With social media platforms, such as Twitter, now being the backbone to marketing for small businesses, it’s vital to get your head around how they work. The main issue is the discrepancies between the systems and understanding that each one works differently, offers varying options and is used for different tasks. Just because Facebook is good for one thing, doesn’t mean Twitter is and vice versa.
Due to this, being able to quickly get a handle on how the environment works and what the users are talking about is integral to setting up a solid successful profile which will portray the image of your brand as a strong and reliable source of service.
The problem with Twitter, is that due to the 140 character limit, often shortened terms are used to describe activities on the site, so it can be a headache trying to understand what consumers are talking about. Additionally, as with all new channels of marketing, Twitter has its own jargon for the processes that occur on the platform. This means that as a small business, if you feel Twitter is the tool for you and you want to utilize it, you need to be up to date with what is going on.
A ‘tweet’ refers to the 140 character post which you can release on Twitter. This tweet can include a website URL which will be shortened to fit in, a link to a picture or just some information regarding your business. It can also be used as a means to join in conversations already occurring on Twitter by including hashtags (see 5) or mentioning (see 3) other users.
Tweets are integral to the very platform as they are the sustenance that builds your content. As a small business, what you tweet will be what convinces other users to follow you and in turn support your brand. As a small business, it is important to release tweets that encourage users to look at your website, or to come into your store. It gives you a chance to divulge information regarding your company, such as what products you offer, and any special occasion, such as an event, a sale or an offer on your services.
Additionally, it is vital that you release them often and consistently so that users are constantly seeing your brand, rather than it passing just outside of their radar. You can use social media management software to do this, by writing and planning tweets in advanced and scheduling them to release at certain times.
Unlike Facebook, you can follow people on Twitter to receive the information they post, without them following you or accepting your request. To follow someone, you just click follow on their profile or next to a tweet you see by them.
The purpose of this, for a small business, is to build a base around the topic you’re interested in. If you are a charity, for example, looking to build a community around the cause you’re supporting, adding similar charities will blend you into the same category when people are searching. Additionally, following these people, will encourage them to follow you back, building up a fanbase and increasing your credibility as a brand.
It is usually good courtesy to follow back people who follow you, but it is sensible to check with ‘bio’ sections first. Having more people ‘following’ you than you follow, actually builds a good reputation as it makes your brand look popular and reputable. Be selective with the people you follow back; if they can help you business, such as a PR company or a writer, follow them back as they may tweet something to offer you in return.
A ‘mention’ is when someone is talking about you and it takes the format of @username. If someone mentions your brand, they’re trying to draw your attention to what they’re saying. They may be trying to ask a question or compliment your work.
Additionally, one of the great things about Twitter is the intricate level of conversation that can be held between strangers. If you are monitoring conversation hashtags and you notice that someone is asking a questions around a topic related to you, you can send ‘mention’ them by inputting @ and their username and answer that question for them.
It is good practice to ‘retweet’ any time someone mentions you. To do this, just press ‘retweet’ under the original tweet and it will appear on your profile to show other users who visit you, that people have been interested in you and that you’ve been helpful in return.
Doing these things, builds recognition around your brand and shows on your profile that users are interested in what you do and that you provide excellent service to help them.
4. Direct Message
A direct message is when someone sends you something privately that other users can’t see. You can only do this if you follow someone, and they follow you back. It can sometimes be referred to as a DM as Twitter has limited character to write a message.
As a small business, you can use direct messages to send other users contact details that you may not want all your followers to see.
Hashtagging is one of the key underpinning sentiments of Twitter. It is the conversational aspect that isn’t combined in other social media networks. By placing # and a keyword, this will enable a conversation to start on the topic. Big businesses, TV programs and brands use it to get people to talk about their business. For example, #London2012 was the official hashtag for the Olympics this year, which meant people could write that and write a comment to join the global conversation related to the Olympics.
For small business, this is important in three ways. Firstly, you can monitor keywords which surround your business and the products you offer and see what people are talking about, what they need and their issues. This means you can tailor your Tweets to that trending conversation. Secondly, by including those hashtags yourself, you can join the conversation, giving your brand visibility to people who will actually be interested in the services you offer. Thirdly, you can create you own hashtag to encourage people to talk about your brand!
Freelance writer, Emily Jenkins, has a passion for social media marketing as it enables her to promote her small online business from anywhere in the world as long as she has a computer. Her overwhelming need to travel has not been hindered by her business, and if anything she says that as long as she can access http://goaboutbusiness.com for her top up on business tips, she could be promoting her business from the North Pole and still be successful!