Six ways your business can make the most of Twitter
It’s quite likely most if not all of you will be familiar with the micro-blogging service known as Twitter. And the question that I'm sure is on the tip of every savvy internet entrepreneur is “where is the business opportunity here?” The immense popularity of the service holds a lot of potential for the creative internet marketer, in fact any business owner, who's willing to invest the time to explore it.
Some may prefer to just use Twitter as another personal social media service – and that's fine! But if you want to try to use this medium to increase your marketing reach, here are five tips that should help you to get the most out of the service.
1 - Have a Purpose
All too often, people stumble on to a new service with no real idea of what they hope to achieve from it. These are usually the people who find themselves disappointed with the results. So decide now – what is it you want to get out of Twitter? Do you want to connect with potential business partners? Learn something new? Promote your business? Or do you simply want to engage with friends and meet new people? All these are valid motivations – but knowing what you hope to achieve will provide you with a guide with which to direct all your actions on Twitter. While this is less important if you just want to explore the social side, if you're hoping to leverage the marketing potential of the service, it is essential.
2 - Don't treat it like just another promotional channel
There is nothing wrong with wanting to make money. But just like your friends wouldn't want anything to do with you if all you ever did was try to sell them stuff, people will not follow you on Twitter if all you do is promote your (or someone else's) products! People join Twitter for a variety of reasons, however I've never known anyone who said “You know what I really need in my life? More advertising!” So if you don’t have the time to build a rapport with other people and engage them, then it might be better to leave Twitter alone.
3 - Be interesting
Many people, including many in the media, have ridiculed Twitter as a medium for today's narcissistic youth to promote their every insignificant movement to the world. These people have completely missed the point. While there is a lot of inane chatter on Twitter, this is only one side of the service. The other side is a rich stream of relevant and up-to-the-second content. Many suggest that Twitter could come to replace, or at least compete with traditional search engines. This is because while search engines use complex algorithms to return relevant content, there is still no match for human-endorsed referral.
If someone posts a link to a blog article on Twitter, it means they read it, and they found it interesting. If other people follow the link, and then 're-tweet' it (copy and paste the same message), it means that they too read the post, found it interesting and decided to tell others. This is viral distribution at its most raw form. Therefore if you want people to take notice of you on Twitter – post interesting content. Don't think you're an interesting person? Doesn't matter! There are millions of other interesting people on the web – link to their content. If people who follow you come to expect a regular flow of valuable information, then you're building value in your Twitter feed and that will attract more followers.
4 - Build a presence first
Approach Twitter strategically – this is a long term investment, so don't expect immediate returns. If you start promoting right off the bat, don't expect to gain much of a following. Focus on conversation, and building followers. One of the easiest ways is to follow other people – many will follow you back, particularly if you engage them in conversation (using @Replies; messages directed at other users). Follow people who are relevant to your business or niche, and who you find interesting. Post interesting content you find. Post your own content too, but in moderation and only if it's interesting and relevant. Here at Affilorama we had a lot of success building our up our followers, interested in affiliate marketing advice, using contests and giveaways, where people followed and “retweeted” the contest message to enter. Look at doing something like this, but be sure to follow up with other good content to avoid a quick burn-out or losing followers after the contest is over.
5 - Ease into promotion
What about posting commercial links on Twitter, for example to a sale on your business’s website? This is best done sparingly and only when relevant. For example, if someone asks a question like “I've decided I want to buy a guitar, any suggestions?” then there is nothing wrong with replying to them with a recommended guitar you sell from your website. However if all you do is post links – people will just get bored with you.
Fortunately, the generally accepted practice of using URL shortening services (try bit.ly as it has good analytics support) means that it is relatively easy to disguise links to avoid looking obviously self-promotional. Use your personal judgment, and only start posting promotional messages when you feel that it won't alienate or annoy your followers. In general though, Twitter is a far more effective channel for driving traffic to site content than as a direct promotional medium – so consider linking to your blog or interesting articles you right before you just start posting direct links to products or services on your website.
6 - Brand well
Like other social media applications your profile can a valuable tool in advertising yourself, your services and your website. Choose a ‘theme’ or standard text that will become your bio, clearly and succinctly explaining what you are about and what you're trying to promote, as well as a direct link to your site.
Even your username is important so choose carefully. As with any branding exercise, consistency is the key so it’s a good idea to use the same username across your chosen social media sites. A great place to check available usernames across a lot of different applications is www.usernamez.com
When used correctly Twitter can help boost your network and your profile in the online world. Don’t be afraid to dive in and use it to create business, just remember these are real people you're dealing with and basic rules apply.