Natalie Tackett uses all sorts of social media to promote her business. Twitter, she says, gives her "credibility."

Should You Be Tweeting? 

Here’s What the Twitter is About

By Tammy Adamson-McMullen

Launched 2½ years after Facebook, Twitter has grown so popular in the last 10 years that it has become part of the culture’s nomenclature. Look up the word “twitter” or “tweet” and you’ll find the definition “make a posting on the social media site” right after “the chirp of a young or small bird.”

Still, despite its popularity, Twitter isn’t embraced by everyone. Is it right for you and your decorative painting business?

Growing Use and Credibility

Twitter by its own reports has 320 million monthly active users and 1 billion unique visits each month to sites with embedded tweets.

Still a distant second fiddle to Facebook, which claims 1 billion active users each day, Twitter nonetheless has a strong youth base that accounts for the lion’s share of use. In 2015, of the 271 million active users on Twitter, a reported 95 million were between the ages of 18 and 29. (“Twitter Vs. Facebook Vs. Instagram: Who Is the Target Audience?” by Justin Walton, 

Faux finisher Natalie Tackett, owner of Brushed in Bristol, Tenn., uses all sorts of social media, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, Houzz and Twitter, to promote her business. Natalie notes that Twitter’s youth-driven user base isn’t necessarily indicative of the demographics in her market. Still, Twitter “does certainly give credibility and an online presence to the work I do,” she says.

Additionally, Twitter offers a way for Natalie to illustrate what a faux finisher actually does.

“You tell people you do faux finishing and decorative painting, and they cock their heads to one side and say, ‘What does that mean?’ ” Natalie states. Twitter, like other social media, helps Natalie answer that question by providing a platform where she can post project photos, discuss techniques, chat with suppliers, Retweet posts from other sources and disseminate all types of salient information. “It serves as a building block for the client who is more Internet-savvy,” she says.

One of the features that distinguishes Twitter is that it reaches out in “real time.” It's increasingly common to see live Twitter feeds running on the bottom of live events on television—sporting events, music contests like The Voice, and so on—that allow viewers to “weigh in” on the topic. The immediacy of this feature allows viewers to feel as though they’re part of the live audience, connected to the action.

Because of this real-time feature, Twitter also has become a premium news source, particularly among younger users who regularly log on to Twitter to see what is happening now.

Like Facebook, users can read the posts—or tweets—of the individuals and groups they’re following in a timeline. The best tweets tend to be pithy and have accompanying photographs. However, unlike Facebook, Twitter holds the length of each post to 140 characters. Fortunately, for those who worry about this feature, Twitter takes care of it for you with a “counter” that shows you how many characters remain in the tweet as you’re typing.

In its 10-year history, Twitter has tried all sorts of change-ups to make the platform more manageable for users.

One of the more recent changes occurred earlier this month, as Twitter changed the algorithms that decide the order of posts in the timeline. Not everyone is happy with the change, which puts tweets at the top of the timeline according to their popularity. Tweets traditionally have appeared in reverse-chronological order, according to the accounts that users are following. Those posts will still be seen, and in reverse-chronological order, but only after the most popular tweets—meaning those that have the most engagements—appear first.

The new feature is similar to another from Twitter, called “While you Were Away,” which puts top tweets of accounts that users follow at the top of the timeline. Twitter says the timeline changes were created to offer a better experience for users who might miss the best tweets when they are away from the platform. (“Twitter changes timelines to show tweets out of order,” by Jessica Guynn, USA Today). While not everyone is convinced the feature is a good one, some analysts believe that it will be a non-issue over time.

And what about those crazy hashtags? Hashtags are simply a way for users to categorize posts and make them easier to find in searches. A common and clever hashtag used by faux finishers is: #fauxnomenal!

Business Connected

If you can live with the 140-word post limitation and new timelines changes, there is good reason to consider setting up a business Twitter account.

Among the businesses you can find on Twitter is Focus on Faux.

A recent Twitter and DB5 survey found that 50 percent of Twitter users have visited or shopped at the websites of the small businesses they follow. And 60 percent have purchased from a small business because of something they saw on Twitter.

Jay Baer, president of Convince & Convert writes in a recent blog article, “Is Twitter for Business Even Worth the Trouble?”, that Twitter is valuable because its users are highly engaged.

“The online population that’s creating the content that’s influencing the rest of the world is on Twitter, period. Daily Twitter users are 300 to 400 percent more likely to write a blog, review products, upload videos, and (engage in) every other social behavior, than are non-users,” Baer writes. “In fact, the research shows that 72 percent of daily Twitter users write a blog, 61 percent write at least one product review per month, and 53 percent upload videos.”

Twitter sweetens the pot for businesses by offering customized promotional campaigns that place content in front of a targeted audience. Tweets in the campaigns are clearly labeled as “promoted” but act like regular tweets otherwise—meaning they can be replied to, retweeted and more.

The price of each campaign is calculated on a cost-per-engagement (CPE) basis, meaning that businesses only pay when someone retweets, favorites, expands, clicks on, replies to or follows them from their tweet. For more information, visit the Twitter Business Solutions page, which includes testimonials from satisfied business.

Natalie has promoted her own business on Twitter through regular posting. Natalie knows that potential faux clients tend to check out her tweets before committing to a project because they tell her so. “I find that they do research on me,” she reports. “As we’re sitting down together and looking at samples, they’ll say, ‘I saw you on Twitter’ or 'That project you posted was really neat!’ ”

Natalie can’t point to specific jobs that she’s gained because someone found her on Twitter; however, “I definitely do more business interaction on Twitter,” she says. As an example, Natalie reports that she regularly reaches out to suppliers on Twitter and networks with one Canadian company on an almost daily basis. Natalie appreciates the real-time feature of Twitter, which allows her to quickly connect with someone and get the information she needs.

An example of this real-time benefit occurred recently as Natalie was alone on a job site. She was using Sherwin-Williams sample quarts and couldn’t remove the lids from the jars. “It was making me nuts, so I tweeted something about it. I received an almost immediate response (from Sherwin-Williams) and a solution,” she says.

Staying current on Twitter takes a little bit of time but is worth it. Natalie says she sets aside an hour every day to update her social media all across the board. She believes this commitment helps to differentiate her from others who discount their services. As she says, “It shows that I am a professional and dedicated to my craft and business.”