How To Twitter Like A Normal Person

Twitter is a great way to communicate and meet new people with similar interests. If you run a business you can leverage Twitter to help promote your brand but it can all seem a bit overwhelming.

By now everyone knows what Twitter is but lately it seems like it's filling up with spammers and people are just plain doing things wrong. If you're just getting started, or if you're having trouble getting the results from Twitter it might be because you're not coming off like a genuine person.

I've had some fairly successful Twitter accounts (this one is new) and I've learned a bit by helping others and spent time examining how some businesses found success with Twitter. I'd like to share the key points I learned that can help you promote your company through Twitter including some Do's and Don'ts of business tweets.

What is Twitter?

For those that have been living under a rock, Twitter is a very successful social networking site where you can connect with others and send short messages that are broadcast to the entire system but only people that choose to follow you may actually read it.

Imagine you had a customer service phone line in your office that  anyone who wanted could listen in on. Sounds a bit scary at first but it's a very effective tool to communicate with your customers and partners that can increase brand loyalty and boost sales.

A message on Twitter is called a Tweet or status update. Anytime someone tweets something, it will be displayed in their followers "timeline" when they're connected to Twitter through the twitter website or using a desktop or mobile Twitter app.

Benefits Of Getting Your Business On Twitter

You want people to talk about your business to help raise awareness of your products and/or services. Twitter provides an environment where one little message can spread quickly and reach hundreds of thousands, even millions of people.

It can help drive traffic to your website and these days it's an important part of almost any online identity.

It also opens up a new channel of communication for existing customers and potential customers. 

Setting Up Your Twitter Business Account

Twitter is free to use. You can create a twitter account by going to


  • Try to keep your Twitter username short. Tweets are only 140 characters long and sometimes your username will be part of a messages (more on that later)
  • Include full business name. You can put a longer business name in the display name field.
  • Link to your website. Add your business' website URL in your profile.
  • Explain your business to people who don't know you. Provide a short but descriptive blurb about your company so that others can quickly ascertain what you're all about. Use broad strokes and use important keywords.
  • Express your brand. Change your profile colors and background image to match your brand.
  • Include your logo. Upload a version of your logo in a square format that can be used as your profile pic. It's important that it's easily identifyable in the relatively small size users will see in their timeline.
  • Get Verified. Twitter has a system where big brands and famous people can have their twitter account verified so that users know you're not an impostor.


  • Don't lose control of your twitter account. Use a separate email account that is controlled by your company and don't create the account using an employees personal email.
  • Don't not use Twitter :)

Have Real People Tweeting

The nice thing about Twitter is that it connects your company with real people. Real people tend to prefer talking with real people. Personal connections increase brand loyalty.

It's okay to send out some automated tweets if you think it would beneficial for your customers and those interested in your sector, but try and separate those into their own twitter account if it's more than a half dozen or so a day. 


  • Include Twitter in your communications policy. Come up with a policy for those who manage the twitter account(s) so that they accurately represent your company
  • Don't leave twitter up to one person. Have multiple people with good public relations or customer support experience with the know-how to manage the twitter account. That way when one's sick or on vacation or otherwise indisposed you're account doesn't go silent.
  • Use powerful Twitter tools. Use software like TweetDeck to manage your account especially when multiple people have access to it or you're managing multiple accounts. TweetDeck is also available on mobile devices to help those that are constantly on the go.

Find Good People To Follow On Twitter

One of the first things you'll be asked to do is follow people on Twitter. With your twitter account you will also have your own timeline and will be able to keep up with people and entities you feel have something important to say. You can find people to follow by doing searches. I wouldn't recommend uploading your whole contact list so they can try and find people. Most people consider that proprietary information.

If you're not reading tweets you're not using Twitter's full potential!


  • Follow your people. Follow any of your executives, high profile employees or spokes people. 
  • Follow your partners. Follow the accounts of any companies you work closely with and their top employees if they are on Twitter.
  • Follow your industry. Follow any professional or trade organizations that are related to your business.
  • Follow your industry media. Follow some key publications and journalists that report on your sector.
  • Follow supporting businesses. Follow other businesses in your local area that do not compete with you. These companies may have some of the same concerns based on their location and you want to know what they're talking about.
  • Follow politicians. Follow public officials and offices that are important to your business based on either their authority over your locality or industry.
  • Follow your charities. Follow any non profits and charities your organization supports.
  • Follow people that help promote your industry. Search for terms related to your business and see who's talking about them. Look at their recent history of tweets and decide if the information they relay will be valuable to your business.


  • Don't just talk listen. There's a reason people are following you on twitter and that's because it's a great way to communicate. Don't just broadcast messages find people that are important for you to listen to.
  • Don't follow too many people because you'll miss out on important updates when your timeline is blowing by at 100mph because you're following thousands of followers.
  • Don't follow people just because they follow you. You just can't follow everyone and many people will follow you just because they hope you follow them. If that's the only reason they follow you, they don't care about what you have to say anyway.
  • Don't consider being followed or following as any status symbol or honor. 
  • Don't follow people only so they can follow you back. When people see you have 10,000 followers and you're following 9,000 people they know what's going on. Just like web traffic, quality is more important than quantity.
  • Don't follow any one that is following more than a few hundred, maybe 1,000 people (unless what they say is important to you) The probability of them noticing your tweets in their timeline is low. Why bother following them with the hopes they follow you back.
  • Don't follow anyone that tweets way too much. Again there are some exceptions to this but there are very few people that can say a lot and have it mostly be worth reading. If someone has 10,000 tweets and only a dozen followers there's usually a good reason for it.
  • Don't be afraid to unfollow people. Some people take this personally but you're not online to make people feel more popular. Consider moving these people to lists if having them in your timeline isn't as useful as you thought.

Use Twitter Lists

People are overly obsessed with their follow count and many feel put off if they follow you and you don't reciprocate. If you serve a big market and get a lot of followers, following everyone that follows you will make your timeline completely unusable. 

You may have a customer that is very loyal to your brand, who follows you and tweets or blogs about your company and products from time to time. He's also an avid camper and that's what 90% of his tweets are about. Camping has nothing to do with your business so it wouldn't make sense to add his tweets to your timeline. Adding him to a list gives him some recognition and also allows other people that follow you to help find him.

Lists can be made public or private. Private lists allows you to add people whose tweets you want to check in on from time to time but don't necessarily want to help promote, like your competitors.

How To Get People To Follow You On Twitter

Be someone that's interesting, relevant and informative. Possibly a little funny if it doesn't clash with your business. With a new Twitter account and no tweets it can be difficult to get people to notice you unless they already recognize your brand. Just start tweeting and wait, people will come. Many people will follow other users in hopes that they follow them back. Don't play that game. Building up a presence on Twitter takes time. If you take shortcuts on Twitter  your customers may wonder if you're taking shortcuts with your products.


  • Make your tweets interesting. 
  • Have focus. Make your tweets about your company and things that are important to your clients.
  • Tweet important updates about your business, products or services.
  • Tweet links to important blog posts.  Your business is blogging right?
  • Tweet links to relevant news stories or blog posts  you've read on other sites that would be of interest to your customers or people interested in your market. Do you own a bike shop? Send tweets about local events and news related to cycling.
  • You can tweet pictures. These can include photos from company events, seminars, or even with their permission, pictures of your employees doing interesting things at work.
  • Tweet about occassional special offers.
  • Advertise your twitter account on your website, in your emails and other forms of communication.
  • Ask others to promote you. After you've posted some tweets ask close business associates that already have an established twitter account to introduce you to their followers.
  • Be appreciative. Pay attention to other twitter users that mention you or tweet links to your site. Express your appreciation to them. For some make sure you respond to them so that their username isn't the first thing in the tweet, that way it goes out to all your followers. Retweet some of those tweets.
  • Give stuff away. Consider contests for people that follow you.


  • Don't be discouraged. Building a following takes time and the shortcuts aren't worth it. Also consider the size of your market. If you're a tailor in a small town in Kansas and use twitter to promote your business, it doesn't do you much good to have thousands of followers all over the world.
  • Don't pay for followers or any free service that claims they will get you more followers! You want relevant people that are interested in your business. If you're in a small market or just starting out on twitter it's okay to not have 10's of thousands of followers.
  • Don't tweet so much you annoy users and look like spam.
  • Don't tweet too often. Don't send two tweets within at least 30 minutes or so of each other unless you're replying directly to someone or you're continuing or correcting a previous tweet. Note that doesn't mean you have to tweet every 30 minutes! (When you reply to someone it usually doesn't show up in all your follower's timelines)
  • Don't let a business day go by without at least one tweet.
  • Don't be a wallflower. Search for words and hashtags (words prefixed with # to mark a topic) to see what other people are talking about and try and be a part of the conversation if it's relevant to your industry and you feel you have something of value to contribute. 
  • Don't talk about politics, religion or unrelated topics that can divide your customers unless your company is taking an active and public stance on an issue.
  • Don't tweet your entire product catalog or other things that are just spam. 

How To Get ReTweets

A ReTweet is when someone on Twitter reads one of your tweets and thinks it's something his or her own followers will want to read. One of the main reasons you're on Twitter is to try and get retweets because it increases your exposure exponentially. You know the old viral lift, you tell two friends, they tell two friends who also tell two friends deal.

There are some things you can do to help get your tweets retweeted.


  • ReTweet other tweets. People will be more willing to retweet you if you don't make it all about you.
  • Make your tweets retweetable. A retweet takes the form RT: @username [original tweet] so try and leave room for those extra characters. Your tweet should be no more than 140 - 4 - [length of your username].
  • Have employees retweet some items. Have key employees and business partners that may have their own following on twitter retweet any tweets you feel are important. It is important to stagger your retweets to gain the most exposure. If you're announcing a new product have other employees retweet at certain intervals so that users that access twitter at different times are more likely to see it. Ex: The business account tweets in the morning, the CEO retweets late morning, CFO retweets at noon, etc. You also don't annoy those users that follow all those accounts by sending them the same message multiple times all at once. 
  • Express urgency. This isn't something you wan't to overuse because it becomes ineffective but if you have something you feel is important include words that express that. Start your tweets with Breaking News:, Important:, Just announced:, etc.
  • Ask for retweets. Use this sparingly but if there's something absolutely important that you wish to be reweeted include language such as "please retweet". The few times you do this don't make it all about you or your company. Make it something that would be important to your customers. If you're a manufacturer of camping equipment and you posted an article on your blog expressing your concerns on let's say a law being presented that could cut spending to national parks and reduce access to campers ask them to retweet your blog link.
  • Have giveaways for retweeters. Poeple love free stuff. Have promotions where you encourage people to retweet a message and offer an incentive to do so. If you're launching a new product  offer to give away the product to 5 or so users that retweet your tweet which  has a link about the product and contains information about how retweeting is an entry into the giveaway. If you're dealing with very expensive products like let's say pleasure boats, give away other less expensive promotional items such as shirts, mugs, or even boating related accessories.
  • See what others are retweeting. Look through your list of followers and see what they are interested in and what types of items they are retweeting. This will vary by sector.
  • Make it easy to tweet your website's content. Not technically a retweet but can lead to them. If you put tweet buttons on your website you have a better chance of visitors tweeting that article or product they just read about.


  • Don't have employees/insiders retweet all at once because it fills up the timeline of users following multiple users and looks like spam.
  • Don't over emphasize it just makes all your tweets will look unimportant. 
  • Don't fake it.  This isn't restricted to twitter. Genuinely care about the issues that your customers care about if you want them to care about your company.

How To Deal With Complaints and Negativity on Twitter

From time to time people will be unsatisfied with your products and services. Some may not know the proper channels to go through, other times you have such a large customer base that somehow their complaint slipped through the cracks and they may try and contact you through twitter. Some companies like @UnderArmour handle these complaints this very well. 


  • Be Responsive. Your customers should be important to you. If they're dissatisfied in anyway it's important for you to know why. It can help you increase the quality of your products and services in the future and is cheaper than doing other types of market research.
  • Reply to the complaints. When you reply to someone you put their @username in front of your tweet. When you do this it won't be put in the timeline of all the people that follow you. You're not doing this because you want to hide your complaints but most people won't be interested in individual issues some users may have.
  • Take the conversation offline. The best way I've seen companies do this is to take the conversation off twitter. Ask the person with a complaint to follow you indicating you will send them a direct message (DM) with a phone number or email address where they can get in touch with someone that can help them. Make sure that when they do contact that individual that the customer support representative is aware of the customer's issues ahead of time. Many companies already have a mechanism to escalate complaints so this shouldn't be a major change.
  • Be honest. Sometimes people make mistakes and sometimes products are sold that don't meet your quality guidelines. Admit to it and work on making the customer happy.
  • Apologize where appropriate. Saying "I'm sorry" still goes a long way. If someone tweets to you that they ordered a Blue Widget that broke the first time they used it and customer support won't help them reply something along the lines of "@unhappycustomer I'm sorry. Our Blue Widgets are more durable than that. I'll DM you a phone# to get help"


  • Don't get defensive. You are personally invested in your own company and sometimes it hurts to hear anything negative. Try to not let it. Sometimes people get very upset when they buy something and don't think it was good. Sometimes it's your fault, sometime's it's the retailer's fault, sometimes it's even the customer's fault. Don't take complaints personally just do your best to help resolve the situation.
  • Don't just roll over. While the majority of people will have legitimate complaints you will get some people that don't. You can't make everyone happy. If someone tweets that the furniture polish you sell tastes like crap and gave them a stomach ache, it's okay to explain that your furniture polish is not food and not intended for human consumption and you won't be giving them the refund they're asking for. Other customers will appreciate that you don't waste your money, which raises your prices, to appease people like this as long as you respond politely and help the people with legitimate greivances.
See? Not that scary after all.
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