A Brief Tweetorial: An Introduction to Using Twitter for Small Business

10 years ago, the word “twitter” was only used to describe a bird’s song.  It may have been word that your father-in-law might use on a nature walk; it definitely wouldn’t have been something to describe an enormous and successful internet business.

Oh how the word “twitter” has changed.  I can’t speak for anyone else, but I probably hear the word “twitter” or “tweet” over 10 times a day.  The cool thing about it is that it is really just an ongoing, global conversation.  People talk about current events, stores they like going to, what Charlie Sheen is doing, Sports, food, vacation, comedy, death, life, religion, anything!  You can follow your favorite celebrities, athletes, comedians, or companies that you like.  It can also be a fun way for a small business to connect with their customer base and attract attention to their business.
This article is going to go over some basic tips on how to attract attention to a small business in the Twitterverse.  You are going to learn how to search and create “tagged” tweets, how to attract followers, and how keep them interested in your business.
The idea of tagging tweets has become something you will see in most Tweets now.  If you are unfamiliar with tagging, think of it this way:
Tagging is to tweeting as thesis is to research paper.
A “tag” is when you place a pound sign (#) in front of important key words.  To get a glimpse at the power of a tag, try searching Twitter for some tagged phrases.  I will get you started: 
1)      Go to the search bar in your twitter account
2)      Type in #smallbusiness and press enter
3)      Scroll down and look at the vast amount of links and comments regarding small businesses
4)      Now, try a few different topics you are interested and search for them, remember to place a pound sign before a word to narrow your search results
Isn’t it incredible how much information is available on Twitter?  When a tag is added to a tweet, it creates an easy way for people to search for tweets that are relevant to what they are looking for.  The main point of every tweet should be tagged so that people can search for it. 
Here is an example of how to tag your tweets.  Let’s say you are selling Ice Cream in Bethesda, MD at a shop called Crazy Cones and you want people to start following you.  Your tweet may look something like this:
CrazyCones “#free #icecream cones to first ten ppl to follow @CrazyCones Ice Cream shop in #Bethesda, #Maryland.”
In this situation, your Tweet will show up anytime someone looks up #free, or #icecream, or #bethesda, or #Maryland in the search bar.  The #bethesda tag will draw in the locals, and free Ice Cream is something that will get attention.  When someone follows you, you will receive an e-mail and if they follow you, you should follow them back and mention them in a tweet.  You can “mention” them in a tweet by putting their twitter name in one of your tweets.
For example, if someone, in this case it is @Bethesdayboy, wants to “mention” Crazy Cones, they’d include @crazycones in their tweet and it would look something like this:
Bethesdaboy @crazycones I am following you!  How do I get my #free #icecream?
Twitter will alert you in this situation because you’ve been “mentioned”.  It is a lot of fun to be mentioned and you’ll be excited each time it happens.  From there, you can send him a message with details on how to come in for his free ice cream.  Perhaps, you can suggest that he comes in that week to redeem his free cone and while he’s there he has to send out a tweet that say’s he’s in the store. 
If he doesn’t have the ability to tweet on his phone, then you take the initiative and tweet, “@Bethesdaboy just came to collect his #free #icecream.  Next 9 #followers to come in get the same treatment!”
Once someone is following you, it is extremely important that you keep them engaged in what you are doing.  Offer special discounts that are only available to Twitter followers.  Set up a workstation in the store with twitter access and if they tweet while they’re in there, give them something!  Make sure people that visit the store off of the street know that you are on Twitter by posting signs in the store.  Let them know that there will be nice benefits to being a follower.
It is up to you to be creative with your followers, freedom is part of the beauty of owning your own small business!  Make it exciting for them to follow you by offering them unique things.  Perhaps you can offer a give-away, free upgrade on a product, or a consultation to your Twitter followers.  You should also post relevant news articles, pictures of your work, and links to your website.  If you stumble upon some free tickets to a ball game, create a contest for your twitter followers.  The contest can be a word scramble, or a trivia question that pertains to your business. 
Twitter is a unique opportunity to become part of your customer’s everyday life and you should be taking the time to learn how to use it.  If you need some help getting started, you can contact The World Advisory Company and a professional small business consultant would be happy to work with you.   
You can follow Small Business View on Twitter @SmallBizView if you have already established a twitter account.

Article by Mike Steenstra

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