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The Marketer’s Guide to Twitter

Twitter is one of the most important social media platforms online, with over 330 million monthly active users.

In fact, Pew Research shows 24 percent of U.S. adults use Twitter. The highest concentration is 18- to 29-year-olds, at 40 percent. This is a demographic every marketer wants to reach.

The number one reason people use Twitter is to discover something new, according to the company’s own research.

With this information in mind, we’re going to review how to set up an engaging Twitter account to give that audience what they want.

A lot has changed since its humble beginnings in 2006. This guide will explain everything you need to know to get started marketing your brand on Twitter.

Creating a Twitter Profile

The first step to using Twitter is to create a profile. Here’s the Kissmetrics Twitter account.

kissmetrics twitter profile in 2018

There’s a lot going on here in such a simple layout. We have a profile name, username, bio, location, website, profile pic, and header.

Information and images you use here define your Twitter profile. They’re the first things people see, whether finding your account through Twitter or Internet searches.

Here’s what the Kissmetrics Twitter account looks like in Google.

kissmetrics twitter google schema

Google’s schema markup shows our latest three tweets with an option to see two more. Other than that, our username and profile name are the only things showing.

Bing uses the same schema, whereas DuckDuckGo shows your bio.

twitter profile in DuckDuckGo

This makes your profile information vital to fill out. Here are the basic elements.

1. Username – This is the @username people will type to mention you in a tweet or respond to you. For the sake of simplicity, it’s best to use your name or business name, although a nickname can be used here.
2. Name – This is the name that will show in search results. If you use a nickname for your username, this is your opportunity to clarify who you are. Lil Wayne, for example, uses the username @LilTunechi, but he clarifies in the name field that he is, indeed, Lil Wayne.

lil wayne twitter bio

3. Bio – You have 160 characters to describe yourself in a Twitter bio. Use this space to explain who you are and what you do. Keywords won’t do much for SEO purposes, but it’s still searchable within Twitter and explains who you are to followers.

When hovering over a profile pic or username within the Twitter timeline, you’ll see the bio like this.

twitter hover over profile

The Kissmetrics bio is “Get, keep and grow more customers with Customer Engagement Automation by Kissmetrics. Get a demo at”

Any links, @usernames, or #hashtags used in your bio will appear as live links, making this a great place to promote branded hashtags, other business accounts, or your website.

4. Location – Don’t forget to add your location. It’s great for localized SEO and will make you more searchable for customers looking for local businesses in their area.

5. Website – Twitter lets you add your website to your profile. We use the same website link as in our bio, but if you have more than one website, feel free to promote both (as Lil Wayne does above).

6. Profile Pic – Your Twitter profile pic displays at 200×200 pixels, but the site recommends a 400×400 image. When clicking a profile pic, the larger image is displayed. Twitter profile pics are automatically cropped to be circular. Also file sizes are limited to 100 KB.

Keep this in mind when selecting a photo.

Your profile pic should ideally be a headshot for your personal page and your company’s logo for a business page. This is part of your branding efforts and should remain consistent across all social media platforms.

7. Header Image – Your header image should be 1500×500 pixels (with a maximum file size of 10 MB), but it’s important to know that the image will be cropped at the top and bottom.

500px twitter profile

The section with the Twitter navigation buttons and your follower information is included in the 500 pixels. The viewable image will only be approximately 421 pixels, and you’ll also lose space at the bottom left where your profile pic sits.

Exactly where your profile pic sits on your header image depends on the screen resolution of the device viewing it. But it’s always on the bottom left.

Here’s what the actual viewable area of a Twitter header pic looks like.

twitter profile viewable area

Be sure to choose an image that represents your branding and doesn’t have important information in these blacked-out sections.

Now that you have your Twitter profile set up, you’re ready to start tweeting.

Interacting and Engaging on Twitter

In November 2017, Twitter doubled the tweet character limit from 140 to 280. It’s also focused more on video content. According to Twitter’s stats, video views grew 220x since this time last year, and 93 percent of those video views happen on mobile devices.

Despite the longer character limit, Twitter is known for shorthand messages and abbreviations. Here are a few abbreviations you’ll see used in tweets.

CC – Like in email, CC means “carbon copy.” It typically appears at the end of tweets, followed by an @username (or several). It’s used to tag people in a tweet and ensure it shows up on their timeline.

DM – Direct messages are private messages between two users. It’s especially useful in Twitter customer service. Like when a customer has an issue, ask them to DM their personal information so as not to compromise their account.

FF, TBT, and WCW – Twitter has a lot of daily traditions. Thursdays are “Throwback Thursdays”, where people post old photos of themselves and vintage content with #TBT. Fridays are “Follow Fridays” and typically denoted with an #FF. #WCW is “Woman Crush Wednesdays” in which people post photos of women they admire.

HT – A hat tip is used to give someone credit for content you post. This is what you would use to ensure the originator of a link, quote, pic, or other content gets recognized for their effort.

RT – When you see a tweet you like from someone else, you can click the RT button to retweet it to your followers. The original text is included in the tweet, and you’re able to add your own comments to the tweet too.

# – Pound signs are used for hashtags and become clickable links. Branded hashtags are great for tracking engagement

$ – Dollar signs are used when discussing a financial stock, such as $GOOG (Google). When used on Twitter, these become clickable links. Clicking the link shows all uses of that particular stock ticker on Twitter.

Subtweet – A subtweet is a subliminal mention of someone without actually mentioning his or her name. While it looks cryptic to the passive observer, a subtweet is often obvious to the person it’s about.

Tweep/Twitterati – A tweep is a Twitter user, while the Twitterati are the users with high follower counts, particularly anyone over 100k followers.

Twitter began rolling out a new feature in late 2017 called “threads,” which is an answer to the tweetstorm. Back when Twitter had a 140-character limit, people would tell long-format stories over the course of dozens of tweets. This became known as a tweetstorm.

Now there’s a plus button in the tweet composition window next to the “Tweet” button. After composing a tweet, you’ll have the option to add another tweet to the thread.

compose tweetstorm thread

When you create a thread, each tweet is grouped together to make it easier to connect the conversation and read the long-form tweet.

Now that you have an understanding of what Twitter is and the basics of how to use it, it’s time to determine what your Twitter business account will be used for.

Using Twitter for Business

Business and personal Twitter accounts have different functions. A personal account is typically focused on getting more followers. Businesses need to do more, however.

There are three basic ways businesses use Twitter.

1. Grow brand awareness – Interacting on Twittter, using hashtags, replying to people, and retweeting content attracts followers. These are great ways to grow your audience and raise awareness for your brand.

Wendy’s excels at this and is known for humorous tweet replies.

wendys funny tweet replies

2. Provide customer service – Most businesses provide direct customer service on Twitter, and many have a dedicated account just for that. Bank of America, for example, has a dedicated Twitter customer service team.

bank of america twitter help account

These professionals can assist with any account-related questions and treat Twitter like a phone call, email, or web chat. A recent survey found 85 percent of Twitter users expect businesses to have customer service on Twitter.

3. Connect with influencers – Twitter lets you discover new content and people. The best way to grow your audience is to connect with influencers who share your content with their circles.

Don’t be afraid to network and connect with business partners, customers, and other industry experts to help grow your brand.

Of course, data is key to any successful marketing initiative. Over $36 billion was spent on social media advertising in 2017, and an ROI needs to be tracked to justify this ad spend.

Twitter Ads have two ways to track this – transaction values and key conversion tags.

understand twitter ROI

Twitter Analytics offer in-depth insights into your Twitter audience, much like Google AdSense.

You can see demographics like gender, marital status, and household income, along with interests, buying styles, and even the wireless carrier being used to access mobile Twitter.

twitter analytics

Using transaction values and key conversion tags on your website, whenever a Twitter user clicks a link within a tweet to make a purchase on your website, the transaction is imported into Twitter analytics.

Other interactions to track on Twitter include impressions, likes, retweets, replies, followers, URL clicks, and profile views.

When tracked over time, these metrics provide an overview of how your brand is performing on Twitter.

tweet vs traffic goal completions

And as shown above, your five most recent tweets will show up in search engines and be the most prominent things shown on your Twitter profile within the platform too.

When scheduling tweets and creating a content calendar, it’s important to ensure your five most recent tweets showcase exactly who your brand is and the value you provide.

Twitter engagement increased 99 percent from 2016 to 2017, and that trend is expected to continue through 2018.

Visual content (especially videos) is driving that engagement. Tweets with videos are six times more likely to be retweeted than tweets with photos and five times more people discover new video content through Twitter than other sources.

In fact, Twitter ranks as the number one platform for discovering new video content.

This makes video content crucial to share with your followers.

video content crucial emarketer

If your content isn’t being engaged with enough, you can pay for Twitter ads, which lets you promote your tweets, account, and branded hashtags to targeted audiences.

  • Promoted Tweets – Spread the reach of your messages on Twitter by promoting your tweets. Promoted tweets show up for targeted users in a variety of places, including the top of their tweet streams, above Twitter search results, and even in Twitter management tools like HootSuite. Also, Promoted Tweets are moved to the top of tweets on your profile. And any media elements you share, such as videos, are expanded automatically.
  • Promoted Accounts – Grow your followers with Promoted Accounts. Promoted Accounts show up in the left sidebar on Twitter under suggested follows to your targeted users as well as in the suggestions Twitter offers when you follow a similar account.
  • Promoted Trends – For brands with large budgets, Promoted Trends allows you to put a branded hashtag trend at the top of Trending Topics. This option is rumored to cost as much as $100K per day.

Now that you understand how to use Twitter for business, there’s one last topic to discuss – tools to make using Twitter easier.

Essential Twitter Tools

The first thing you should do is to integrate Twitter with your website. Twitter has options to integrate a lot with your website, including:

  • Twitter Follow Button – Adding the official Twitter follow button to your website will allow people to follow you on Twitter without leaving your website.
  • Tweet Button – Make it easier for people to share content from your website with their followers by adding the official Twitter retweet button. Best of all, this button (when configured properly) will add “via @yourusername” to tweets people send and recommend that they follow you on Twitter after they have tweeted you content.
  • Twitter Hashtag Button – Trying to promote a branded hashtag? The Twitter hashtag button pre-fills the hashtag in a status update box so people can tweet with it.
  • Twitter Mention Button – Want to encourage people to send a tweet to you? Use the mention button that will pre-fill your desired username in a status update box so people can tweet it.

You can also embed your timeline on your website to show a livestream of current tweets in real time.

Several third-party apps also enable tweet scheduling and more in-depth analytics. Here are the best Twitter tools for 2018.

1. Buffer

buffer homepage in 2018

Buffer is used by many professional to schedule tweets (and posts for other social networks) throughout the month. Tweets perform best from 9am-3pm, with 12pm and 5pm being the most optimal times for engagement. Rather than sitting by your computer at these times, use Buffer to schedule tweets for maximum impact.

2. Hootsuite

hootsuite homepage in 2018

Whereas Buffer is a comprehensive social media scheduling tool, Hootsuite was designed as a one-stop-shop for social media management. Not only can you schedule posts, but you can also track in-depth analytics for all social networks in one place.

3. SocialOomph

socialoomph homepage in 2018

SocialOomph is a popular freemium service that lets you schedule tweets, track keywords, extend your profiles, and more. You can also tweet via email, manage DMs, purge tweets, and more for up to five Twitter accounts.


paper li homepage 2018 is a unique application that lets you curate tweets and other social media posts into a newspaper-like format. It’s a great way to keep followers updated on content or feature follower’s content for even more engagement.

5. Tweetdeck

tweetdeck homepage 2018

TweetDeck is a desktop Twitter manager owned by Twitter itself. It has a customizable UI that pulls all your information into columns and makes tracking hashtags, DMs, and other information much easier. This is the power user’s view of Twitter.


Congratulations – if you made it to the end of this guide and applied all the included tips, you’re now a power Twitter user.

But that’s just the beginning. With great power comes great responsibility, and it’s now time to use your power for good.

Get on Twitter and start engaging with your followers. Follow Kissmetrics to see even more useful social media, SEO, and digital marketing tips. You’re even welcome to @ us with any questions you may have.

Otherwise, feel free to leave a comment below to let us know how you feel about this guide.

Now that you have a solid Twitter account set up for 2018, I must ask – what’s your most successful tweet so far and why?

About the Author: Neil Patel is the cofounder of Neil Patel Digital.

  1. Great tip about Formulists I’ll definitely be checking that out. Useful post as always.

    Thanks Kristi!

    • Thanks Charlotte! I like to spread the word about Formulists because it doesn’t seem like a lot of people know about it, but it can be a very powerful tool!

    • A provoacvtie insight! Just what we need!

  2. Kristi, I’ve been looking for an authoritative and comprehensive post about how to make the best use of Twitter — you just provided it. Thanks!

    I make good use of lists, and just recently I’ve started adding appropriate hashtags to my tweets, but I know there’s a lot more I can do.

    • I’m glad you enjoyed it John! Yes, there’s a lot you can do on Twitter, and I’m sure there are more great tips out there too. Since you have such great articles on writing, you should definitely check out the Twitter chats for bloggers and writers. I’m sure you could rock those!

  3. Kristen Robinson Feb 15, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    You have some great strategies for Twitter there. I had no idea that there were that many Twitter chats! Oh my! That was a great resource. Thanks so much!

  4. If a marketer used webinars in their campaign, they could use the same approach by getting attendees to tweet at different times throughout the webinar. That way, if someone was following several people attending the webinar, they would see that it was popular amongst their friends and possibly hop on it as well.

  5. Julia Bramble Feb 15, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    What a great post, full of really useful information, thank you! One way I like to find new targeted followers is to look at the followers of a key player in my field and follow them, with the result that a good number will usually follow back!

  6. Awesome article. Thank you so much for explaining this. Twitter is one tool I’ve trying to figure out for over a month now. Thank you for sharing, I bookmarked your site and can’t wait to read more.

  7. Krisit, I love your ideas on automation. It’s a great way to automate without becoming just another bot. Thanks for the tip about Tweet Old Posts, that is going into testing on my blog right now.

    • Yes, you have to make sure you have a good balance between automating and being personal. Certain kinds of automation can add more value to your profile, while other kinds will make it a bit too automated and “bot” like.

    • Make sure you come back and let us know about the results from your tests.

  8. I have been using twitter for a while now for my company and my own blog. This post really provided me the direction I need to make more use of twitter.
    The point about the automation was very helpful. Just one question, does following the influential people in your industry help increase the follower?

    • It doesn’t necessarily help you gain followers by simply following someone influential. What you will want to do is follow them and interact with them. Hopefully, if you engage with them in a meaningful way, they’ll respond and people who follow them will see them mention you, and from that point you may start to gain followers.

  9. Excellent guide and thanks for sharing.

    Another element of research with twitter search is keying on Foursquare or other LBS services. This helps identify interested parties or potential fans/interests as they have checked in for particular events or establishments.

  10. Wow, Kristi! You packed this post full of great information on using Twitter. I love your example of a bakery using it as a market research tool – not only on the bakery across the street, but seeing what’s working (or not) for those across the nation too.

  11. Kristi,
    This is probably the most comprehensively useful article I have found on this topic! I am operating on the thinnest of shoestring budgets and thus do all of my own everything. Each hour it takes for me to research and learn about Social Media, SEO, websites, blogs,… takes time from gainful business. I can already see that your post will not only be immediately helpful, but helpful time and again as I try out, and learn from, each suggestion. SINCERE THANKS!!

    • I know what you mean Susan. Following some of Kristi’s methods save you so much time and allow you to be much more effective.

  12. Wow! I’m a little late in reading this post, but thanks! Incredibly useful and comprehensive.

  13. Thanks for a great post, very useful.

    One question – when having users following you is it better to DM them or to just @mention them?.. Mentioning seems less “spamy” for the users so wondering about suggesting better practices here, thanks!

  14. Twitter Marketing Increasing the ability for frequent updates to blogs or web sites or news. Thanks for informative sharing..

  15. Twitter has become the best place for getting new visitors. My friend recently got 2000 visitors from a single retweet by a famous personality.

  16. well explained tips. one of my favorite app is TweetDeck that allows multiple columns, much like the HootSuite but accessible from Google Chrome Browser.

  17. I’ve also found it helpful to find hyper-local twitter feeds and sort through their followers. For example, your local news station may have 900 followers all in your target region, this allows you to engage with those specific individuals even if they haven’t tweeted anything to show up in search results.

  18. Amazing insights on twitter and definitely implementing the recommendations listed here.

    I also get a bit turned off whenever I hear “automation” on social media channels but bringing more traffic with twitter CAN happen without converting our personal accounts into zombie-like bots.

    Thanks for putting such a great and detailed article on twitter Kristi. ;-)


  19. Thanks for posting all this great information about how to maximize your use on Twitter. I wasn’t aware of HootSuite and Twitter Search tools that you mentioned. Thanks for posting about that. I’m gonna look into that.

  20. Ciaran Connolly Feb 11, 2012 at 5:43 am

    Great Tips as always – use tweetdeck a lot – but will look into these other tools as well. Very true re the direct messages – nothing worse than just spamming people or asking them to sign up…really off putting. Now to go find twitter followers :-)

  21. I never knew there were so many things behind Twitter marketing that I was never aware of. I definitely gained a lot of new ideas and knowledge from this article, ideas that could be taken together with other tips in order to form an effective social media strategy. There are more tips on social media marketing at

  22. Fabio H Buritica Mar 03, 2013 at 3:28 pm

    Great Post. @Cammipham just tweeted it and I followed the link. Do you find a lot of these tools are still relevant?

    Following you on twitter!

  23. Michael Leedy May 14, 2015 at 1:27 pm

    Wow.. there’s so much information in this post that it just got tweeted and bookmarked… so I can review it again, when I’m not quite as saturated from reading and writing all day!

    Thank you so much for puttin this out there. I look forward to reviewing it again!!!

    (and again and again… )

  24. Angeline Mathews Feb 19, 2016 at 2:18 pm

    Hi Kristi,

    Thanks so much for this informative post! I finally understand the true marketing power of Twitter. My B2C client is a local veterinary hospital and I am looking to boost their basically nonexistent social media presence into something substantial.

    My first question is do you know of any analytical tools that can analyze a company’s Twitter profile (i.e. in # of times visited, # of hastags, etc.)?

    Secondly, I worry that there might be a fine line between being interactive with your followers and becoming too spam-y. Any tips on how to keep this from happening?

    Lastly, in terms of time investment, do you think my client should focus on one type of social media outlet or have an even presence across the board? Thanks so much!


  25. Great post! Thanks for sharing :)

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