherwise, – a Twitter account is a Twitter account. To start with the basic setup for your brand go to and fill in the required information. You’ll be asked for your full name (your company name), email address, password and username.

Twitter Guide for Small Business

Twitter Header 1252 x 626 pixels

Twitter username

Your Twitter username is very important because it is how other users who encounter your company page on Twitter will first see your brand. It’s also your profile title tag, so make sure to include your keywords if available. The limit is set up to 15 characters, but it’s wise to keep it short also because every time your followers tweet you they’ll have to include the whole name, so you don’t want to cut off more letters from their already short messages. You can change it later but it’s not recommended, since you may confuse the search engines that index your account.

Profile Image (Avatar)

Your photo is your business identity on Twitter, – it’s the part of your profile that people will see most often, since this image will be attached to every tweet you send out. Individual profiles are best with personal pictures, but as a company trying to build a community and establish authority you should use a branded image, your company logo, or get creative and develop something unique and interesting that catches peoples’ eye.

The size is 73 x 73 pixels on your profile page and 48 x 48 pixels in your tweets, but in some cases the photo can be larger so it’s best to start with a 300 x 300 pixel canvas and when the image is uploaded Twitter will automatically resize it. Supernova Tip: To make sure your photo is optimized for search use your account username as the image filename.

Header and Background Image

The Twitter header image is a lot similar to Facebook  and Google+ cover photos. It appears right behind your avatar, together with your account name, handle (username, like @nancyebain), bio, location and URL. Keep this in mind when choosing your photo so it will work well and won’t obscure the text. The recommended size for these images is 1252 x 626 pixels and certainly not below 640 pixels width.  Once uploaded you can move and scale it as you like.

If there’s a way to make your Twitter profile really stand out, that is through the background image. Select something that supports your story and enhances your online brand. On the left side of the image there’s a free space of about 110 pixels that you can use to share more information about your company and products. You can add some links, introduce your services, or even promote your latest ebook. It’s your choice.

To upload a custom background image: go to settings, then design, and then click “change background image.” The total image size should be around 1600px wide by 1200px tall.


Bio, Location and Website

Your bio is your chance to address your followers, to introduce them to your business and let them know what you will be tweeting about. Be brief and use your words wisely because you only have 160 characters.  Keep your message both crisp and interesting as well as informative. Since Google will scan your Twitter bio through its meta-description lenses it is very important that you front load it with your strategic keywords. As you can see I’ve used Supernova Media and Social Media Training and 360 Tours.

@nancyebain Twitter bio

Enter your business’s correct location. In advanced search users can scan Twitter by this criterion so why not let them find you? It’s also a great way to connect with your local community. 

When people visit your company Twitter profile there’s a chance they’ll click the URL that you have provided. Make sure the traffic is going to the right place. You can setup a custom landing page just for Twitter, link to your website homepage, or even better to your company blog if that’s the content you will mostly tweet about.

The Tweet Structure (and Twitter terms)

Twitter terms


Tweets are how your business communicates with your following on this social site. What’s included in the 140 characters is a brief phrase or headline, short link,and/or hashtags and mentions. You can also upload an image, and if you do make sure to use only high-resolution quality photos that relate to your tweets content.


Hashtags are used to mark keywords or certain topics in your tweets. They help you extend your reach beyond just your Twitter following. When others search your hashtags they can see your tweets in the results and join the discussion or follow your company profile if they find it useful and interesting. You can create your own to promote your business, products, contests, etc., or use the general hashtags, words and phrases that are related to your posts. Visit  to listen, measure and engage in Twitter conversations and select the ones that are fastest moving and seem to best fit your topic area. Don’t start your tweets with hashtags because it looks kind of spamy, and never use more than three in a tweet (too many will actually devalue your message).

what is a hashtag


Mentions are messages you are sending out that include other Twitter users names. They differ from @reply which is used to send in response to another person tweet.

If you tweet about a certain individual or brand you can @mention their Twitter username and the post will appear in their tweet streams. They certainly won’t mind the mention (except if the context is negative) and they can also retweet your post to their followers that way expanding your reach further.


Retweets or RT

When your company gets mentioned in a tweet make sure to retweet (RT). By retweeting you are actually forwarding another user’s tweet to all of your followers. The more your tweets are retweeted the more Google sees your content as important and worthy, which gives additional weight to your business online authority.

To gain more traffic you can also ask your followers to RT or retweet your tweets. Studies show such tweets actually get retweeted 10 to 23 times more than average.


Direct Messages (DMs)

Direct messages are private messages you can send to any user who follows you on Twitter. Just as anything else on this site DMs are also limited to 140 characters. Although many DMs are spam, they are still a great way for users to directly communicate with one another out of the public eyes. Make sure to check yours regularly.

ck dm example


If you want to keep your social media productivity on a high level you must stay organized. Twitter lists are a great way to curate your following so you can focus on the information coming from specific people and groups, while at the same creating some interesting links that will show up in search engine results.

twitter listsYou can create lists with your current customers and prospects, neighborhood or community businesses, professional organizations, with people you most often talk to, people who inspire you, etc. As soon as you enter the list name and short description you can select whether you want it to be public so other users can subscribe to it, or you want it private and accessible only to you. Use descriptive keyword phrases in your list names, like for example “Social Media Marketing” instead of just “Marketing”.

Twitter lists allow you to see the tweets from the list members in a separate stream. They help you distinguish these users from the rest of the crowd so you can pay attention to what they are saying. Members of private lists don’t know if they appear on them or not, unlike the public lists where they are notified if you add or delete them from the list.You can add any Twitter user to your lists, even if you don’t follow him or her.


Next to each tweet is a star symbol. If you want to save the tweet (like a bookmark) simply click the star. All your favorite tweets will then show up under ‘Favorites’.

Follow Friday:

Shown on Twitter as #FF and #FollowFriday every Friday on Twitter people recommend their favorite “tweeps”.   If you get a nomination you are on the right track with providing value to your followers. 

Supernova Tip for starters:

Twitter is an absolute powerhouse. Not only it is a great tool for you to communicate with your target audience and engage in conversations that are happening over the social web, but it’s also a great network where you can meet and prospect new leads and clients for your business.

People are constantly looking for new products and services that they haven’t used before or don’t know who to turn to for recommendations. So they ask the Internet. That is your chance to promote your offering and be their trusting friend in time of need.

tweet recommend

Using the Twitter search tool you can search the terms “Looking for” or “Recommend” to stir up some new customers for your business. See the above example? If you are in the SMM business you should definitely tweet Rebecca and let her know what you can do to help her increase her following on Facebook. If you don’t do it, somebody else will.

Recommended tools to build your community on Twitter:

Twitter search – This is the only search function actually hosted by Twitter. It’s extremely easy to use and offers comprehensive results.
Twellow – Similar to Twitter search except you can search by categories.

TwitDir – Cool because it breaks Twitter users into categories like the top 100 people followed and top 100 updaters.
WeFollow –  a directory of prominent people organized by interests.

follow meAnd make this all an ongoing process. Whenever you follow someone on Twitter, there’s a great chance they’ll visit your profile page to learn more about your company. Don’t just breeze through, but change things up every now and then and always tweak and improve so you can make your appearance better. We hope you enjoyed The Twitter Guide for Your Small Business. Connect with us on Twitter and if we’ve missed something, let us know in the comments!

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About Nancy Bain

Our services include building optimized, functional and self managed WordPress websites, Nova Scotia social media training and consulting, interactive full screen high definition virtual tours with lead capture and print advertising. For most of our clients, we are their one stop solution for all things marketing, branding and small business development related.