So you’ve heard of Twitter. Maybe you’ve signed up for an account to see what all the fuss is about. You’ve chosen a username (a ‘handle’ in Twitter-speak), followed a few people and maybe a few of them have followed you back. Then what?
Well, for most small business owners, next comes creeping suspicion that Twitter just a passing fad, a distraction, another social network to suck up more of your precious time.
We understand. We’ve been there too. For a newcomer Twitter can feel a minefield of celebrity fluff, a maze of hashtags, likes and retweets and other new words that have no apparent use in the real world. But don’t give up just yet; with over 550 million active users and more than 460,000 people signing up for accounts every day, getting to grips with Twitter could well be one of the best business decisions you’ll ever make.
Remember that old (and true) rules of business; it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Twitter is all about who you know, and who you want to get to know.
It’s about networking, sharing information, collaborating and even selling. It’s helping connect business to customers and potential partners all over the globe. No matter what industry you’re in, Twitter is like being at the biggest industry conference of the year. And it’s all free.
When we work with clients who want to get more value from Twitter, we have a fail-safe Five Brand way to get the results you’re hoping for.
1. Follow people who influence your industry
You know who they are already. They’re the people who keynote at conferences. They’re the people who write op-ed pieces in professional press.
They’re the people whose opinions shape the direction that your business or its customers are taking. And they’re definitely going to be on Twitter because they already know that it’s the best way to push their message further and faster and louder than they will ever be able to elsewhere.
Their tweets get picked up by their followers who retweet to their own networks. Pretty soon a single message from one of these thought-leaders can spread with epidemic speed to become a movement for a whole sector.
Start your Twitter journey by following some of the people you are most influenced by – with a few clicks of the mouse, you’ll have a direct line to their thoughts, views and opinions without having to read the latest industry publication interview with them.
2. Follow people you want to influence
You may not be an industry thought-leader just yet, but you can begin the journey. Don’t underestimate the importance and value of what you have to say. If you have a business and a product to sell, then you’re probably aching to start shouting (or Tweeting) about it? Don’t do that just yet.
Sharing quality content from influencers and others through retweets will help build your reputation as a trusted source of information and help you create a following. Then, as your following grows, you can start to talk a bit more about yourself and what your business is doing.
Think hard about the people you want to influence. You should know already who your customers are, but do you know who you want your customers to be in five years time?
Where do they live? What do they do? What sort of things are they likely to be interested in and Tweeting about?
Once you’re clear on their characteristics, you can start exploring some of Twitter’s onboard search tools and analytics, and the growing range of third-party apps and web services to help you identify them. And if you’re struggling with this why not get in touch with us?
Find them, follow them and then you can start sharing with them. Pretty soon they’ll be sharing too and you’ll see your following grow and grow and a good number of those followers will be people who might just be interested in becoming customers.
3. Follow people who are fun
You can’t build a great online reputation solely by relaying information to your networks, you also need to add a dash of personality. That’s the great thing about Twitter. By being yourself, your potential customers and others reading your tweets know there’s a real person behind the Twitter handle.
Give a glimpse of the real, authentic you. Following a few people who make you laugh, whose tweets make the day go faster and sharing their content sparingly is a great way to bring their humour and your humanity to your followers.
When it comes to selling your business, remember that people only ever buy people. If your Twitter followers understand and appreciate the real you then they’ll be much more likely to buy from you.
4. Remember it’s a conversation not a broadcast
It’s called “social” media for a reason. It’s two-way. It’s conversational. If you’ve followed the three steps above then you’ll be following some great people, sharing some great, relevant content and be well on the way to growing a great following of your own.
As you start sharing and talking to your new network, then your followers will respond.
Don’t be scared. Engage with the conversation. By answering questions or responding to feedback openly, you’ll build trust and cement the idea that you’re a valuable and authentic member of the Twitter family. You’ll find that pretty soon that that reputation begins to translate into enquiries and sales.
Invest the time to follow wisely, share carefully and tweet wisely and soon you too will be reaping the benefits of Twitter for your business. Tweet by tweet.
This post was co-authored by Matthew Green, Five Brand’s Research & Strategy Consultant, the brains behind our Twitter Success Model and of course, an avid Tweeter. You can follow Matthew @policyworks and Rebecca @fivebrand.