A growing number of businesses and individuals — more than 200 million active users and counting — use Twitter to instantly communicate information in 140 characters or less.

Using Twitter for BusinessArmed with personalized “handles” like @ExampleBizName, business owners can leverage this “microblogging” social network to connect with others in their industry, reach out to current and potential customers, and establish themselves as thought leaders in their community.

Every time you publish a message, or “tweet,” your followers can see it, comment on it, and share (retweet) it. By the same token, you can build your Twitter network and establish yourself as a worthy Tweep by replying to and retweeting tweets that resonate with you.

Moreover, marking relevant topics or keywords with hashtags—such as #sales and #pets—can help your tweets attract the attention of like-minded viewers (i.e. potential customers).

For businesses, Twitter offers a great platform for sharing information about products and services (including photos and videos), special offers or discounts, and messages to establish industry street cred. For example:

  • It’s spring-cleaning day @MyExampleToyCompany! Mention this tweet at your nearest Acme store today for 10% off.
  • Join @AmazingBusinessAdviceGuru for a free #sales networking seminar. Visit www.joetbizking.com to sign up.
  • What’s your fave #cookie dough? @MomsCookieConnection would love to know!

How to start using Twitter for business

  1. Create an account. Twitter makes creating an account easy; you just need your name, email address, password and user name. User names on Twitter are different than any other social network. When people Tweet about your company, they’ll use @yourusername so that you can see their tweet. If you can, incorporate your company name into your Twitter handle.
  2. Learn the lingo. Twitter has its own language. You’ll need to understand it to get the most out of this social environment.
  3. Nail the business basics. Check out tips for maximizing Twitter to build your business (Hint: Tweets with links, photos, videos, and quotes are shared twice as much) on Twitter’s business basics page.
  4. Start tweeting!