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Twitter for Small Businesses

2010 | Apr 21 in Networking , Home Page News , Marketing , Lead Generation , Lead Conversion , Client Fulfillment

By Caitlin Childs, Assistant Graphics Designer

At last week's Chirp Conference, the official Twitter developer conference, Twitter founder Biz Stone announced that Twitter has over 105 million registered users from around the world and they are adding more than 300,000 new users every day. With staggering numbers of people communicating through this new medium, it should beg the question: have you jumped on the Twitter train yet? And as a business owner, should you?

That's a question that really needs to be answered by your overall marketing strategy. You need to look at how your target market operates and make sure that Twitter is a viable and useful channel to reach them.

For instance, Twitter might be a good channel for your business if:

  • First and foremost: your target market is tech-savvy enough to use Twitter (your market research will tell you that)
  • You want to provide an immediate and open channel of communication between you and your audience
  • You have a lot of useful information to share about the issue that your product solves 
  • You have the time (it takes time to monitor, write and participate in the Twitter world)

This New York Times article explains how some innovative small business owners have used Twitter to market their businesses and gain new customers:

Small businesses typically get more than half of their customers through word of mouth, he said, and Twitter is the digital manifestation of that. Twitter users broadcast messages of up to 140 characters in length, and the culture of the service encourages people to spread news to friends in their own network.

E-Myth Worldwide is based in beautiful Sonoma County, which is most famous, of course, for being home to more than 300 wineries. Wineries are very much a part of the culture here (we even offer a winery dinner for those who attend our Leadership Intensive seminars), and it's no surprise that they've begun embracing Twitter to market their promotions, giveaways and events. Do a search on Twitter for your favorite winery, they probably have an account. And there are all sorts of ways they use Twitter to communicate to their followers. For instance, during Barrel Tasting weekend (a popular wine tasting weekend which draws over 25,000 visitors to local wineries) Trione Winery offered discounts for anyone who mentioned  them on Twitter. Easy for the winery to track, and very easy for their followers to do, this was a promotional win/win for the winery.

So how do you get started on Twitter?

Once you've determined that Twitter is a worthwhile endeavor for your business; it's time to get started. A quick search on the Internet will provide you with a wealth of information about all the ways you can use Twitter and third-party tools, but here are a few simple tips to get you going.

1) Set up your account.

a. Things to consider when naming your account:

  • Keep it short. Remember you only have 140 characters to work with. You don't want to take precious character space up with your name leaving you no room to say anything. For example, we use "emyth" as opposed to "emythworldwide."
  • Make it recognizable and aligned with your company name, brand or the service/product you provide. If your name is Arthur and you sell pottery, instead of using your name and a number like you might with a personal account, such as Arthur20, try "potterman" or "pots4u."

b. When you sign up, Twitter will give you suggestions for people to follow based on your own interests. To get a handle on how other folks use Twitter, it's a great idea to follow some people in your field, or try finding people who inspire you (for a daily dose of business advise, you can follow us @emyth). If you keep an address book in Gmail, Yahoo or AOL, you'll also have the opportunity to find friends who are already using Twitter, And lastly, you can search for specific people by name.

c. Next up, you'll want to do some branding. Add your company's logo and your location to your account, and don't forget to link to your website and write a quick bio of your company. Under the Design heading you'll be able to make your Twitter account look and feel more like your website by customizing your background image and colors.

2) Start tweeting!

There are tons of tools you can use to manage your Twitter account, some of our favorites are Tweetdeck and HootSuite. Using tools like these, you can maximise your time by scheduling tweets in advance (only through HootSuite) manage other social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn, and save customized searches so you can track what people are saying about your business, city, industry or anything else you're interested in.

3) Let people know you’re on Twitter.

Announce to everybody and anyone that you're now on Twitter. Invite your current customers and clients to follow you, put it in your newsletter, on your email signature...Twitter is so viral, you'll have followers in no time.

Need more help getting started? Go right to the source and check out this Twitter for Business tutorial from the folks at Twitter.

Share Your Story

How do you use Twitter in your business? Do you have any success stories or advice you want to share? Post a comment below and tell us about it.

Comments

  1. .R M. says:

    According to Twitter, they reserve 20 characters for your name -- whether you use them or not.  So go ahead and use a longer name if it helps your branding.  You'll still have the full 140 for your tweets.

    Keep in mind, though... If your followers are forwarding your tweets, your name will be a part of *their* 140 limit.

    **

    From twitter.com:

    Why 140 Characters?

    SMS (i.e., texting on your phone) limits each message to 160 characters. Twitter takes that limit and reserves 20 characters for your username, leaving you 140 characters to play with. That’s how it started and we’ve stuck with it!

    Submitted Apr 21, 2010 10:38 AM

  2. .Keith L. says:

    We are a software company and we use Twitter and FaceBook to broadcast whenever we have a new version release.  We have 15 different products we make so there is always something being updated or improved and these systems help keep our customer informed.

    If you are interested we make a small office CRM solution:

    http://www.core2crm.com

    As well as an Org Chart and Standard Operating Procedures system:

    http://www.orgplannersoftware.com

    Submitted Apr 21, 2010 11:07 AM

  3. .Sharon H. says:

    RM, absolutely wrong. I consult with business owners on using Twitter. You actually want the shortest user name you can use that makes sense. Here's why: Retweets are the best way to get exposure on Twitter. This is when others pass along your tweets. If people Retweet not using the built-in Twitter retweet, then character length of a username is of utmost importance since it limits pass along or the viral impact of tweets.

    Submitted Apr 21, 2010 12:55 PM

  4. .Shankar C. says:

    Want to leverage your marketing efforts using twitter?

    We are a Swiss based Social Media Marketing Company, visit us at www.SocialCreeper.com

    Submitted Apr 21, 2010 1:00 PM

  5. .Jay B. says:

    We've been using Twitter with marginal success to date. On Twitter we tweet our latest articles which we release on a daily basis. I feel for greater success we are going to have to spend more time on social networking, as at present it is somewhat of an afterthought.

    Jay

    www.aminoz.com.au

    Submitted Apr 21, 2010 2:26 PM

  6. .Luke S. says:

    We have been using twitter in conjunction with our facebook fan page to build awareness of our brand and continue to drive traffic to our website.  We need to be careful however as we are a location specific business that we don't just focus on building traffic irrespective of location.

    http://www.revolutionpersonaltraining.com.au/

    Submitted Apr 21, 2010 8:42 PM

  7. .Jonathan F. says:

    Hi Caitlin -

    Great post on the possibilities Twitter can provide for small business owners. I have a Twitter account, but I'm not even close to leveraging it well. You've provided some great starting tips.

    Thanks.

    Looking forward,

    - Jonathan Flaks

    Submitted Apr 22, 2010 4:59 PM

  8. .Angela H. says:

    I like twitter and facebook, try using it socially 1st and see if you like it and the environment before you decide to just put your business out there.

    Submitted Apr 25, 2010 1:47 AM

  9. .Vi W. says:

    Twitter can be a powerful tool for businesses of all size to reach new audience, and to provide customer service (and damage control) in a more direct and publicly accessible way than was previous possible.

    If you don't have the time to dedicate to doing twitter properly, but recognize that it is a viable and potentially valuable tool for your business, you might consider outsourcing your twitter management to a firm that specializes in online marketing, or even someone who specializes in social media.

    When you are looking into an online marketing firm, make sure that you check references, and make sure that they practice what they preach. Don't hire a social media "guru" who doesn't have a blog or a facebook account personally.

    Best of Luck!

    Vi Wickam

    Zello Partners Online Marketing
    http://www.vithefiddler.com (My Blog) :)

    Submitted Apr 26, 2010 2:12 PM

  10. .Stephanie S. says:

    Social media has exploded, and surprisingly, has a lot of traction as an actual, cheap marketing tool. The only thing people need to remember, as Vi W. above says, is you need time to devote to twitter and other sites to truly get successful results. And time is money...but in theory, twitter is a cheap marketing tool.

    Stephanie

    http://www.businesscoaching.com

    Submitted Apr 30, 2010 4:06 PM

  11. .Jack P. says:

    I use Twitter to make friends and prospect for business. I t seems to be a good platform as long as you do both of those things. Those who just plug their latest promo are pretty easy to ignore; those who just socialize without reference to their business model are just hangin' out at the water cooler (nothing wrong with that, I'm just saying--not so good for business).

    Drop by, say hello, and see my current promo strategy at http://twitter.com/JPriceWrite

    Jack Price

    Submitted May 14, 2010 8:19 AM


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