Another great part of our Help and Solutions for Social Media Marketing and Services Series
The last thing your business needs is an empty Twitter account taking up space in the twittersphere. You’ll have wasted your time setting it up and when people find it (a simple Google search will suffice), an empty account will make it look like your company doesn’t know what it’s doing. While this is worse than not having a Twitter account, you’ll be squandering an excellent opportunity in either case.
So, before you jump on the bandwagon and setup your business’ Twitter account, or write off that whole social media thing as a bunch of snake oil, take a few minutes to learn why you need a Twitter account.
Find More Customers
Twitter can help you find more customers. Not only can you search Twitter for people who are interested in what your company has to offer, potential customers can find you. For example, if you are a life coach who works with people struggling with shyness, you can find people online who are talking about their struggle. Likewise, people who are shy can search twitter and find your services.
Enlarge Your Network
Twitter works much the same way when it comes to networking within your industry. Not only does this help you keep an eyeball on the competition, but also allows you to get to know, like and trust others in the same on complementary fields. For example, if you’re a web designer, you can follow other designers and keep up with what is new in your industry. Some freelancers have even been known to ditch their RSS feeds because industry Twitter leaders have been so good about tweeting the latest and most relevant news and issues. Likewise, you can also get to know other people in your industry via Twitter. So, when you arrive at that point where you need to outsource some of your work, or hire contractors or employees, you can just send out a tweet for prospects.
Build Your Community Status
Getting known as an expert in your industry is a fast way to get people knocking on your door to hire your company. Social proof exists to confirm that you know what you’re talking about and it can be clearly seen in all the brilliant and insightful things you say in your feed.
When you achieve this status, you can just post that you have a new product or service and people will respond. For example, a jewelry and bead store owner that gets a new shipment of beads can tweet this update to their followers and have a flood of traffic to check out the new merchandise. If she has an online store, this is even better because people can get to her virtual shop instantly. Now, if that store owner had never tweeted before, she won’t have much of a response. But if she’s been tweeting useful information, providing links to tutorials and answering customer questions, she’ll have built up a very responsive following.
As you can see, Twitter is not just about teens socializing when they should be studying their math lessons. When used effectively, Twitter can be an excellent tool for building customer relationships, getting to know your colleagues and promoting your business.
So let’s get started: Doing Things Right…from the Beginning
Setup Your Twitter Profile Properly
The surest sign of a Twitter newbie is a default background, empty website and bio fields and little content. And the surest sign of someone who doesn’t know how to use Twitter for business is a vague or inappropriate bio field. That said there are specific things you need to do on your Twitter profile before you hit the road with it.
Like your domain name, it should be easy to spell and remember. After all, you want people to find your business using the search feature, or even Google. The username should reflect positively on your business as well.
While it might seem like fun to make your username “ilovechocolate,” if you’re a virtual assistant whose work has nothing to do with chocolate, this is probably not a good idea.
For branding purposes, it’s best to choose either your business name or your name (depending on what you’re trying to brand), or a variation of it, as your username.
The bio doesn’t have to be a literary masterpiece, but it does need to succinctly describe who you are or what you offer. And the bio should contain your keywords.
Keep in mind when you’re writing your bio that people will be finding you using the information you put there. So if someone is looking for a virtual assistant, but your profile bio says “chocolate-eating dragon slayer,” chances are no one is going to find you. Well, not anyone you’ll do business with.
The best option for your profile picture is a photograph of you. That said, it should be a professional shot – you really do want to present a positive image for your business. Make sure the shot is clear, well lit and that you’ve put your best ‘face’ forward! You can be quirky or funny, but make sure it’s appropriate. So if you’re tweeting as the CEO of a major corporation, you don’t want your profile photo of you in a Hawaiian shirt sitting on a bar stool. However, if you’re a quirky, creative photographer, you might be able to get away with pink hair and a tongue piercing. The bottom line is to be YOU and let others see who you are, without damaging your own reputation in the process.
Use a custom background
You can have a designer create a background for you or use a free background generator online. The background will not only show Twitter users that you mean business, it will also enable you to display more information about your business and additional means of making contact.
You can also place your logo on the background to further brand your Twitter profile. And if you’re branding yourself as a business – say if you’re a life coach, for example – you can even put a full body picture of yourself, perhaps holding your logo in your hands, or something memorable like that.
Remember, whatever you do, you want to set yourself apart from the pack with your profile. Make it professional, but memorable. Include information so that people can contact you on other sites, by email and by phone. Make a statement about the value your business can provide to those who land on your profile.
Set Goals for Your Twitter Journey
Achieving success with Twitter is like getting ready to take a trip. You have to decide where you’re going to go and how you’re going to get there. Likewise, with Twitter, you need to sit down and decide what are your goals and how you’re going to achieve them before you start the journey. Some goals that you may want to achieve include:
- Connecting with your customers
- Networking with people in your industry
- Driving traffic to your website
Before we go further, let’s take a minute to look at that last goal: Driving traffic to your website. This goal should never be your primary goal on Twitter. It’s great for SEO, but not for a social networking site. On Twitter, you’re primary goals should be networking and connecting. The traffic will follow if you’re successful with the first two goals.
Planning Your Twitter Journey
When you’re taking a trip, you’ll often set overall goals like: Fly to Orlando, go to Disney World, and meet Mickey Mouse. While those are wonderful goals, they don’t contain the plan for how you’re going to achieve them. You need to know what airline you’ll buy tickets through, where you’re going to rent a car, what hotel you’ll be staying in and how much it all is going to cost.
Using Twitter to grow your business is like preparing for a trip in that you need to plan out all those small details as well. Figure out where you want to end up and then make a map to get there. Once you have your roadmap and you know where you’re going, getting there will be much easier, cost effective and measurable. Please don’t skip this step! You will save yourself time and aggravation in the future!! And as my dad always says, “A man without a plan, is just a man.” In short, just knowing where you want to go with Twitter is not enough. You need to have a detailed plan of how you’re going to achieve your goals. Once you have the plan, the only thing left to do is implement it!
Plan one month ahead
You’ll need to fit what will tweet about into your overall marketing plan. Now, that’s not to say you can’t have an impromptu conversation or help a customer with a question. But you should have an overall roadmap from the last step, for where you’re going and have some tweets planned out that will advance your marketing and networking goals. If you plan at least one month out, you will be ahead of the game!
Follow the right people
Following your uncle’s daughter’s third cousin is not going to help you get to know people needing a virtual assistant…unless the cousin needs a VA… Instead, you should use the search function in Twitter to find potential customers and find colleagues that you can interact with. For more in depth info on this topic, you will want to see our Following the Right People post, later this week.
Use tools to maximize your effectiveness
For any job, hobby or trip, as it were…you need the right tools, map or gear to help with your journey. Twitter tools such as Seesmic and TweetDeck can be downloaded to your computer and used to help you manage your Twitter profile – or profiles if you have more than one. Hootsuite is an online tool that does the same thing. Or you can download the Tweetie app to your iPhone and keep in touch while you’re on the road… preferably not while you’re driving. We here at e-Edge prefer and use the Tweetdeck tool.
We will talk more about these tools in a later post. For now, try a couple and see which you like best. Or better yet, Tweet about it and see what people are recommending.
P.S. Be sure to stop back and check out our up coming post on Twitter Tools and how to use them to your advantage!