As the most effective social media platform to seize upon news and current events owing to its remarkable immediacy, Twitter has become the perfect tool for small business owners to take advantage of economies of scale and capitalize on their position within the marketplace.

To understand how Twitter fits into the overarching timeline of reporting, the industry as a whole must first be defined. In a recent article, the American Press Institute revealed the results of its study documenting national news consumption habits and found 4 in 10 Americans delved deeper into news items they were invested in and would actively seek information relating to those topics throughout the day and well into the evening.

Essentially, the interest generated after a story breaks will continue to influence all forms of communication (social media, newsprint, etc.) at virtually every point in time and thus, there is no ideal time in which to join the conversion.

However, one could argue the earlier the better.

Initiating the Conversation

Of course, not every current event will be ideal and in these cases there are still some ways for businesses to leverage Twitter, insert themselves into the conversation, build discussion, and ultimately find traction for their brands, though this can only be done effectively if the conversation is relevant to the business in some shape or form.

That’s what Beverage Universe did with its Twitter account @BeverageUniv in January during the national #HotTeaMonth campaign. This business effectively sided with an idea that everybody, regardless of economic standing or political affiliation could get behind, and in doing so contributed to a discussion that a) appealed to its target audience and b) promoted its brand to a wider demographic.

Turning Misfortune into Fame

You can turn something as seemingly innocuous as a change in weather (or something more serious) and shape it into a platform from which to begin a dialogue with your existing followers in a bid to capture new fans and increase your public profile.

This can be most effectively conveyed through an unlikely pairing that resulted in untold social media riches for Oreo when it went viral with its “You Can Still Dunk in the Dark” Twitter campaign, something that tapped into the emotions circulating the power outage affecting Super Bowl XLVII in 2013.

The company, a Mondelez International brand whose tweet garnered over 15,600 retweets and more than 8,000 new Twitter followers, became an overnight sensation.

Understanding the Rules of Twitter Etiquette

The downside of Twitter’s immediacy is it can backfire in instances where tone of voice is important and ineffectively conveyed due to the nature of text and the 140-character limit.

The fact that so often the social media channel explodes with a rapid outpouring of contributions to a discussion can also take the casual marketer by surprise, sometimes with devastating results.

This was the situation when DiGiorno’s Twitter account hijacked a conversation that revolved around domestic violence using the hashtag #WhyIStayed, and mistakenly made the attempt to leverage the movement to sell pizza. Lesson learned.

Timing is Everything

If you’re considering boosting your Twitter profile, the best way to go about doing this is to first determine which of those stories in news and current events your target audience will respond to and engage with. All of your efforts should be geared toward a unified end, ensuring your brand stays in the media for the right reasons.

The problem with marketing is it can sometimes come off painfully transparent if executed in an untimely or inappropriate fashion. “Newsjacking,” as it has become known, allows businesses to bypass many of those negative connotations.

In using this approach you can leverage the latest stories in news and current events to improve your prospects, audience, awareness and relevance in today’s online marketplace.