Growing Your Business with Twitter

I’ve been having fun learning and experimenting with Twitter over the last few months. Here are some of my favourite tips tricks, and ideas.

Q. What is Twitter is all about anyway?
A. Twitter is not just a fad. According to the State of the Twittersphere Report (2009) each day 5 to 10 thousand new people join Twitter. Current estimates of total users exceed 5 million.

Twitter allows you to post updates (called Tweets) as often as you want. Each tweet is limited to 140 characters, and making your point within this limit is an art in itself. When you follow other people on Twitter, you see their tweets. When they follow you, they see your tweets, providing a constant stream of communication with your favourite people.

Q. Why should I consider using Twitter?
A. The main reasons to start using social media are either a) Fun or b) Business. If you like talking to people on the internet, you’re probably already using some combination of Twitter, Facebook, or Linked In to connect with your friends or target audience.

Business-wise, it’s important to remember that all business is built upon conversations. Twitter can help you converse with your target market quickly and easily, letting you know what concerns them, what they need, and how they perceive your product or service. If your market is using Twitter now, or is likely to be in the next couple years – start familiarizing yourself with Twitter and other social media right away. And even if they’re not using social media regularly – spend some time learning these tools anyway, so you’re a step ahead of them.

Q. How do I get started?
A. Here is an excellent post on how to get started on Twitter. Once you have an account, you’ll need to figure out what conversations you want to pay attention to: your clients, potential clients, suppliers, competitors, industry, and people who inspire or entertain you in various ways.

Q. Okay, I’m on Twitter…now what do I do?
1. It’s easy to follow people. Search for their names under the “Search People” tab on the Twitter home page. Once you’ve found them…follow them.
2. Review your contact database and figure out who you might like to follow on Twitter. You can easily upload your entire database into Twitter if you like.
3. Use a variety of methods to invite your contacts to start following you: include in your email signature, blog, and so on.
4. Consider who in your industry or profession you would like to follow. For example, if you’re in the printing industry or the legal profession, who are the people that your peers pay the most attention to?
5. Here is an excellent list of marketers who use Twitter effectively.

Q. How can I possibly keep track of all these posts?
A. A dashboard can help you manage your posts in various ways. My favourite is Hootsuite. Another favourite is Tweetdeck. There are also Blackberry and iPhone apps that help you track posts.

Q. How can I use Twitter to grow my business?
1. Listen. Once you have followers, start to pay attention to what’s on their minds.
2. Speak. Figure out what you have to say that addresses needs or interests in your target audience. Collect helpful resources, links, and articles that you can pass on to them.
3. Don’t be too serious or sales-y. The point is to connect with your audience, not sell them stuff. It’s part of branding and marketing, building your “tribe”. Save the selling for later, once they know, like, and trust you.
4. Share interesting personal info – trips, recipes, events, activities, connections – that help your audience to get to know you better.
5. Post events and blog posts of your own that will interest your followers.
7. Suggest actions. The most successful online marketers give their readers something to do. Direct them to a website, blog post, survey or poll, contest, and so on.
8. Retweet other people’s posts. Twitter has made it easy to re-tweet using a simple icon. No need to re-invent the wheel…pass others’ info along to benefit your market.

Check out some interesting stats on the worldwide use of Twitter.
Short link to this page.

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