If you have a business, you probably have a business Twitter account (and if you don’t, you should). But are you using it to its full networking and marketing potential? If not, these tips on how to use Twitter for Small Business Marketing will help you gain more followers and, in the end, generate more sales leads.
What Twitter is — and is Not
Twitter is a free “microblogging” platform that allows you to create brief (140 characters, max) text post that appears both to your followers and via searches for certain keywords (also known as hashtags).
What Twitter is not is a vehicle to post ads for free. Promotions, yes — we’ll get into that later — but blatantly advertising (ie spamming) via Twitter post will not help your business. It makes you look like you don’t know what you’re doing.
To use Twitter so that it benefits your business, you have to be savvy. Make those 140 characters per tweet work for you. (Here are 5 more apps other than Twitter that will definitely transform your business and save you hours a day).
Brand your page
The first thing you should do when you start your business Twitter is to customize your Profile page:
- Upload your logo as a profile image. If your business is a professional service (for example, if you’re a freelance consultant), you might want to use a professional photo of yourself instead — especially if you plan to tweet advice.
- Upload a header image. This is the larger banner image on your profile page. It should correspond with your website and your brand image. (If you need help finding a good stock image, I am sure you can find one on these 12 sites. All the images are free to use!)
- Create a good 160-word bio. This will appear on your preview image, along with your header image, profile image, Twitter handle, and external link to your website. If you have a good slogan, this is a good time to use it.
Once it all comes together, you should have something nice and clean that showcases your business nicely at a glance:
The goal here is to catch people’s eye so that when they come across your preview profile (say, if someone they follow retweets one of your posts), they’ll click “Follow.” While creating an attractive profile is the first thing you should do, this won’t be the primary way to draw followers, especially at first.
Build up a network
The first thing to do once your page has been customized is to find the contacts you already have. Twitter makes this easy — just click on “#Discover” at the top of the page, then click on “Find Friends.” It will link up to your Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo, or AOL account, finding the Twitter accounts of your contacts.
Select the contacts you want to follow, or simply click “Follow All.” Your contacts will be notified that you’ve followed them, and some will follow back. Don’t worry about those who don’t. It’s likely they’re not active anyway.
You can browse Twitter to find people to follow, but be mindful: Mass following people you don’t know can get you flagged as a spammer and suspended. You can follow a few people in one sitting, but don’t overdo it.
Types of accounts to follow:
- Other businesses in your neighborhood or city
- Businesses that are similar to yours with a large social media presence
- Local media and small business organizations
- Bloggers who blog regularly about your industry
- Industry organizations and publications
You’ll notice you shouldn’t follow a lot of random potential customers. You should never do random follows hoping for random followbacks — instead, focus on people you might build relationships with (For more tips on customer relationships, check out this article on how to get a more personal image of the perfect customer).
So, for example, if you’re a photographer, and you come across the Twitter of a local musician, following them might benefit you (one day they might tweet that they need a photographer).
Following a musician in a city you don’t reside in and will probably never visit probably won’t be productive.
Most of your followers will ultimately come to you because your Twitter page is good: It offers useful information, links, specials, and a laugh here and there. They’ll find you because the followers you initially establish will retweet you, converse with you, and mention you.
What to Tweet
Don’t think that just because you’re microblogging at 140 characters a post, content matters less. The content of your twitter feed matters as much as the content of your website. Every tweet should be at least one of the following:
- Useful information — this might be a link to one of your blog posts, a quick tip, or an announcement.
- Links — About half of your links should take people to your website. The other half will take them to relevant articles, whether its news, commentary, or human interest.
- Specials — You don’t want to give your followers promo overload, but when you have a special or contest, you should spread the word on Twitter.
- Events — Though Facebook is the social media place for event invitations, tweet about them, too, for more exposure.
- Laughs — This isn’t mandatory, and might not be appropriate, depending on your business, but many of the most successful Twitter accounts are entertaining. They post things people want to retweet. You don’t have to be a comedian; post links to funny posts, commentary, or pictures that are relevant to your business.
- Inspiration — Like laughs, it’s not mandatory, but a little inspiration can go a long way via social media sharing. As always, make it relevant, not generic.
What not to tweet/retweet:
- Politics, unless it’s very relevant to your business (for example, if you’re a Green business, posting about environmental policy is relevant)
- Angry tweets to other users — if you have an issue, take it to private messenger or email
- Angry tweets period
- Spam (don’t post the same tweet over and over, don’t post blatant ads)
The backbone of Twitter, hashtags (#keyword) make your posts searchable. Use them in every tweet. Pay attention to trending hashtags (you’ll see them on your home screen) and use them when appropriate. Never use more than two.
If you see a tweet you’d like to share with your followers, you can post it to your twitter feed by clicking the Retweet icon. The Retweet will show up in your followers’ feeds with the original tweeter’s profile pic. Retweet often, and hopefully others will retweet you.
You can reply to tweets, which will show up in a thread of comments when someone clicks the tweet. It’s a good way to engage and be found.
These are messages that are seen only by the person or account that receives it. Use this feature when you want to connect privately, for example to ask a specific question. Do not use a tool to send automated DMs — even something as innocuous as “thanks for following” can be seen as spam if it’s automated.
When someone sets up a scheduled Chat, people post to a certain hashtag so they can interact in real time. If you see one related to your business, join in, even if it’s just one tweet.
Keeping it all together
So how do you keep track of all of this, plus other social media pages? It’s a good idea to streamline your experience with some helpful tools:
- Wefollow is a social media directory that you search by interest. Use it to find prominent people in your industry — people you want to follow and interact with.
- Klout helps you find relevant, original content, as well as the most influential people in your industry on social media.
- TweetDeck is Twitter’s social media management system, allowing you to track, organize and schedule your tweets to save you time.
- Hootsuite integrates all of your social media pages to save you time. It’s an essential tool if you have many social media profiles and/or have several people working on your business’ social media.
Effective social media marketing takes work and commitment, but once you get into the routine of interacting on Twitter for your business a couple of times a day, you’ll find that the time you put into it is more valuable than expensive, old-fashioned marketing methods.
Be sure to check out our other “how-to” articles for social media and small business marketing
We love Twitter so come say hi and we will follow you back and get chatting.