Small business owners, local businesses and startups of all stripes are embracing social media marketing with gusto. Signups on Facebook and Twitter are soaring. And why not? Biz owners see these platforms as free marketing that may be tricky and unknown, but well worth a shot.
After all, when half of local businesses say they’ll spend less than $2,500 on marketing this year, the lure of social media is strong with its relative ease, low cost and low entry barriers. And while Facebook is king, Twitter has seen tremendous growth from local business owners and professionals who aim to build awareness for their products and services – as well as themselves.
If you’re giving tweets a try, here are some vital tips and strategies to keep you from stubbing your Twitter toe:
- To start off right choose a good Twitter name or “handle.” This could be your own name or your business name, a variation or abbreviation of your name or business name, or a combination. You should make it easy for others to recognize who you are, and connect you to your business, product or service. Put your Twitter handle (looks like “@name”) on your website, email signature, business cards, name badge, letterhead and anywhere else potential followers will see it. Avoid cutesy, random or made-up names that have nothing to do with you or your business.
- Set specific business goals for being on Twitter, and pursue them. For example, you can use Twitter to help position your name or brand, communicate with customers and prospects, announce events, point to articles, videos or other content on your website.
- Hone your profile. A Twitter account lets you create a brief but highly visible profile, so don’t blow it. I’ve seen many lame profiles that include mundane personal traits or meaningless information. Worse yet, no profile at all. Others look like random stacks of keywords. And many lack a link to a website or blog. Don’t make these mistakes. Include your company, position, fields of interest, and what you have to offer. Consider it your elevator pitch to attract followers.
- Avoid pointless tweets. Concentrate on providing useful information. Promote things you have on your own website, or point to someone else’s content as a useful or interesting resource. You will only gain followers if people believe they will enjoy, be informed by or otherwise find value in what you tweet. Concentrate on specialized knowledge your business has and can share with others.
- Search the site. A great way to get ideas for tweets and find potential followers or folks to follow is to use Twitter Search. This is a highly effective, but under-used Twitter feature that’s both helpful and free. Also search for tweets that have mentioned your company or brand. And btw, while you can be choosy about who you follow on a personal account, when using Twitter for business, be sure to follow back anyone who follows your business.
- Make Twitter part of your regular networking. The old days of simply collecting business cards are over. Today when you attend meetings, trade shows, lunches or other events, make a point to collect Twitter handles and hand out your own. Many people now display them on name badges, signage or other prominent places. To go directly to someone’s Twitter page, just add the name (handle) to the end of the Twitter URL, like this: www.twitter.com/danielkehrer.
- Hop onto hashtags. Hashtags are used to organize tweets around categories, themes or topics by adding the pound sign (#) before a word or phrase, like #smallbusiness, #entrepreneurs or #startups. When you use a hashtag in a tweet, it is automatically posted to that category in addition to your basic tweet stream.
- Point people to your website. Tweets are a great way to get people to visit your website. Perhaps you have a whitepaper available for download, some interesting photos, a new video or some other type of content. Don’t be shy. Tweet about it with a link back to your site. But use a URL shortener to avoid filling your entire tweet with a long link. Two popular services where you can do this in seconds for free are http://bit.ly and http://ow.ly.
Take it from someone with a perfect TwitterGrader score of 100: If you do it right, Twitter can pack a powerful marketing punch for almost any business.
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About the Author: Daniel Kehrer, Founder and Chief Content Officer of BizBest Media, is a senior-level leader in digital media, content development and online marketing with special expertise in startups, SMB, social media and generating traffic, engagement and leads. He holds an MBA from UCLA/Anderson and is a passionate entrepreneur (started 4 businesses), syndicated columnist, blogger, thought leader and author of 7 business and financial books.