How to Use Twitter for Small Business

If Justin Bieber can use Twitter to drive sales of his albums, surely there must be a way for small businesses to tweet their way to success. While Tweeting alone may not increase your sales figures into the millions, as part of an overall social media campaign, tweeting is vital.

The great thing about Twitter is that you can tweet from anywhere, assuming you have an Internet connection or a mobile media device. If you have five minutes between appointments, you can shoot out a tweet to your followers about an exciting event coming up at your store. This type of on-the-fly promotion will help you stay in constant contact with your customers and build a community of followers who will tell others about the exciting things happening in your business.

PCMag offers some insight into why people love Twitter and why it is effective for businesses:

“People go to Twitter to share what they know and learn in return. Twitter users are hungry for new ideas, opportunities, information, services, and products. If your business is not part of this exchange, you’re leaving two huge opportunities untouched: growing your business and improving it.”

Five Reasons You Should Use Twitter for Your Small Biz

The Power Of Twitter

Show You’re Current

It seems nearly everyone is on Twitter these days. Celebrities tweet, individuals tweet, politicians even tweet. When your business has a presence on Twitter, it shows that you understand the importance of this social media model.

Watch the Competition

Have you ever wondered why your competition is so successful? You may be able to glean an answer from their Twitter posts. Follow your competition’s Twitter feed and you’ll get tweets about events and promotions they are offering. Watch the posts that others seem to retweet the most and see what makes those posts successful.

Get the Word Out

When you want to run a quick sale or offer an event for your customers, Twitter offers a quick and easy way to let people know what is going on in your small business. Not only is tweeting short and sweet, but it is free for those who already have access to the Internet. While there are some paid models within Twitter, such as advertising options, small businesses will benefit from the simple act of having an active profile on Twitter.

Network with Others

When it comes to growing your business, finding like-minded business owners and sharing contacts and promotions can take your business to the next level. Combine promotions, hand out each other’s coupons and promote each other on sites like Twitter. How does this work exactly? Let’s say you have four businesses in your networking group who offer products that complement yours but are not the same. These businesses also have profiles n Twitter. When one of these businesses tweets something that you think might interest your followers/customers, you simply retweet it. The other businesses should do the same for you. Now, instead of only your followers seeing your post, the followers of your network partners also see your tweet.

Build an Online Community

Years ago, people connected via chat rooms on sites like AOL or various forums across the Internet. While these models are still out there, they aren’t as popular as they once were. However, those who are interested in what you have to say will follow you and you can build quite a following. Here is one example of how you could build a community via Twitter:
You write an article about how to know when grapes are ripe enough to pick. You shoot out a tweet that reads: “Are your grapes ready to eat? Find out. http://shorturl.com #WhenAreGrapesRipe #GrapeVinesForYou. Please comment.”

This will bring your followers to your website or blog where they can then comment on the article and share with one another. In addition, many will @GrapeVinesforYou, which essentially tags you in their tweet. This can get a conversation going amongst your followers about grapes. Of course, there are other social media platforms for this type of thing, but Twitter is so quick that people are more likely to tweet back quickly.

How to Tweet Effectively

Twitter

You can throw stuff out there about your business, but that doesn’t mean it will translate into sales leads. However, there are a few things you can do that will increase your chances of tweets translating into potential customers.

1. Engage with Others

The whole idea behind social media is to interact with others. If you set up a small business profile and just throw tweets at people, they aren’t likely to respond. Especially in the early days your business is on Twitter, you need to follow people you know or who have similar interests. Comment on what they are discussing and be engaged in trending topics on Twitter.

When responding to something another tweeter posts, you simply use the @ sign and their username. So, if your username is GrapeVinesForYou, then someone responding to one of your posts would write:

“@GrapeVinesForYou my grandmother always said the grapes are ready when the skin turns translucent.”

To respond to a post from someone else, you do the same thing. Use the @ sign and their username. Engage in interesting conversations. Add something worthwhile without trying to promote your business. Over time, you will build up followers who are also interested in what you have to say. Don’t try to build a false audience, however. This almost never works. Enjoy the atmosphere on Twitter and let your followers build naturally from your current customers, family and friends.

2. Tweet Frequently But Don’t Drive People Crazy

Many business owners struggle with knowing how often to blast out tweets. There is a line between staying in touch and driving people crazy by tweeting too often. A good rule of thumb is to post no more than one or two tweets a day on your own wall and no more than one or two a day where you tag another user, but these should not be commercial or advertising of any sort. Only post conversational notes when responding to someone else.

If you’ve done any advertising, you’ve likely heard of the “Rule of 7”. This is simply a rule of thumb that the customer must see your product or service 7 times before she will take action. In actuality, it may be more or less than that. However, try to get the idea across 7 times in as many different ways as possible. Twitter is just one stop on the way to your 7. Start with a tweet on there about a new product that just arrived. Follow-up with post cards to your current customers. Run an ad in the paper, etc. You get the idea. Get the product in front of your current and potential customers at least 7 times.

3. Use Hashtags Correctly

Hashtags are typically a short word or phrase. They have the “#” in front of the word. Examples of hashtags:

  • #comedy
  • #savingmoney
  • #wines
  • #valentine

The hashtag lets people track a conversation on a topic. You will notice trending topics on Twitter’s homepage. If you notice a topic is trending that is related to your business, you can use the hashtag to get people’s attention. Here is an example:

A hurricane just hit part of the country and one of the trending topics of the day is #survival. You just happen to sell survival kits. When you tweet your promotion for the day, you add the hashtag “#survival” to the end of your post.

4. Use Twitter’s Marketing Tools

Twitter offers marketing tools for small businesses to track how effective various campaigns are. If you choose to take advantage of one of their ad campaigns, you can then target how effective the ad was. Find out who clicked on it and get details on how engaged they were with the campaign. This can help you target your advertising dollars to get the most bang for your buck.

Why You Should Tweet

According to LocalVox, a marketing company, about 85% of people think that companies should have a social media presence. Twitter is an excellent place for small businesses to dip their proverbial toes into the water and test the temperature of social media. Tweets don’t take a lot of time to formulate or send out and with around half a billion users, the potential reach is enormous.

Infographic source: Bruce Clay