Twitter can seem time consuming and difficult for small business owners.
However Twitter is an important part of your online presence. Twitter can help your business to network, gain leads and gain website page rank.
All lead creation.
You can also have a live news feed, keep up to date with an industry and actually have a good laugh.
How to use Twitter for marketing
Used correctly a business website and blog can give a company a strong online presence. Twitter helps to support a website by giving more exposure, can increase traffic to a website and can help with page rank.
What Twitter does not do is create a hard, fast sale after one week of Tweeting.
With social media you must be patient, consistent and actually interact, getting to know your followers.
Like all social platforms Twitter is a place to make new connections. You can be in the right (online) place and the right time, constantly at the forefront of mind.
Twitter for small businesses
Twitter connects you and your business to hundreds of individuals who could be interested in you, your product or service. This could be worldwide or you can stick to your country or surrounding area.
Each Twitter user chooses who they follow. If they have chosen to follow you they are potentially interested in your service or product. Twitter can be a whole new world of trading.
Twitter can reach out to a completely separate audience from your poster or your van. Twitter can grab the attention of people that have never even thought of looking for you.
How do I sign up to Twitter?
If you already have a Twitter account you can skip this section, but there is useful information here on Twitter names.
Ok, so where do you start with Twitter? Sign up for an account via twitter.com.
When choosing your Twitter name refer to your company (i.e. @kaydeeweb) but use your OWN NAME on your profile. Be human, not just a company. People will trust you more if they know who you are and can see your face. No one trusts a logo.
When you create a Twitter account your Twitter name always starts with the @ sign.
More on Tweeting directly to people later.
Setting up your Twitter account for small businesses
Use a picture of yourself or your team as your avatar (the small picture) and focus on your faces. A good, up to date head shot … not one of you from Christmas 1997 in the pub, or your logo. Who wants to speak to a logo? Not me!
Twitter (like all social media) is about building trust and being open.
Your bio is important. It is what people will look at when deciding whether or not to follow you. Make it count. Make it to the point. People don’t study bio’s, they scan them.
Your bio is also searchable within Twitter so think about using some keywords – words that people will use when searching for someone like yourself.
In your bio let people know what you might tweet about too, this helps people to make their ‘following’ decision. Let them know what they will learn if they follow you; people want to learn from you. That is the point of the internet.
Adding your website address in your bio is also useful if you can fit it in.
How do I start Tweeting?
I will do this as a case study instead of instructions. Hopefully it is easier…
James owns a mug company. He manufactures mugs in different designs – including campervans, animal designs, retro designs and lots more. He starts his account on Twitter and calls himself @jamesmugs.
“Mugs” seems pretty boring to tweet about, so we have to get inventive.
So where does James start?
James has to ask himself some questions.
- What type of person would be interested in his mugs?
- What topics are those people be interested in?
- Where could he sell his mugs?
Some of his mugs would be great gifts for camper van lovers and animal lovers. He may even want to target online shops to sell his mugs. He must follow some people to start generating interest.
Finding people to follow on Twitter
You can search to find people by location or by a keyword (or phrase) within Twitter.
By finding and then following them you strike up a relationship and can begin to ‘tweet’ to people who live or work in your catchment area, or are interested your subject.
James logs in to Twitter and types “camper van” into the search box. Lots of Tweets appear by people James doesn’t even know, but they are interested in camper vans so James follows of few of these people, thinking they might like a camper van mug.
He continues his search, this time for “cat lovers” and “dog lovers” – following people that look like they may be interested in buying his product.
He thinks there might be some gift shops out there that would be able to sell his mugs. So he searches “gift shops” in the Twitter search and finds a few, reading their bios to decide if they might be worth following.
Your first Tweet
James creates his first tweet, so that when people come to his page they will at least have something to read.
“My new mug design for #splitscreen camper is ready for the shop floor. A great gift! #campervan”
Tweets can be only 140 characters so you have to be creative and keep your Tweet to the point.
Use keywords you think people might use in their searches. James did well on the Tweet above using ‘splitscreen’ ‘camper’, ‘gift’ and ‘mug’ all in one Tweet.
Tweeting directly to someone
If someone wants me to see their Tweet or wants to mention me in their Tweet they would write @kaydeeweb. E.g. “@kaydeeweb is brilliant!” 😉 or “You are brilliant @kaydeeweb”.
You can almost use it like “Dear Kelly” but you would use @kaydeeweb. Using @kaydeeweb anywhere in your Tweet would mean that I would be mentioned. There are differences in the placement of the username which I will explain later.
When should I use a hash-tag?
Hash-tags are used as ‘keywords’ for people to search for a tweet, like James did when trying to find people to follow.
He then used a hash-tag in his first tweet:
“My new mug design for #splitscreen camper is ready for the shop floor. A great gift! #campervan”
He hash-tagged splitscreen because splitscreen is a hash-tag of it’s own right, and it is a great idea to hash-tag organically, meaning that you use the hash-tag within the Tweet. Don’t go over board.
How do you know which hash-tags are popular? Use a website like www.hashtagify.me. Type in a key word like campervan. You will discover the most popular hash-tags.
Use as many keywords in your Tweet as you can. James already included “camper” in his Tweet which means that word is searchable so he does not need to hash-tag that.
If you think an extra word to be searchable in your Tweet that you did not include, use a hash-tag. Add it to the end of your tweet e.g. #campervan.
Hash-tag only one or two words. Too many hash-tags can look confusing. However it is worth remembering that Tweets that include popular hash-tags are more likely to get favourites or re-tweets.
Do not overload your Tweets with hash-tags – it looks confusing and spammy.
Use photographs in your Tweets
People react well to photos and Twitter now shows photos in the feed. You could double your click throughs using photographs.
James decides people might like to see the latest mug design he has created. He takes a simple photo with his smart phone and uses the Twitter box to upload it. Really easy. He makes sure he writes something interesting and friendly so that people want to have a look at his photo
“Check out my favourite mug design for dog lovers #dogs #animallovers”
Responding to Tweets
Someone called @bertie responds to James’ Tweet:
“@jamesmugs Great mug design! Where can I get one?”
James now has a chance to direct this person to his website so he does just that:
“Go on to my web site at www.jamesmugs.co.uk and you will see all my latest designs! Thanks for your interest! @bertie“
TIP: Put the @username at the END of the tweet rather than the beginning.
If I write @bertie at the beginning of my Tweet its viewing will be limited to me, Bertie and followers of BOTH OF US. That limits the audience of the Tweet. By putting @bertie at the end of the Tweet Bertie sees it and ALL of mine and all of Berties followers see it too.
Putting @bertie at the end (or the middle) of the tweet means all of James’ followers and all @bertie’s followers can see James reply. They can see where to get the mugs from too.
Not only that – replying to people will encourages others to engage. Bertie is now a Twitter friend. James makes sure he is following @bertie.
Talk to people
It is really important to look through your Twitter feed from time to time and respond directly to people who have Tweeted something interesting.
This is how you connect with people and “shake their hands”. This is how you get noticed and create leads. Be chatty, be responsive.
Just click reply on the Tweet and have a chat. It is a friendly community.
How to use shortened web addresses
James has a page on his web site giving information on how his mugs are made. He directs his Twitter followers to this page by creating a new tweet
“See my mug designs hand crafted in the shop in the Cotswolds http://bit.ly/bjH60G #artisan”.
The web address shown here is a shortened version of James actual page. This avoids taking more than the 140 character limit. Shortening web addresses keeps your tweet clean and tidy.
The website www.bit.ly will shorten links for you before you use them on social media.
If you have an account you can use bit.ly to track how many users clicked a link; very helpful!
Re-tweeting on Twitter
Be generous to others on Twitter. This often means people will be generous to you. You should retweet Tweets that you find interesting.
Just click retweet on a Tweet. The retweet button looks like the recycling image; it is two arrows in a square, following each other round, clockwise.
You will be able to add a comment to your retweet, letting your followers know why you like (or don’t like) the Tweet – or maybe something funny. When you comment you have 116 characters. The original Tweet will appear below your Tweet.
When you click the blue retweet button all this will then be Tweeted out to your followers. All your followers can now see the Tweet, when you Tweeted it and who originally wrote it.
A new follower called @ninetynine re-tweeted James’ mug-making Tweet. They Tweeted:
Mugs by James @jamesmugs
See how my mug designs are hand crafted in our shop in the Cotswolds http://bit.ly/bjH60G
The comment “Cool designs” is the comment from @ninetynine. The Tweet from James appears below the comment, and his name and Twitter name show.
This means all the followers of @ninetynine and James’ own followers can see the Tweet!
James is really pleased with his first re-tweet and knows the rule is always to be polite and say thank you, as he would in everyday life. So he replies (using the arrow pointing up and to the left) with
“Thanks for the retweet @ninetynine!”
Followers of @ninetynine may now start to follow James if they are interested in his mugs or his Tweets on campervans and animals. And so it goes on.
If somebody re-tweets you then follow them, it is polite. You can always unfollow them later if they are terribly boring!
I often go through the people I follow and unfollow them if they are no longer Tweeting or they are boring me.
Keep your Tweets interesting
James’ followers are interested in different things. Some may be interested in campers, some in ceramics; others may be interested in artwork, some are animal lovers.
James should Tweet tips to engage with these people, not just keep showing people his mugs.
For example Tweets on camping will be interesting to the campervan lovers. It is a round-about way but it keeps people interested. Who wants to know about mugs all the time?
Other ideas might be: Campervan events. Differences in campervans. Tips for dog lovers. A funny cartoon on cats. Also let people know: How are the mugs fired? How does the artwork start out? Has James a new idea for a design?
Each of these subjects will spark the interest of someone different.
Twitter rules for small businesses
- Twitter is not a place for hard selling, or constant reminders that your company sells the cheapest or best product. It is not a place for robotic repetitions or automatic updates. You need to be human.
Twitter is a place to engage and connect with people and let people know you exist.
- Be informative when you Tweet. Interesting, even. Give simple, interesting “How Tos” on your specialised subject.Be helpful and give advice, then your followers will recommend you to others.
- Be generous. The most important thing about Twitter is that you are generous to others. You should often re-tweet Tweets that you find interesting. Check the links first.
- Be talkative. There is a lot of noise on Twitter, and the only way to get attention is to chat. No one notices you at a networking event unless you go up and shake their hand. Chat to people on Twitter, reply to their Tweets, re-tweet them and be memorable.
- Refer to your website/blog, and link to pages of interest for your Twitter friends (using www.bit.ly). If you are writing great content on your website or blog, share it. You may just Tweet at the right time.
- Keep it clean. Remember Tweets are picked up by search engines, so keep it clean!
Things you should avoid when using Twitter
Don’t buy followers or use any kind of technique to gain auto-followers. Be real.
You can use a scheduler like HOOTSUITE, but be online ready to respond at soon after the Tweet goes out.
Do not repeat a Tweet continuously over and over, or send out constant messages about your business. You will soon be unfollowed.
Having said that, you can and SHOULD repeat your quality Tweets sometimes, maybe that link back to your interesting blog post. Not everyone will see it the first time or the second time, as Twitter is very much a live feed.
Don’t Tweet insanely boring things. Take the time to find interesting content.
Do not use automatic messages or automatic posts.
Don’t link your Twitter account to Facebook. They are different languages and you should keep it personal.