businesses need to use twitter. The key is to use it well

Tips on using Twitter for Business Marketing

I am working with a client on a social media strategy for their business and a key component is Twitter. The key to twitter is to treat it similar to facebook and other communities, be a contributor – not a commercial.

When it comes to social media, Twitter is like having a great database of email addresses. The great news is it is just starting to develop as a platform, so using twitter will put you on the cutting edge. According to Econsultancy, as of Jan 2010, Twitter has 75 million user accounts, with about 15 million of that total being active users. That’s a lot of people sending a lot of Tweets, but still pales compared to the 500 million users on Facebook. However, this micro-blogging service makes it easy for small businesses and entrepreneurs to stay in touch with those who choose to follow them, and stay updated on new products, services, special offers, industry news and more. It’s a win-win for both the Tweeter, and their followers. Furthermore, Twitter and Facebook are very open to third party applications, so this allows you to leverage new technologies and mobile device trends without having to hire a programmer.

When it comes to using Twitter or any social media, there’s a right way and a wrong way to use it. Your messages must be kept short, under 140 characters, and they need to be helpful or informative. The rule of thumb is to entertain, educate, help, or inform. People do not carewhat you ate for breakfast, or the fact that you just brushed your teeth. When I asked people why they use twitter, they use it like a news aggregation service. Put another way, if you find the right people to follow, you will have a pulse on all things that interest you. Figure out ways to be a part of that pulse. A local business can figure out ways to do this, such as informing locals about upcoming meetings, and events in town. If you just talk about yourself, people will unfollow you faster than they can hit the button.

Experts have summarized the best known methods for using Twitter and here is a top ten list from Merle.

1) Regular Postings: You do need to tweet on a regular basis. This does not mean you need to post every day, although that would be nice. It’s like school – you need to show up to pass. Be a contributor that your followers get to really know and look forward to your Tweets. If you’re the type of person who needs to plan ahead, you can always use a service that allows you to schedule tweets in advance, such as http://www.socialoomph.com/

2) Retweet: If you see Tweets posted by other users that you think your followers would like, then retweet them. It only takes one click, and you’ll also be creating goodwill with other Twitter users at the same time. If you’d like, you can add a personal thought or comment before sending it. Also, make it easy for others to retweet your posts by adding RT buttons to your website or blog. It’s easy with http://tweetmeme.com/about/retweet_button

3) Be Helpful: Keep in mind Twitter is a form of social Media, so social interaction is key. It’s not all about you. Whenever an opportunity arises to answer a question, participate in a survey, or help solve a problem, do so. In this way you’re participating in the community. This also will help your brand and image when others know they can count on you for support or feedback.

4) Don’t Be A Follow CopyCat: Don’t follow everyone who follows you. This is probably my biggest pet peeve when it comes to Twitter. So many people turn this feature on to auto follow those who follow them. Why would you want to do this? I’d prefer that those I follow are people and topics I’ve hand-selected that interest me, and not a mish-mash of followers who may be ranting about things I have no interest in. Be selective in who you follow or your Twitter stream could quickly fill up with junk or spam. For quality people to follow, see-http://followontwitterlists.com/

5) What to Tweet: Make sure that the tweets you post are helpful and/or informative. Late breaking news pertaining to your industry, as well as any specials or sales you may have going on are always good topics. If you find something you think your followers would like, especially if it’s free or a bargain, share the love. Plus, if your tweets are good, it will encourage others to retweet them. For ideas see-http://www.artbizblog.com/2009/07/what-to-tweet.html

6) Comment: Particpate in the community by commenting on other people’s tweets. If you can answer a question, do so. It never hurts and people really will appreciate it when you take the time to comment on what they have to say. It lets them know that others are actually listening to what they have to say in the “Twitterverse.”

7) Say Thank You: When someone takes the time to retweet one of your tweets, make sure to reply to them with a “thank you”. Manners rule online as well as off, and they’ll like the fact that you noticed the retweet and took the time to show some gratitude. It may even inspire them to retweet more of your tweets in the future.

8) Be Personal: Again, this does not mean what you ate for dinner, but every now and then you should show your human side with a creative thought, quote, or other statement. Let people know you’re “real” and not just a lean mean business machine. You want to tread lightly in this area. Too personal is overkill, but a little can help in establishing a connection with your followers.

9) Post Pictures/Video: Remember, Twitter is not just for text. It’s easy to post short videos, and pictures too. It’s nice to mix it up a little and share content in other formats as well. Here are some resources http://freenuts.com/video-sharing-websites-for-twitter/

10) Talk About More Than Yourself: It’s not all about you, so please don’t make all your tweets one big marketing message, such as only tweeting about your latest press release, blog posting, or article that was published. No one will want to follow you if you’re one big commercial. Yes, some of this is fine in moderation, but you need to walk a fine line and mix it up with other helpful, interesting topics.

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