The past few years have seen a remarkable growth in the number of online websites and services used for sharing and communicating information about ourselves. For most small business owners, it’s been a very overwhelming period, with many simply refusing to acknowledge that mediums like Facebook and Twitter are not going away, and may actually prove beneficial to their business. But how?
To paraphrase John F. Kennedy, “Ask not what your twitter can do for you, ask what you can do for your twitter.“
Instead of jumping into Twitter wondering how it will help your business, what you should be thinking is how you can use Twitter to help your customers and potential customers.
First, a few pointers about how Twitter works:
- If you haven’t already, visit http://twitter.com and create an account for yourself – be sure to use your business name and logo if at all possible.
- Tweets are simple posts that are limited to 140 characters. Individuals use them as status updates to let others know what they’re doing.
- With Twitter, you have to “follow” others to automatically see what they’re tweeting about. Similarly, others will need to follow you to automatically see your tweets.
- Start to grow your follower base by using Twitter’s Find People functions to search your email accounts and address books for friends already using Twitter and invite them to follow you.
- You can ‘Re-Tweet’ a post that someone else has made that you think your own followers would find interesting and may not have seen. Preface a Re-Tweet with RT.
- Use the @ symbol before another user’s name to direct that comment to them, or give them credit if it’s a Re-Tweet. Twitter will automatically create a link to that user.
- Use the # symbol to give a particular word or phrase emphasis as a searchable term.
Now, before you post your first Tweet, a few other considerations for business owners:
- Tweets are searchable.
Anyone, at any time, will be able to read your tweets. Not only are they searchable within Twitter, but within Google and other search engines as well. In fact, the U.S. Library of Congress has started to archive Twitter updates so bear in mind that anything you post will be there forever. While that might seem a scary and intimidating prospect, that’s actually good thing!
- Tweet on topics relevant to your customers and industry.
You should talk about things that matter to you and your business. Do not advertise, but discuss breaking news, industry trends, offer tips and tricks, and so on. By making your posts relevant to your target audience, not only will your posts be interesting, but you’ll attract Twitter users searching on those topics and gain more followers.
The more followers you gain, the more impact each individual tweet will have. If you use your tweets to help and advise customers and potential customers, you will paint yourself as an expert in your field. The next time one of them needs someone like you, who do you think will come to the top of their mind?
Aside from meaningful posts, here are a few other ways to gain followers:
- Search for and follow your customers and potential customers – most people will follow you in response.
- Include your Twitter account link in emails
- Include a button to follow you on Twitter on your website
- Post your Twitter account to your Facebook and other profiles
Finally, when it comes to creating those interesting Tweets, here are a few suggestions:
- Use Twitter’s Recommendation system to follow leaders in your industry, as well as news sources. These can be a great source for information, links to blogs and other sites that you can share with your followers.
- Create Google Alerts for industry terms so that you keep up on news events and new products, information, and so on.
- Post sales and updates for your business, but keep these to a minimum so as not to appear to be advertising. Annoying your followers is a sure way to lose them.
- Write blogs and case studies and other articles on your website and post a link to them.
If you have a Drupal CMS website, or are planning on getting one, there are several ways that we can integrate Twitter with your website. First, we’ll make sure there’s a nice, recognizable button on your site inviting visitors to follow you. Second, we can make sure that every blog post and other content within your site has a Twitter icon that visitors can use to quickly and easily post a link to that content on their own Twitter account. Your new content will automatically be posted to your own Twitter account. Finally, we can pull your Tweets into your personal profile so that your site maintains an internal, searchable copy of all your Twitter updates.