How to build a successful Twitter presence for your small online business

twitter for small businessWith 302 million monthly active users, Twitter still has plenty to offer small businesses. It’s a great tool for promoting awareness, driving traffic to your site, generating sales, engaging with customers and building your brand personality. Of course, as with any social media platform, in order to be successful you need to be following best practice and have set yourself clear goals. Otherwise you could be investing valuable time and effort with little to show in return.

What do you want to achieve?

Twitter can successfully work as part of a wider integrated marketing strategy. According to small business research, 60% of respondents have purchased from small and medium businesses because of Twitter.

But to be successful it is important that you define and prioritise your goals.  If you’re busily tweeting away with no clear sense of purpose the benefits are unlikely to match the time and effort you may be putting in.

So think about what your key business objectives are. For example are you looking to:

  • Build followers.
  • Increase engagement amongst target audience.
  • Grow awareness of your brand.
  • Generate sales leads.
  • Drive traffic to your site.

The clearer your are about what it is you want to achieve the more focused you can be in your approach to your Twitter activities.

We’ve put together some easy to implement best practice tips to help you make the most of your Twitter presence.

Getting off to a good start

If you’re not already using Twitter then getting off to a good start is important. Once you’ve signed up you’ll need to create your username (also known as your Twitter handle). For example ours is @shopintegrator. Then you’ll create a profile bio, add a profile pic – these should succinctly reflect your business. Next its time to start looking for the right people to follow – which of course will be dependent upon the industry and business you are in.

Check out Twitter’s own business resource Twitter For Business. You’ll find plenty of useful advice to get you off to a confident start.

Tweeting essentials

  • Include the Twitter ‘Follow Us’ button on your website.
  • Tweet regularly but ensure it is something worth sharing.
  • Keep your brand’s personality and voice consistent in your Tweets.
  • Don’t make it all about you. Share links and retweet anything that will be of interest to your followers.
  • Don’t use up all your 140 characters. You’ll want to leave enough room for people retweet.
  • Use hashtags but don’t go mad. One or two per tweet is probably about right.
  • Recycle your best tweets with some re-wording. Research shows that a repeated tweet can get as much as 86% performance as the original tweet.
  • Promote your Twitter username online and offline

visual contant on TwitterIncrease your visual content

As visual content becomes increasingly important within social media, try to include more images and photos in your Tweets. According to HubSpotTweets with images receive 18% more clicks, 89% more favorites and 150% more retweets – so it’s definitely one to think about. Remember though, when you are posting images they count as a link and so will automatically use up 22 characters.  Keep your tweets extra concise to allow for re-tweeting.

Videos are also a great way to capture and engage an audience. Since January this year iPhone and Android Twitter users can actually capture, edit and share videos of up to 30 seconds duration on Twitter.

Share interesting and varied content

Twitter isn’t just about relentlessly pushing your own agenda. You need to mix up your content so it is varied and interesting. If you’re stuck here are a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing:

  • Eye-catching images and videos.
  • Links to your blog articles.
  • Latest industry news and titbits.
  • Behind the scenes peeks at your business photos.
  • Funny and inspiring quotes.
  • Start conversations by posing questions.
  • Product launches.
  • Industry statistics.
  • Latest trends.
  • Ask advice.
  • Share tips and recommendations.

Social on TwitterBe social

“80% of your Tweets should focus on driving interactions with your followers, such as retweets, replies, and favourites.” Twitter for Business

Central to your Twitter success is building a genuine rapport with your followers. Try using Twitter’s 80/20 ratio. Don’t just bombard your followers with tweets that push your businesses products and services. 80% of your tweets should be sharing links, retweeting and joining conversations.

You are trying to show the person behind  your business so always take a friendly and positive approach to your interactions.

Measure your performance

Don’t just tweet merrily away without taking a step back to analyse your performance. Twitter Analytics is worth spending some time getting familiar with. The Twitter dashboard can give you all sorts of interesting information about how you are doing. For example:

  • At a glance 28 day summary: Tweets sent, profile visit, mentions, new followers, top tweet, top mention and top followers.
  • Tweets: Impressions, engagement, retweets, replies and link clicks.
  • Follower insights. Interests, location, gender and who your followers are following.

Digging a bit deeper into how you are performing and getting to know who is following you will enable you to better focus your Twitter efforts.

Following best practice and implementing even just some of the tips we’ve talked about will help your business get more out of Twitter. We’d love to hear your own thoughts and experiences on Twitter so please do leave a comment.

Advertisements

Twitter as social media marketing sales channel

If you’re not using Twitter to promote your online business, then you are going to be losing out on sales for your online store as a result. I’m going to tell you how to use Twitter as an effective marketing tool to generate sales for your business.

Twitter social media marketing sales channelTwitter is one of the most popular social networking websites there is and if used correctly can help send more visitors to your online store to buy the products and services you’re selling. Take note of the very important part of the last sentence “if used correctly” as this post is about how to get the best out of Twitter to sell online to avoid wasting your time, and ending up frustrated and giving up.

How not to use Twitter to sell online

If you think that Twitter is all about you posting a tweet with a link to your products and telling people to buy your product or service because it’s great, then you’re going to be wasting your time, even if what you’re selling is the greatest thing since sliced bread.

Why? Because it is the equivalent of standing on a soap box on a busy high street and shouting at people. People have already switched off as they see you and avoid the message despite maybe even needing what you’re selling, they don’t like being sold to in this way.

How to use Twitter to sell online

So am I saying you shouldn’t post a link to your products and services and tell people how great they are that they should buy from you? That’s not what I am saying either. Tricky hey!

The clue is in the title, it’s about first and foremost being social and building a connection with people to establish a relationship with an audience. When you have a connection with people, they are going to be more likely to listen to what you have to say. When you do occasionally tell them about the great things you sell, there is a chance they will check it out.

There is a balance you need to have between connecting, sharing, contributing and selling, get this right and you can make Twitter an effective marketing sales channel.

How to make a social connection to people on Twitter

Before anyone can hear what you have to say, you need people to follow you on Twitter. A good starting point is to include a link to your Twitter profile in your web site and at the bottom of the emails you send. This is a good passive way to build up followers.

To actively build followers you can start by following others, some of these will return the favour and follow you back. I often take a look at someone who’s followed me to see who they are and what they are about. So by following someone, it can often lead to them checking out you and your website and then following you back. Try following a range of people and organisations which you are interested in, and follow organisations and events to do with your business sector, as Twitter makes suggestions based on the types of people you follow.

  • Follow businesses you already sell to, you might spot an opportunity for a sale at a later date if they tweet a message about a need they have or a problem they are trying to overcome that you could come to their rescue for with a solution.
  • Follow the businesses whose services and products you use yourself, as its a good way of keeping up to date on what is going on with the things you use and rely upon. As one of their customers, if you’re tweeting about your positive experiences using their products and services they may re-tweet your messages to their followers giving your more social marketing exposure.

To follow is one thing, to interact is better

I don’t follow just anybody who follows me, if someone follows me I like to actually have a look at their tweets and make sure I have some interest in what they tweet about. This helps me avoid Twitter spammers, like those just out to tweet you endless messages about ‘Buying 1000 Twitter followers instantly’ and other junk message tweeters. If you’re understanding the message here that Twitter only has real value when there is real social interaction, you’ll see that buying instant followers gives you no real interaction with real people, so will have little benefit to your business.

Following people is one thing, interaction is another. If someone you are following posted something that sounds interesting, you can re-tweet it. Effectively re-publish it on your own Twitter time line to your followers. It’s like saying, “Hey, I thought this was interesting from someone I follow, take a look and see if you think so”. People like it when you re-tweet their stuff, they may even say thank you, and it puts you on their radar.

Go one step further, reply to their tweet with your opinion on what they wrote, they want to know what they are writing is being read just as much as you do. You don’t always have to agree with them either to reply, Twitter is a public forum, as long as it’s not offensive, you’re entitled to your opinion.

Tweet links to articles on other people’s blogs or news sites that you found interesting and say why you liked it. These can be of general interest, but if it’s also relevant to your business sector, even better.

Tweet links to useful articles and competitions on your own website that people might be interested in.

When do you sell on Twitter?

So now people are interested in you and your interacting with them then you can drop in a tweet about the products and services you’re selling with a link to your website. This shouldn’t scare people off because they know following you is so much more than just sales messages, and they also know your a business at the end of the day. The ‘hard sell’ part should probably only amount to no more than about 10 to 20% of your activity on Twitter.

How to use Twitter as social media marketing sales channel

If you try and treat Twitter as a one-way advertising channel you will fail. Today’s modern marketing landscape is that you need to give people something valuable for free to get them engaged. When I say “Something valuable” I mean, giving people information has value if it is interesting, useful or even entertaining. Socially interacting with others makes you valuable to them making them more likely to return the favour, which expands your audience beyond just your own efforts, creating a social butterfly effect.

The final part is that you need to do this on a regular basis otherwise the positive effects fade away as quickly as they arrived. Good luck and get social marketing today! Sing up for a Twitter account now if you don’t already have one: http://www.twitter.com/

We look forward to getting a Tweet from you @shopintegrator on Twitter 🙂