Everybody’s been talking about Twitter. You can’t get through a newscast these days without someone mentioning Twitter or Tweets. But what exactly is this new social marketing tool, and how can you use it to grow your business?
Twitter is like a blog on a microscopic scale; instead of writing whole posts and your mailing list being notified when a new post goes up, a tweet (what a Twitter post is called) can only be a maximum of 140 characters, and the people who are following you get your whole tweet at once, instead of having to go to your website.
What started out as — has now become huge. Companies like Apple, Intel, H&R Block and Zappos are all on Twitter. So is the new President of the United States.
So how to you leverage this zeitgeist? You need to get up and running on Twitter, asap. And you need to build your list of followers. While that may sound like something out of a bad science fiction movie, its actually just building a list of people that want to receive your tweets, much like you built your mailing list for your blog.
1) Import Your Contacts
When you sign up for Twitter, make sure you import all of your contacts from Gmail, Hotmail, your address book and your mailing list.
2) Write Your Profile
Make sure that your profile is complete to make is easier for people to find you, and use the same keywords in your profile that you do on your website. Always include a link to your website (including the “http” to ensure that it’s clickable) – you’re trying to build your business, after all. You can also personalize the colors and the sidebar of your profile page.
3) Understand How Twitter Works
Twitter is not another marketing tool that you can out and out manipulate; it is a social marketing tool that will only be useful to you is you actually become part of the community. It is not a place to spam, and don’t actively promote yourself.
Build a standing in the community by replying to other tweets (retweeting), share cool stuff, and build trust, then direct your followers to a blog post, filled with useful information, and only then use that post to get followers to take action. Trying to take people out of Twitter right away and into a sales pitch will get you labeled as a scammer.
4) Build Your Audience
To build your audience above and beyond your initial contact list, you’ll need to look both inside and outside Twitter.
Outside of Twitter, you can put a link to “Follow me on Twitter” in your email signature, forum signature, website, blog posts, and any other way that you communicate with people (where appropriate, of course – I don’t think the IRS wants to follow you on Twitter.)
Inside of Twitter, it’s all about following people. You can find other users that you admire, and see who is following them; you can also see who is following your friends; use Twitter directories to find members who are likely to follow you; use the search feature to find profiles of people you want to follow – and follow all of them. They will, in turn, follow you.
5) But Watch How Much You’re Following
While you’re building your following, you still need to maintain a balance between people you follow and people that follow you. Follow too many, and you’ll be seen as a spammer; don’t follow enough, and you look elitist. You can do this by growing slowly; don’t add 500 new friends in one day. Add 50 at a time and give them time to start following you so the balance is maintained.
You can also use a tool like “Friend or Follow” to balance out your lists; it will tell you who is following you that you’re not following yet, and vice-versa. It will also let you keep track of those who follow you, so you follow them and then they stop following you. They’re most likely spammers; don’t use this tactic or you’ll get the same reputation.
6) Be Someone Worth Following
Be witty, and post useful information. If you’ve got a niche, make sure that you’re talking to them. If you have news, tweet it. You can also use the tools on Twitter to take your blog posts and automatically tweet them.
You can tell people what you do; always be upfront with people. You just have to avoid the obvious sell, people can see that coming from a mile away. You can promote your business and celebrate your victories (XXX is happy to get the YYY account!), but don’t try to sell anyone anything (Get all of your advertising solutions here!).
7) Follow Wisely
And, in this sense, ‘follow’ has a broader meaning. Look to the experts in your category who are also on Twitter, and learn from them. Find 10 to 20 users you admire that have more than 300 followers, and try to learn how they did it. Take their ideas and make them your own.