Twitter Tips for Small Businesses

If you’re a small business owner in 2016 you may be thinking to yourself, “Should I use Twitter for my small business?” or “How can I use Twitter to promote my business?“.  These questions are very common and the following article on social media marketing may offer some helpful tips.

Twitter can be an extremely effective part of your overall social media marketing strategy.  While it may seem a little intimidating at first (many people don’t understand what Twitter is), Twitter allows you to post updates about your business for other users to see and react to, similar to Facebook.

twitter

The difference with Twitter is that you don’t need to be “friends” with someone to view their posts, and, new posts (posts are called “tweets” when using Twitter) are limited to 140 characters.  It has been said that Facebook is an excellent place for connecting with people whereas Twitter is an excellent place for sharing ideas and information.  Here’s how you can use Twitter to market and promote your small business.

Signing up for Twitter.

Creating a Twitter account for your small business is even easier than creating a Facebook profile.  In less than 10 minutes you can have a fully customized Twitter page and start promoting your goods and services.  All you need is your business’s email address, a profile picture (usually your business’s logo) and a background picture.

Twitter basics.

Following People and Businesses: As I mentioned earlier, you don’t need to be “friends” with people on Twitter to follow their activity or join conversations.  You can chose to “follow” whomever you wish and that person’s Twitter activity will show up automatically in your news feed.  For example, Donald Trump has been in the news quite a bit lately for the provocative “Tweets” (posts) he’s been making on Twitter.  You can chose to follow Donald Trump to be sure you receive his latest comments.  Following other small businesses in your particular industry or niche is another great way to learn how they’re marketing their small business.

Writing to People and Businesses: You can comment directly to other people and businesses through Twitter by including the [email protected] symbol followed by the person’s Twitter user name in your tweets.  In the example below, a customer (Miguel Pahua) is contacting a speaker company (B&O Play) in regards to a new app for his Android phone.  Instead of going through the hassle of calling the company or emailing them, he can chose to tweet them.  Notice how he called the company out directly in his post by including @beoplay in his tweet.  Twitter is an effective platform for these types of inquiries because it is a public forum that anyone can see.  Businesses are typically very proactive in dealing with customer complaints and inquiries as their responses are indicative of overall customer service and satisfaction.  The flip side, of course, is an inappropriate or inadequate response by a company can quickly shed the company in a bad light.

twitter contact other user

Twitter hashtags (#): Another confusing thing to first time Twitter users is the use of hashtags (i.e. the pound “#” symbol).  Hashtags have taken on a life of their own in social media and can mean many different things to different people.  Sometime people use them as sort of an exclamation point to a tweet or post they make.  For example, you could say something like “Happy birthday to my beautiful wife.” Followed by the hashtag “#mywiferocks”.

tweet

The use of the hashtag in this example doesn’t really mean anything other than adding a little pop culture social media flare to the tweet.

When you use Twitter, hashtags can also serve as a way of categorizing what your tweet is about so other Twitter users can find it more easily.  For example, if you are a consultant specializing in employee health plans you could tweet a message like this.

twitter medical costs

In this example the hashtag #obamacare allows your tweet to be displayed when someone searches for tweets related to the Affordable Care Act.  You’ll also notice a “trending” section within Twitter where the most popular topics are displayed.  Take a look at the trending topics section from time to time.  If you have expertise related to a topic that is trending, like Obama Care in our example, that would be an excellent time to tweet an article from your blog that demonstrated your expertise on that topic.

What to post to Twitter.

Now that you have the basics out of the way, you’re probably wondering what the best practices are when it comes to promoting your business on Twitter.  Here’s a few tried and true strategies.

Keep Tweets Short and to the Point:  Since you are only allowed 140 characters (about 15 to 20 words) to compose your tweets, its best to keep them as short and direct as possible.  Don’t try to cover multiple topics in your tweet, focus on one particular topic that complements your consulting business.  If you have a lot to talk about, write a blog post about it on your website and then tweet the link out on twitter with any appropriate hashtags:

twitter keep it short

In the above example, New Matter shares their 3D printing beginner’s guide by including it as a link in their tweet.  They’ve also included a picture in their post as well (the picture in this example is actually not that great as it is hard to determine what the picture actually has to do with 3D printing).

Include Quality Pictures and Videos:  Twitter allows you to include images and videos with your tweets.  Twitter studies show that people are three times more likely to respond to a tweet that includes visuals.  I’ve already mentioned in a previous chapter how important it is to use fresh and vivid pictures on your business’s website, the same holds true for Twitter and Facebook as well.  In the example below, Ralph Lauren (clothing designer) posted an amazing video of Maine craftsman manufacturing the company’s new Team USA Olympic boat shoes for this summer’s Olympic Games in Rio.

twitter ralph lauren

Not only does this video convey a very patriot message and “made in the USA” tone, the company also included the hashtags #TeamUSA and #RoadtoRio to improve the tweets chances of being seen by people following the Olympics.  This is a textbook example of how you can leverage your business’s strength and make connections with new customers.

Ask Questions and use Polls:  Another great way to encourage responses and interactions with your company’s tweets is to ask questions and use polls.  Here’s an example (on the next page) of this strategy in action from an aspiring parody news site, Scooped Report.  Scooped Report is running a poll to find out what Twitter users prefer when it comes to parody news sites.  Obviously, since Scooped Report is a new site, most people have never heard of it and therefore it will rank very low in the poll.  But, the poll may create curiosity among people who may want to check out Scooped Report’s site to find out what it is all about.

twitter poll example

Retweet Relevant Posts from Other Users:  Another effective strategy of keeping your Twitter followers engaged with your social media brand is to comment on and retweet (repost) relevant tweets from other users.  After all, sharing information and discussing trending topics is really what Twitter is all about.  Being an active member of the Twitter community will open up new connections for you and your business in ways that other forums can’t match.

For example, if your business is based in a particular region, you could help establish your connection to the community by “re-tweeting” relevant information that pertained to your area.  Here’s an example of a consulting firm re-tweeting the local hockey team’s opening day countdown tweet in an attempt to connect with the team’s fans and increase their exposure to potential clients.  Obviously, you don’t want to fill your business’s twitter page with too many of these “public service announcements” but they can be very effective when used sparingly.

twitter retweet

Twitter’s Sponsored Post Advertising.  Like Facebook, Twitter also offers users the ability to advertise their products and services by way of sponsored tweets.  For example, you could compose a tweet for your business and include a link to the about page on your website.  If you only had a few dozen Twitter followers then the tweet is only going to be seen by a few people.  With sponsored posts, you can pay Twitter to display your tweet (ad) in front of as many people as you’re willing to pay for.  These ads generally offer a very good return on investment.  The best part is that you don’t have to commit to a large amount of money at first.  You can start off with a small budget and see how the ads perform and then expand your advertising budget once you have tweaked your ads to get the best response.

Increasing Your Twitter Followers:  The more frequently you post relevant and interesting information to your Twitter page, the more people (aka potential clients) will be to “follow”.  At the end of the day, its all about making these connections with people and making your business matter to them (whether they realize it or not).  The more impressions your business makes on potential customers, the more likely those clients will be to call you when they need your services.

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