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

5 Simple Internet Marketing Strategies for Small Business

With the internet increasingly becoming a vital part of conducting business, thousands of potential customers are just a click away. However, with so many sites on the web, it can be nearly impossible to get noticed.

The following 5 simple steps should improve your marketing on the internet and have you on your way to reaching a world of customers.

1. Website

The first step in establishing an online presence for your business is to have a website. This is the most central part of your internet marketing and everything else will revolve around it.

Once you have a site established, you have to ensure that it is effective. This means creating a user-friendly experience and clearly delivering the message of your business.

2. Search Engine Optimization

Once your website is up and running, it must become visible on the web. One of the most common ways for people to find your business is through search engines.

There are a variety of techniques to implement to improve your website’s visibility in search engines. The most important aspects relate to the content of your site and quality links to your site from around the web.

3. Social Media

One of the greatest advancements in business on the web has been the establishment of online communities. Certain websites gather thousands and even millions of people with particular interests and associations.

This brings about the ability to reach large numbers of potential customers in specific target markets. These sites can be used for attracting new customers and keeping in touch with your past and current customers.

Social media sites also provide great opportunities to provide links to your site that will increase traffic and improve visibility in search engines.

4. Email

Another powerful tool for conducting business online is through email. It can be used to reach out to new customers or to keep in touch with current and past customers.

Creating a mailing list with your contacts will help keep you involved in their lives and can be used to inform them about promotions and any other news of your business.

There are several programs that exist that make email marketing simple and allow you to reach a high volume of recipients without being considered spam.

5. Advertising

There are a variety of ways to promote your business online through paid advertising. You can use traditional banner ads, which are basic graphic images or you can use contextual ads that are displayed according to a site’s content.

There are certain advertising programs that can display your ads to a very specific target audience. Many advertising programs offer free trials so you can see if it will be effective for your business.

If these strategies are properly implemented, they can be very effective in bringing in new business. Internet marketing can become quite advanced, but this are the necessary steps needed to get started.

If you are interested in receiving personal assistance with the implementation of any of the above strategies, you can speak with a professional consultant from The World Advisory Company