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Can Twitter Help Your Business - Or Is It A Waste of Time?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010   By Mike Reddy

 



Twitter continues to grow at a rapid pace and attracts thousands of new users each day. But you often hear people say that Twitter is a waste of time with no benefit to the small to medium sized business. Others rave about Twitter’s positive impact on their company.

The fact is that many small to medium businesses are using Twitter to develop relationships with their customers, raise awareness of their company, uncover the latest trends, and make more sales. How do they do this? Before we answer this question, let’s look at what Twitter is and how it works.

Twitter is a micro-blogging site that enables users to communicate with each other in “tweets” of up to 140 characters. You can think of a tweet as a text message that is not directed to one person in particular, but to all your “followers”. When you tweet, your message appears on Twitter to all the people who have chosen to follow you. You also choose to “follow” other people such as your followers, customers, prospects, media representatives and others who have an interest in your company or industry.

It’s important to understand that your tweets shouldn’t be sales oriented announcements about how great your products or services are. Effective tweets should build relationships and can take many forms. The main guidelines are that your tweets should in some way be of value to your followers, they should be worded in a conversational tone, and they should reflect your company’s culture.  

Your tweets can help position your company as a reliable source of expertise by including links to your company blog or an industry site. They can let your followers know about the latest developments in your business. They can take your followers behind the scenes at your company to show them your personal side and create stronger connections. You can also “retweet” interesting tweets from others to your followers.

Some retailers offer coupons or special promotions in their tweets. Although these are outright promotions, these companies usually have separate Twitter accounts where people become followers specifically to learn about special offers.

Besides tweeting to your followers, it’s important to remember that Twitter is a two-way conversation. You will want to pay attention to what other people are saying in their tweets to learn their opinions and ideas concerning your company, product, service or industry. Even better, you can tweet to ask questions, present ideas and request feedback from your followers, and get quick responses. You can also use the Twitter search function to find out what all users, not just your followers, are saying about your product, brand, company or industry.

If you decide that Twitter might benefit your business, there are a number of steps to take to get started. First, you will need to set up a Twitter account if you don’t have one. Designate who will manage your account by tweeting and monitoring tweets from your followers. You might want to have several people managing your account to ensure effective coverage. But make sure they understand your Twitter goals and guidelines.

The next step is to attract followers. If you have the email addresses of your customers, you can search for them on Twitter and become their followers with the goal of having them reciprocate by following you. You will want to include a Twitter link on your website and have a Twitter button in your emails, electronic newsletters and other correspondence.

Many small to medium businesses are finding that Twitter is an effective way to communicate with existing and potential customers and build a relationship with them. Twitter might be the right tool to develop connections for your business. Remember that it’s a two-way conversation and that you must bring something of value to your followers in order to succeed in the long run. The best way to learn about Twitter is to jump right in and start tweeting.


Mike Reddy is a Chartered Accountant, business coach and advisor helping businesses in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Gold Coast to easily increase their profits and cash flow. He is currently President of the North Sydney Chamber of Commerce, a Regional Councillor for Sydney North East and a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants Sydney leadership team. As well as advising businesses, Mike presents business development seminars and webinars and is regularly contacted by the media to comment on small business matters. You can connect with him on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.