Twitter - an absorbing waste of time, or a powerful business marketing tool?

Heather Townsend
The Excedia Group
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Advocates of Twitter will say it’s essential for business. Other people will say it’s a time waster... So which is it? Read on for my guide, based on my two month’s experiences of being a tweeter, of how to achieve more with your tweets.

1. Get to know people and enjoy the conversation

Treat your time on twitter as if you were at a big networking event. This is your opportunity to get to know people, create goodwill with your followers and raise your profile. You will develop business by maintaining a presence on twitter – but like most things, this takes time, effort and patience. Don’t expect to be immediately clinching deals with your twitter followers. It still takes approximately seven conversations to move a cold prospect to a warm prospect – regardless of whether you are holding on-line or off-line conversations.

2. Create (shortened) links

You only have 140 characters for a tweet – and no amount of negotiating will make twitter change the maximum length of a tweet! A URL shortening tool, such as is a must to be able to direct your followers to stuff on the net. Use your tweets to direct your followers to your blog updates, new products (or best sellers), interesting articles – but always remember to include a reason why they should click on the link. For example, ‘negotiating with a customer you can’t afford to lose? – click for ten top tips’

3. Finding and vetting your followers

You can easily build up a huge following on twitter by following lots of people, as many people use twitter tools which automatically follows anyone that follows them. However, if you are looking to build up a local client base of small business owners, it’s no good being followed by lots of teenage girls in the US. There are some great twitter tools that will help you follow the right people. For example, there are several business directories for twitter, e.g. wefollow & twellow. Or you can use a service like Mr Tweet, which will recommend followers for you, based on your current followers. If you want to pin-point your followers by geographical location, tweetmondo is a fantastic tool.

The free version of tweetlater allows you to vet all your new followers – it will then send an automatic direct message to the new followers that you approve. When you are vetting new followers you have the option of blocking unwanted followers and automatically blocking and reporting suspected spammers.

4. Give people a reason to follow you back

There are many tools on twitter, which for a small (or often large!) fee will offer to automate finding you followers. The best way I have found of getting the people who you follow to follow you back, is to send them a message (@username) explaining how you found them and why you have decided to follow them. I have discovered that this method normally means that over 80% of everyone I follow, decides to follow me back.

5. Mix business with pleasure

No one likes to be continually marketed to. I have unfollowed many followers who seemed to think that I liked being bombarded with advertising. You will find the right personal balance of business & personal tweets for you over time. I find a mix of 80-90% personal tweets seems to be working for me.

6. Remember your manners

There are two pieces of Twitter etiquette that is critical to attracting and keeping followers. These are thanking new followers, and thanking someone for retweeting (RT) one of your tweets to their followers.

Use the direct message facility to a new follower to strike up a conversation, akin to if you were meeting them face-to-face. For example, ‘what do you do?’, ‘Who do you work with?’, ‘what issues do you currently face?’

So, why is being retweeted something special? Well if you have been retweeted by someone with over 15 000 followers, then your message & profile could suddenly be visible to another 15 000 people – great advertising!

7. Have a go at tweeting on the deck

I personally like to use tweetdeck to help me manage my twitter conversations. Tweetdeck is a great tool which will lets you group your followers into relevant subject areas (or marketing campaigns). For example, I have a group for my everywomen network followers, local business owners, trainers & coaches, accountants, lawyers etc

8. Spotting Spam

Most spammers are fairly easy to spot. You may find they contain a pornographic thumbnail, or a recently opened account with under 5 updates & following hundreds of people. The best thing to do is block them and report them to @spam. Tweetlater will automatically report spam for you when you vet your new followers.

9. #Follow Friday and #quote ???, speak English!

People use the # symbol to denote a keyword. On Friday, on twitter, you will find lots of people tweeting about #followfriday. If there is someone that you feel deserves to be followed (or you want to build up some goodwill), reply to the person in question with the reason why your followers should follow them, and include the keyword #followfriday.

Lots of people – but particularly coaches, marketers and trainers like to use quotes to twitter with. By putting the #quote on your tweet, people searching for quotes will find your tweet.

10. Retweeting (RT)

The normal way to show appreciation for someone’s tweet is to retweet it to your followers. I also use the Retweet function to include my answer on a question someone has asked on tweet.

11. Analyse your twittering

Twitter Analyzer is a fantastic tool to see what is working, or not working with your marketing efforts on twitter. You can see what types of followers you have, where they are located around the world, what common subjects they are twittering about etc, etc. The best thing about twitter analyzer is it’s free!

Good luck with your tweeting – and if you would like more tips and advice on how to achieve more, why not follow me on twitter? @efficiencycoach

Or if you would like to see how else we can help you achieve more with your business, why not take a look at our website -

About Heather Townsend

Heather Townsend is a brand ambassador for the Practice Excellence Programme, and the Founder of ‘The Accountants Millionaires’ Club’. In 2015 the ICAEW decided she was the number one online influencer for the accountancy profession. She is the author of 4 books, including The Go-To Expert, and ‘How to make partner and still have a life’ (co-authored with Jo Larbie).

Heather is always up for a challenge. Perhaps that is why she has built a track record of helping accountants grow the size of their practice by 50-200%, often in under two years. Often helping them make partner or equity partner in the process.

Heather is a high profile member of the accountancy profession in the UK. She has worked with over 300 partners, coached, trained and mentored over 2000 professionals at every level of the UK’s most ambitious professional practices. Heather's clients have included: 7 out of the Top 10 UK practices, including all the Big 4 firms. 

In 2016 her and her team of coaches have coached:

1) 7 people successfully to partner

2) Professionals from all of the Big 4, from every major continent in the world


As well as helping accountants make partner, she still spends 40% of her time helping small firms, typically under £1m GRF:

1) Create profitable revenue streams from advisory services and reduce their reliance on revenue from compliance services

2) Radically increase their profitability, even if they are a cloud based practice, often helping them achieve a net profit margin of 40%+

3) Double or even triple the size of their practice within 3 years

4) Win bigger and better clients

5) Grow the right team around them so they stop working stupidly high hours and spend quality time with the people they care about

Her articles appear regularly in the UK national and trade press, including The Financial Times, Accountancy Age, The Sunday Times and The Guardian. Heather is also in-demand for her speaking and has recently returned from the South African Accountancy Academy conference.


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