Over the last few years, Twitter has become one of the most preferred social networking platforms for small and medium sized businesses. Since its inception in 2006, the 140 character micro blogging platform has grown exponentially and has more than 200 million active, some even addicted, users.
Naturally, it has become an ideal platform for businesses to get up close and personal with their current and potential customers.
Making the right use of the 140 characters on Twitter seems simple.
Unfortunately, with so much noise about the advanced usage of Twitter, and other such platforms, a large number of small business owners end up ignoring the basics that ultimately result in less than ideal results.
Here are 10 basic, yet extremely powerful, Twitter tips for small businesses that can help you achieve much better results.
1. Have a Clear Objective
Like any other marketing activity, being clear about your objective with Twitter is extremely important. This sounds simple enough, but without a clear objective you will always be wondering what your next Tweet should be about.
Twitter is just a tool – a very useful one though. Don’t use it just because everyone else is. Define the goals that you want to achieve through it and tailor your tweets and profile accordingly.
2. Build An Awesome Profile
Your profile ultimately defines your brand image on Twitter. Make sure it reflects everything that your company is about.
There are 5 main elements of your Twitter profile:
Display Picture – Never leave it blank, either use your company logo or the owner’s picture, preferably a head shot.
Background Image – Use an image that signifies your products or services and relates clearly with the message of your brand.
Profile Description – Don’t try to play too much with words in your profile description. Describe your company using the most relevant keywords that resonate with your target market.
Location – Don’t try to be too cute by using Earth and Milky way as your location. Leave the humour for later.
Profile Template – Just like the background image, the profile template helps you stamp your Twitter profile with your brand image. Ideally, you should be looking to use a high quality image that symbolizes your company.
3. Follow The People Who Matter
Twitter is about getting in touch with people most relevant to your business. Start with your existing customers. Follow them and let them spread the word for you.
Similarly, follow the most influential people in your industry and start engaging them. As a small business owner, you’ll need to go after people initially.
Another good way to start is by studying the followers of your competitors. Have a good look at them and follow the ones you find most relevant to your business.
But make sure you don’t end up following hundreds of irrelevant users. The following/follower ratio is a delicate matter and, although, you should not be worried about it at the start, you still need to strike the right balance.
4. Content Is King Even On Twitter
Even though your Tweets are only going to be 140 characters in length, but that doesn’t make quality content any less important.
In fact, if anything, it further amplifies the need for on spot and engaging content.
Again, competitor analysis is the best place to start. Have a detailed look at your competitors who’ve had the most success on Twitter. Study the style of their Tweets, not because you should copy them, but just to give you an idea of what works with your target market.
As a rule of thumb, never use Twitter for direct sales pitching. It’s not what Twitter has been made for. Also, don’t spam your followers with links to your blogposts or product pages.
Twitter is an engagement platform, a very powerful one. Use its strength to get close to your target market.
Identify the most common problems of your target audience and Tweet about their solutions.
Also, be generous in Retweeting useful content from other Twitter users and sharing useful industry insights.
Try to understand the needs of your followers and get direct/indirect feedback on your products or services.
5. Repeat Your Tweets Multiple Times
Not everyone is online all the time so you need to make sure that your best Tweets are seen by as many of your followers as possible.
You can do that with services like the Buffer app. Schedule your Tweets according to different time zones so that most of your followers get to see them.
6. Get Quick Retweets To Get Started
Its always good to get a few quick and early Retweets whenever you Tweet something special. That, of course, is not entirely in your hand though.
However, you can speed up things a little bit by submitting your Tweets to services like JustRetweet.com. They might not send you loads of traffic instantly, but they can certainly get your Tweet to a much wider audience through multiple Retweets that are 100% natural.
Your tweet will, of course, gain momentum automatically if it carries enough value for your followers.
7. Add Personality To Your Tweets
Scheduling your Tweets before hand is fine when you’re trying to reach audiences in different time zones. But that does not mean you take your personality completely out of your Tweets.
Twitter is a casual platform, and although you’re a small business who’s trying to get in touch with your target market, it doesn’t mean you start sounding like robots.
Have a distinct voice in your Tweets that can help your followers relate with you in a much better way. Add a bit of humour to your Tweets and, occasionally, get personal with your followers as well.
Also, never forget to respond to the messages of your followers.
Twitter is an engagement platform and you need to make sure that you use it to interact regularly with your followers.
8. Keep An Eye On Twitter Trends
Although you wouldn’t want to be a #hashtag spammer, but you still need to keep an eye on the updated Twitter trends in your target regions.
Tailor the trends according to your region and include the emerging hashtags in your Tweets to get more visibility.
But using hashtags requires a little common sense as well which, unfortunately, is not very common.
Use the hashtags intelligently and make them a part of your Tweets. Don’t end up looking awkward by using irrelevant hashtags at the end of every Tweet.
Hashtag stuffing will only make you look like a spammer and , obviously, hurt your brand’s image.
9. Get Twitter SMS Followers
Twitter SMS subscription is one of the best ways to connect your offline customers with your online marketing campaign.
Mobile phone users can subscribe to SMS updates from any Twitter user. They don’t even need to be signed up with Twitter.
SMS “Follow @username” to 40404 (see the code for your country here ) and get all the Tweets of that particular user as SMS on your mobile phone.
A word of caution though; nobody likes to receive hundreds of SMS everyday So the best way of using mobile subscriptions is by creating a separate Twitter account for your mobile subscribers and sending 2-3 important messages every week.
The Twitter SMS subscription is a great way for small offline businesses to stay in touch with their customers. It’s almost like an offline mailing list.
10. Track Your Performance
No matter what marketing tool you use, at the end of the day it needs to benefit your business directly or indirectly. That is why you should constantly track your performance on Twitter and it’s impact on your overall marketing strategy.
An easy way of doing that is to look for the number of mentions you get every week or the number of people who have followed or unfollowed you. You can track these changes directly in your Twitter interactions tab or use third party services like unfollowers.me.
Also use the Twitter search bar to check what people are saying about you or your brand. The interactions tab only shows your twitter username mentions. There are times when people discuss you directly by company name or by a particular product name.
So its always good to have a quick search with the relevant keywords.
11. Be Consistent In Your Tweets
None of the tips mentioned above will work if you’re not consist with your Twitter strategy. Nothing puts off followers more than an inactive Twitter profile.
Therefore, develop a Twitter plan for your business and stick to it. It can be anything from a couple of Tweets every second day to a dozen Tweets everyday.
Whatever it is, you need to be consistent in it to grow.
Twitter is undoubtedly one of the most effective engagement tools on the internet right now. For small businesses, its almost a dream platform where they can get in touch with their customers with minimum costs.
However, getting the basics of your Twitter account in order is as important, if not more, as using it for advanced marketing, engagement and research purposes.
If you’re an avid Twitter user, I would love to hear how you feel small businesses can benefit from this social media platform.