Quick Tips for Growing Your Business on Twitter

Twitter is aiming to help small businesses use their 140-character messages more effectively with a new 20-page guide.

Yes, there is a section that encourages businesses to fork over cash for Twitter’s Promoted Products advertising. But the rest of the guide is a good, free primer to using the service to grow your business.

The guide-divided into the sections Get Started, Engage Your Audience and Amplify Your Impact-will help you understand basic Twitter terminology; understand that Twitter is a dialogue, not a monologue (you can’t just shout about your products); and instill Tweeting as a habit, the last of which is necessary to make your account feel lively and up to the minute.

Particularly helpful is a Twitter weekly timeline for a small business. It uses real-life examples from businesses such as Murray’s Cheese and Delta Faucet to suggest a range of ways you can both create content and promote your brand without necessarily mentioning your products.

Wednesday, for example, could be the day you offer helpful tips (recipes if you’re a chef; fashion advice if you’re a boutique). Thursday could be the day to highlight press mentions. And Friday could be the day you focus on people at your company (the guide includes a Murray’s Cheese tweet featuring a photo of interns posing with their favorite cheese).

It also suggests incorporating Twitter into plans for product launches, holidays or seasonal events. “Just because Twitter happens in real time, it doesn’t mean you can’t look ahead,” the guide says.

Some other useful advice: Twitter has observed retweets most frequently contain links, photos, videos or quotes. It also suggests following reporters or news outlets that cover your topics, and retweeting relevant comments or insights. “Not only will you provide interesting content to your followers; some of those reporters will follow you back,” it says.