Contractors Guide to Twitter

How can Twitter work for you as a contractor? Read our guide to find out.

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At the moment there are already around 3.7m people with a Twitter account in the UK, and around 10m worldwide. The company’s year on year growth is in excess of 1000%, in terms of members, and more than 50 million ‘Tweets’ are posted every day. It might not appeal to everyone, but with a capacity of that many people and registration totally free how can you afford not to be involved?

Firstly, what is Twitter?

For those that are not too familiar with what it is all about, Twitter is basically a site where members can post short messages or ‘updates’ about themselves, their brand or business, of 140 characters max, which can say anything about what they are doing or feeling, and can also include links to other website’s, documents, videos and so on. When you follow other people on Twitter, you see their Tweets, and when they follow you, they see your Tweets.

Getting started

Once you have set up an account you need to get people to ‘follow’ you. Remember, if you have a new account then apart from adding your friends there is no other way to find potential clients who may be interested in your business. The best way to get followers is to follow companies relevant to your business, and of course start ‘Tweeting’.

Now, you may be thinking, why would I follow a competitor or a similar company to mine and how will this help get me followers? Well, some of the benefits are:

  • You can view what your competitors are tweeting about – this is a good starting point to understanding how twitter works, what type of language is used, length of tweets and the type of topics that are making their page so popular.
  • You can view the followers – meaning should you feel that certain followers would be interested in your service, you can follow them and in return they should follow you.
  • You can ‘re-tweet’ a post that you and your target customers may find interesting – should you supply useful information (even if it is not your own) followers will realise you are there to help and not just to get a sale, one of the most successful ways of being memorable to potential customers.
  • You can supply feedback to people or businesses you are following – Should a follower ask a question relating to a relevant tweet, you can answer this. Meaning you add more credibility to you and your business.

The easiest way to find out if your competitors have a Twitter account is not by typing their names into the Twitter search box – unfortunately Twitter will only find you a ‘tweet’ of the company you are looking Microsoft on Twitter, you will only see recent tweets that have the phrase ‘Microsoft’ in them. The best way to find your competitors Twitter account details is to visit their website, they should have a tab that allows you to follow them, or alternatively type in their company name followed by ‘twitter’ into your website search engine.

Now, once people start following you, you’ll need to keep them interested. Posting messages about your daily life is one thing, but if you’re using Twitter as a business tool, you’ll want to stick to business type Tweets such as:

  • Special offers – Special prices for your products or services.
  • New articles – Tweets about new articles on your website – you can add links to your post by visiting URL Shortener, this website will shorten any link you are referencing so it will fit into your tweet post.
  • Hints and tips – Short tweets about information your followers will find useful.
  • Upcoming events or exhibitions – A way to let followers know where you are should they want to meet you.

We recommend you add one ‘tweet’ a day in order to keep followers interest.

It can be tough to keep remembering to Tweet if you’re not used to doing it. A helpful tool here is one of the many mobile phone applications which let you post messages from wherever you are – so you don’t need to be at your PC to do it.

More advanced options

Once you are more familiar with your Twitter account, we recommend some more advanced options to further increase your chances of gaining more followers and interest to your business:

  • Add #tag – A #tag (hash tag) is added into a tweet so that people can find you and your post that much easier. For example if you were looking for a human resources contract, by adding #humanresources to the end of that tweet, anybody searching for a human resources contractor will see your tweet.
  • Add pictures – Depending on your profession, uploading pictures to your Twitter account is a great way to demonstrate your skills, products etc.
  • Review your follower list – You may be thinking, why would I review my follow list, surely I want as many followers as possible? However there are some people who create accountants made to penalise your business. For example you could potentially be branded a ‘Pointless Follower’, you don’t want this reputation so by ‘un-following’ them they can no longer follow you, removing this negative aspect.
  • Add Twitter logo – Website, Blog, LinkedIn and email signatures – Adding a ‘follow us’ icon will only increase the chances of getting more followers and visitors to your Twitter page.

Twitter Feedback

Just as a gentle reassurance, see below some examples of businessmen, and women, who were unsure of using Twitter for their business but have found it to be one of their most useful resources.

Here is an example of how a copywriter engaged with people whom they would never otherwise make contact with:

“I looked at Twitter but couldn’t figure out why people would continually send out messages about the size of a text message, unless they were a teenager. Twitter was for sending updates they said. I don’t have time for updates, and besides, who would care? I then came across a peer in my industry that was using Twitter and suggested I follow her – and that’s when I discovered Twitter as a business tool. I’ve been in my particular niche for over 10 years and know who the players are (though they don’t know me). When I checked who she was following on Twitter, there they all were! It read like a ‘Who’s Who’ list.

I joined Twitter and began following and interacting with the people I respect. Other than a cold call on the phone or email, I would never have the chance to get my name in front of those vendors, industry analysts and industry experts. I’ve had a number of Twitter conversations that have also led to personal conversations.”

To stay front of mind with experts, this copywriter offers interesting links, responds to Tweets, and posts their thoughts for conversation at least a few times a day.

Twitter can help with generating traffic to your website and with developing leads. Here is an example from a marketing manager contracting in the UK:

“Twitter has all but replaced our PR agency, as a large percentage of our followers are press and analysts. A writer for ZDNet wrote about us and linked to us based on something we tweeted and that resulted in a huge spike in web traffic and at least one deal with a major service provider.”

Comments like these help to explain a little more about why Twitter can be an excellent business generation tool – but the best way to find out is to try it for yourself.

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