I’ve talked about Twitter for Small Business before but it really does bear repeating. Twitter can be an effective and powerful marking tool for you. This social network platform can be used to reach your current and potential customers, promote your brand, inform, educate, thank and promote.
For those of us on a tight budget (and I suspect that means most of us), Twitter can be a real asset and more importantly, you can be effective with your time and efforts if you follow some of these helpful tips:
1. Use Hashtags: There is some etiquette surround this. It’s best to add one or two hashtags at the end of your tweets. Three is acceptable but might be pushing it and more is just plain spammy. It will turn people off. A hashtag starts with the (#) number sign placed directly in front of a relevant keyword. It’s a great way to help people find you who are interested in a “conversation” about a particular twitter topic.
As an example, you can choose to run a promo (within a time frame) to bring attention to your new business. You might ask people to answer a specific question and then follow that with specific hashtags to track the answers.
Here is just one example of what that might look like: Follow us on Twitter. Tell us what 2 colors are in our logo. Use hashtag #storeopeningpromo be entered to win $200 draw
This accomplishes a number of things…..it brings people to your website, it get’s people engaged, you have new twitter followers, you can reach out to them in the future, you can track if the promo was successful or not to decide if you want to use it again…and more.
2. Tweeting at Right Time and Frequency: You want retweets of your tweets. This is how your brand and information gets shared more quickly by others. Figuring how often and when to tweet is a combination of science and art. You will need to consider who your audience or stakeholders are, where they are located (time zone), when they tweet and do business etc.. so that they have the best chance of finding you. You will also want to get the attention of influential people or businesses.
You have many options here. Listen and follow. Spend some time searching out the twitter handles of people/business that you want to follow. Watch how and when they “talk” on twitter before engaging. Sign up for one of the many free online tools such as SocialBro to help you find when the “best time for you to tweet” is, find “influencers” and more. Tweetdeck, Buffer and Hootesuite offer free tools to help manage your twitter feeds by allowing you to schedule them in advance. There are many more.
How often to tweet? I did mention part “art” right? There is no simple answer and if you google this question you will find different opinions. Put yourself in the shoes of your “community”. You don’t want to lose them by tweeting too often but at the same time you want to be found. I personally think that 4 x per day should be the minimum for a new business. I consider the advice offered here to be quite reasonable.
3. Insert Relevant Links: You need to bring value to your “community”. This gives them a reason to want to follow you and retweet your tweets. As you continue to provide useful information via “links”, you will build your credibility, be seen as knowledgeable and in the end, will attract more followers.
Instead of including the same links from the usual popular websites that everyone seems to share over and over, spend the time to source out interesting tidbits and “hidden gems” onine. Your efforts won’t go unappreciated.
4. Make deposits: Social media is like banking. You have to make deposits before you can withdraw. The fastest way to lose your online cred is to be selfish. Like all other social media platforms you need to invest in others first. RT or FAV other people’s tweets that you like or include “links” of companies that you want to share with others or thank. It’s about developing relationships. For sales it’s like making a “warm call” instead of a “cold call”. Which type of call do you think has a the better chance of success?
People like being appreciated and you will be surprised how quickly your following will grow if you promote and support them. They will gladly reciprocate. For each tweet about your business you should have 5 or 6 that are about others.
5. Analyze your Twitter Data: In time you will want to analyze how your twitter performance is impacting your brand. There are a number of free options available for small businesses. Twitalyzer is one such tool which focuses on the metrics of impact and influence. The Twitalyzer report measures the effectiveness of your tweets. For example it can show the days in which your twitter accounted exerted it’s most influence and what influenced that account. This allows you to focus on what’s working and stop doing what’s not working.
Twitonomy might be another option for you. Twitonomy tracks conversations around Twitter. They have fully customizable modules that are updated in real-time. You can monitor conversations based on keywords, users or lists that you’ve pegged. It also comes with a free analytics tool that breaks down your Twitter account into simple statistics and graphs that help you understand how you’ve been using Twitter. It can track your rates of mentions, retweets, hashtags and more.
The truth of the matter is that there are tons of free online tools, some good, some bad. Some will disappear tomorrow, new ones will appear frequently and disappear just as frequently. That is both the beauty and the frustration of social media. It’s dynamic. Once you accept this, it becomes easier to take that first step. Spend time researching on Google, read reviews. See what applications have been around for awhile if you need a bit of certainty (just remember, no guarantees). Over time as you get more comfortable, you will start appreciating what Twitter can bring to the table. Most importantly, don’t be afraid. It’s better to get involved and make a few small mistakes along the way than to not be involved at all.
Don’t fear failure so much that you refuse to try new things. The saddest summary of a life contains three descriptions: could have, might have, and should have – Louis E. Boone