Twitter is not just for the “kids”. Small businesses are growing their businesses by using Twitter and other social networking platforms to connect with their customers, grow leads and increase the awareness of their brand. Social media marketing is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to market to your target audience of current and prospective customers. That’s why small businesses are doing big business on Twitter.
What is Twitter? (In case you didn’t know)
If you don’t know about Twitter here is the short version of the long story: It’s a short message multi-media communication platform (or a microblog) that lets you publish messages (tweets) of up to 140 characters and people who follow your profile are sent those tweets. The content of these tweets can be text and links to web sites, images, video and even podcast. You can follow other Twitter users and their tweets will show up on your page like a newsfeed. Additionally, people can search for information in a variety of ways making it possible for people who do not follow you to see your tweets as well. If they like what you are tweeting, they will follow you to get more good tweets.
Set Up Your Twitter Account
Here is where you tell the story of your business and present your brand. That is why it is important to be as detailed as possible and fill out your Twitter profile completely. You want to be found off of Twitter, so it’s very important to remember to fill in your location and website. Stay consistent with your images, logos, and other marketing material to reinforce your other online platforms such as websites, ads and social network profiles. Everywhere people see your company online there should be no second guessing if they are in the right place, and there won’t be if everything is always the same.
As part of your branding you will also want to stay consistent with your username and profile images. When choosing your username, try to stick as close as possible to your company name if it is not available. Also avoid odd punctuation that would make it difficult to type on a mobile device. You get two images to support your brand so use them well. There is the Twitter profile photo that you see next to every tweet where you will want to use a headshot of a real person at the company (recommended as it adds a human touch) or company logo that will show up next to every tweet as well as on your profile page. Then there is the twitter profile header which is the large background photo you can customize to further support your branding.
Your bio is the one or two line text space in your header where you have to tell people what it is you do. As a business owner or marketing professional you need to be able to tell your story in 160 characters. Think of it as the elevator pitch of your elevator pitches. It’s a very short story. Approach it as either an intriguing teaser or a succinct benefits package description. But either way whatever you write is going to encourage people to either look for more information or go to the next thing on their internet path.
Learn How Twitter Works
Each social network has its own way of doing all the same things, so take a little time to familiarize yourself with the way Twitter does things. For messaging Twitter gives you several options:
You can Tweet… this is the message that goes out to all your follower’s feeds and stays on your timeline.
You can Reply… use @OtherUsersName at the beginning of your tweet to reply to a message in a tweet that will be seen in both the feed of both your followers and that profiles followers. Example: @CKadala Thanks for giving me the link to local marketing tips.
You can Retweet (RT)… click on retweet button of any tweet you see someone has posted to send it out to your followers.
You can designate Keywords… by using the hashtag (#) symbol in front of a word with no space between the two in your tweets you can let the Twitter search engines know what your tweet is specifically about so when people search those keywords or topics your tweet will show up in the results. Example Tweet: Get all of your #copywriting needs fulfilled in one place. www.buffer.com/5i2k43. Now if someone searches copywriting this tweet will show up in the search results. It may be in line with 30,000 other tweets about copywriting but it will be there.
Second Become a Follower
What is happening on your Twitter profile is two things: You are posting tweets and receiving tweets from people you follow. You will create an un-readable mess of randomness in your feed if you indiscriminately follow any and everybody on Twitter hoping some will follow you back. If they are not potential customers, what is the point of following them anyway? To get the most out of Twitter make strategic decisions on who you follow.
If you are using your twitter for business, then follow people in your professional network, suppliers, vendors, partners, related groups and professional organizations. Follow your customers, competitors and neighborhood businesses to stay up to date on what’s going on with them. Twitter has a “Find Friends” feature on the “Discover” page that will go through your email address books from Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail and so forth to find the profiles of people you know. Also use the “Discover” page to find industry influencers to follow to populate your Twitter feed with useful information on things directly affecting your business such as marketing, sales, and services.
Third Become Someone to Follow
Here is the trickiest part of Twitter – figuring out what to tweet and how often. There is no one size fits all formula for the best way to do this but in general you should assume that people are not following you just to see pictures of your cats or links to your coupon page. Try to get a good handle on the fact that your post should be either educational (helpfully informative) or entertaining, and only then lightly sprinkled with tweets that market and promote your business. Something in the 80/20 rule will keep you from over-promoting yourself. So if you post 21 post a week, then 16-17 of those should be useful tweets and four or five promoting your business, product or service.
Business to business enterprises will approach this differently than business to consumer. Some will remain strictly professional while others will benefit from showing the human side of their business. The magic formula changes but the ideas is to give the people what they want so they follow you to get more of it. And do that without turning them off with over-marketing of your business. A good way to promote yourself on Twitter is to provide useful content on your blog that you can link on Twitter which sends people to your website. If it’s really good content you can expect that person to click around your website and see what else you have to offer. If you are stumped on what to write on your blog remember that people are searching the internet a billion times every day looking for answers to their questions. Answer the most asked questions in your industry to become the go to website for industry information. And link back to those post in your Twitter account to drive more traffic.
There are dozens of tricks and tips for advance Twitter users but this gives you the information you need to get started. The best way to learn the ropes is by trying and learning a little more everyday. It may seem overwhelming or simply silly at first, but once you get everything from the “why” to the “how” to stick in your head (and take advantage of all the automated applications that allow you to quickly run your Twitter account) you will be pleased by how little it takes to get more traffic, more leads and more customers with your Twitter presence.
Follow me on Twitter @Ckadala for daily insight on managing, marketing and growing your small business.