It’s important for every business to be strategic about their marketing, especially small local businesses with limited resources. But with millions of Twitter users out there – undoubtedly including some of your top prospects and customers – should you consider including Twitter in your marketing mix?
There are definitely ways in which Twitter can help you build awareness about your local business and increase sales. But like all social media, you have to participate consistently to make an impression and maintain a positive image. There is no point in establishing a presence on Twitter if you aren’t going to use it. In fact, that could actually backfire by making you look “out of it” rather than up-to-date.
What could you do with Twitter?
Local businesses can successfully use Twitter for any of these business-building activities:
- Introducing yourself to local influencers. Getting your business on the radar of well-known and respected people within your community – or using Twitter as an additional way to connect with them — is a great way to broaden your reach and, hopefully, garner more mentions and referrals. Think of it as getting out and meeting new people, just as you would do at in-person networking gatherings.
- Building your reputation as a source of information that is interesting, useful, inspirational, funny or all of these things. Post tips for choosing or using your products or services, humorous sayings or motivational quotes, etc. Retweet that hilarious cartoon you just received, or a notice about a pending City Council meeting that affects your clientele or business neighbors.
- Listening to your customers. What are they tweeting about, relevant to your business or local doings? The more you understand what’s important to your customers, the better you can target your tweets and other social posts as well as your overall marketing messages and offers. Not to mention fine-tuning your products and services.
- Engaging with customers. Comment on a how something that’s trending in your community is affecting your business – or how a hot new development in your industry could affect local consumers. Ask customers to tweet photos of themselves trying out your new exercise equipment or appetizer. Post pictures of your staff hard at work frosting cupcakes or conducting a haircut-a-thon for a local charity. Or your office cat snoozing in the window on the first sunny day in weeks.
- Checking out your competition. Periodically looking to see if they are using Twitter — and, if so, what they’re saying (or what their followers are saying) — can help you uncover new ways to differentiate your business. You could also use this intelligence to offer a product or service their customers think is missing.
- Promoting your business – sparingly, although everyone appreciates the occasional discount or exclusive offer. Tweet timely business information that isn’t directly sales-related – “this just in” with a photo of your salespeople unboxing brand new merchandise. When you do tweet a specific offer, make it time-sensitive, to generate quick response in terms of sharing as well as purchasing. Twitter is perfect for last-minute sales boosters.
Not sure if Twitter makes sense for you?
Take the obvious step of asking your current customers or clients or patients if they use Twitter and would be interested in engaging with you in that way. The results of your survey may not be scientific, but they will certainly be relevant to your audience. If your clientele isn’t big on Twitter, it’s probably not worth the effort to go there. On the other hand, if they’re Twitter-crazy, you’ll want to join them.
If you decide that Twitter could help grow your business, be sure to flaunt your presence. For one thing, letting existing customers know you’re on Twitter is an easy way to start building a following. Put the Twitter icon and your @handle everywhere people can see it – on your website and blog, your other social media profiles, your email signature, business cards, invoices, on a sign by your checkout counter or reception desk, etc.
And be sure your website is optimized for mobile users. Three-quarters of Twitterers access the platform from some kind of mobile device, so you know they’ll be using that same device to check you out online. You don’t want to disappoint them!
Here are some simple steps you can take to get started.
- Choose a user name for your Twitter account that is short (like all things Twitter) and memorable — preferably similar to your Facebook or other social user names.
- Once you’ve established an account, fill out your profile completely so it’s most attractive and useful for followers. That includes a great background photo, your logo, a link back to your website and of course a detailed description of your business.
- Use Twitter’s advanced search feature to get a look at local “tweet traffic.” Just enter a word of phrase your customers are likely to use and put your city name in the “near this place” field. Experiment with your keyword to refine your search. When you see a highly relevant stream of tweets, save that search so you can reference it later.
- To look for local influencers you might connect with, use advanced search so find the most active Twitter accounts in your locale. You can also use Tweet Grader’s Top Twitter Cities list to search for influential local users.
- It will be easier to monitor and manage your account if you use a third-party app such as Hootsuite. You can separate the lists you follow – customers, influencers, prospects, loyalty club members, etc. and receive notifications when they tweet.
Don’t expect overnight miracles. Like all marketing, it takes time and consistency to turn Twitter into a productive channel to promote your business and increase sales. But no matter how localized your audience, this could still be a smart move. Looking for more localized marketing? Check out our article on postcard marketing success for local businesses.