Guide

Twitter 101: A Practical Guide For Small Firms

When you are developing a presence for your legal or accounting practice on social media, it is important to analyze which networks offer the best opportunity to reach your target audience.

With more than 310 million active users worldwide and 65 million US users (more than 80 percent of which are between the ages of 25 and 65), Twitter has established itself as a crucial second link in every small business’ social media strategy.

Although it may not have the numbers of Facebook, Twitter is a valuable and easy-to-use platform to promote your small practice with several distinct advantages over its competitors.

Here are a couple of simple tips on creating and managing a business Twitter account to maximize your reach to potential clients while establishing yourself as a subject-matter expert in the fields of accounting or law.

Setting up a business profile

Creating a new Twitter account is a fairly intuitive process, as the sign-up wizard takes you through a step-by-step guide to build your profile.

By simply clicking the signup button on Twitter.com, you are able to input your name (or firm name), email address and password to begin the process. You will then be asked to input a phone number, which is optional, though you can receive text alerts and additional features if you include a mobile number.

Next is where you will choose your firm’s unique username, which is how you will be tagged in posts. For example, if your firm name is Sally Smith Advisors, you can simply remove the spaces and Twitter will automatically determine whether it is available.

Just be aware that there is a character count of 15 for your Twitter handle, so for the example above, you would be limited to @SallySAdvisors.

You will then be asked to input categories that you might be interested in, such as finance, accounting, taxes, legal, attorneys, etc., which will help Twitter find accounts for you to follow. You will also have the opportunity to import email contacts to find people you may know who may already be on Twitter.

After that, the account setup wizard is complete, and you can begin customizing your firm’s Twitter page with a brief bio, website URL, location, profile photo and cover photo.

Just like with Facebook, your images need to fit within Twitter’s size parameters, though you can use similar designs as your Facebook photos for both the profile and cover image.

Twitter best practices

If you are unfamiliar with the Twitter world, it may seem a little intimidating at first. However, the basics of tweeting are fairly easy to pick up, and like most things, it gets easier as you practice.

Before you step foot into the Twitterverse, be sure to keep a few things in mind so you fit in with the established norms and etiquette.

Brevity is king — Twitter is a unique platform in that it limits the length of your posts to just 140 characters, and that number drops even lower when you include a hyperlink. This means you need to get into the practice of condensing long and protracted thoughts into concise sentences.

Ensure your tweets have value — Similar to Facebook, you will only begin to gain followers if you are posting insightful content. Do not bog down your feed with blatant advertising; post helpful tips, shrewd observations, useful links and other forms of compelling content that demonstrate your value and expertise in your field.

Share other people’s tweets — Again, you want to integrate yourself into the Twitter community, and a good way to do that is share the interesting content from other accounts. While it seems counter-productive to share articles and graphics your competitors put together, the whole point of Twitter is to give your followers a reason to follow you, and it’s guaranteed that others have created something useful to your audience. Try to follow a ratio of 70:30  shares vs. original tweets.

Strike a balance with post frequency — There is a fine line between coming across to your followers as spammy or inactive when it comes to how often you send a Tweet. However, it probably makes sense for a new business account to appear more active as you attempt to gain a following, so you should try to at least post at least 3-5 times a day. Additionally, there are many services that allow you to schedule posts days or weeks in advance, so you do not need to spend time on Twitter daily.

Engage with the community — Twitter offers a great platform to start conversations with your followers and connect on a personal level. If you want to improve your reputation, be ready to spend some time responding to the posts of others, as well as responding to comments on your own tweets. Community participation is one of the fastest ways you can gain credibility and followers on Twitter.

Hashtag responsibly — In the Twitterverse, a hashtag (#) is simply a way to highlight a word / phrase / acronym as a sort of search term to easily lump your tweet in with that particular topic. You should use hashtags on occasion, but many make the mistake of going overboard and including a dozen hashtags in every post, which only serves to annoy your followers.

Networking opportunities abound

While it may appear overly time-consuming and not worth it to begin using new social media platforms for your small practice, the benefits of essentially free publicity and networking opportunities are hard to deny.

Twitter gives you a chance to engage with industry experts across the globe and gain new followers as you prove through creative and thought-provoking content that you are a leader of your profession.

While you won’t gain thousands of followers overnight, learning to use Twitter and engaging with the community will eventually pay dividends as a valuable asset for promoting your firm. You’ll also have the opportunity to stay up to speed on current events in your industry while simultaneously connecting with other leaders in your field.

Plus, you may just find that tweeting can be an enjoyable experience instead of a burdensome piece of your practice’s social media strategy.