Social media can be such a valuable tool for businesses looking to increase sales. Social is not just a current trend, but also the way of the future. It allows you to reach thousands — if not millions — of potential customers. Each social media channel offers its own benefits and serves its own demographic. The trick is knowing how to properly harness those benefits for your type of business and your target customers. Obviously, you wouldn’t use the same strategy for Pinterest as you would for Facebook. And Twitter, with its 140-character limit, is in a league all its own.
If Twitter users made up their own nation, it would be the 12th largest country in the world, and the service boasts 284 million active users each month. According to a survey from Edison Research, 49 percent of those users follow brands, compared to just 17 percent of all social media users combined. Other research found 39 percent of Twitter users exposed to a brand’s tweets later purchased from that brand. That’s an impressive potential reach for businesses looking to promote their brand on Twitter.
Plenty of statistics concur that Twitter is an invaluable marketing tool, but creating a Twitter profile for your business is only the first step. Here are a number of ways to use your Twitter profile to increase your brand awareness and sales.
Boost Your Exposure
Obviously, the more people who follow you on Twitter, the better the exposure for your brand. But gaining followers isn’t always as easy as it seems. Sure, you can send out plenty of eye-catching tweets, but that’s no guarantee people will follow you. One of the easiest ways to increase your following is by following others. Twitter users are known to follow back, and if you follow companies and individuals within and related to your industry, or in the geographic area of your brick-and-mortar store, they may return the favor, exposing you to their followers any time they retweet or favorite one of your posts.
Because following other users is such a well-known method of increasing your own followers, tools have been created just to take advantage of this phenomenon. Marketing expert Jordan Caron, for example, writes that having a large number of followers can make a Twitter profile appear more credible to users, who will then be more likely to follow an unfamiliar brand. Caron recommends Let’s All Follow Back as a way to quickly gain a large following.The website lists nearly 10,000 Twitter users who are likely to follow back once you follow them. Users can even add their Twitter handle to the site, telling others that they also follow back.
You probably already have buttons promoting your social media accounts on your website (and if you don’t, you should.) But don’t stop there. Add a Twitter button to your email signature, your newsletter and definitely all of your blog posts. Buttons, or widgets, help readers easily share your content and your brand with others, leading to new customers.
Don’t be afraid to actively promote your Twitter handle. Print it on your business cards, display it on your website, post it in on a sign in your store, and add it to your Facebook profile details. If you’re speaking at a conference, you can even add your Twitter handle to a slide presentation. Likewise, if you’re just setting up your Twitter profile, choose a handle that is catchy and easy to remember, but ensure that it clearly represents your brand.
Put Hashtags to Work
Hashtags — words and phrases preceded by the # character — help Twitter users find posts that interest them, so don’t be afraid to use them in your tweets. Popular hashtags relate to current events, celebrity personalities, as well as weekly themes, such as Throwback Thursday (#TBT) and Flashback Friday (#FBF). You can engage and expand your audience by using relevant hashtags. Just be sure to tie the tweets back to your brand. For example, if you notice the hashtag #TBT is trending, you might tweet an old photo or a funny anecdote from a past event, then relate it back to your business. Likewise, if you’re offering a holiday sale, there’s a good chance many other businesses will be offering sales on that particular holiday, as well. In that instance, tweeting your information along with the trending hashtag #holidaysale can help more people see your post, and ultimately get more customers to take advantage of your promotion.
Advertise Flash Sales
Flash sales are a great way to create a sense of urgency. Offer a special price for a short amount of time to get more bodies through your doors or more visitors to your website. Twitter offers an excellent opportunity to promote and generate buzz about a flash sale. Start periodically promoting the upcoming sale on Twitter days or even weeks in advance, and while you should detail what the sale will entail, don’t post exactly when it will occur. Excited prospective customers are likely to share the news with their followers, and before you know it, word of your brand could spread exponentially. Plus, your followers are likely to watch your profile more closely in anticipation of the start of the flash sale.
For example, British cosmetics brand Rimmel London celebrated its 180th birthday by launching its first-ever flash sale. Months before even tweeting about the sale, the business started creating buzz with the #Rimmel180 hashtag. It then posted a Twitter card with a countdown to the sale, creating anticipation and excitement among followers in the week leading up to the sale. By setting a 180-minute limit to the sale, Rimmel was able to sell thousands of items in a matter of minutes.
Offer Clever Contests
Sponsoring a contest on Twitter can be an effective way to generate buzz for your brand. A restaurant, for example, might host a contest inviting customers to post a picture of their favorite entrees, appetizers, or desserts. Be sure to offer a noteworthy prize and encourage followers to enter and share with others. Each time a customer posts an entry, his or her followers will also be exposed to your brand. You can then choose a winner at your discretion or per posted contest rules. Complete the contest by tweeting not only the winner’s name, but his or her contest entry, as well.
Contests can be as simple as asking people to follow you. Online retailer Boohoo used a contest to build customer engagement. Using the hashtags #OnesieWednesday and #OnesieWeekend, the company offered Twitter users the chance to win free baby fashions by following @boohoo and retweeting one of its posts within the weekly contest period. The business saw a 242 percent increase in its Twitter following, as well as an 19 percent increase in website traffic on Wednesdays.
Businesses have long taken advantage of holidays to boost sales, and Twitter offers another platform to create holiday buzz. Not only should you tweet holiday sales and promotions, but take advantage popular holidays such as Halloween, Christmas, or even St. Patrick’s Day to engage your followers. Ask them to post an image of the strangest gift they received, for example, and be sure to set the trend with a well-chosen hashtag. Offer followers the chance to win a drawing for a gift card or special discount just for taking part in the promotion.
Use Twitter Ads
While there are countless ways to organically generate buzz and promote your brand on Twitter, the social network also offers businesses the chance to purchase ads and promoted tweets to expand their reach even more. Twitter offers advertisers a unique pricing structure in which they pay only for performance — so you won’t have to pay for promoted tweets or website cards unless a user takes action that aligns with your campaign goals. Plus, if you set a budget with Twitter, the ad will automatically stop displaying once that budget is reached. You can even adjust your budget to better meet your goals during your campaign. Both Rimmel and Boohoo utilized promoted tweets to engage customers with their campaigns, as did educational software brand Blackboard. When the business used promoted tweets to generate buzz for a contest and to persuade followers to adopt its software, it saw a 78 percent increase in brand mentions, and exceeded its contest goal by 50 percent.