Ask five people how to best use Twitter, and you’ll get five different responses. Here are some of the best tips we’ve come across for small businesses.
Twitter has become the official mouthpiece for so many elements of the global society. Politicians make major announcements. So do sports stars. Celebrities. Major corporations.
In a tweet, he/she said.
According to Twitter…
Such pronouncements, silly as we would have thought they sounded a couple of decades ago, are commonplace now.
Your small business can find its own niche, its own dedicated corner of Twitter. Star power may draw people to the social networking site, but your customers aren’t going to go to Beyonce’s Twitter feed to learn about what new features the top snowblowers will have this year or how they can manage DIY home HVAC projects or when the new Kia Souls will be in at the local car dealership.
That’s your job – to announce your company’s new products. To direct visitors to your blog or website for helpful how-to’s. To share news about your specific industry. And to take the pulse of your customers and prospects by reading what they’re tweeting about you.
While you’re doing that, keep these tips in mind.
Be patient. Some social media professionals say it takes at least six months to start building momentum on any social networking site (unless you’re someone like Apple or U2). That means you’ll be putting in hours at first without seeing much return. Keep at it. And read back over your feed occasionally. Pat yourself on the back for your good work, even if no one else is at first.
Be self-aware. Twitter is about communicating, but listening is a critical element of an effective social media strategy. Listen intently to those early responders and encourage their participation. Listen to what your competitors – and their customers – are saying. And listen to what might be posted about your company elsewhere on Twitter by doing frequent searches for your business name and other industry keywords that might unearth enlightening tweets.
Be there, frequently. Your Twitter feed is not your website. People expect it to change regularly. Don’t say stuff just to say stuff, but always have some evergreen content that you can throw in when the well runs dry. If you’ll be away from a computer or mobile device for more than a day, or you just want to get ahead because you know you’ll be busy, schedule tweets in advance using Hootsuite or one of the myriad tools available for such activity.
Provide context and visuals. Don’t just drop links into your Twitter feed. Explain them briefly and say why visitors should click on them. Throw in photos and videos when it’s appropriate. And make sure that that most critical of photos – your profile picture – is intriguing or compelling or professional or funny or whatever image you want to project.
Be inquisitive and helpful. Show your visitors that you want to hear from them. Find out what problems they need solved. Eventually, your Twitter feed will become a lengthy conversation with regulars – a hangout of sorts — and a welcoming venue for new arrivals.