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Twitter‘s potential as a business tool is finally being realised on a massive scale. Some companies are increasing brand loyalty, launching new products and growing fast – all thanks to clever tweeting. Others are confused about how to use the medium or downright dismissive.
Of course, not all businesses need to be on Twitter, but if you offer any product or service that the average person might use, then you probably should be. Here’s how can you take advantage:
- Listen, listen, listen
Of course you can’t wait to tell everyone about your service or product, but first use Twitter Search to see what people are saying about your brand, your industry and your competitors. Use keywords that relate to what you offer. For example, if you sell gourmet sausages, “pork sausages” and “gourmet food” are good terms to keep tabs on.
- Be a person
If your business is small-to-medium sized and you have a stake in ownership, it’s a good idea to tweet as yourself. So make your username @gourmetsausage, but put your actual name, e.g. Mike Reid, on your Twitter profile. Read 7 ways to make the most of your Twitter Profile for suggestions.
- Follow the right people
Some Twitter users are exceptionally good at creating relationships – these are the “influencers”. See who they follow and who follows them.
- Be relevant
Give your followers useful and interesting information about a variety of topics relating to your brand.
- Ask questions
Find out what people do and don’t like about your product. Ask them what their favourite flavour is and why they like it. Ask them what they would like to see. You will get a few fantastic ideas that save time on research and development.
- Have the answers
Once you’ve listened, reply. This not only shows that you appreciate what your potential customers are saying, it builds brand awareness and promotes your product.
Comment on and retweet others people’s tweets and share things they might enjoy, even if they don’t have a direct bearing on your brand. It shows you’re participating, not just observing, and that you care about their interests too.
- Speak like a human
Social media is about human connection and real-time response – it’s not a TV or radio script. Sure, there are standard responses to certain queries, but don’t cut and paste. Rather inject a few words that will resonate with that particular person.
- Don’t boast
It’s tempting to tell the world about your successes or awards you’ve won, but it can come off as arrogant. Try to say things like this indirectly by giving advice on how to achieve a particular goal. For example, “Our productivity grew 20% last year because we gave our employees free lunch.”
- Don’t hard sell
Sales information tweets are always important, but these should only make up a maximum of 20% of your Twitter feed. Also cushion the selling with a friendly tone and style, otherwise your followers will just get sick and tired of it.
- Promote others
It may seem counter-intuitive – and obviously doesn’t apply to competitors – but there’s a natural reciprocity and partnership between certain brands. Think of @gourmetsausage mentioning @woolworths_sa.
- Use an application
It’s much easier to manage and monitor Twitter when you use apps like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck. Both allow for multiple streams or columns that display mentions, searches, retweets and more. They also allow you to search your twitter stream for keywords. Hootsuite lets you schedule tweets too, so you can go away for the weekend without worrying about updating your account.
The most important thing to remember? This is not traditional advertising. One-way communication is a thing of the past. Marketing via Twitter requires a unique blend of promotion, PR, customer care and communication skills. Be as honest and transparent as possible and you’ll grow your following, your leads, and your business.