For any small business, I believe social media offers some of the best opportunities to create awareness of your brand and your company and that is why it is some important in particular to get started on Twitter.
Using a proper strategy it will allow you to build trust and authority and enable you to create a community of engaged supporters which over time will be receptive to your products and services.
Some Facts To Consider
Twitter was created in 2006 and allowed individuals and businesses to share information and updates which were no longer than 140 characters. These social messages were called Tweets and grew massively in popularity as messages had to now be to the point and be clearly focused.
After much debate and feedback, Twitter has extended this 140 character count so that any tweets containing gifs, photos, polls, videos or quoted tweets will not impact on the count. See this article from Mashable UK discussing this topic which I think will continue to evolve.
According to research conducted by Statista Twitter as of Q3 of 2016 has 313 Million active users on the site. Just take a moment to think about that and how most probably your audience and target consumer is there engaging and searching for a company like yours.
If you are still not convinced that Twitter is right for your business to consider the following information from research conducted by the Pew Research Centre in 2015 which cited that 63% of people now found Twitter as a relevant source of news.
Remember people are now a lot more business savvy and conduct enormous amounts of their own research on products and services before purchase. By developing a plan around Twitter to enable you to really understand what your target niche is discussing, what are their problems and what solutions they require will allow you build up a reputation on Twitter with a very engaged community.
Why Your Small Business Should Be On Twitter?
Gary Vaynerchuk is one of the most pioneering and futurist social media marketing entrepreneurs today.
In his book Jab Jab Jab Right Hook he presented an excellent strategy which is truly perfect especially on a medium such as Twitter, and when Gary gives advice every business should sit up and take notice.
In this article, he very much put forward the view that Twitter still has a huge opportunity for businesses. As he rightly pointed out Twitter allows you to initiate a relationship with a customer and a target niche, and then by using the excellent Twitter search capability you can quickly find out what your audience is discussing and jump in without being seen as intrusive, once of course, you are providing valuable and relevant content to the conversation.
5 Reasons Why Your Small Business Needs to be on Twitter
For any business but especially a small company budgeting and marketing spend is always an issue and tends to get pushed to the side as finance is invested into more operational and logistical areas.
The great thing about Twitter is that there is no cost to tweeting out content which is relevant and valuable enough could drive sales leads back to your own website.
What is not to like about that.
Melissa Thompson wrote a very good piece on the Small BusinessTrends website detailing 10 key reasons why a small business should be on Twitter. Here are 5 key ones to note.
1 Allows Your Company Get Exposed To Your Audience
As I said at the start of this article there are approximately 313 million active monthly users and if you consider that each user averages 5 tweets per day that’s a lot of activity and conversations taking place. Your business should be tapping into this for opportunities to engage and become part of the bigger conversation.
2 Twitter Analytics
If you have a website (if you don’t I cannot stress enough how important it is you do), you will no doubt be familiar with Google Analytics which can tell you how your website is performing regarding visitor traffic etc.
Twitter has its own built-in analytics tool which is excellent and very detailed and will allow you actively see how your tweets are performing so that you can tailor the content you are sharing to ensure the highest engagement.
3 Manage Your Reputation Online
As a business, you have to be cognisant that just because you choose not to be online it does not mean your customers will not go online themselves to praise or complain about your business. Twitter allows you to quickly communicate and easily in both positive and negative circumstances so that at all time your brand and the perception it is creating remains true and is not damaged.
4 Build Rapport With Your Customers And Grow A Community
Reviewing what people are asking or searching for on Twitter allows you to join the conversation and bring positive and relevant information and solutions. This will help grow your reputation and build up a community of supporters for your business.
5 Monitor Your Competition
Just because, you or your business is not on Twitter do not assume that your competitors are not. Twitter will allow you easily search for companies in your own niche so that you can monitor as to how they are using Twitter and so help you prepare your own communication strategy so that you are not caught unawares.
OK, so I hope now you are convinced that Twitter should be part of your small business marketing strategy.
Let’s now begin to put in place the steps to get you and your business set up to send your very first tweet.
Get started on Twitter
Set Yourself Objectives For Twitter
Just as you would any traditional marketing communication you have to be strategic in your use of the Twitter. You have to know what you want to achieve and the objectives from which you will measure to evaluate if what you are doing on Twitter is working.
Here are some key questions you should be asking and they are not limited to purely a Twitter focus.
1 Why does your customer use and like your services/products?
I am often surprised how many businesses do not actually know why because they are so focused on the sale and return on investment that the why is deemed not relevant.
But if you know that problem solving or possibly customer service is a key reason your customers won’t leave your business even for a cheaper competitor, you can leverage that information into the profile and the type of communications you send out on Twitter.
2 How do your customers currently engage with you?
Reviewing your interactions both from physical, as well as an online interaction is key as you may find your customers want questions, solutions, problem-solving and support via online but then finalise their purchase in a physical store. The customer experience from online to offline should be seamless to further strengthen the relationship.
For example, if you are a small business and have been engaged with a customer (who follows your business on Twitter) online giving tips, solutions which then leads them to go to your shop or have you call to them depending on the business. Why not follow up the physical face to face contact with a direct Twitter message asking how the service went, their satisfaction level and if they would they be happy to do a testimonial as a tweet to the community. To me that is invaluable.
3 Creating Your Buyer Persona.
A buyer persona is a fictionalised person that represents your target audience and is formed by using knowledge and experience from your actual customers. By developing this persona it will allow the business to be focused in the messaging that is communicated on Twitter and to also align this with those people who you want to recruit as followers.
When you have created your buyer persona it will now be vital to document some more key information which will allow you begin the process of identifying potential customers in your target niche that you can follow and join in a conversation with.
You should document and identify the following:
- Who are the leading influencers, thought leaders and experts in your niche
- Are there high profile bloggers, podcaster, vloggers (Video Blog on YouTube)
- Is there influential authors or reporters for your market
- What are the publications, events, and conferences
- Who are your competitors
- What are the keywords that are used by you and your target audience
to describe and search for your solution and what words would be associated with your business.
Research Using Twitter Search
When you have documented the key information now you can start to build up some serious findings before you start creating a profile.
If you are on Twitter already I would advise you to revisit your persona and documented strategy as advised above to see if anything has changed from keywords to new influencers now taking over the market.
Before you start setting up your Twitter profile it is vital you conduct and document research both on your customers, target niche, who are the leaders, influencers, competitors in your market and what conversations, questions, and the activity that is occurring from which you can then base your Twitter communication plan around.
Twitter Basic Search
In the top right corner of your of your main screen is the basic Twitter search box.
The basic search will allow you look for your customers, competitors, influencers by typing in their name, or if you know it their Twitter handle (Twitter handle is the name as denoted by the @ that precedes the account. Eg my Twitter Handle is @ptwyford)
If you want to search for topics or conversations using some of your keywords you can place a # in front of the keyword and it will show you conversations, tweets that are using this search term.
When you click on the magnifying glass image or press return on your computer to start your search you will be presented with the following options
This simply refers to the tweets which are getting the most engagement at present and hence deemed the top tweets.
These are the current most up to date tweets for your search
This shows you the accounts where your keyword is present or the account name
Photos and Videos
This depicts the use of images or videos using your keyword. For example, if I want to look up a keyword of curly hair (because I am the curly marketer after all !!) I would see photos and videos of people who have curly hair showing hairstyles, curly hair products and hair tutorials.
When you click on more options you get the ability to search a keyword against certain criteria such as tweets from just people you follow etc as per the image below:
The basic search is perfect for a little snapshot of what is happening but to get detailed research findings back Twitter has an advanced search capability that is a vastly superior tool.
Twitter Advanced Search
The advanced search is accessed by either visiting twitter.com/search-advanced or click “Advanced Search” which at the bottom of the more options tab after you have conducted a basic search.
Aaron Lee on the Social Quant blog created an excellent piece detailing 8 ways to hit gold using Twitter advanced search. You can read the full article here but below I have listed 3 which I think are especially important and prove how vital using advanced search is.
1 Find A Relevant Conversation
Using my curly hair theme if I am a hairstylist or I sell curly hair products I would be interested in finding out about conversations around frizzy hair.
To do this using advanced search I would put frizzy hair in the exact phrase box and http in the none of these words box. As Aaron advises putting in the http in this none of these words box means that you get people who have put links to other content only real conversation results are shown and you can then decide whether to join the conversation.
However, experiment and test various search parameters to find out what works best for your business.
2 Find Tweets That Mention Your Company
As above instead of putting in frizzy hair put in your company name and once your profile is on twitter you can then also do a search for your @companyname.
What is great about this, is social listening has now become key. Customers are very quick to take to social media to both complain and praise so any company that can engage and converse quickly can create a thriving and engaged community.
3 Search Conversations Happening Near You
I think this one is gold. Back to our curly frizzy problem and using the exact match and none of these criteria I detailed above. This time you also put in your location under places in the near this place box. This may allow you to see potential customers who are looking for an expert to cut, style, frizzy hair in your location. A simple reach out tweet could be the beginning of a beautiful relationship.
Using this research methodology I would conduct detailed searches on your customers, competitors, prospects so that you have full documented what the landscape in your niche is to ensure you can engage and communicate effectively from the start.
Setting up your profile
When you have created your new Twitter account there will be 4 key things you will need to do before you start tweeting or following anyone. These are as follows:
1 Create A User Name
2 Upload a Profile Photo
3 Your Bio
4 Your header image
5 Pinned Tweet
1 Create A User Name
Your Twitter username is referred to as your Twitter handle and is always preceded by the @ sign. For example, my Name is Phillip Twyford and my Twitter handle is @ptwyford.
Ideally, you should always strive to make your Twitter handle relevant to your brand and something that your customers and audience would recognise or associate with.
To find out more about creating your username read this great piece by Laura Woods who in her blog post on the Social Media Strategic Summit blog does a great job in giving businesses 5 good tips in choosing a name.
2 Upload A Profile Photo
This is the photo that appears above your Twitter bio and will also be part of every tweet you send. For a business, your logo may be you most recognisable symbol so I would advise using this.
The ideal size is 400×400 pixels and like your username, you should aim to use the same image across all the social media you are active on to ensure visual consistency.
3 Your Bio
This is where you get to tell people about your business, what makes it special and why they should follow you and your tweets. You should include your location, a link to your website (consider creating a special page on your website just for Twitter followers) and business hours. Here is mine below before I got my hair cut:
4 Your Background Image
Your header image is an area a lot of businesses ignore and instead just have some random generic image which has relevance to their brand. But you should consider this as a real advertising billboard. You can feature products, graphics, your employees etc and here are 23 brilliant examples from the Hubspot Blog and Starbucks once again shows why it is such a recognisable brand.
5 Pinned Tweet
This is one of the most unappreciated tools you can use on Twitter. A pinned tweet is essentially a piece of key content that you want to share as a tweet and which is always at the top of your timeline for every new visitor to see. What this means is that any new potential followers looking at your profile will see this tweet first.
For more guidance on setting up your account, visit the Twitter resource centre where you can find even more guidance.
Who To Follow?
I mentioned previously in this guide that you should at the very start conduct some detailed research so that you have identified your customer, the influencers, thought leaders, competitors, industry publications, industry journalists/media and also conduct keyword research and topics.
This research will provide you with an excellent basis as people and companies you should start to follow initially and as people begin to follow you back you can critically assess their profiles as to whether they would be worth following back.
To follow someone you can start by using the simple search box and put in the name of a person, company etc. Once you find the account you want to follow and you click on their profile you will see the follow button on the far right-hand side.
Click this and you are now following them.
As you start to follow people you will see all their tweets in your home tab and I would suggest you should start to follow your customers, competitors and key influencers in your niche you discover at the research but I would segment customer, competitors into different Twitter lists.
Sending a Tweet
My personal preference would be that you would begin sending Tweets that are relevant to your target audience and customers before you follow them and that you create one very special tweet which becomes the pinned tweet as I mentioned above.
The reason I suggest this is that when you follow a customer or an influencer they would be notified that you have followed and when they visit your profile if they don’t see any tweet activity they may conclude that there is no value in following you back.
So, I would advise that you have content for tweets ready to go and scheduled using a tool like Buffer where you can bulk load up to 10 tweets for free each day to get the ball rolling.
To send a tweet all you have to do is go to your profile page and you will see the box at the top that says what’s happening. Here you can type up to 140 characters, a status update or insert a link to a blog post on your website etc. If you want to include an image you can simply click on the camera icon under this box which will allow you select a relevant picture from your folder on your computer to attach to your tweet.
Hashtag and @mention
To give your tweet the ability to be seen by as many people as possible you should always try to include a hashtag which is this symbol #
The hashtag is the core symbol upon which Twitter users can search for tweets about a specific topic. For example, going back to the frizzy curly hair business, you may have a tweet that says 5 ways to get rid of #frizzycurlyhair. Anyone that does a twitter search for this # could very easily come across your tweet which would be linked to that article that you have on your website. They may find the article really useful and sign up for your blog or request a product brochure etc.
However, you can instantly see how using a hashtag can increase the chances of a tweet been seen.
However, a word of warning. 1 to 2 hashtags is recommended because any more than 2 has been proven to reduce the effectiveness of a tweet and consider also that too many hashtags make a tweet look messy and very hard to read.
Another excellent practice is to get into the habit of the @mention. If for example you are the business that provides the leading hair care products for frizzy hair and you have identified a leading influence who has a large following and whose opinions on Frizzy hair care are respected.
And you follow them and they write an article on frizzy hair care tips which you would like to share too your followers you can share their post and by placing @ along with their twitter handle (name) somewhere in the middle or end of the tweet that influencer will be notified you shared their post and it opens up the possibility of a relationship and eventually that influencer endorsing you frizzy hair care solution.
To give you an example. You see a post by an influencer you or your business is following as mentioned above.
Before you retweet it to your audience on the desktop you can make a comment in the add comment box. So for example, you could say we really love tip 4 @your influencers twitter handle and then you send the tweet.
What this does is not only does it send this post to your followers via your twitter feed but that influencer will get a notification that you shared it and the more you build up that relationship of reciprocation and appreciation of their content you will find they will do the same back if your content is good enough.
I hope after reading this post that you have a better understanding as to why you should be on Twitter and how to send that first tweet and as always please do share this post with your followers and community and leave a comment with any of your tips and advice.
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Phillip (The Curly Marketer)