Social media is one of the most effective ways for small businesses to engage with their customer bases as well as to promote themselves to new potential customers. In a previous blog post, we offered some tips for small businesses to make the most of Facebook, social media’s 800 pound gorilla. However, despite its smaller number of users, Twitter can be even more effective at helping small and medium sized businesses get ahead.
Unfortunately, Twitter can be a bit intimidating for new users, and even seasoned Twitterati may not understand the best ways to engage when their tweets are representing a business or a brand instead of themselves. Fortunately, we have some tips for you to get you on track to make the most of your 140 characters.
1. Work on your profile
It may seem obvious, but your Twitter profile can make a big impression on customers who see it, and since you’re planning to use Twitter to promote your business, you’re hoping that lots of people are going to see it. The look of your profile is very customizable – you can create your own profile picture, profile header picture, and background.
Your profile picture appears next to all of your tweets, so most businesses choose to use their logo, although some one-person businesses will use headshots. You can leave your header picture and background as solid colors to complement your logo, or you can get a bit more creative. The header photo is a great place to show off your work or your products.
You should also pay special attention to your Twitter bio. You don’t get much space, so forget about mission statements and business lingo and focus on just telling people how you can help them. If you can do it in a way that shows a bit of personality as well, that will help make a good impression.
2. Find people to follow
Your Twitter experience is determined by the people and other businesses that you choose to follow. When you click the Follow button on someone’s profile, you are signing up to see all of their tweets, so you should focus on following users who are relevant to your business interests.
You can start by following other people and businesses you know in your industry. Networking with suppliers, vendors, competitors, and professional organizations in this way can help you learn a lot. It can also be a good idea to follow other businesses in your city or neighborhood. It’s likely that most of these people will follow you back.
You can also use Twitter’s search function to look for keywords related to your business. If you filter the search results to only show you tweets that come from your area, you will likely find local people who are interested in what you’re selling. Follow them, or even reply to their tweets if you think you have information that could help them.
It should also go without saying that you should follow anyone who follows you. That demonstrates that you’re interested in connecting with them, and it makes it more likely that they will stick around.
3. Start tweeting and keep at it
When you first start using Twitter, it can feel frustrating if it seems like nobody is paying attention. If you feel like you’re shouting into a void and nobody is answering, don’t get discouraged. It takes a while to build a following, but Twitter is a fast-paced world and few people will follow you if they check out your profile and you haven’t posted anything new in days or weeks.
You should try to post at least once or twice per day. With that in mind, it’s important that you keep things interesting. Tweet on a variety of subjects. Offer advice to people. Post jokes. Ask questions of your audience. Use popular hashtags to connect with new people. Post links that are related to your industry or that you simply find interesting. And whatever you do, try to let your personality shine through.
The most successful businesses on Twitter are the ones who find a way to inject some humor and style into their tweets. For example, whoever is managing the Twitter account for Denny’s restaurant has mastered the art:
This is not the sanitized corporate communication style that people are used to. By being a little funny and a little weird, Denny’s is getting thousands of people to favorite and retweet their posts. Your business may require a more professional tone, but the more personality you can show your followers, the more they will feel personally connected to your business and your brand.
4. Connect your Twitter profile to your other marketing efforts
Like anything else you do to promote your business, Twitter works better when you combine it with other promotional tools. Include your Twitter username in advertisements, and put a link to your Twitter profile on your website. If you have a blog (which you should have), post links to your blog posts on Twitter to help drive traffic to your website.
Some people get shy about promoting themselves in this way, but if someone is reading your blog, they’re interested enough in your business that they would probably want to follow you on Twitter. Likewise, if someone is interested enough in your business to follow your Twitter account, they would probably love to read your blog.
A common way for businesses to increase followers is by offering some kind of prize or discount to customers who retweet one of their tweets. Every time someone retweets one of your posts, that post is shown to all that individual’s Twitter followers. If you can find ways to get a lot of people to retweet you, your exposure can skyrocket in very little time.
5. Stay on top of your notifications
More than any other social media website, Twitter is an extremely fast paced medium. If someone contacts you on Twitter with a question or a complaint, they are expecting a prompt response. If you are a small business owner, it’s unlikely that you have the resources to pay someone to sit in front of a computer and manage your Twitter account all day, so you need to do what you can to make sure that you respond to these messages as quickly as possible.
If you are using Twitter a couple of times per day, that should be enough to stay on top of things for most small businesses. However, if you have a smart phone, you can install the Twitter app and have Twitter send notifications to your phone when someone mentions your business or asks you a question. That way you can respond quickly when you have a spare minute during the day. Nothing impresses a Twitter user like a quick response to their complaint or question, and they will be likely to share their good experience with their friends and family.
6. Be patient
Like I mentioned at the beginning of this blog post, getting anywhere with Twitter takes time. However, if you stick with it, post consistently, and engage with followers and other Twitter users, Twitter will eventually become one of the most valuable and effective marketing tools that you have. If you have any questions about your Twitter account, you can contact us on Twitter at @linknowmedia, comment on this post, or get in touch the old fashioned way by giving us a call. We’ll be happy to answer any questions you have. The web is waiting for you!