Post updated June 4, 2015.
Everyone is talking about Twitter these days and for good reason. It is an amazing microblogging platform and one that every small business should embrace as part of their overall social media marketing strategy.
It seems that most people in business are starting to realize that social media, though free, really doesn’t do much unless you put a lot into it. If you're interested in learning more about some costs for social media, you may enjoy this post How Much Does Social Media Cost.
If you’re operating a small business, here are five ways you can use Twitter effectively:
Create a M.A.P.
The first step to effectively using Twitter is to create a M.A.P. or Marketing Action Plan for your business. Your M.A.P. will include a list of all the things you can tweet about – company news, blog posts, important announcements, special offers, industry news and so on.
Marketing does not have to be so expensive.
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Don’t be afraid to get creative
The most effective Twitter accounts (aside from celebrities) are those managed by folks not afraid to take chances and get creative. Here are some great examples: CoffeeGroundz, Kogi BBQ and Maine’s very own BeadinPath.
Add some flair and personality to your tweets. As a small business, you want to be approachable and getting creative and lighthearted can help you achieve that goal.
Think about what makes you and your brand different. Who do you want to attract? Who do you not want to attract?
Engage in “two-way” conversations
The last thing you want to do on Twitter is stuff the pipelines with constant “stuff” about your business. In addition to the items listed on your M.A.P., you also want to make sure that you are taking advantage of what social media is all about – fostering relationships and building a community around your brand.
To do this, you need to engage in two-way conversations. Start by monitoring your “mentions” and see who is talking about you. And respond! Include the “@” symbol before their Twitter user name so that it feeds directly into their account (and they can respond back!).
Also consider tweeting questions to specific people on Twitter or your followers in general. Encourage them to @ reply their responses!
You can also setup Twitter searches for key terms in your niche. For example, let's say that you have massage business. You could search for people saying something like: “I need a massage” in your local area. Then tweet them and find out how you can help.
Using a tool like Hootsuite can be a great way to track Twitter searches and people you should engaging with. Their free tier is very useful and can help you get used to the platform.
Maintain a non-annoying frequency
There is nothing worse than logging on to your Twitter account and seeing hundreds of tweets from the same person or business posted back-to-back within seconds (or minutes) of each other.
Don’t do this!
Maintain a non-annoying tweeting frequency. How often you tweet depends on who is following you, what you have to say, how often you are retweeted and so on.
There is no one-size-fits-all-solution. Since Twitter streams move at a rapid pace, it is recommended that you tweet often – but not too often.
Watch how your audience reacts and adjust accordingly.
Utilize a targeted follow/unfollow approach
Listen. We all dream of having millions of followers or thousands of adoring fans.
Problem is, focusing on numbers – especially on Twitter – is the equivalent of simply banging on a pot with a metal spoon; you'll be generating a lot of noise. Focus on growing your Twitter following organically and targeted.
The best way to achieve this is to select one of your target markets and spend some time following accounts that fall within this area. Use the search functionality right on Twitter or visit listing resources such as Listorious.
Sites like Tweepi also allow you to quickly follow people who follow influential Twitter accounts in your market. This can be one of the fastest way to find people who are interested in your topic.
Follow up to 50 accounts. Approximately 48 hours later, go to an service such as JustUnfollow and stop following up to 50 accounts that did not reciprocate.
The next day, repeat this process. Keep doing this with specific target markets or accounts you wish to follow – those that are most relevant and beneficial.
It's not the most glamorous strategy, but consistency is the key.
Who is not part of any social network these days? Chances are if you regularly use a computer, tablet or smartphone you have registered with any of the hundreds of social networks in the Internet catering to general or specific types of customers.
Learn more about the world’s top earning social networking apps and how they make money with this post Social Networking Apps Gaining Ground in Asia.
Experts agree that Twitter is a must have tool for today’s small business owner. By spending a little time tweeting each day and selectively building up a targeted following, you can give your small business a big boost.
And best of all…it’s free!