Twitter’s simple question: “What are you doing?” has certainly generated a lot of response since its launch. From teenagers, to professionals, celebrities, politicians, corporate bigwigs – you name it, everyone is on Twitter. With the quick and frequent exchange of ideas, opinions, answers, Twitter has created a whole new universe for people from different social backgrounds, status and interest to stay connected through a more open line of communication.
Understanding the Twitter Phenomenon
What is Twitter? This is another popular social networking and micro blogging service that allows its users to send and read text-based posts or “tweets” of up to 140 characters. Twitter was created by Jack Dorsey back in March 2006 and was officially launches in July of the same year. Since then, the service has gained worldwide popularity and currently has 300 million users, generating more than 300 million tweets as well as handling more than 1.6 billion search queries every single day. Twitter has been described as the “SMS of Internet”.
Twitter offers a combination of different forms of communication — text, photos, music, videos –evolving from everyday life experiences to interesting contents, newsworthy events and crisis. Conversations can revolve on hot topics using hashtags and users can post and view updates, follow other users as well as send public replies or private messages to connect and communicate with other users. Over the years, the Twitter ecosystem has grown dramatically, enabling users to search for people, news or subjects.
Why Use it?
- Connect with your customers. This is the primary reason why you should make use of twitter for your business. Twitter has become so much a part of everyone’s daily routine, it’s the perfect venue to connect, interact, and study your target marker. Branding. In Twitter, you don’t have to be in the league of Nike, Dell or Starbucks to brand and generate interest. In fact, it presents the best platform for small businesses and startups to reach their target niche.
- Customer feedback. If any customer is dissatisfied with a certain product or service, he/she will no doubt tweet about it. In this sense, Twitter is a reliable resource to derive feedbacks and opinions, as well as study consumer behaviors and preferences.
- Marketing. With its wide reach, you can use Twitter to market products and/or services to a wider market and the best part is, it’s free.
- News. Twitter is the best and fastest way to publish latest updates about your company – without the need to compose long, elaborate content.
- Marketing schemes and promotions. If you have existing promos and exclusive deals, let your network know about it. Everyone loves a good deal. In fact, a lot of companies have conducted contests and promos exclusively for their Twitter followers to engage their market.
- Twitter is viral. Once you have managed to gain a degree of popularity, you will discover how viral it can be. This can become a strategic edge for your marketing campaigns.
- Spy on the competition. You don’t just gain insights on customers and target market, you can also read and study what the competition is doing, what are their weaknesses based on complaints and work on positioning yourself to provide a better alternative.
- Increase sales. Yes, Twitter can significantly help in increasing sales. According to a report published by Mashable, Dell has raked in a whopping $6.5 in sales through Twitter.
- Brand loyalty. In any business, you want to aim for long-term use of your products and/or services instead of one-time purchases. By engaging your clients and providing prompt value-added service, you will be able to retain customers and enjoy loyal patronage.
- Networker’s paradise. Connect with industry leaders, the movers and shakers and influential personalities relevant to the industry you operate in. If you have attended networking events in the past and have enjoyed decent results for your company, just imagine what Twitter can do for you.
- Generate website traffic. When done perfectly, Twitter can be a great and effective tool to generate more interest and attract targeted market to visit your website or blog which can translate to sales leads, and ultimately convert to sales.
- Though Leadership. Twitter is a perfect venue to showcase your skills and expertise and provide sound advice, opinions and help resolve problems to gain more credibility as a thought leader.
How to Build and Attract Followers
As you might have already guessed, Twitter has become an indispensable social media tool to drive your business forward. It is not your typical fly by night trend that will eventually disappear into oblivion. Since its launch, it is this in its upswing. To be able to take full advantage of the full potential of Twitter, you need to carefully plan out your strategies.
- Conduct an initial search. Create your Twitter account and use the Twitter search to check out the buzz about your name or brand, your direct competitors and other relevant words that relate to your company, products and/or services.
- Add a photo. It’s unappealing to interact with anyone without any photo. If you have established decent brand recognition, you can use your logo, or if you are a startup or a small organization, it is generally best to use a personal photo.
- Start joining conversations and talk to people about their interest. This will convey a more personalized appeal that shows the human side behind a brand, product or service. (@wholefoods is does this quite well)
- Generate interest. Post interesting things that relate to your industry, and not just about your company, products or services. This can include latest news, policies, and developments, among others.
- Entertain to engage. Share interesting and fascinating links that will entertain and spur interest.
- Use a proactive approach. When handling complaints, don’t get stuck on the vicious cycle of apologizing. Instead be helpful and offer immediate resolution, tips and guidelines. (@jetblue is does this quite well by providing travel tips and advisories)
- Say no to blatant marketing. Don’t make the mistake of overselling your products and/or services. Others will either tune you out or hit the “unfollow” button.
- Become more human. Promote interesting outside of work stories of your employees and major stakeholders. (@TheHomeDepot does this quite well)
- Introduce personalities. Add in a few personalities to work along with the brand, such as RichardAtDELL, MaxeneAtDELL, etc.
- Really communicate. Take time to also talk about non-business topics too.
What to Tweet About
- Instead of answering Twitters question, “What are you doing?” you can choose to answer the question, “What has caught your attention?”
- Aside from a business Twitter account, have other Twitter users in your company. People can quit, take vacations, etc.
- When promoting a particular blog post, don’t just dump the link. You can either ask a question or explains what’s coming up next.
- Ask questions and encourage your followers to share their opinions.
- Follow interesting and popular people. If you come across users who tweets interesting things, check out who he/she follows and follow them as well.
- Tweet about other people instead of simply focusing on you, your company, your brands or products. Twitter is not for selling and it has a more intrinsic impact on your business. Work on giving a face or personality behind a brand to engage your followers.
- When you happen to talk about your company, products or services, make sure it’s useful. You can deliver it in a form, of advice, pictures, blog posts that offer insightful content.
- Don’t flood timelines and tweet too much. It may easily annoy followers. As a general rule of the thumb, tweet at least 8 times in a day and no more than 15 times.
More Practical Tips
- You don’t have to read every single tweet.
- You don’t have to reply to every single @ tweet that has been directed to you.
- Choose direct messaging options if exchanges with other people do not have value to other Twitter followers.
- Regularly check out Twitter search function to find out if there are people talking about you, your brand, company, products and services.
- One great way to build community in Twitter is to respond to tweets as well as retweet other user’s posts.
- Post some good, intelligent tweets before following anyone.
- Complete your profile information.
- Add Twitter feed to other social media profiles and blogs.
- Reply to people who are following you, and most especially to those who don’t.