Using Twitter strategically for small biz

Twitter—who…what?

When it comes to using social media, especially Twitter, many small business owners are in the dark. The irony behind this is that not only is Twitter free, but it also has 100 million active users to boot!

But there is only so much you can do with 140-characters, right? Wrong. If done correctly, Twitter is a great vehicle to generate brand awareness. In fact, research shows that the majority of users on Twitter actively research and engage with companies. More surprising, approximately 42 percent of Twitter users actually want to learn about products and services.

Additionally, for any business on a budget, Twitter is great for free promotion. For instance, Twitter’s Follow is the equivalent of the Facebook like. It’s a personal endorsement. If a consumer likes your brand, products and/or services, they will give their public stamp of approval by following your Twitter handle.

The @ reply is also an effective way to get users to reinforce brands by tweeting at their favorite companies. From a business perspective, the @ reply is an interactive way to engage in conversation. It’s also a great way to thank those who tweeted at you.

Then there’s the hashtag. Much like assigning keywords to blog posts, placing a “#” symbol in front of certain keywords indicates that the word(s) is important. It also makes your tweet visible to people searching for that specific topic. This will narrow your audience down to those who are truly interested in the same information.

According to Edwin Huertas, the hashtag is a powerful tool for initiating conversation and soliciting engagement, particularly campaigns. Twitter is notorious for generating successful marketing campaigns—Huertas uses the Dominos #letsdolunch and the Obama Administration #40dollars campaigns as perfect examples.

Before you sign up for a Twitter account, you should first establish a marketing strategy. Incorporating Twitter in your marketing strategy is easy; include how frequently you will tweet, how you will gain followers, and what kind of information you will be tweeting.

Not sure what to tweet? Check out what your competitors are tweeting. Then take a look at what industry experts saying. It’s not a good idea to just duplicate their tweets, but retweeting thought leaders is a great place to start. However, try to add your own two cents when you can. This will allow you to engage in general conversation and become a thought leader yourself.

Still unsure about what to tweet? Social Media Today provides 30 things to tweet about your business. Happy Tweeting!