Effective Use of Twitter In Business

Top tips for the effective use of Twitter to promote your business or cause. Read more on NZS.nz.

If your business is not on Twitter, you may be missing out on a great opportunity to interact with your customer-base and respond to anything that might be being said about your product or service.

Whether you love it or hate it, there’s no denying that Twitter has changed the way millions of people communicate online. More recently, Twitter has even been changing the face of search engine results. Google now features the latest updates from Twitter in search results for breaking news items.

Twitter has always had a much stronger use for Web promotion of businesses than for general socialising and chat. This could be why a large proportion of regular Twitter users are business managers, executives and small business owners rather than students and retirees. Using Twitter purely to organise your social life is like using a billboard to catch up with friends.

Why Use Twitter For Business?

If your business is not on Twitter, you may be missing out on a great opportunity to interact with your customer-base and respond to anything that might be being said about your product or service – whether it’s positive or negative feedback or just people looking for assistance. If your serious about building your online presence in social media, now could be a good time to refresh your Web marketing strategy.

Let’s look at a simple small business example – a store selling musical instruments. During quiet periods, the store manager dusts the shelves, checks orders and reads magazines while waiting for the next customer.

What if that manager could connect to a network of millions, find out who is looking for musical instruments and information in that region and provide those people with advice and the location of the store? That’s where Twitter steps in.

What Features Of Twitter Can Help Businesses Introduce Themselves To Customers?

Many people start a Twitter account and expect instant sales and a boost in brand awareness. However, signing up to Twitter and making your background and font colours look pretty then announcing your special offers isn’t going to cut the mustard. Twitter only works well if you know how to work the system.

Building Your Network

Two good ways to build your network are to use hash tags when talking about events or products relevant to your business and to write updates that others would want to “re-tweet“.

In our above example, if there was a music festival coming up called something like “Rockfest”, our music store manager might Tweet about the event using a hashtag. For example;

Lots of customers have been telling us they’re headed to Rockfest. Anyone else going? #rockfest

The hash tag will then automatically become a clickable link. Anyone clicking on that link will see all those updates that feature that same hash tag – whether they are following that person or not. The more exposure you can get through hash tags, the more likely you are to be noticed by people who may be interested in your services but are not currently following you.

Simply providing good updates and links to information that people would be interested in increases your chances of getting “re-tweeted” by your followers – they repeat your update, including your Twitter name, and put the initials “RT” at the beginning. This will extend the reach of your update and Twitter name beyond your immediate followers – your details will now be seen by followers of those that have retweeted your update. If they are interested in the subject matter of your update, they may then choose to follow you.

Saved Searches

Saved searches are essential for companies wanting to see what is being said on a particular topic such as brand, product, service, company name, person and more.

If your business is an music store in Auckland, you could save a search for “Auckland music”. This would then give you real-time results for any update mentioning the words “Auckland” and “music”. If someone were to say “Anyone know a good music store in Auckland?” you could reply to them with your location. Don’t worry about the fact that you’re not following them – as long as they are asking for a specific product or service that you can help them with, chances are they will be thankful for your message rather than considering your reply as spam.

What Not To Do On Twitter

Starting a Twitter account and then posting update after update announcing your sales and special offers is like walking into a networking event, standing in the middle of the room, looking up at the ceiling and shouting about how great you are.

Just like in a networking event, for most businesses on Twitter it’s important to be a participant rather than a broadcaster. Certainly, some Twitter accounts are simply for announcing short pieces of new information, such as news alerts or product promotions – but these accounts generally only work for large companies and news sites such as 3News and Stuff. When starting up your first Twitter account, take a good look at what others are saying and how they are interacting with each other before you start making updates yourself. No one wants to follow someone who will spam their Twitter feed!

Once you get further into using Twitter, you’ll find there are some other small taboos which can upset other users. If you see someone posting a link in the form of a “bit.ly” short URL or similar, this means that user is probably keeping an eye on how many people have clicked on that link. If you retweet their update but change the link to your own, you have effectively cut-off their tracking system.

Simply copying other people’s updates without referencing them is also a big no-no. There has been a reasonable amount of discussion into Twitter update copyright but basically use your common sense and give credit where credit is due.

Another general “don’t” of Twitter is don’t spend so much of your time on Twitter that you lose touch with your other marketing tools. Many people spend hours building up a network on Twitter only to send traffic through to a website which is poorly designed and lacks any methods to convert visitor numbers to sales. Speak to a web design business that has experience integrating website design with social media.

Use The Help That’s Out There

Perhaps most importantly of all, don’t continue to use Twitter if you’re having a hard time understanding it. You’re representing your business to potentially millions of people. For many Twitter users, your updates will be the first impression they have of your business. If you appear to be acting unprofessionally or inappropriately (perhaps without you even knowing it) they may start to build a poor impression of your business.

There are a number of companies specialising in promoting companies online through social media channels such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and more. These businesses know social media channels inside out and will be able to build a proper social marketing campaign to promote your business and build a solid network.