By now, chances are you've been sold on the value and benefits of having a social media presence for your startup. So, you decide to open a Twitter account for your business.

That's a good first step. Before you go any further, read this sentence very carefully: A business account is not the same as a personal account.

A business account and a personal account have very different objectives, very different strategies, and most importantly, when using Twitter for your business, you should be using different tactics.

If you treat your business account the same way you'd treat a personal account, you won't gain any traction. Use these five steps to set your startup's Twitter presence up for success:

1. Choose your profile picture carefully.

On your personal account, a nice smiling picture might do the trick. When it comes to a company account, that's not a good idea.

The profile picture can of course be a company logo, or you can create a Twitter-specific image that will engage your audience better, maybe a team picture for example. If you do it right, you'll make people click that Follow button--and eventually even send you a tweet or inquire about your business.

2. Tell me who you are and why I care.

Like Twitter itself, your bio section is very limited in space. Use it wisely, because 160 characters does not leave much room for creativity.

Most personal bios answer these questions: Who are you? What is your story? Why should I follow you? A business bio, on the other hand, is the place to tell me about your product and company. Where are you based? What are you selling? Why do I care?

Take this AI startup SeeTree's bio, for example: "The intelligence network for trees. Bringing drones and AI to growers worldwide. You've never seen your trees like we can see your trees. #KnowYourTrees." It explains what the company does in a light way, uses a standard Twitter hashtag, and comes off as light and humorous.

That leads me to a bonus tip: Use humor in your bio. People appreciate some wittiness on Twitter.

3. Show me who you follow and I will know who you are.

Now, it's money time. What are you interested in? Who do you want to be associated with? Remember, everything about Twitter is public. Following your favorite entertainers might not make sense for your kindergarten business. 

The power of Twitter is your ability to follow, consume, and learn from anyone and everyone. Think about your goal here and follow relevant folks.

By following people and companies, you're not only personalizing and tailoring your feed. You're also training the Twitter algorithm to know your interests, and letting other people know what you are about.

4. Strike the perfect balance to keep it interesting.

So, now what? What do you tweet about? In my experience, the perfect balance on Twitter is one third interesting articles you wrote or read, one third general thoughts or insights, and one third replies and retweets to other people's tweets. 

If someone follows me on Twitter and their feed is all links to their blog posts, they're basically a glorified RSS feed. That's not what I want to use Twitter for, so I won't follow back. The other extreme isn't good, either: If someone's tweets are all replies and conversations, that might be too noisy for me, and not very valuable.

Spend some time sharing valuable content. Spend some time engaging and conversing regularly. Find a balance.

5. Remember that the more you put in, the more you will get out.

Consistency with Twitter, like most things, is extremely important. Don't open an account and tweet something like "Finally opened my Twitter" before disappearing for two months

I'm not saying you need to tweet 80 times per day. If I come across your Twitter and there hasn't been activity for the past few weeks, or even days, it doesn't give me the impression that you're investing in making your Twitter content valuable for your followers.

The underlying principle of all these points, of Twitter in general, and of your success on all social media is value. Provide as much value to your audience as possible and the more your followers win, the more you win.

Published on: Apr 30, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.