At first glance, many small business owners have a hard time seeing a use for Twitter. It’s a site that allows you to post only short messages, and it seems like many users are effectively posting random comments. But Twitter can be a very effective tool for your business — and you can use it to market your product or service for free.
Here are some tips for those just starting out:
Getting Started With Twitter
The first step to leveraging Twitter for your business is to set up a Twitter account. You want to pick an account name that is relatively short — it’s preferable to use your company’s name, but an abbreviation can make it easier to communicate effectively on the site. You’ll also want to fill out your bio as completely as possible: link to your website, describe your business and put up a logo or other image.
From the start, you’ll also want to use a few external services to help you keep an eye on who is saying what — unless you want to spend hours a day on the site. Luckily, these tools are free as well.
- TweetDeck: This is an extremely popular desktop application that will let you handle replies, direct messages, search lists, and multiple accounts. There are other desktop applications as well, and using them make Twitter easier to follow and interact.
- TwitterLocal: If your business relies on local buyers or clients, you’ll want to have a good idea of what’s going on in your area. TwitterLocal provides you with a tool to read tweets made in locations you specify. (Relies on Adobe AIR, which is also free).
- SocialOomph: With SocialOomph, you can write posts ahead of time and set them up to automatically post at a time of your choosing, among other things that this service provides.
There are thousands of other free Twitter tools, but deciding which ones can help you requires first deciding just how you want to use Twitter.
Sharing Information on Twitter
Success on Twitter is measured — at least by prospective customers or clients — by your authenticity. As a matter of course, most Twitter users have no interest in following an account that is nothing but links and company announcements. Instead, they’re looking for a little interaction. There’s nothing wrong with including announcements, but you want to respond to comments that other Twitter users make about your business or your industry.
You can jump into a conversation very easily on Twitter, especially if you have set up alerts about topics relevant to your business. If you see that someone is talking about your industry, for instance, take a minute and look at what he has said: agree or disagree, you probably have an opinion about the topic that you would like to share. On Twitter, there’s no need to wait for an invitation — just jump in and start sharing.
The same holds true if someone mentions your product on Twitter. Good or bad, you should acknowledge the mention. If it’s bad, take a moment to see if you can address the issue. If you can fix the situation, you know that you’ve got a satisfied customer who will tell the world about it. The more happy customers you have commenting about how good you are on Twiter, the more potential customers will hear about it. It’s word of mouth marketing taken to a higher level.
Getting Followers of Your Own
There are tools available that you can plug in your Twitter account information and automatically add a thousand contacts on Twitter. However, taking this approach won’t help you in the long run. In a worst case scenario, you can get banned as a spammer. In the best case scenario, most Twitter users will ignore you as just another marketer.
The better option is to grow your Twitter contacts organically. Find someone interested in your business or industry? Start following him — and a put a little extra effort into conversing with him. Get a notification that you’re being followed by someone new? Check out his profile and start a conversation (and follow him back). In just a few months, you’ll have a solid network of Twitter contacts that are actually worth knowing.
SmallFuel is on Twitter, and so is everyone on the SmallFuel team. Hope to see you there!