Are you a marketer or business owner who’s on or wanting to go on Twitter? If you’re not, then you should be considering it. This popular microblogging social media site has tweeted itself to the top tier of the social networking ladder. There are now more that 200+ million active members who are sending out close to 65+ million tweets every day, so you as a business owner should be engaging yourself as well. Sure, although the majority of tweets may be completely irrelevant and pointless, like what a cat owner fed her litter of kittens, but Twitter, if used properly can be an effective marketing tool.
You must surely be aware that from using social interactive sites such as Facebook or any other popular social media network, establishing relationships with your customers using these platforms isn’t quite the same as conventional marketing.
You need to understand the unique nuances of Twitter as well as learning how to use it effectively to be able to communicate with your potential customers in order for you to be successful.
Tips On Your Business Can Get Started On Twitter
Building A Twitter Following
Regardless of how valuable or ground breaking your Twitter posts may be, they are completely pointless or don’t have a purpose if you don’t have any readers. Although your tweets are searchable publicly by anyone who are looking for specific topics, you still need to build a loyal following of subscribers for your content. These followers of your Twitter account represents your community, they are the audience who you’re really connecting with, and they’re interested in what you have to say.
If you’re someone well known, a famous personality or a movie star, all you need to do is show up and tell the world that you’re on Twitter, and millions will instantly follow you. Say hello to Charlie Sheen.
But if you’re not that big megastar, you’ll be required to put a little effort into broadcasting your presence. You can begin by inviting any and all of your existing customers, as well as communities that you may associate with.
If you as a company or marketer has a Website or a blog, an active email list or an online newsletter, you can begin there. If your customers happens to have their own Twitter account, then you can invite them so they’ll in return follow you.
You can also include the Twitter icon along with your Twitter account link in your email signature along with everything else which will get you exposure. You can even give away incentives to anyone who decides to follow you, such as giving away a free product or service, or a coupon discount.
The culture which is Twitter is that the users who you follow will generally follow you back. You can click on Twitter and the “Who to Follow” link for suggestions. There are tools such as Tweet Adder, which is a software app which can provide additional details.
You can use the program to search for Twitter users who are following similar companies to yours for instance, or those who expresses an interest in your product or industry. You can then automatically follow all of those users. Some of them are more than likely to instantly follow your Twitter account back.
What you’re required to do first however is to build an attractive Twitter page with a relevant compelling profile image, appealing background, and an informative “About” me description about yourself or your company.
Knowing The Basic Rules Of Engagement
If you are relatively new to Twitter, then you will need to know the basic features of it, such as direct messaging, retweeting and the “@” replies. You’re able to send private messages directly to anyone who decides to follow you by simply typing the letter “d” directly in front of their username when you tweet.
When you make public tweets, using “@” will reply to comments on any of the other user’s tweets. You can do so just by including the “@” symbol right before their username in your message. If you’re wanting to repeat what anyone else tweeted, you can use “Retweet” and then include the letters “RT” at the beginning of your note. Some will even discretely ask in their tweets for others to retweet you.
These practices will draw attention to your fellow users, who in turn will notice that you are noticing them. You can also add your own insight or opinion in a retweet rather than just simply re-posting what someone else tweeted.
Also, check out if others have happened to call out your tweets, just to keep the conversation flowing. Once you become familiar with the basics, there are additional tools that you can use such as GroupTweet, which enables you to communicate back and forth with groups of users, even on a private basis.
Providing Value In Your Tweets
One of the bigger mistakes that you as a company or marketer can make when using Twitter, or social media in general, is attempting to treat it as a traditional marketing tool. The same slogan or banner that you place on a highway billboard or a magazine or newspaper ad will not translate the same on Twitter.
Twitter has proven to be an extremely effective marketing tool, but social networking is all about engagement, conversing and providing some type of value. You market yourself by who you actually are, and not by what you’re saying or projecting.
You can use Twitter as a medium and sounding board for introducing new products and services or features, but your tweets will also have to provide a lot more value to keep your readers interested.
So you’ll need to share updated relevant news regarding your industry or niche in general. You can also provide helpful tips as well as advice, along with generally conversing back and forth with them, giving your followers a good reason to participate or stay engaged in the discussion.
What you would want to do is make your tweets as entertaining and witty as possible, by posting something unique or humorous. Try to position yourself somewhat as an expert in your industry and then offer free advice. Try to be as personable and human as possible and avoid posting generic boring opinionated headlines which are obviously taken from news stories.
Keeping It Tight And Precise
The beauty and perhaps downfall of Twitter is that you’re limited to just 140 characters, so you’re required to practice economy of the words by keeping your message as short and precise as possible. So avoid using any long Web address as there are excellent and free URL-shortening services such as TinyURL or Bit.ly, which can abbreviate long Web address strings.
Bit.ly will also provide you with additional services by allowing you to gather valuable metrics regarding your visitors, as you’re able to monitor your Twitter efforts. You can examine exactly how many clicks that your shortened links get, as well as where that particular URL is getting the most action from. This is vital information that you’re able to use to track and then decide what works the best.
Enriching Your Tweets By Using Third-Party Tools
There are numerous third-party tools as well as plug-ins for Twitter which you can use that are able to add value to your tweets or your Twitter marketing plan.
Although Twitter was originally developed as a simple concept of providing a basic public SMS text messaging service via the Internet, you can now extend its capabilities way beyond just the standard 140 text characters.
You can begin by using Yfrog or TwitPic which allows you to send out photos or even video clips via your Twitter account. Then enable these services so that they’ll work on your mobile device, and then you can show rather than tell everyone what you just saw or did.
Make your tweets interactive by conducting polls by using a service such as Twtpoll, or set up chat rooms by using Nurph. Your Twitter followers will able to find a lot more value by paying more attention to the tweets that you post, if they’re able to find interesting conversations which they can participate in.
When integrating Twitter along with location-based services such as Foursquare, that can generate additional attention. For example, that seminar which you’re speaking at, you can tweet about it and then maybe someone close by will notice you and say “hi.”
Twitter recently acquired Tweetdeck, a service which allows you to view as well as manage multiple Twitter accounts, as well as other social media services such as: LinkedIn, Facebook, Google Buzz, MySpace and your Foursquare accounts.
You can also create lists or filter content to cut through the unwanted material. There are columns in Tweetdeck which allows you to monitor specific keywords and hash tags. You’re also able to set up a dedicated column in Tweetdeck so you can monitor when other Twitter accounts happen to mention your company or product, which provides you with the opportunity to recognize your most loyal customers, or to identify possible PR issues, and put out those fires ASAP.
Although Tweetdeck also allows you to schedule your tweets that you want to post in advance, there’s another service, Flowtown’s Timely, which takes it a step further. This service will go as far as analyzing your previous tweets so it can estimate the best time of day that those tweets were the most popular. Then, it will auto post your future tweets accordingly to that time schedule.
Hash Tagging It Out
You’re able to use hash tags, which is the # symbol, and then follow it with a keyword, so that your Tweets will be easier to search for. Tools such as Tweetdeck or Hashtags.org allows you to read the latest tweets for any hash tag.
One of the most common Twitter hash tag is #FF or #FollowFriday, which you’re able to include on Fridays along with names of Twitter accounts which you find valuable. This is an excellent word-of-mouth method for attracting new followers.
If you happened to be mentioned in FollowFriday, then make sure that you reply by saying Thank you. When you provide that type of personal touch, it’s something that fellow users will notice and appreciate.
One of the best ways to attract attention is tweeting about a topic which is currently popular. Use Google Alert to track what the “hot” topics are in your niche or industry, and when there is a hot story that’s sent to your email address, make sure that you tweet about it.
If your company for example repairs computers, and there is a new report regarding electronic wastage which are currently making the headlines, then you can use a hash tag such as #ewastage in a new tweet which explains how your PC repair service keeps these old computers out of the landfills.
Even if you don’t comment on any of the current hot news stories of the day, you can still associate your tweets to any upcoming events in your area. For example, if your business bakes muffins and cupcakes, you can then include hash tags such as #freshlocalbakery or #farmersmarket, announcing that you’ll be there at the next neighborhood Farmers market sale.
Another service, NearbyTweets allows you to check out who’s talking or what’s happening around your local neighborhood, or anywhere else in the world for that matter, such as Real Estate in New York.
Avoiding Most Of The Pitfalls
Twitter because of its very nature can be an online spam machine which you can bombard followers with unwanted marketing noise. But there are other pitfalls to look out for as well. Also keep in mind that the majority of your Twitter followers are not actually paying any attention to you at all.
While you follow Twitter accounts which are “like-minded” to yours in hopes of soliciting reciprocal following, which actually has some merit, but it can only go so far. Most of the users who are following back are most likely using that same tactic to increase their own following, and probably aren’t really that interested in what you tweet about or your business in general.
You can check out PeerIndex or Klout to track how many of your actual followers are really actively engaged. These services will usually assign a score from 1 to 100, which measures your direct online influence. At some point, you’ll realize that you just have to stop using the usual strategy of just following others, just because they’ll follow you back. Rather, allow your Twitter account to speak for itself, and then let word of mouth build you quality followers which matter.
Don’t Expect Any Miracles
Keep in mind that you’re not someone that’s famous, not yet anyways, and as a result, you will not instantly generate millions of followers. There won’t be a miracle spike in sales for your company because you set up that Twitter account. As with anything else that’s worth doing, there’s no magical shortcut, it takes patience, practice and time.
If you do it properly, Twitter can be an extremely powerful marketing method, a useful subtle tool for building customer loyalty and brand recognition. But the key is to be as patient as possible by providing value. Buildup a community, and then let your content as well as the success of that community that you built be the force which drives your success.