Welcome to part two of this series on social media for small businesses. Having talked about both Facebook, today we’re giving you tips on how to grow your business’s reach using Twitter.

Twitter has nearly 330 million active users, the majority of its users have discovered a new small or medium-sized business there, and 94% of customers plan to buy from these businesses that they follow.

It stands to reason that companies can benefit if they can engage with their consumers there. So how should you go about finding new followers and interacting with them?

Be useful!

A lot of Twitter users primarily tweet about themselves, sharing only company updates, product details or sales pitches, rather than offering value to their followers, and accordingly, these users don’t have a large and loyal following to capitalise on.

Buck that trend by being useful, informative or even, fun! In short, give your followers a reason to follow and remember you. If you or your company is an expert in a certain field, and you know you're good at what you do, then call yourself an expert in your Twitter bio and share tweets that demonstrate your knowledge and skills. It has been shown that authoritative titles boost follower growth. so don't be afraid to put a title in your bio but more than this, when you "show off" your skills and expertise, make sure that it's serving your followers. For example, if you're a florist, offer flower care or arrangement tips, and share beautiful photos that your followers will both enjoy and benefit from.

Interact with other influencers in the industry and provide advice to people that need it. You don’t need to be serious and solemn to be an expert, so be sure to keep a dash of personality in your communications as well. As ever, people want to engage with the faces behind a brand, not an inanimate, polished entity.

Perfect the art of Twitter

Twitter, more so than other platforms has a character limit for each post you share, and that’s one of its biggest differentiating factors. Even though it has recently announced an experimental doubling of its character limit, to 280 characters, for some users, most accounts will still be limited to the standard 140, and getting your message across in that short a form isn’t always easy.

Be creative and look for ways to tweet succinctly, whether it’s through mastery of shorter synonyms, abbreviations or acronyms common in your field, or substituting in numbers and symbols.

If you’re really stuck, open a longer thread of ideas with an introduction and then set out your points in replies. Often users will tweet something like ‘Long thread incoming! Going to be giving you tips/info/my thoughts on…”

Notice, of course, that you should be providing information and value, especially if you’re indulging in a few tweets at once!

Make use of images

If you want to capture people’s attention on Twitter, as with most mediums, then pictures are the way to go.

Their contrast with text-only tweets makes them stand out in a user’s feed, and they are also 150% more likely to be retweeted, which will broaden your exposure and help you to more organically reach a greater number of potential customers. Sharing a simple photograph from your company’s working day can often be enough to grab customers’ interest and liven up your feed.

Have clear calls to action

A call to action, or CTA, tells people to do something. It’s a fundamental marketing concept but one that’s hard to consistently get right as businesses are often afraid of pushing too hard for interactions or sales.

But CTAs work, to the point that even Twitter highlights effective ones on their blog. Simply asking for follows, retweets, and downloads will result in more of the desired action, as long as you offer people something in return or you give them something worth sharing, or commenting on.

It takes time...

Remember that building a brand following takes time, especially if you’re a small business with a lot of other concerns on your plate! It’s definitely OK to start small and see what you can build, so don’t be disheartened if you don’t see results straight away. As with all social media, it pays to be consistent, community-focused and committed to being useful, interesting or entertaining, rather than trying to constantly sell, sell, sell.

About the author

Jake Waller is a wordsmith who plies his trade here at Findmyshift. He uses his background in engineering to simplify complex topics for a variety of tech firms. When not writing for Findmyshift he blogs under a pseudonym at My Name is Skylance and has a passion for creative writing and editing, about which he's always talking on Twitter.