Since immersing ourselves in Twitter back in 2009, we continue to have many discussions (on Twitter and in the real world!) about its value for businesses. We recently developed a ‘Quick Start’ Twitter and blogging service as we are constantly being requested by clients and marketing colleagues to help them “dip their toes” in the “Twitterverse”, usually after they had tried to use Twitter but had simply ‘got stuck’. We noticed a common thread in why/how they got stuck: not being able to find information easily on how Twitter could help their business in relation to other forms of marketing, ie what perceived value it had as a business communications tool. So all of our Social Media services are designed to establish the right social media channel for each business in the CONTEXT of all their other marketing activities.
If you are in business and at that stage of deciding whether Twitter is worth some of your valuable time, we hope the following tips will give you the context to make your decision easier.
1) Twitter is just another communications channel
There is still a perception that Twitter is just about teenagers inanely sharing the minutiae of their lives. In its early days, many wondered how could anything useful be communicated in 140 characters, but now, according to a Guardian article (May 2012) more than 10 million users of Twitter in the UK have found a way. What’s more, Twitter is seen as a serious channel for business users.
But before you get excited and believe your tweets will get seen by 10 million people, remember Twitter is just another route to communicate with customers and prospective customers. The traditional marketing rules still apply: a business must understand the habits of its existing and prospective customers – how do they find out things and draw in information? Do they even use social media? If your audience doesn’t use Twitter, don’t bother with it.
2) It’s NOT about numbers of followers
As you get immersed in Twitter, you’ll come across plenty of offers to get your follower numbers up with auto-followers and other types of software ‘helpers’. But for a business tweeter, it should be about QUALITY of your followers, not quantity. Our account could have 1000s of followers but we use Twitter to promote our business, so we inspect every new follower: do they match our target audience? Are they likely to be interested in what we say? Are they a real person ie not spam. Unless you are particularly famous like @StephenFry, you will only gain thousands of followers if they are auto-followers or spam, ie computer software. So, as a business person with little time to spare, what gives you the better ROI: talking at a 1000 ‘people’ who aren’t listening or talking with 10 genuine people who listen, reply and converse?
3) Be available to reply (and remember the speed of response you may get!)
To quote one of our favourite tweeters, @karimacatherine “It’s not about collecting, it’s about connecting” and the only way to connect on Twitter is to be real. You need a human being to write your tweets, not a software programme. HAVE A CONVERSATION by showing an interest in others. Twitter differs from a lot of marketing channels in that it is NOT meant to be a broadcast medium. You’ll see plenty of business tweeters who simply list offers and shout them at you (we tend to block these!). But those that take the time to have a conversation attract our attention and often win our business as a result. And vice-versa – we have gained work through Twitter by being prepared to share information and discuss ideas – leaving the other person to make up their own mind on our value as a supplier.
And another key point to remember: like a conversation ‘in the real world’, a reply to your tweet can be instant. How would you like it if you asked a question and had to wait a day/week/month for a response? Think about the times you can access your twitter account whilst doing the day-job, but make sure you check it at least once a day – and reply to those that have attempted to converse with you.
4) Prove you are YOU!
When people first start using Twitter, they often do not take the time to fill in the bio or put a photo up on their Twitter account. Your Twitter account may be the first impression people will have of your business, so as with any other form of marketing, take the time to fill out the details carefully. At the very least, have your logo as your Twitter avatar (the picture that appears on all your tweets) and show the person behind the tweets – we have conversations with PEOPLE, not brands, so have either a photo or mention your name in your bio section. Best of all, have an account per person who tweets within your business eg Sue_DML, Sam_DML, Simon_DML each with their picture beside your brand logo as the avatar.
5) Think about what you tweet!
The question we get asked the most by new tweeters is “what do I say?”. You are a) representing your business and b) trying to engage others in conversation – just as you would in a face-to-face networking situation. So tweet a mixture of 1) questions to others 2) interesting comments about your business and 3) references to other aspects of news/business/people that interest you (this is typically done by re-tweeting others’ tweets with a comment by you added).
Remember that what you say is potentially visible to anyone (ie to your followers, who might re-tweet it to their followers and so on) and as per point 3 above, the speed of response can affect what you tweet. You are representing your business/brand through this medium so every tweet needs some thought behind it. Hint: if you are angry about something, type it into a word document, print it off and make a paper airplane – just don’t tweet it!
If this article has given you sufficient information to want to try out Twitter for your business, then here’s the next three things you need to do!
- Go to Twitter 101 – a very helpful (and straightforward) step-by-step guide to get you set up on Twitter!
- Choose who to follow! First person to follow should be @ChrisBrogan, then read his article 50 IDEAS ON USING TWITTER FOR BUSINESS. Second person to follow is …. @DangerousMkting !
- Tweet something about you! Remember Twitter and social media channels focus on conversation so say something that invites a response. If you’re still unsure, say hello to us (by putting @DangerousMkting at the start of your tweet) and we will reply to you!
(This is an update of an article that appear on this blog originally in September 2009).