Struggling with your Twitter presence? Never fear! The nice folk at @HelpSheffield are here to stop your profile looking like an empty café and instead generate the engagement of an enticing eatery on London Road …

We’ve been up and running with @HelpSheffield for just under six years and in that time, we have noticed the numerous different ways Sheffield businesses use social media, and in particular Twitter, to greater or lesser effect.

The most crucial thing people need to remember is the word ‘social’ – if you have a presence on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc then the purpose of that account is to be interactive, friendly, warm and not pushy.

Many accounts Tweet about their wares and their activities and nothing else. If customers are being fed the same information time and time again, they’ll quickly get bored. Think of the way many of us avoid the ‘chuggers’ on Fargate – we do that because we know what they’re offering and even if it might be worthwhile, we still ‘chat to our friend’ on our phone as we pass to avoid them.

Adding to the social nature of the various mediums involves interacting on a human level, so if someone asks an intentionally silly question provide them with an intentionally silly answer. Be polite but let your personality shine through.

Provide your followers and likers with as much original, interesting, interactive and visual content as you can muster. Sharing the work of others might get good responses but they are not reactions for your business or your work. If you put out content, then ask a question – otherwise there’s not always the impetus for people to reply. Visual posts paint a shedload of words, not only saving you characters but more than likely gaining you a better response from your audience.

Businesses often see other Twitter accounts as their rivals rather than potential collaborators or lead creators. On the @HelpSheffield Twitter account we have created hundreds of Twitter lists with thousands of accounts categorised, as we see them.

So if you’re an accountant and your tweeting isn’t working for you go and follow some other accountants, chat to them, steal the ideas of their good tweets and share information. It’s like the agglomeration effect of high street businesses – people go to London Road to eat because they have lots of choice, not always because they know where they are going. If someone is searching Twitter for ‘Accountants’ and ‘Sheffield’ they will find your interactions and may well pick your firm rather than the multi-million-pound Twitter dominators.

Businesses need to do all of this and more on a regular basis. If you don’t have the time, the will or the knowledge to use social media effectively you might ask yourself why you have a presence there at all. A dormant or little used account is pretty much the equivalent of an empty café or shop.

Discovering what works on social media for your business can take a long time but is definitely worth it. It’s mostly free, it’s quick, it’s relatively easy and it is everywhere.

If you are not managing to work it out on your own, feel free to ask @HelpSheffield for assistance, a chat over a cider or a more formal training session.

Good luck.