The Do’s and Dont’s of Promoting Your Business on Twitter

If you have an online business, you’ve probably been told at least once to get on Twitter.  Maybe you’re already on Twitter but don’t feel like you’re getting anything out of the space.

Truth be told—Twitter can be great for promoting your small business.  And while proponents of social media like to say “anything goes, there really are no rules”—that’s not necessarily the case.

There are a few unspoken etiquette rules when promoting your business on Twitter and if you don’t pay attention to some of the tips mentioned below, it can cause people to ignore your friend requests or unfollow you all together.

Just remember, Twitter is a community—not advertising space.  People will accept the promotion of your business in balance.  Don’t expect to sign up for twitter, put out a few of your links and have whopping sales or clients pouring in overnight.

Seriously– not gonna happen.

But, if you work to make relationships and connect with your target audience, you’ll be on your way to getting sales or clients in no time.

And I do say this from personal experience.  As a freelance writer, all of my well paying writing gigs have come as a result of the connections I’ve made on Twitter.  Same goes for my network marketing business. While the venture is relatively new, I’ve been able to speak with prospects and sell a few products because of my connections in the space.

So without further adieu, let’s get started with some basic do’s and dont’s in promoting your business on Twitter:

  • DON’T sign up for twitter and follow hundreds of people all at once.  Instead, sign up and follow people sloooowwwly (You don’t want to be mistaken for a spammer).  If a person follows me and they have one update, 500 friends and 2 followers, I just assume it’s a spammer and won’t follow.
  • DO follow a manageable number of people and try to keep your followers to followee ratio relatively equal until you get the swing of things.
  • DON’T make all of your updates about your company, blog or service. Instead, have REAL, friendly conversations until people get to know you as someone they can trust.  This requires you following what other people are saying and engaging in conversations that go beyond yourself or your business.
  • DO post links to your latest blog entries, sales, etc.—but KEEP IT BALANCED.
  • DO share (or Retweet) links to other people’s giveaways, blog entries or sales items.  By paying attention to what other people are saying, those people will be more likely to give your stuff a look when they see it come across the screen.  It’s called karma and it works.
  • DON’T auto DM! Auto Dm’s are those pesky little personal messages you are probably sending out to your followers that say “Hi! Thanks for following!  Here’s the link to my site _______!”  If that’s you, STOP.  Again, get to know the people you are following before you hit them with your links.  Anything a person needs to know about you can be found on your bio line.  Keep it that way.
  • DO DM someone about something that relates to THEM (again stepping outside yourself).  For example, I followed back someone today that wrote how she had 50 some followers and her husband was impressed because that was more than Jesus.  Well of course that made me laugh so I DM’ed her to say hi and that I was cracking up over her comment.  Friendly conversation in a DM is A’ok 😉
  • DON’T announce to the world how many followers you have!  I know it gets exciting when we feel like we are finally connecting to our target audience and people want to hear what we have say, but keep your numbers to yourself!
  • DO use twitter to invite people in your target audience OFF the space and onto your blog.  From there you can be more promotional of your products, your services, etc.  On twitter you’ll make and foster the connections—but you’ll actually convert sales, clients, etc. on your own turf.  Keep that in mind before you spam 😉

And to help the Twitter newbies out there, please weigh in below with the Twitter habits that annoy you the most.  By nicely telling people what NOT to do, we can have a much better experience in the world of social media.

Photo Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons Artist wisleywoven

About Amber Watson-Tardiff

Amber Watson-Tardiff is a freelance writer, virtual assisant and solopreneur.  When shes not writing or teaching people how to start their own home business, Amber can be found starting trouble here on Twitter or hanging out on her own blog, To contact amber, email ambertardiff at gmail dot com.

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  1. Rachel says

    I still have not mastered twitter – but I really do like your point here –

    DON’T make all of your updates about your company, blog or service. Instead, have REAL, friendly conversations until people get to know you as someone they can trust. This requires you following what other people are saying and engaging in conversations that go beyond yourself or your business

    I think many people miss the “social” aspect of social networking, I have always looked at it as a chair side trip. Finding out about others and things I don’t know about, from people that do. No big push and you get further along.

    Rachels last blog post..WasteExpo 2009

  2. says

    As the space expands and the word gets out to the marketing hyenas that there is a virtual jackpot to be had on Twitter, unfortunately we will see more of these “bad twitter habits” – the worst propagators of these seem to be the self-proclaimed experts.

    My suggestion to those new to Twitter… find a few people you admire (or have a “mentor”) and keep an eye on them to see what they do. Don’t just jump in after reading a “How to Twitter for business” article… you’ll surely flop.

    Juniors last blog post..G7 Gone Wild – a Drunken Finance Minister?

  3. says

    I recently read an article that talked about using Twitter, among other social networking sites, not as a marketing tool- but as a customer service tool. I think that is great advice! Use it to connect with people in an effort to improve your business!

  4. says

    I am still struggling with engaging. For me there is not enough time for me to do the tasks at hand and fully engage on Twitter as much as I’d like.

    Finding the balance is tricky – so I do my best to share what I feel would really be of interest to the people I’ve connected with.

    Quality over quantity!

  5. says

    I’m so relieved that I’m doing the do’s and not doing the don’t! I agree that auto-DMs are uncool … and unnecessary! Unless you’re getting more than 20 followers a day you should easily be able to send each one a DM using their name or some small comments on one of their recent tweets so that it is personal.

    You’ll meet some of the nicest and most helpful people you’ll ever meet on twitter so honor and enjoy that.


    Candice @ BidMyCleanings last blog post..Maid-For-Me Contest Winner

  6. says

    Great advice about using Twitter 😉 I love using Twitter, it keeps my day interesting and gives me a fun way to stay in touch with people (both biz and personal)

  7. says

    Very usefull, i still havent jumped on the twitter marketing yet but i think it will happen soon.

    Used facebook earlier and it paid of very well.

  8. Michaell Gibson says




  9. says

    2 things a person can do that will win them a not follow. No Bio, or protected updates. What are you hiding??

    Jen @ Eco-Office Galss last blog post..Do YOU Need a Virtual Assistant?

  10. says

    Very insightful post! I do use DM’s to welcome people and ask if they would like to connect on Facebook. I do this because it gives me a way to connect more closely. I do, however, come back and go to their Twitter page and converse.

    I definitely agree that slow and steady is the way to go…spend time getting to know people. A list of followers means NOTHING…a list of people you converse with – now, that means something.

    One of the ways that I use to decide if I want to follow someone is to check out their page. Is it all Outbound tweets (about their business) or do they have some @replies, retweets (RT) and links that contribute to the community? Quality, quality, quality!!

    Thanks again!!

    Deidre Hugheys last blog post..Chris Morrissette – For Free and For Fun!

  11. says

    People like “Michaell Gibson” are the very reason why I do not recommend my clients to use auto-follows services.

    Shaking head.

    Ernestos last blog post..IT Essentials for Startups Workshop

  12. says

    Thank you for this. I have to admit, I do DM people to say thank you for following and letting them know I will be following them back and I’ve had a few mistake it for an auto DM (even though I used their name)

    I typically don’t follow people who have no bio, who’s numbers are extremely lopsided as you mentioned, or people who’s name and picture are obviously designed only as attn getters: ex: @Make$online with a pic of a girl in a bikini.

    Finally, I recently noticed some people are following thousands, but as soon as you follow back, they ‘unfollow’ you. Strange.

    And I think finding a balance between marketing and social updating is ideal.

    ExtraordinaryMommys last blog post..It is the little things

  13. says

    Thanks for the post. I am still new to the Twit-Game and enjoy these etiquette guides. Any tips on how to “manage” all of the day’s social interactions?! 😉
    Thanks again!

    Ariane Griffithss last blog post..Very Exciting News!!! Giveaway time!!!

  14. says

    Great article! I learned about it on Twitter… a follower of yours @problogger linked to it – one of your “do’s” Nice work! :)

    I agree completely that balance is key and Twitter should be used to create quality relationships with people in your niche. I find it refreshing and insightful to see what others are doing and discovering. Twitter is a tremendous resource for business networking…

    Jon Wuebbens last blog post..“Copywriting” for Twitter

  15. says

    I think this is a pretty good and fair list as well.

    I sell more of a service and I find that its a good place to meet people in similar industries, and also to (very) slowly build up a little brand recognition.

    What bugs me are the people who twitter EVERY tiny detail. I don’t need to know that you got on the bus…. the bus is crowded…. you found a seat… you gave up your seat to an old lady… you still taste your sandwich from lunch… etc.

    I actually prefer the people who skew more towards their business (with links and insight, not spam) than those who tweet the most insignificant things.

  16. Peter Carter says

    Is there any way to remove the DMs all at once?

    Peter Carters last blog post..No Cost Startup Business

  17. says

    Definitely take it slooowwwly to begin with. It can take quite a while to get used to twitter as most of my “real” friends have found after opening their account.

    One thing I have done is create an email folder for people who follow me that I’m not too sure about to begin with and don’t follow straight back.

    I then go back over the list to follow those who have begun using twitter as a social network in the ways you’ve described above.

  18. says

    Truth be told about promoting ines online business in balance. IF only more folks applied that rule we certainly would have much less clutter.

  19. says

    Exceptional post!! Thank you for bringing all these uber valuable points up. I’ve been on Twitter since 6/07 and like to experiment with various tools that improve the Twitter experience. However, I actually just recently turned off my auto DM service. Though it was just a friendly wee greeting, I noticed I began tiring of receiving the auto welcomes from other peeps so figured others must be too. We may as well dialog out in the open and keep DMs for those more important matters!! 😉


    Mari Smiths last blog post..Do Facebook Really Own Your Data? NO! It’s About Openness

  20. Katherine Reschke says

    My latest bugbear is constant tweets about what song someone is listening to – it seems to have replaced what people are having for dinner. I personally don’t care about either!

    Katherine Reschkes last blog post..You are your choices, not your situation

  21. Jeremy Kendall says

    Great post. I especially enjoyed, “DON’T announce to the world how many followers you have!” It’s so exciting to hit certain milestones that I can barely keep the news to myself.

    One exception: I hit 666 followers on Friday the 13th. I celebrated, publicly, and I’d do it over again. Other than that . . .

    Jeremy Kendalls last blog post..Five Reasons to Drink Blu Frog Energy

  22. says

    Love all your tips!
    I think my biggest twit-peeves are some you mentioned: those twitters that announce how many followers they have, or getting tweets about this sale & that sale & shop links every 30 minutes.
    Thanks for letting me get that off my chest. haha!

  23. says

    Good point about the auto DM’s thanking you for the follow. Please, I get it now. Somebody sent me a “what are you working on these days?” question in his auto DM, and I wrote him back, but I didn’t get a reply. Kind of rude!


    Scott Smeester
    Smeester & Associates

    I help establish key partnerships, deploy or fix sales teams, or even create online sales channels.

    Scott Smeesters last blog post..The Importance of the Common Problems Sheet

  24. says

    I like this article, something I would add is the importance of putting some kind of blurb up for the bio section. I know it’s a small space, but it’s good to let the world know what you’re doing and who you are.

    When I get new followers, I mouse over their names on the “following” page to see if anything pops up. If there’s nothing there or it’s extremely vague, it’s highly unlikely that I’m going to follow you. So, be transparent and relevant! :)

    And yeah, a poor follower to following ratio (with the exception of maybe the NYC waffle truck account and other accounts like that) will make me not follow that account. I work in internet direct marketing, and it’s skeevy to see people trying to use Twitter to illegitimately farm leads. When done correctly, I will follow you, but if you clearly look like a spammer, I leave you where I found you…even if you follow me first!

    Dorian Smiths last blog post..bigapplestyle: @Kevin_AnR_Shine lol…i know what you mean!

  25. Rose Martin says

    I have never tried Twitter but I’ve been thinking about joining for quite some time now. Thank you for such helpful insights. The information you shared will definitely help me build a better community in Twitter. Keep on blogging! :-)

    Rose Martins last blog post..Edibles Can Leave Lasting Impressions, Especially Chocolate Wedding Favors

  26. says

    One thing that makes it all manageable for me is Tweetdeck, which allows you to group people for easier following.

    It is also easier to spot those who tweet 100 times a day or more, which is someone I usually unfollow. If you clog up the stream with info so I can’t see everyone else, it makes it hard for me to appreciate what you have to say. Kind of like the loudmouth at a party who takes over the conversation.

    Betsy Talbots last blog post..5 signs of a great life

  27. says

    Thank you for writing this article. I am new at twitter, and I am on there to network.

    I am already annoyed by the people who are constantly promoting their product. And you are right, totally impersonal.

    I look forward to reading more!


  28. says

    I’m new to the Twitter game, but I have been following the general good rule of the internet here as elsewhere – bring good quality content! It’s what brings you up on Google, and it’s what others will value, IMHO – if you’re not making a contribution, how can you expect anything in return?

    Great article – going to get this out on Twitter myself right now!

    Gary Baileys last blog post..Do you know your numbers?

  29. says

    Is there a way to forward this list to everyone on Twitter. I think 99% of the people I follow are breaking most of these rules.

    Only problem is, by obeying them (mostly) I have nothing much left to tweet about.

    Daves last blog post..35 ways to make money selling web management services

  30. says

    Thank you very much for your very valuable advice. I started twittering just yesterday. A very rich topic for learning.

    One thing I have come to suspect is that there may be some tweeps you do not want to have as followers.

    For me, the greatest value in Twitter is the exchange of ideas, and especially those that stimulate more thinking. I choose whom I follow based upon how many of their tweets are about ideas.

    Carl Ingallss last blog post..Carl_Ingalls: Reason to join Twitter? Because @davidbullock and @BrentLeary highly recommended it for someone in my position.

  31. says

    Good article which I’ve bookmarked in Delicious to share as a resource with new Twitter users.

    I get frustrated with the sales pitch links, where you click on the link and go straight to a landing page with a full-on sales pitch. It wastes my time because I’m not going to click on one if I don’t know the source, and all the sources I know well don’t do that kind of spammy linking.

    I don’t mind the auto DMs as much. I tried those myself, initially, but have quit and do my own personal ones. Only problem with that is all the phishing problems make it so much harder to do. Ah well, more challenging is more interesting :)

    Kayes last blog post..Happy Mother’s Day From SandwichINK


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