A Review of Social Media: Part III
THE SOCIAL MEDIA PRIMER FOR SMALL BUSINESSES
By: Robert Bellenir
The third and final part in our series on social media focuses on Twitter as a social media tool that small business owners should consider in order to energize their online marketing efforts. Implement Facebook (see Part Two in our series) and Twitter to really increase your social media footprint.
By now, just about everyone has at least heard about Twitter. And many of your customers are likely already on Twitter. In fact, Twitter can be one the easiest and most effective social media tools to raise awareness about your business and brand.
Twitter is a micro-blogging platform that allows you to post updates (called “tweets”) using fewer than 140 characters. On Twitter, you will have people “following” your Twitter account (page) and you will be “following” others’ Twitter accounts (pages). “Following” someone on Twitter means that you will be updated every time a new post is added to one of your followers’ profiles. So every time you post a tweet, all your “followers” will be updated with the tweeted content. Ultimately, the more people that follow you, the more exposure your business will get.
Twitter can be a great way to grow your social media presence. However, you have to follow a few rules in order to get good results. What most people don’t understand about Twitter is that it is a social networking tool, not a sales tool, and needs to be utilized as such. Blasting out a flurry of tweets listing your products for sale isn’t going to do much to grow your business. Instead, if you implement the tips below, I think you will soon see an increase in followers, customers, and eventually, sales.
So how can you use Twitter to market your business? Let’s take a look at some strategies that you can implement today (after you create your Twitter account) that will increase your overall online presence.
Connect with Potential Customers
Similar to Facebook, Twitter gives you the ability to connect with potential customers in a far more intimate way than traditional media. Potential customers are able to gain a better understanding of who you are, what business you are in, and how you might best serve their needs given their particular circumstance. Begin your research by identifying who you want to follow (perhaps industry leaders or top customers). Two great sites are “wefollow.com” and “Twellow.com.” Both tools let you choose a specific niche or geographic area.
Build Your Database List
It’s always a good idea to be building a database of customers (and potential customers). Building a list of potential customers through Twitter is a longer-term proposition. However, it can be successful if you take the time to identify who you are talking to and what information matters most to them. While Twitter marketing is similar to Facebook, your message will change based on the limited size of your status update and the less formal atmosphere. Do not make the mistake of simply pushing out your newsletter or product listings. Make sure you are asking questions and creating a conversation with your followers. People want to know what makes your business tick, so give it to them (in 140 words or less)!
Bonus! Focus on determining what you can offer as an enticement to follow you on Twitter and keep them coming back for more. Product reviews, industry updates, news about your business, new product announcements…anything deemed valuable by your target audience is what you are after.
Increase Website Traffic
Social media can often lead to new traffic generation to your company website. In fact, building a list, getting more traffic to your website, and increasing your social media footprint should all be pieces to developing your online identity. Here are two strategies that can increase your company’s website visibility:
- Connect your website (blog) to your Twitter page and automatically notify your followers each time you post new content. An easy way to do this is to grab your RSS feed (usually yourwebsite.com/feed) and create a free account with Twitterfeed. Once you set up a feed, your new post will be “tweeted” immediately without you lifting a finger. Automating the update process frees up your time and allows you to really engage and interact with your followers.
- Create an opt-in form on your website. All businesses should have a sign-up form or opt-in form on their website. Attract attention to your form by tweeting about your monthly newsletter or a special discount for customers who visit your website and sign-up to your list.
Twitter is a valuable marketing tool for small businesses and is relatively easy to implement. It’s important to set aside time every day for managing your Twitter activity. Spend your time finding topics to tweet about and monitoring your Twitter page to see what the people you are following are tweeting about. Perhaps the smartest thing you can do with Twitter is using it to build relationships with people in your niche and industry. In the end, consumers buy from people they know and trust. Taking the time to build relationships with your followers can be a great first step in getting people to like and trust you (and your business).