In the last post, Twitter for Small Business Part 1: Setup and Terminology, we discussed assets to set up a small business account and reviewed network specific vocabulary to navigate Twitter in a knowledgeable way. Now it is time to discuss Part 2: Strategy.
Depending on your experience with social media, strategy may or may not seem like a daunting task. Let’s break it down.
1. Watch and imitate.
The first thing to do when launching a Twitter account is to sit back and watch. Start following news organizations, brands and businesses suited to your industry.
How to do they respond to followers? What type of language do they use and how do they initiate the two-way conversation?
Take notice of the ones who pump out informational tweets and others who take the time to interact with followers and ask questions. Pay attention to how they operate their accounts and if you find a favorite, make it the mentor account.
A mentor account can be a vital resource for any new social media account. Watch what they do and follow suit. Imitation is the best form of flattery, but do not imitate them, use them to model the way.
Twitter is known for being a difficult network in which to create real community because it does not catch on quick. But finding a mentor will increase your chance of victory and provide guidance along the way.
2. Define your online personality.
As a small business, succeeding in this step is imperative to the overall success of the account. Take some time to think about how to best convey your company or brand. What voice do you want its followers to hear?
A friendly and conversational approach is recommended over a formal and monotone one, any day. Some businesses use witty commentary while others are warm with followers and willing to converse openly.
What personality defines the brand? Regardless of your decision, make sure it is genuine and not forced. As stated in a previous post on social media etiquette, being genuine always win out over being trendy.
3. Define your target audience.
What type of business do you have? What are the projected demographics? Who walks in the door or calls the most? What kind of people do you cater to – artsy, professional, sporty, etc?
It is important to define your target audience to locate them and begin interacting.
Check out search.tweeter.com and use keywords associated with your industry type, business and/or products to find people in your demographic. This is also an excellent way to find out what people are saying about your business/products and start responding.
4. Make it special.
Tweet with a purpose and give your followers something they cannot find anywhere else. Share personal information about the business, pictures of the day-to-day activities, team member photos, inspirational quotes the business uses, videos of procedures or company outings, and insider tips. Do not just focus on specials and promotions, give them something to relate to.
Make your interactions unique and personal – let them see past the outer shell of what the business is. It creates an environment of familiarity and promotes conversation.
Also, use search.tweeter.com to locate and follow local businesses, news organizations, journalists, PR folks, and anyone who tweets useful information about the local community.
Although we communicate with the world through social media, do not discount how powerful interacting with your own community is. Information from locals can be reused and shared with your followers, giving them another reason to depend on you.
But remember, credit the original tweet writer, it is respectful and shows good social media manners.
5. Interact, interact, interact.
Perhaps this goes without saying, but it is surprising how many business accounts, large and small, forget to interact.
Ask questions. Tweets ending in question marks receive the most attention. RT or Retweet people who share positive comments about your business and always thank everyone for sharing your tweets. Converse with them, answer tweets in a timely manner, and know when to take the conversation off the timeline.
Sometimes followers begin an in-depth conversation and it is best to recommend chatting through direct messages or take it offline. If it is a possible lead, and your judgment allows, offer to call them. Be willing to go above and beyond for potential customers, especially on Twitter, because they share their experience with their personal network.
6. Stick around.
Twitter takes a substantial amount of time to understand, find real followers and to begin building a true online community.
The time factor is what usually leads business owners of all types and sizes to hire social media experts. Do not be swayed by social media businesses offering to garner a large amount of followers in a short amount of time. Most of these services will bring numbers, but these followers will be empty ones, who do not interact and are considered spam. A real community takes time.
So if you are determined to build a successful account on your own, be willing to stay devoted.
The recommended time spent and number of tweets shared will vary depending on your business and market. If it is a unique business, you may not need to shout as loud in the Twitter marketplace. But if you have a restaurant, a marketing agency or a business in abundance, get ready to talk a lot.
Start with 3-5 tweets a day and make sure every one is valuable to your followers. For every tweet promoting your business, send at least three focused on something else. Consider your industry and there should be plenty of information to tweet about.
Examples are industry specific facts, funny anecdotes, pictures, insider info, recipes, etc. There is a never-ending amount of subjects to talk about, so be creative.
Once you are comfortably tweeting out 3-5 times a day, tweet more, but always be sure to tweet with purpose. Do not be careless with what you say and if it is negative in any way, do not share it. That is a sure way to lose followers.
Download the app on your phone, pay attention when at home and make it a goal to respond to every tweet within 30 minutes. If followers know you respond in a timely fashion, they will tweet at you more.
7. Plan it out.
In true strategic style, an excellent way to remain consistent for your followers is to plan it out ahead of time. Devote particular days to focus on specific themes, share certain types of information and your followers will make it a priority to check out your timeline.
For example, Monday: Product talk, Tuesday: Insider Info, etc.
By planning out the week it will ensure the timeline is filled with promotional tweets for the business and provide solid content for followers to rely on.
Now, go for it!
Find a mentor business on Twitter, identify your brand’s personality, define the target audience, create valuable content and you are ready to get out there.