You may not automatically think of Twitter as a business tool, however even Twitter itself has guides on how businesses can make use of the site to help sales and promotion. Businesses have now been using Twitter to help promote their goods and services for a while, and as a result of this many other companies are cashing in by providing more superior services than those given by Twitter itself. There are many third-party tools on the market which can further extend the use of Twitter to help you with your business. Here are some of the tools which are currently available:

Hootsuite allows a group of people to use Twitter from a single account. Their different profiles will be attached to one account so you can select which accounts you tweet from without logging in to each one separately. This will allow one person to tweet for others, which is ideal for large businesses where the top bosses may want to report on company happenings but not do it themselves. Businesses can also find out how popular the accounts are and what the referring websites were. You can use it to share lists between members of a team. You can now use it to schedule your tweets to appear at a particular time so you don’t need to be online when you want news to be announced.

Tweetdeck allows you to connect through Facebook and multiple Twitter accounts. This can be useful if you have an identity for business and one for personal use as you don’t need to log into each of these separately. You can customise the tool and create new groups, columns and saved searches. You can download a copy of this for the iPhone.

Twello is a directory of Twitter accounts that have been made public. You can use it to search for businesses and public users. This works in a similar way to the yellow pages and it is free to register your name on the list. This is useful for finding out what your business competition is, but also may alert potential customers of your existence on Twitter.

Group Tweet will allow business to send tweets without letting the whole word see. This is ideal for a team to communicate with each other while they are working on the same project but in different locations. A boss could use it to send messages to staff members as an alternative to email. There is no limit to the number of users who can be bundled together, so it can be suitable for small or large businesses. However some companies may not think it is a secure enough channel for sensitive communication with the workforce, but it very much depends on your way of working.

Followerwonk allows users to compare users, search Twitter profiles and analyse data of their followers such as gender, location and ages. This is ideal for a business who is trying to create a profile of who their customers and potential customers might be. You won’t be able to find out precise details of your followers but you will be able to build up a picture of who they may be. This is valuable market research for any business and the results can be really surprising. However it must be put into context, as not all of your customers will be Twitter users so may have a very different profile.

Topsy is a search tool that allows you to find videos and images, you can find old tweets and links, compare trends, discover new content and re-tweet counts. It is superior to the Twitter search as you can search much further into the past. You can analyse keywords, Twitter user-names and domain names for different periods of time. The tool is good at ignoring spam tweets. If you enter your domain and a competing company’s domain then you compare who has been the most popular.

Twitt(url)ly will look at the URL’s that are being shared on Twitter and rank them according the popularity. This can give you an important insight into what people who use Twitter are thinking about.

Cligs can help you with analysis of your traffic. You can find out a lot of details about the Tweets that visitors make about you. You will be able to find out who looks at your post, which ones work best as marking tools and who it is who clicks on your links.

These are just a small number of the tools available. Some are free and others incur a charge, fortunately many of the premium options have a trial available so make sure it will be really useful to your business if you are going to pay for it. Hopefully you can now see the value of using Twitter as a way of promoting your business, and see how Twitter tools can help to make your business start to flourish.