It’s a communication tool to keep your business fresh in a future customer’s mind. 

stock photo of twitter connections

By Dean Iodice and Josh Nelson

Twitterworks like this: Users create messages in 140 characters or less and then press “Tweet” (Twitter’s version of a send button). A Tweet is a message posted on Twitter, the second most popular social networking site on the Internet (Facebook holds the title for the most popular). The tech community adopted Twitter soon after creatorJack Dorseylaunched the social networking and microblogging service in July 2006, with more than 140 million active users by 2012, tweeting more than 340 million times daily and filling more than 1.6 billion search queries per day. Today, Twitter ranks as one of the top 10 most-visited websites on the Internet.

So why the funky name?

“We came across the word ‘twitter,’ and it was just perfect,” says Dorsey of the social network’s unique name. “The definition was ‘a short burst of inconsequential information’ and ‘chirps from birds.’ And that’s exactly what the product was.”

The original concept behind Twitter centered on users Tweeting exactly what they were doing at a particular moment in 140 characters or less. Communication platforms such as postal mail, telephones and email already connected geographically separated family and friends for big upcoming events and meaningful milestones. However, the creators of Twitter believed that most people, although significantly more connected to distant loved ones than before the days of Alexander Graham Bell, were still missing out on the small occurrences of everyday life - the mishaps, ironic coincidences, jokes and small triumphs not epic enough for a phone call or handwritten letter.

Twitter users posted some interesting remarks at first. Most users (including celebrities) were pretty forthcoming about what they did and where they went. Over time, Twitter evolved into:
  • A place to send feedback to companies and service providers;

  • A platform for corporations to respond back to consumers;

  • A resource to ask others for advice, report breaking news and information, publish comments and critique products and experiences; and

  • A venue to follow others with similar interests.

Twitter can help plumbing firms

For plumbing contractors, Twitter offers many powerful uses. People not only post whatever happens to cross their minds, they use Twitter as a search tool, which could land a plumbing business a job or two. People ask very specific questions such as, “Does anyone know a good plumber?” This creates a business opportunity.

Or how about the person who Tweets about his new home or swimming pool? This offers a prime chance to chime-in and give that user a tip or two. We recommend you keep the selling out of it. No one wants to be “sold” on social networks.

Twitter really begins to pay off when people like what you say and “follow” you. The more quality content you post, the more opportunities you create for people to follow you.

Think about this for a minute: Let’s say you spend a few months posting great educational content, you engage with others who express similar interests and within a few months you have more than 3,000 followers - 3,000 people who like what you have to say. What kind of opportunities could this initiate? A strong following can lead to speaking engagements because now thousands of people look to you as an expert in your field. An active Twitter feed also keeps your business fresh in a future customer’s mind.

The power of Twitter lies in its sense of community, so don’t treat Tweets as one-way conversations, because those types of posts will make others regard you as a self-promoter. Engagement is key. Perform a Twitter search for your field - for example, “Boston plumber” - and read other people’s Tweets. Chat with them, send them messages and if you think what they are saying is good stuff, then Retweet it.

A Retweet is when users resend another user’s message out to their own Twitter following. People love being Retweeted because the resent message displays their Twitter handle (username) and they get exposed to all your followers. What goes around comes around.

What not to Tweet

The first rule of thumb in social media is don’t write something that will come back and haunt you later. Here are some basic guidelines about what not to Tweet:
  • Don’t write about religion or politics if you are posting as a business. Michael Jordan was interviewed a few years back and the interviewer asked him why he never publicly expressed his personal political views. Jordan answered, “Because both Democrats and Republicans buy sneakers.”

  • Don’t write angry.

  • Don’t Tweet negative comments about your competitors.

  • If someone posts a negative remark about your business, never air your dirty laundry online. Take it off-line and resolve the problem.

  • Don’t be a sales pimp. You might get the urge to tell everyone you are offering 20% off this weekend; avoid it. Don’t do it, it’s frowned upon.

  • If your Twitter account is for business, then keep it professional. If you want to talk about the latest episode of “American Idol,” then open up another Twitter account and keep it for your personal stuff.

What to Tweet

Below are six things a plumbing contractor can and should Tweet about:
  • Responding to other users’ posts and conversations remains the fastest way to develop relationships. Hit the “@” key followed by the person’s username (no spaces) with your response.

  • Second to replies are Retweets. When you see shareworthy posts, key in the letters “RT” then @TheirUserName, followed by the original post.

  • Establish yourself as an expert by sharing tips about plumbing-related topics. For example, Tweet about how to unclog a drain, how to install basic plumbing fixtures, recommend tool brands, etc.

  • Generate buzz about an upcoming event by counting down to the start time: “one week left,” “three more days,” “seven hours to go.” This method works great for webinars and podcasts as well as the opening of a new office location.

  • The Twitterverse loves photos. Take pictures of your employees, office, trucks, supplies, even a customer’s before and after shots (with permission, of course).

Ashton Kutcher and Britney Spears have more Twitter followers than the entire populations of Sweden, Israel, Switzerland, Ireland, Norway and Panama. But Twitter isn’t just a soapbox for celebrities, it’s a revolutionary communication tool that allows small businesses to find and contribute to conversations about their industry in real time.

With Twitter, a company can find users within a hyperlocal service area, who are curious about or in immediate need of products and services. In addition to strengthening brand recognition, one can keep an eye on competitor brands.

The list of uses for plumbing contractors, and all businesses, goes on and on.

About the authors: Dean Iodice and Josh Nelson co-founded PlumberSEO and together have more than 25 years of experience in Internet marketing, search engine optimization and social media management. PlumberSEO executes online marketing and SEO functions on behalf of plumbers, HVAC contractors and other contracting businesses throughout the country. The firm helps obtain Google search page one placement and strictly honors a no-competitor agreement, working with no more than one plumber in each market. For more information, call 866/610-4647 or visit