So you’ve turned to Twitter to boost your business, but you aren’t sure how best to take advantage of the social media site. We’re here to help. Here are six ways to engage prospects and customers, disseminate information, manage your reputation, and strengthen your brand.
1. Inform people about promotions. Twitter not only provides a free platform for the instant sharing of information, but also has a potential multiplier effect: People who see value in a tweet often retweet it to their followers. Twitter’s immediacy makes it a great tool for announcing short-term or spontaneous promotions, such as a one-hour special or an “all inventory must go” sale when your refrigeration fails.
2. Respond to controversies or crises. In a crisis, every minute counts, and Twitter can help you respond quickly to critical situations. Establish a hashtag related to the incident at hand, and start sending tweets with the information you want to disseminate. It’s important that you or someone on your team also monitor people’s reactions on Twitter during the crisis, so that you can quickly correct any false information, malicious rumors, or mistaken facts.
3. Engage consumers and create buzz. Think of Twitter as a telephone party line — a place where everyone is listening and can chime in with their own comments at any time. What better way to engage people than by starting a conversation? Choose a product, service, event, or idea around which you want to generate buzz and then monitor Twitter to find people who are already interested in it or similar topics. Send tweets that will whet their appetites for more and, as they begin to show interest, send details — facts, images, and links — that will help convert them into customers.
4. Monitor industry, niche, and customer conversations. By searching relevant hashtags, a small-business owner can use Twitter to keep an ear to the ground regarding customer, industry, and niche topics. For example, Tasti-D-Lite, a growing chain of eat in/take out dessert stores, employs an official Tweeter who keeps the firm responsive to customers, and even wrangles enthusiastic customers into product-focused fan groups by listening passionately to their Tweets. There’s even dedicated software, like TwittStorm, that makes such monitoring fast and easy to accomplish.
5. Support your marketing campaigns. Twitter can also be used to augment traditional marketing campaigns. By mixing compelling information sent out via tweets, such as short-term price cuts, two-for-one offers, or impromptu customer testimonials with online and offline advertising, signage, direct mailings, and other conventional marketing elements, the effectiveness of the whole spend tends to get a big lift, according to Nielsen. Twitter also enables you to answer campaign-related questions or capitalize on prospects’ and customers’ reactions.
6. Manage media relations. Twitter is fast becoming an important channel of communication between businesses and the reporters who cover them. Once you’re established in the Twittersphere, journalists may turn to your feed to glean information about your company’s activities and what people are saying about them. After you develop relationships with specific reporters and editors, you can also send them direct messages to keep them in the loop.