Harness the power of social media by opening a Twitter account for your small business. Read on for tips on tweeting…
If you’re a small business owner that doesn’t know your tweet from your retweet, or your hashtag from your FF, then it’s high time you got up to speed on the world’s favourite micro-blogging site. Twitter is an excellent tool for engaging with new potential customers and business associates, as well as spreading the word about your business and promoting your products. Best of all, it’s free. So isn’t it time your business started tweeting?
Who to follow
When you start out on Twitter, knowing who to follow can feel daunting. The first thing to keep in mind is to keep your follower to following ratio positive, i.e. there should be more people following you than people you follow. This shows you are a business that’s definitely worth following.
Follow fellow Twitter users who are relevant to your business and those who are likely to Tweet about topics you’re interested in. If there is an important business or personal Twitter account you’d really like to follow you, follow them first and, if they don’t follow you back straight away, try to engage them directly with a tweet using the ‘@’ symbol before their username. Remember – flattery gets you everywhere.
There are a number of ways you can find users to follow who might be of interest to you -
Use the search function. Search Twitter or search your Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo or AOL contacts.
Search by hashtags. Hashtags are simply subjects that begin with the ‘#’ symbol, so searching this way helps you find users who are interested in talking about the same things are you.
#FollowFriday. This is a special hashtag (also #FF) where Twitter users recommend accounts to follow that they particularly like. Use it on a Friday to find the best businesses to follow or tweet your own #FF list and make a few people’s day.
Twitter positively encourages small businesses to share, promote and drive word of mouth through the site and has plenty of hints and tips to offer those just getting started in the world of tweeting. Businesses are encouraged to use Twitter for -
Special offers. Give your customers a deal they won’t find anywhere else, like a special code word to receive a free muffin with their coffee, for example. It’s a great incentive for people to follow you and for you to bump up that important followers to following ratio.
Give a glimpse behind the scenes. Offer your Twitter followers a sneaky peek of the inner workings of your business. Take funny pictures of staff to give your business a human touch.
Be informative and helpful. Tweet about topics that interest you, like current news stories from your industry or highlight PRs about your own business. People use Twitter for all sorts of reasons; some to access legal advice, others to find the best place in town to eat cake – so be a source of knowledge and the rest will follow.
When it goes wrong
Occasionally you may experience some negativity online. Twitter is an excellent tool for managing customer service matters and can help you resolve an issue directly with any unhappy customers.
However if you feel like your Twitter account and therefore your brand reputation is being unfairly attacked, it’s important to report abuse. Twitter offers helpful guidelines on the best way to handle and report abusive behaviour.
Don’t engage in Twitter feuds with competitors, unless you are really good at winning arguments in a humorous way. Seriously though, there are lessons to be learned here – be a good sport, be timely and, importantly, be graceful.
It’s a brilliant idea to use Twitter to gain greater exposure for your company, and forming a social media habit could prove a valuable asset in the long term. Running a successful business is all about having the right work/life balance, and this applies to how long you spend on social media marketing too. You can use a buffer to arrange for tweets to be sent out at various times, freeing you up to grow and maintain your business in other areas while the buffer takes care of tweeting for you.
Do you use Twitter for your business? Share your hints and tips…or send a quick tweet including @mumstheboss and let’s have a chat on Twitter x
RJ Bayley is a podcaster and blogger living and working out of Edinburgh. When he’s not running his own successful podcasts under his Goats In The Machine brand he’s guest appearing on podcasts around the UK and writing about the format for publications.