How to use Twitter for small business marketing

Joanna Michaels, Beyond Social Buzz

Five useful tips for SME

Many small businesses still doubt whether Twitter activity can really benefit them. While they may understand the potential of social media in general, when it comes to Twitter they often seem confused about its real gains.

The fact is, when used correctly Twitter can benefit small business in several ways, enabling you to reach a wider audience, generate more leads, obtain valuable feedback, and keep an eye on your competition!

In order for all this to happen certain rules should be obeyed, as Twitter, while being a digital networking tool, is all about human interaction.

Here are our tips on how to use it:

1. Focus and get the balance right

When deciding on your content ie what you want to tweet about, start from defining your purpose of being on Twitter in the first place. Clarifying your Twitter goals will help decide how you want your brand to be perceived, the type content you want to share and who you want to follow. Don’t forget to figure out metrics that will measure your success so you can monitor your progress and see what is working and what is not.

Once this is done, create a balanced content that is both informative and entertaining. Share trends relevant to your industry, but remember to add your own commentary to personalise it. Seeing humans behind the brand is something that really resonates with Twitter users. So don’t act like a robot, and show a human face.

Get creative and share some niche-related jokes, compelling photos or fun statistics, but don’t forget to add some local flavor, especially if you are aiming at attracting local customers.

Finally, and I left this one to last on purpose, tweet about your business, however don’t be ‘pitchy’. Instead focus on how your services and products can benefit your customers. Use Twitter to tell your business story to your community.

2. Stick with it

In order to succeed, small businesses need to take a consistent approach to Twitter activity. Twitter requires time and you may not see immediate results, but hang in there. It will happen provided that you tick all the right boxes. Your followers’ number won’t jump from 0 to 2,000 over night. Such ‘mysterious’ jumps, however, do happen to those who buy automated followers in order to artificially boost numbers. Avoid it at all cost as one way or another it will only alienate the followers you are working so hard to attract. Bought, spammy followers won’t ever visit your blog, buy your products or engage with you in a meaningful way.

It is much safer to opt for a transparent organic growth, even if it takes a little bit longer. Maintain a steady stream of engaging posts that are relevant to your audience and you will see your community grow.

3. Aim for customer service excellence

Providing a top-notch customer service on Twitter is what customers today expect from brands. Using Twitter as a customer service channel can save small business money and time as it reduces resources spent on phone calls and email correspondence. The key to successful service delivery is the speed and quality of your response.

Ensure that you monitor and provide timely responses to customers’ questions, positive reviews and even complaints! Yes, complaints on Twitter are rather specific. Customers know they can submit them via email or simply call the business, yet they choose Twitter for a fast response. Don’t let them down as it may open Pandora’s box. The best practice is to acknowledge the complaint and direct it to your main email address, so the problem can be addressed and easily resolved.

4. Be proactive!

There is someone out there who needs your service. Be proactive in finding them. This is how Twitter enables you to serve your customers on a more personal level. Tap into Twitter conversations related to your niche. You can use Twitter’s search option or some automated tools to find conversations happening in a real time. A dashboard app like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck can provide you with search streams to monitor various hashtags and keywords. Surprise someone with helpful advice, but make sure you are not selling as this will have an adverse effect! Such an approach will allow a creation of a personal bond, increase the familiarity with your brand and create an opportunity for future conversions.

5. Don’t automate all your updates

Don’t go overboard with social media automation; it can be a minefield if used in a wrong way. Overuse of such platforms can hurt your brand, as none of them can replace the human element. People want to engage with people in a ‘social conversation’ and over-reliance on automation removes that ‘social’ element.

Automation can be also very useful in content creation, but try to add your own commentary to encourage engagement.

Using automation for pre-scheduling content is absolutely fine, but stay away from posting thoughtless, generic tweets or repeating the same content over and over. At least re-phrase it. Aim for a healthy balance between the pre-scheduled and real-time posts, so your followers can see that your account is responsive and genuine.

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