Seven Steps to Establish Your Small Business on Twitter

Michael Essany Headshot by Michael Essany on January 21, 2011
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The microblogging juggernaut known as Twitter is only four years old, yet it presently boasts more than 175 million registered accounts – 100 million of which are younger than one year old. Incredibly, during just the past twelve months, users have tweeted some 25 billion times. But Twitter’s growth simply reflects the rapid expansion of the entire social media universe, which is now heavily populated by businesses both large and small looking to capitalize on digital marketing.

When it comes to promoting one’s small business on Twitter, the results have been hit and miss. While some report unparalleled promotional success, others claim Twitter has been a horrid waste of time. Understandably, this paradox casts doubt on the platform’s true promotional muscle for many. But for those who do it right, microblogging can be a marketing dream come true for small business owners who skillfully harness Twitter’s power.

Only a few short years ago, a small business in Los Angeles called Kogi BBQ took a leap of faith on Twitter. Tweeting along on its travels, the owners of Kogi BBQ’s mobile Korean BBQ truck first engaged users with tales of their neighborhood exploits and soon developed a massive clientele. Today, Kogi BBQ has 80,000 followers on Twitter and no shortage of business.

If Twitter can help transform a small taco delivery service into a big — and delicious — success story, what might it do for your small business? Here’s how to leverage the service the right way.

1. Personal Before Professional – If you’re new to Twitter, create a personal profile before you create one for your business. Learn the ropes. And, more importantly, develop relationships and trust within your online community. Encourage your employees and business partners to do the same. After time, transitioning to a business profile will result in a bigger and more effective splash for the brand you’re introducing.

2. Temper Your Tweets – The biggest mistake made by Twitter newbies reflects the most widely given bad advice. Don’t overwhelm your new friends and followers with a barrage of tweets that serve no other purpose than to repeatedly herald your presence. To start, release only a handful of meaningful, insightful, or funny tweets daily.

3. It’s Not All About You – Remember that Twitter is a community. If you strictly post promotional content, you’ll not only fail to become an accepted member of the community, you’ll never build a trusting base to recognize — and hopefully re-tweet — your best stuff. Share links and interesting information that’s important or somehow pertinent to your audience.

4. Customer Relations Equals Public Relations – Successful small businesses use Twitter for customer relations. It’s a process that begins by asking customers to follow you on Twitter. Place your Twitter handle on your website, business card, and other social media profiles. Emblazon it on receipts. Even mention Twitter verbally at the point of sale. If you already have customers, engage them on Twitter and keep them apprised of happenings at your business. You may just be surprised by the results.

5. Don’t Auto-DM (Automatic Direct Message) – Contrary to what many so-called marketing wizards advise, people are not joining Twitter for the joys of receiving spam. If you can’t send a personal message to those who kindly follow your account, don’t provide a cold, automatic message in its place.

6. You’re The Tortoise, Not The Hare – Much like Rome, a thriving Twitter presence isn’t built in a day. Building your own community takes time and consistency. If you own a smartphone, let it become your Twitter tool. Download a popular Twitter app — like TweetDeck — and manage your account on the go.

7. Evaluate Your Gains – Before you dedicate any more precious time and resources to embellish your Twitter presence, carefully evaluate how well — or how poorly — your current strategy is working. Use Google Analytics to monitor inbound web traffic from Twitter. Keep tabs on how many customers use Twitter-exclusive promotions. At the end of the day, understanding your ROI from the time you spend on Twitter is every bit as important as your Twitter presence itself.

Michael Essany Headshot

Michael Essany is a business writer for Intuit and is passionate about solving small business problems.

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