As you may have seen last week, we recently published a white paper called Tweeting for Business. We have gotten very positive feedback so far, but we thought you might want a sort of preview of the kinds of tips we offer in that paper. Even though the white paper is free for download, we’re still asking you to make an investment of time.

With that in mind, here are five tips we offer for companies or individuals who want to use Twitter to help grow their businesses.

1. Make sure you have a profile picture: The Twitter “egg” default image does nobody any favors. Most of the time, the lack of a real profile picture makes people suspect that your account is a spam bot rather than a real person. Besides that, you want to give people something visual they can connect with, whether it’s your company logo or your own face. Let people know who they’re talking to, and show that you’re putting some thought into your account.

2. Mention (at the least) your company name in your bio: So many Twitter bios read like this: “Mother of 3, love cats, dogs, puppies, and sheep. #exercise #yoga fan. That’s all interesting and good to know for a personal account, but if you are expecting to help your business, this kind of bio does not do you any favors. The idea of a Twitter bio is to clue people in to what kind of connection they can expect to have with you. The logic goes that if you mention in your bio that you’re a marketer, for example, people, as they talk to you, will have that in the back of their minds. If there comes a time when they need some marketing, you’ll be on their short list of people to call because they already know you. If you talk exclusively about personal details in your Twitter bio, you’re not really previewing for people what you’re hoping to accomplish. You’re not explaining what you’ll be tweeting about or what kinds of people you want to network with. Use this real estate wisely.

3. Don’t follow all of the accounts with 100,000 followers or more: When I first joined Twitter, I took Twitter’s advice in terms of who to follow. As a result, I followed Yoko Ono,, Fast Company, and several other celebrity accounts. Oddly, these accounts did not particularly care about anything I had to say. The idea that maybe one time they would mention my Twitter handle and my life would be made was a tempting one to think about, but not entirely realistic. The fact is that a lot of the big accounts do not do a lot of interacting on Twitter, and hence they won’t help out your business much. Your best bet is to look for people who are participating in Twitter chats relevant to your business or to look for people who are at about the same place in their Twitter development as you. As you get more experienced, it’s fun (and helpful) to reach out to people who are new on Twitter. Helping other people out encourages them to respect and remember you.

4. Don’t just tweet as a broadcaster: We see a lot of business accounts that do nothing apart from tweeting their own blog posts or, even worse, their own press releases. Eventually, this becomes an online equivalent to white noise. It’s boring, and more to the point, you’re asking people to read your content when they don’t even know who you are. Make sure you converse on Twitter. Show that you’re human. Even talk about things (at times) that don’t directly impact your business. Consider Twitter like your office. You’re mostly work, but you talk about movies and other things you like too.

5. Prospects, not peers: There is a very easy trap to fall into when you start tweeting. Because you’re looking for chats and people to talk to, you can gravitate towards people who are in your same line of business versus the people you REALLY want to network with – potential customers. Remember, you need to find out where your customers, competitors, and prospects are hanging out, not where people in your line of work hang out. While networking with peers is great, and you can still meet prospects that way, the best way to realize ROI in the social media world is to begin to nurture relationships with people who may buy from you some day.

We hope these five tips are helpful. As always, if you have any questions just let us know!