One of the greatest innovations in the field of online communication and marketing is Twitter. Perhaps the area where it’s having the greatest impact is in business. Twitter is being used not only to promote ideas, but also as an effective tool to build and nurture relationships with customers.
What’s great about Twitter is that it lacks the characteristics that tend to intimidate marketers. It’s very simple and easy to use. Still, a lot of small businesses are hesitating to make a foray into Twitter for fear of the unknown.
If you’re one of those small business owners who’s afraid to include Twitter in your marketing mix, here are a handful of tips to help you get up to speed.
1. Free yourself from automation
Running your Twitter marketing campaign using automation tools such as SocialOomph and HootSuite is fine, especially if you are updating your Twitter feeds on a daily basis. However, automation presents some potential pitfalls if used improperly.
Completely automating your tweets takes away that golden opportunity to interact honestly and directly with your followers. Twitter marketing demands real-time interaction with your audience. If you use it right, you are not only pushing your company’s updates. Perhaps more importantly, you are trying to develop a potentially enriching relationship with your audience.
You can delegate some of your Twitter output to an automated service, of course, but it’s wiser to devote some time to creating and distributing more personal content to your target audience.
2. Pay attention to hashtags and streams
The hashtag (#) is a very useful symbol first popularized on Twitter. Hashtags lead you to specific conversations devoted to certain topics. By using hashtags, you can more effectively place your messages or tweets in front of a healthy-sized mix of highly targeted audience. The converse is just as true: hashtags enable your audience to track your updates more easily.
Also, it can be highly productive for you to follow streams about topics that relate to your business or various areas of interest. You can follow your competitors on Twitter to see what they are up to and monitor what customers and critics are saying about their activities.
Of course, you should check up on any streams that involve what people are saying about your business or brand.
3. Use monitoring tools to take the pulse of your market
Apart from using or following hashtags or streams, it’s also smart to employ monitoring tools to listen in on your market. That’s because there’s a limit to how much hashtags and streams can deliver to you. There’s always a possibility that consumers are discussing you and your competition without using streams or hashtags.
Tools such as Google Alerts will notify you any time there’s a mention of you, your brand, and your competition; they’ll also let you know where those mentions were made and when. By subscribing to alerts, you can still read and respond to consumers’ mentions of you on Twitter, even when they don’t use hashtags.
4. Maintain consistency in your Twitter marketing efforts
Your customers and followers will most likely be expecting some level of consistency from you. They expect you to update your Twitter feed at least once or twice a day, just as they assume other businesses and individuals will do.
That’s why it’s important to stay active with your Twitter marketing efforts. You don’t always have to update them with information that relates only to your business. You can provide links to news that more generally involves your industry or market.
The power of staying consistent is that it keeps your brand in front of your customers on a steady basis so they will always be reminded of you and your products and services.
5. Avoid being overly self-promotional
You don’t want to overdo it, however. Nothing turns consumers off like seeing their Twitter timeline stuffed with promotions. Twitter exists for sharing valuable information, not for spamming people. In other words, avoid being overly promotional.
A good rule of thumb for promoting on Twitter is to tweet promotional messages only once in every five tweets, at most. The rest of your tweets should be a mix of information, humor, and links to videos and images.
Making proper use of Twitter will enable you to keep your brand in front of customers and help to nurture and solidify your relationship with them.