Here's a short piece that will hopefully help you understand the power of Twitter and how you can use this communications tool to benefit your business. Genius in its simplicity, Twitter is an online microblogging platform for sending real time messages to people within a maximum of 140 characters. Not as hard as it sounds and surprisingly adaptable with its uses, Twitter’s greatest strength is as a relationship builder that allows you extend your brand, promote your products and services, create an online personality and monitor your external environment – as well as check out your competitors too. Not bad when it’s free to use and (depending on your strategy and / or enjoyment of the tool) needs only take a few minutes of your day.
A fast and useful way to secure two-way conversations with clients, the downside to Twitter is that it can be difficult to keep your target audiences defined and to really evaluate reach and the impact in numbers that your activity is actually having. Nevertheless, this medium is well worth keeping within the communications armoury and deserves an initial exploration at the very least – even if you eventually just use it to consume bite size chunks of news, as a monitoring tool or keep it as a personal networking platform.
Like any marketing medium, Twitter should only be used when you have a plan of action, ie you know why you want to use it, who you want to speak to and what you want to get out of it. If you’re not sure, don’t launch in regardless, register an account and instead of tweeting, find some relevant tweeters to follow and watch how they use the platform to advantage. My advice to clients is always to find someone good within the same industry to see how they do it first – it’s amazing how quickly you can then pick the skill up and move forward in a way that best suits your needs.
Check out the local businesses successfully generating trade from their tweets. @MMM_Newcastle runs a stall from the Grainger Market and drives footfall and sales by promoting new products, sales lines and recipes. Debt and financial advice company @NEMoney capitalizes on being one of very few within its industry to push its services for individuals and business.
There are a variety of options available when first getting started and the key is always to ensure the message is appropriate. Start with tweeting a relevant news article or even better, a link to a news item on your website. As you get braver, why not announce a new product, sale or award win – you’ll soon gain more followers as people realize what you say is pertinent to them. Responding to other people’s tweets is vital too and shows you have an important contribution to make. Remember however that sometimes online conversations can get lengthy and followers may only pick up half the comments so use the direct message function in this situation instead.
In terms of monitoring, Twitter can open your eyes to what is being said about your business. If responding openly to negative feedback feels wrong, look out how else you can deal with the issue and no matter what, feed the information back to inform your strategy. Similarly search for your competitors as part of your environmental scanning – it is amazing what you can learn about your marketplace and who is doing what, allowing you to react accordingly.
Ultimately, Twitter is another way of unveiling your business to the world so when registering, make sure your Twitter name and image is brand appropriate. If tweeting becomes part of daily life, ensure you let people know you’re online and active - add the details to your email signature or business card. Of course, there remains much more to learn, from Follow Fridays to sponsored tweets but take it step by step and growing followers and getting your message out there will soon become second nature.
Want more information? Tweet me @Hallmeister!