What is Twitter?
Twitter is a social networking site and micro-blogging service that essentially allows you to answer the question, “what are you doing?” Since its launch in 2006, Twitter has become a popular avenue for friends, family, co-workers and businesses to communicate quickly and as frequently as they want. Users are able to provide real-time, continual updates -or “tweets” -about their personal or business activity, ultimately allowing for uninterrupted connectivity. By the end of 2010, the number of active Twitter users exploded to over 500 million people. This, along with its cost-free accessibility, has naturally led to it becoming one of the most convenient and essential marketing tools for businesses of all sizes
How to Use Twitter for Your Business
Since Twitter provides a less gated method for communication -i.e. you can share information with virtually anyone on Twitter -its value to businesses has become indispensible. Through it, you can market your products or services, engage your customer base, and generate publicity for free. Below are several different objectives for adding Twitter into your business’ marketing mix.
- Grow your network -By default, your tweets are available for the entire world to see; so your business’ reach is essentially endless. But over time you will find that your tweets will generate a particular following of people who are specifically interested in your business. And from there, provided that your Twitter activity is leveraged effectively, your updates can reach your followers’ connections, and then their connections and so on.
- Share expertise to build credibility -Given the amount of public exposure you gain by using Twitter, it is an excellent avenue by which to nurture your reputation and establish yourself as a leader in your particular industry. Through Twitter you can share tips or recommendations, share industry news and post original ideas or thoughts on your business and industry.
- Advertising -Twitter can be a quick and convenient supplement to promote your business’ upcoming events, discounts, contests, a new product launch, grand opening, etc. Responding to tweets about you and your brand also allows you to directly converse with customers while attracting attention to your business.
- Engage your customers -Whether your customers love, hate or are indifferent to your brand, they may be talking all about it on Twitter. It can be a great platform to find out what everyone thinks of you! Twitter allows you to research customers, respond to comments and ultimately become more customer-centric. It’s all about relationship building.
- Develop customer loyalty -Committing to ongoing communication with your customers through Twitter will help personify your brand. Rather than a just another business, you will establish yourself as a reliable, accessible and helpful source.
In addition to these objectives, there are also several strategies to consider. The following strategies will help establish your business’ Twitter presence as distinctive and unique to your company brand.
Brand Your Twitter Profile
The first thing to do is create your Twitter profile. It is best that you use your company name to ensure you’re easily identified by prospects and customers; this will also ensure that your company name appears in your profile’s URL. (ie: twitter.com/ABCcompany). Similar to most other social media sites, you have the ability to complete a short biography section, identify your location and upload a profile picture. Ensure that these elements are all reflective of your business’ products, services, goals and mission. Consistency is important as you work to represent your brand online.
Additionally, you can take your branding to the next level by customizing your profile design. Although Twitter provides default layouts for users, it is great practice to create a custom design and incorporate your company colours in order to distinguish your company style and image. A few interesting examples on Twitter include http://twitter.com/OfficeDepot and http://twitter.com/WholeFoods. Like Office Depot and Whole Foods, your business can create a distinctive Twitter profile with your own branded background image and specific text colours consistent with your business logo. Ultimately, branding every aspect of your Twitter profile -from your biography to the colours on your text and background -will help your business establish style and personality.
Twitter lists allow you to organise the people you follow on Twitter into specific groups. For instance, you can create lists for your competitors, customers or different industry networks. Twitter lists may be private or you can make them publicly accessible; in either case, lists enable you to segment the information streaming in through your Twitter feed. Segmenting people into lists helps you more effectively listen to and monitor your market. Further, a good Twitter list also improves your visibility in your market. Some benefits may include:
- The people you add into your public lists will appreciate the recognition.
- By providing a valuable resource, you boost your business’ credibility and attract new followers.
- As you become more popular, you, too, will be included in others’ lists. This is a great way to measure your social media influence.
Reply to People You Are Following
Participating in conversations is particularly important as your business works to establish a stronger relationship with customers. Peer-to-peer dialogue is a good way to engage your Twitter community and build a positive reputation amongst your followers. Remember, it is also a good idea to reply to people even if they are not following you. Taking the time to respond, offer advice or a compliment is a great way to engage new people!
Add Your Twitter Feed to Other Social Media Profiles and Your Blog
If you have a large following on other social media platforms, it is good practice to integrate Twitter into the mix. Oftentimes, many social media sites permit third party applications to incorporate your Twitter updates into your Facebook Page, LinkedIn profile, blog and vice versa.
Including your Twitter feed into your other profiles is a great technique for leveraging your audience and growing your following across all social media sites. All in all, it doubles your points of interaction, thereby strengthening your branding and improving your communications and networking.
Twitter Best Practices Checklist
Actively participate in conversations. To come across as genuine and authentic, you will want to avoid the hard sell in Twitter. Instead, answer questions, offer advice, comment or even pose your own questions. It’s all about building relationships.
Connect your Twitter profile to other social sites. Pulling and pushing content between multiple social media sites is a convenient way to connect with a wider group of people and ensure you’re not leaving anyone out!
Create an interesting, custom design. Customizing your Twitter profile separates you from the crowd and builds an identity unique to your brand. Try to incorporate attractive visuals and company-relevant designs and colours.
Share knowledge to build your credibility. Use Twitter to showcase your expertise. Try offering tips and solutions or uncovering new ideas, services and products.
Follow with a purpose. Ensure the people you follow are relevant to your business. Incorporate lists to identify your prospects, customers, competitors or industry experts. This is good practice for building certain relationships, researching your market and keeping up with the rest of your industry. Think quality over quantity; this will reflect in the type of followers you attract too.
Twitter Tools and Resources
- Twitter Blog: Keep up with the latest news, tools and features from and for Twitter straight from Twitter employees –http://bit.ly/8JDT
- The Twitter Guide Book: Assembled by the team at Mashable, this guide offers how-to’s for mastering Twitter –http://on.mash.to/EQU82
- Twitterfeed: Integrate your RSS feed into your Twitter feed for convenient content streaming –http://bit.ly/3kslkD
- TweetDeck: A great tool for managing your Twitter account and using it to connect to you Facebook, LinkedIn and MySpace accounts –http://bit.ly/Uud33
- Twellow: A directory of public Twitter accounts, with hundreds of categories and search features to help you find people who matter to your business –http://bit.ly/1CzBHX
- CoTweet: A Twitter CRM tool specially made for businesses allowing you to manage multiple accounts and multiple users for a single account, while also scheduling tweets –http://cot.ag/6tRO
- HootSuite: Manages multiple Twitter accounts and users and schedules tweets –http://bit.ly/3NJp7Z
- Twitter Search: Find who’s talking about you in order to respond accordingly –http://bit.ly/1GPSAz
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