When you verify your account on Twitter, it establishes that you are who you say you are. You can find out if a Twitter account has been verified by locating the blue checkmark sitting adjacent to the Twitter handle.
Verifying your account on Twitter also helps users like you and me easily follow well-known brands like Starbucks and Virgin America or celebrities like Taylor Swift and Kanye West, without the risk of misidentification. Problem is, Twitter is no longer accepting public requests for verification:
Twitter’s public beta version of account verification is no longer available. After a long period of manual testing, we’ve closed public applications. We have removed our public-facing verification request form. In the meantime, we’re still verifying some trusted sources, such as our advertisers and partners. If you’re one of our partners or advertisers, please follow up with your account manager for details.
Source – Twitter Help Center
So, if you’re a small business owner trying to establish your brand on Twitter, what are some techniques you can utilize in order to build your followers’ trust?
- Include a name/initials at the end of your tweets
- Use an Avatar That Best Represents YOU
- The @username
Let’s say that you are a huge fan of Starbucks. One day, you send them a tweet asking about their latest deals in your city, and less than an hour later, they send you a helpful response. But, who replied to your tweet? All you see is the Starbucks logo and the accompanying message.
Recently, I noticed that Media Temple, a web hosting company, includes the initials of the person who replies to customers’ replies on Twitter at the end of every tweet. Like many companies on Twitter, there are usually a team of employees managing the account. Media Temple displays their list of “Tweetologists” in their profile’s background picture, allowing users for example, to quickly match the initials JO to someone named “Jason O.”
The initials seemed rather subtle to me at first but I soon grasped how powerful they were towards establishing your authenticity on Twitter. Of course, this advice works best in cases where there are usually several different people tweeting at any given time. In addition, I’ve seen Facebook pages including Tim Lincecum’s apply the same idea to their status updates. In fact, whenever Tim Lincecum posts a new status to his page, the feedback from fans is much greater, as there is usually more likes and comments recorded.
How many people do you follow on Twitter who have the default “egg” as their profile’s avatar? Not too many I’m guessing. In reality, it’s a matter of trust. When someone fails to upload an avatar, they fail to connect with their followers because it’s difficult for people to visualize who they are talking to.
Now, let’s say you do have an avatar. For businesses, using your company’s logo is just fine. You would need something that is easily recognizable within Twitter’s 45X45px avatar dimensions. In other words, your typical Facebook profile picture wouldn’t work here. For individuals, that means head shots are the way to go.
Let’s play a game called, “Can you spot the spam bot?” Here are the contestants: @davewindmill, @asee303850, and of course, @iPhOnE_tWeEtS. If you had to follow one person only, who would it be?
Hopefully, the game didn’t prove too difficult of a challenge for you to complete. Here are the major points:
- Use your real name
- Keep it as short possible
- Make it easy for followers to remember
That is unless you have qualms about people finding your Twitter account via Google. In that case, make your account private, or delete your account.
In case you haven’t noticed, there’s this sort of 140-character limit Twitter imposes on any tweet you send out. That includes direct messages. If people wanted to retweet you using the “RT @username …” format, they’re less likely to do so if your username is too long. My recommendation is to keep the username just under 15 characters. Yes, that’s the total length of @hacksocialmedia.
Whenever you send an @reply to someone using the main tweet box, Twitter immediately starts displaying a list of likely usernames for you to quickly select to save you some extra keystrokes. If your followers can’t remember your username for whatever reason, something’s not right.
Similar to uploading an avatar, writing a short bio about yourself can really go a long way to establishing your credibility with new and current followers. The important information to include are answers to “Who are you?”, “What do you do?”, and “Why should I care?”
There’s nothing worse in this world than a Twitter user linking to their Twitter account. Well, except not providing any link. Granted, we aren’t all website owners but if you are, what’s holding you up?
Following up on the previous point, if you do own your a website or blog, it would be a great idea to display an image/badge linking to your Twitter account. Some websites go beyond the simple “follow me on Twitter” buttons and use widgets to display their latest tweets or tweets from lists you create. Check out these widgets from Twitter.
When Jackie Chan joined Twitter last January, people didn’t believe it was him. Probably because he didn’t read the third list item above(his username is @EyeOfJackieChan). But with a little ingenuity, he took advantage of Twitpic’s image uploading service and posted the photo above to his Twitter followers. Are there any doubters left?