September 27, 2013
How to use Twitter for business - 5 practical tips from a customer
We've heard that for those on a very limited marketing budget, social media can be your best friend. We're about to test this theory. By sharing our journey with you as we grow our business providing web and mobile solutions to pest management pros, hopefully it will serve as a practical guide to success as you ramp up your own social media marketing efforts.
The experts say that Twitter is one platform which is a social media strategy must. While we're just getting going on there as a business, we've experienced Twitter from the other side of the table - as customers. Knowing what customers want can help you leverage it for your business. Here are 5 practical pointers to get you started:
1. Provide value that your customers appreciate
Unless you double as both celebrity and small business owner, it's probably best to focus on making sure your tweets contain valuable content as opposed to tweeting about yourself. To be clear, Chris the Customer does not care that you had a great breakfast. If your goal is to leverage Twitter for business, you can't use it as you may on your personal Facebook page. Most Twitter followers (and those you'd like to become followers) are likely interested in learning from you regarding your area of expertise. You can show your wealth of knowledge by offering tips or information which provide value to your audience and also reinforce the fact that you are a subject matter expert in your industry.
It should not be discounted that sometimes you can connect with new customers by sharing content or commentary about secondary areas of interest. For example, if you're a Maryland pest control pro who is passionate about your football, you may have an opportunity to build a personal connection with customers when you provide interesting commentary on the Redskins or Ravens. If you chose to go this route, however, consider advising readers on your profile that these are areas of interest, so they know what to expect. Then they'll know that you'll be providing them more than just tips on how to temporarily get rid of ants in their homes until you can assist!
2. Monitor what Twitter users ("Tweeters") are saying about you and reach out to unhappy customers
It is critical to stay on the pulse of what your customers (and those considering your services) are saying about you. It is even more critical to not only be a listener but an active part of the conversation. This holds particularly true where a customer is dissatisfied. I was particularly perturbed by an experience I had with a prominent automobile manufacturer and I voiced my frustration via Twitter. The manufacturer's (relatively) prompt effort to resolve the issue inured to its benefit in two ways: First, it minimized the amount its reputation would be tarnished by my negative experience because I could not, in good conscience, continue to bash a company working to rectify the situation. Second, it also showed thousands of customers and potential customers that it cared about resolving a problem with one of its current customers. In terms of responding promptly, keep in mind that the online forum is no different from other mediums; the longer a complaint is voiced and the company remains silent, the more likely it is that the company's goodwill will be harmed. Don't let this happen to you.
3. Don't tweet 60 times an hour
In other words, don't tweet endless streams of consciousness as fast as you can type and hit send. This rarely leaves a positive impression. Your followers are likely following many personalities and brands. Attention spans are short. Unless there's a compelling reason for you to provide a bevy of insight all at once, or you are live tweeting something of interest to your specific followers, don't flood their twitter timelines. Constant tweeting is often perceived as an annoyance and you don't want to be the one crossing that line.
4. Recognize that Direct Messaging is a Privilege which shouldn't be abused
This one is as short and simple as it gets. When someone follows you on Twitter, that gives you the ability to send them direct messages in their "inbox" of sorts. I strongly suggest you do not continually DM them with cookie-cutter template pitches about your services. It's another way to lose a follower and potential customer, fast.
5. Keep it professional
This sounds obvious but can often be lost in the chatter of Twitter. Remember that although users are emboldened by the relative anonymity of the internet, you represent your brand and what you say is virtually everlasting in the online universe. That one tweet where you go out of bounds in response to criticism can take on a life of its own (here's just one example). Generally, when this occurs, the result is not positive for your brand.