26 Jul 2011
Social media is the great leveller when it comes to online marketing. You don’t need a big budget to get good mileage out of it, all you need is a little time and innovation. Twitter is a rising star in the social media industry, but despite all its potential it’s still sadly underused and underestimated as a marketing tool, especially by small businesses.
To help small business make the most of the Twitter experience we’ve compiled a list of essential Twitter tips:
1) Upload an avatar. You’d be amazed how often this most basic feature is ignored. By uploading your brand or company logo you make yourself identifiable. By keeping your avatar consistent over all your social media accounts you make yourself easily recognizable.
2) Start following the power users in your field. Twitter directories such as We Follow and Twellow allow you to find the most influential people in just about any field you can possibly think of. Add yourself to the directories so that you can also be easily found. It’s a good idea to take a look at who else is following the power users and who they are following in turn. Add some of these to your list. Not everyone will follow you back but you’ll start to build a following of your own.
3) Sit on the sidelines for a little while to see how the power users interact on Twitter. Then start imposing yourself on the Twitter sphere.
4) You can start simply by retweeting some power users’ tweets. Find some interesting articles that relate to news or developments in your industry and tweet the links. In this way you introduce yourself to your peers as someone who shares their interests.
5) It’s then time to start with your own observations. Venture opinions on news and developments, as well as one other people’s tweets. Try and phrase them so that they encourage a response. Maintain the conversation for as long as possible, but stop short of becoming boring.
All of this helps you build a following among your peers, but it doesn’t specifically help you get your customers onboard. Let’s look at some tips for drawing customer attention:
1) If you have regular customers, whom you know by name, look for them on Twitter and follow them if you find them.
2) Make an announcement of sorts – either an email list, print newsletter or a banner in your shop or offices – advertising your presence on Twitter. Add your Twitter username to all your correspondence; print as well as digital.
3) If you have a Facebook page, announce your Twitter presence to all your fans.
4) Run a competition whereby only Twitter entries are eligible – use print flyers and in-store advertising to promote it. Use hashtags (#) to demarcate entries. For example, if you have a hardware store and the competition requires entrants to name their favorite hardware brand you could stipulate that answers take the following form: Brand name #brandcompetition. All answers will go to the hashtag page that is automatically created.
Competitions are a great way to generate interest and attract followers, especially if you run them regularly. Remember that prizes need not be extravagant but they must be meaningful.
5) Use hashtags when running brand promotions.
6) Don’t make it all about marketing. Mix it up with some human interest tweets, for instance, welcome new staff members, wish a valued customer a happy birthday, and wish your Muslim customers well over Ramadan. If you’re into marathon running let everyone know if you’ve got a big race coming up, like the New York Marathon. People like to see that businesses are human and not just profit-generating machines.
7) Monitor results. Google Analytics is a great way to measure your website’s performance. It’s recently refined its social media features so that you can see exactly which social media site delivered traffic, which delivered conversions, etc. Sign up for an analytics account and go through the tutorials so that you become familiar with all the features and how to use them.
Never forget that Twitter is not a miracle worker, nor does it work best in isolation. Use it as part of a comprehensive marketing strategy for optimum results.
Awe.sm recently revealed the results of a study that showed Twitter delivers four times as much traffic as analytics results and other measurement tools show. This has to do with the vague manner in which traffic is attributed.
In essence, it means that Twitter is a vital component of social media marketing strategies.
And don’t you forget it.
About the author
Sandy writes on eclectic topics ranging from the environment and publishing to finance, advertising on radio, digital marketing and social media.
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