What’s with Twitter?


Is Twitter relevant to your small business? Guest blogger Joanna Maxwell shares her experiences with the popular social media tool and explains how it’s helped her business.

blog_twitterIt seems you can’t turn around these days without tripping over a reference to Twitter. Most people have at least a hazy idea that it has something to do with ‘microblogging in maximum 140 characters’.

I started my social media adventures with Facebook (which I only joined because my favourite online scrabble game went there).

After a while I got interested in social media for my own business and now I’m on Twitter and Facebook, LinkedIn and more…

Twitter in particular has brought me contacts, ideas and information…it’s like a river flowing past my door, that I can dip into whenever I like.

I became so fascinated that I even wrote an article for the Australian Financial Review BOSS magazine called ‘Beyond Twitter’, May 2009 issue.

So how do you get started? Here are five steps to jump in and give it a try:

1. Join

Joining is easy at the twitter website. There’s helpful information specifically tailored to creating your business profile.

Be careful when you choose a username, because it will appear on every post you make and can’t be changed. If you are joining for business reasons, it makes sense to choose your business name or something industry-related. (I am on Twitter as @workincolour which is the name of my business.)

2. Follow

Follow a couple of people or businesses to start with. This means you will see a stream of their posts and also posts from others that they have retweeted (which is a bit like forwarding). If any of these look interesting, follow them too. Feel free to follow me.

3. Search

You can search for people, organisations or topics that interest you here.

4. Organise

Once you have the hang of it, download a Twitter organiser like TweetDeck to help you organise, schedule and track your tweets. It will also give you more manageable access to all the Twitter functions.

5. Stuck?

Twitter’s help centre has a lot of support and answers to FAQs. Mashable is another great source of help and Twitter best practice advice.


The best way to get the hang of Twitter is to jump in and see what you find.

Hope to see you in the twitterverse!


Joanna Maxwell, Owner, WorkInColour


Connect with Joanna on Twitter and LinkedIn

  • Great post, Joanna. As I’ve commented to you previously, I love the river analogy – it can sometimes be overwhelming to think you need to stay on top of all things social media, but the river makes it seem firmly back within your own control.

    This blog is all about small business owners connecting and building a community – so if anyone else would like to share their Twitter, LinkedIn or any other online networking details, feel free to do so within the comments for this post.

    I’ll get it started…I’d love you to follow myBRC on Twitter :)

  • Nice one, Joanna! I’m particularly pleased to find that get started video, as the one I watched before joining last year has vanished.

    A growing number of clients are asking me for Twitter training. Yet there’s so much they can learn by simply watching that video and having a go. So I’d definitely echo your advice to jump in.

    Finding you has been one of the highlights of my Twitter experience. You have so much good stuff to contribute and you’re generous to a fault. So I STRONGLY advise ALL readers to follow you NOW! Best regards, P. :)

  • Thanks Joanna – what a great post. We’re just getting started and having a great time so far. Useful tips – particularly the video!



  • Thanks for the article. I find it as a useful way to stay in tune with latest news and opinions of journalists on topics.

  • Thanks for the great feedback, and it’s absolutely true that Twitter demands a ‘suck it and see’ approach. Whenever I run workshops for business on Twitter, I do it by going into my account while I am teaching, so they have a real sense of the flow of messages and the necessity of a ‘dip in’ approach – if you tried to capture all the messages (let alone respond) you’d go nuts!

    If you’re inspired to have a play on Twitter let me know – here or through Twitter!


  • Not wanting to usurp Joanna’s role, I just wanted to say how pleased I am that Phil from thinkGROWTH has made it to this forum.

    thinkGROWTH is one of my favourite clients. They’re freakishly clever and phenomenally experienced and any discusson they join will be richer for it.

    And of course, following myBRC on Twitter will expose you to the unrivalled powers of… The Megan! :)

  • Hi Prepaid Plans

    I agree – if I had to nominate my top use of Twitter, it would be as a way of tapping into current ideas and sharing them with others…


  • Hi Folks :- )

    Wow! Feels like years since I’ve dipped me ‘tooties’ in ‘the pond’ :- )

    Good to virtually see you folks & thanks for the fine post Joanna :- ).

    Well, not being one to brag (Yeh right! :-P), I’ve been following Joanna on Twitter since Jesus lost his last job…aren’t I a trend-setter? (Insert bonus ‘Browny Points’ here :- )

    Ditto for thinkGrowth, Paul. While on the subject of thinkGrowth (Twitter Name: @teamthinkGrowth), I’m very pleased to note that unlike way too many ‘Twits’ (my name for ‘Twittererers’, me included), they appear to be taking the ‘non-nanobot’, or ‘steroid-free’ approach to Twitter. Being an old ‘fuddy-duddy’ for aspiring to ‘genuine’ communication & integrity, this gets a big fat ‘Respect’ tick in the ‘noSh-it! Moral & Professional Codex’ (Am I allowed to use Moral & Professional in the same sentence?…Oh well, at least it’s HILARIOUS! :- )

    If I get a new ‘Follower’ (Hashtag Search Code & ‘Twittereez’ Colloquialism – ‘#FF’), I check their Twitter Homepage. So, so often, when checking their stats (i.e. Followers v Following v Tweets), I see variations of the following:

    Followers: 10 Billion Following: 264 Gazillion Tweets: 2

    Or: Followers 10 Billion, Following 11 Billion Tweets: 300 Gazillion Per Second 24/7

    Such stats are a pretty good indicator that these people? (somehow that doesn’t seem accurate), have no interest in genuine communication and every interest in ripping as much money as possible in the shortest possible time, by leveraging click-through commissions from as much of the planet as possible (while they are supposedly ‘asleep’ :-P). It not only defeats the purpose of Twitter, but defeats its server bandwidth as well. I don’t follow them.

    That said, I’m hardly a Platinum Card Carrying Member of the ‘Twitterati'; with my world shattering 144 Nanobot-Resistant, Steroid-Free, Wind-Powered, Dolphin Safe Followers & 800-odd Tweets over the 5 months I’ve been using it. And like Joanna, I only use it when I feel too…

    I find Twitter to be fun, useful and completely lethal if you’re not careful…

    I’ve already met some great folks their who have been extremely supportive & constructive with all manner of little tricky business & day to day questions, feedback, connections & things that one simply wouldn’t otherwise have the time or energy to find, let alone within minutes and sometimes seconds of inquiring.

    Great post Joanna :- )


    Stephen G

    PS I passed my ‘Hellth’ Inspection and received my official Food Business Registration Certificate the other day :- ). noSh-it! Wood-Fired Pizza is now as official as it can get :- ).

    That’s my last major ‘ business start-up’ hurdle (aside from wishing a cashless, ‘creditless’ & ‘debtless’ society would magically pop-up overnight…tonight would be good 😛 ), cleared in a single bound…now for the next hurdle; running the business!…actually it looks more like a mountain, and I can’t even see the top of it…what’s all that white stuff around the top?…Oh! Clouds! :-P…Lucky I’m a mountain man! Yohhdleyheehoooooo! :- )

  • Stephen

    I think that ‘fun, useful and completely lethal if you’re not careful…’ really sums it up re Twitter:)

    As always, your posts are outrageously excellent – and I am very excited by your business update – rock on your Sydney branch, I say!


  • That’s mighty fine of you to say Joanna…thank you :- )

    I won’t get sued by Big Kev for saying ‘I’m excited’ will I?

    But I am…chompin’ at the bit actually :- P

    Wouldn’t you know it? At the beginning of the week my horoscope said (paraphrasing), ‘that I’m starting something new and that although I’m keen to get on with it, small delays will follow me like I’ve got a target painted on me. Not to worry, go with the flow, it’ll be fine…yada, yada…friggin’ yada…’ :- P

    Well, yeh, it’s ‘fine’ I suppose; but I reckon the Universe could do with an upgrade, or at least a patch to fix such glitches…the rude part is that that’s exactly what’s been happening…just little last minute delays…pushing me back a day or so…

    Why doesn’t the other stuff come true; you know, when it talks about lots of money or meeting the love of my life? :- P Nope! I get delays! :-/ YOU CALL THAT A UNIVERSE?

    Anyway, come hell or high-water, my public debut will go ahead in the next couple o’ days :- )

    Thanks for the confidence boost Joanna :-)…but I reckon Sydney ‘Twig’ may be more fitting…but that’s a long way of yet…possibly weeks ;- P…I’ll give that bluddy Universe a run for it’s infinite bluddy space!… :- P


    Stephen G

  • Stephen

    ‘I’ll give that bluddy Universe a run for it’s infinite bluddy space!’

    I reckon you will, at that


  • She doesn’t stand a chance Joanna :- )…last time She cut my head off I didn’t die…In fact every time She’s cut my head off, I’ve survived :- P….Mwooohooohoooohahaaa! :- )

    Pizzas aren’t almost round for nothing…I’ll harmonise with Her ‘omni-presonance’ & blend in with a couple of strategic pulsar clusters, then WHAM!…Pizza anyone? :-)

    Never give up, never surrender! :-)


    Stephen G

  • No guts, no glory, that’s my motto! (I used to have a great Tshirt with that – and a drawing of St George or somesuch hero with a slain dragon…


  • Yep! They are definitely not mutually exclusive : -)

    But don’t get me started on Dragon Slayers…I like Dragons…

    I don’t know why this conversation reminds me of this, but here goes anyway:

    My partner Karen came up with a beauty the other day Joanna…a new tagline for my business:

    No Eat, noSh-it! noSh-it! Die!

    Perhaps not the most uplifting connotation for business when it’s written, but damn it made me laugh…perhaps because when I was little and trying to bypass the broccoli with my nubile sights set firmly on dessert, my Mum would take great delight in reminding me of the following:

    “If you don’t eat you don’t shit, & if you don’t shit, you die!”

    And here I am a billion years later with noSh-it! Wood-Fired Pizza brewing…funny about that :-p


    Stephen G

  • PS But that’s not the really REAL story behind the naming of noSh-it! Wood-Fired Pizza…that’s a story for another time :- )


    Stephen G

  • That’s not a story; that’s a blog post! :)

  • Are you butting in again? 😉

    Oh no, no, no…I’m not ready to unleash that one just yet :- )

    Remember my new ‘thang’ with delayed gratification? ;-P


    Stephen G

  • Hi Folks,

    Recently I met this great Woman via Twitter. Her name is Bambi and she (& hubby Greg) operate a couple of interesting & complementary Small Business Event/Expo & Marketing Businesses called ‘TheBrew’ – http://www.thebrew.com.au/home & ‘TheWoo’ – http://thewoo.com.au/ .

    I was talking with Bambi the other night and she provided me with the following invaluable and practical guidance re: Twitter. I thought it was so good that it warranted publication here (with her permission of course :- ), as it may prove useful to other folks:

    (with minor edits to protect privacy)

    Social Media Strategy:

    I am absolutely with you that it is about a targeted audience, not just a scatter gun to get numbers (without depth). However, I don’t think that tweeting things such as pizza and organic are going to help the people who may be interested find you.

    With TheBrew ( http://www.thebrew.com.au/home ), I have searched on location (to get people in the regions we have events) and then opened each bio and followed those who are running a small biz. More have followed back. And so far the tweets have been relevant enough that there haven’t been any ‘unfollows’ (big bash knock on wood there!).

    If you are targeting offices, and in particular the social club manager, the secretary who is likely to get the workplace together, plus event managers, venues, sporting clubs, etc, I think you need to go looking for some of those sorts of people on Twitter, follow them, and then Tweet relevant content (about setting up workplace functions, about your pizzas and how they are made).

    The classified advertising approach of: I Do pizza and I can do them at your place – is still just broadcasting – and hoping that the couple of people in the audience who find it relevant then take action.

    You need to go through a series of overlapping stages – building awareness, building interest, creating desire, getting people to share the experience, become ambassadors….and act to book you.

    I think you should be building an email list so that you can start regular newsletters.

    You should be writing to, sending pics and recipes to, event managers, venues.

    You should be offering to junior sporting clubs to come along for very small fees whereby the group can also use it as a fund raiser and share in the revenue (which gets them promoting that you are going to be there).

    And I would be approaching radio stations to provide pizza for their next survey night or small performance by live artist for listeners; obviously publicity via media releases at a local market level. And you may want to consider a stunt style promotion (that is actually an opportunity to sample product and service).


    Pretty bluddy good stuff I reckon…and pretty bluddy good of Bambi to offer it to the fine folks here…Thanks Bambi :- )


    Stephen G

  • Wow, Stephen; this is solid gold! I’d echo these statements completely.

    Thank you for sharing. And tell Bambi her analysis is an absolute Thumper! :)