Twitter is one of the world’s most popular social networks, and that means it’s perfect for entrepreneurs and small business owners. Today, I want to talk about why you should consider Twitter for your business and provide some tips on maximizing this resource for finding and converting prospects.
Twitter allows users to post short status updates—140 characters max—called “tweets.” You can follow the people you like on Twitter to see what tweets they post in real time, as well as what tweets they “retweet” from the timelines of other users. Tweets can be communicated to a single user or a group of users—anyone can read them, but only those who have accounts can post. Tweets can include text, photos, or videos.
The number of people using Twitter in Canada grew by 29.8% in 2014 according to eMarketer. This is expected to increase by another 15.6% in 2015 to a total of 6.8 million Canadians—so if you’re considering signing up, it’s not too late to join the party! Twitter is actually more popular in Canada than in the United States.
How can you use Twitter to communicate with your client base or industry associates? Here are five good ways:
1. Offer unique discounts
One New York City boutique hotel stood out by offering special discounts for those who booked a room via Twitter. Last-minute deals sent out at the end of the day could keep your hotel filled throughout slow times. This strategy can easily be replicated for spas, alternative health clinics, or practically any business that involves appointments or class registrations.
2. Show off your company’s personality
Give your followers a peek behind the scenes by letting them see how fun or engaging you are outside of business hours. For example, you can share videos, images, and motivational or inspirational messages. Let your prospects see the human side of your business.
3. Build relationships
The back-and-forth conversational style of Twitter offers a great opportunity to build rapport with your clients and answer their questions. Taking part in the conversation and responding to tweets directed at you can keep you in front of your clients and prospects.
4. Deliver quality customer service
Twitter is a great communication tool for customer service. Take the example of IX Web Hosting. They monitor their feeds, respond to customer enquiries and complaints, and make announcements when their servers may be down. They keep people in the loop as they work towards fixing issues.
5. Share your expertise with others
You can research relevant Twitter conversations to find ways to engage with others and share your expertise. For example, if you are a business consultant and you come across people talking about whether to incorporate or not, you can mention some pros and cons for those in the conversation to consider. As you continue to provide helpful information, in time, people will come to know you as the expert in this area and may possibly call on you for further details. Twitter chats are an excellent way to do this, because they happen often and are a great way to bring like-minded individuals together. Do not blatantly sell. Instead, be helpful and lead your prospects gently down the sales funnel.
Some great resources about making your conversations effective and more engaging:
- 15 Twitter Tips That Get More Retweets, Favourites, And Clicks
- 6 Tips to Boost Your Twitter Conversations
- How To Become a Twitter Influencer
- 9 Small Business Twitter Marketing Examples to Study
Twitter, like most social networks, comes with its own lexicon. Here are some basic terms to help you get started.
This is how people refer to their user names, and is usually preceded by the @ symbol. If you tweet under the user name “johnsmith”, your handle would be @johnsmith.
Hashtag (e.g.: #keyword)
Hashtags help users group and track tweets that discuss a specific topic.
Mention (e.g.: @username)
Mentions are tweets directed at other users. A mention to @username will be saved in the user’s “Notifications” tab in their dashboard.
Direct message (aka: DM)
This is how individual users can send private messages to each other. You can send DMs only to users who already follow you.
Retweet (aka: RT)
Retweets rebroadcast or share a tweet originally posted by another user. You can either quote the other user directly or modify the tweet using the format “RT @username” where @username is the handle of the person you are retweeting.
As with any other marketing tool, the key thing is to measure your return on investment by how much people are engaging with you.
Tools like Twitter Analytics and SocialRank can help you better understand your followers, while Twilert monitors your brand’s reputation. And of course, Hootsuite hosts a number of tools for your marketing analysis.
Now you can get started with this overview. Have a strategic direction and set some goals about how you want to participate in the online conversation. Engage, answer questions and start sharing valuable content to encourage conversation on Twitter. That’s the best way to lead followers back to your website and start building and nourishing those relationships.
Image credit: by marek.sotak, via flickr.com.