5 steps to Twitter success for business - Business Works
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5 steps to Twitter success for business

George Guildford, Senior Account Director, Punch Communications As the fastest growing social network in the world according to research firm Global Web Index's recently released Stream Social Q1 2013 report, Twitter is an increasingly valuable resource for small businesses looking to make the most of new and innovative marketing approaches something the company itself has acknowledged by re-launching its Twitter for Business microsite and recently opening its self-service advertising platform to all users in the US, with other countries soon to follow.

One of the advantages of using Twitter as a small business owner is that you can choose how much time you want to invest in activities on the platform. In light of this, below are five considerations to help you develop a strategy that best fits your business needs.

Develop your personality and presence: Whether you are setting up a new profile or sprucing up your current one, it is vital to identify the exact language, tone and focus driving all of your marketing promotions and communications on the platform. As your words will be limited, they must be chosen wisely from a compelling vocabulary based on the cornerstone values of your business, the key aspects of what you offer the consumer and the elements that make you different from your competitors. Make sure your handle and bio are specific to your business and include key details. Additionally, your background and header images can be used to express the visual personality of your business and they can be changed as needed to highlight different events, promotions, or launches as needed.

Master the conversation: While many say that content is king in social media, conversation is king on Twitter. Due to its instant, direct and textual nature, the platform is best used for talking with consumers, rather than at them. How you approach these conversations is entirely up to what you would like to achieve from your activities on Twitter. Many small businesses use their accounts as extensions of their customer service, while others focus on building buzz for their products. Some conversation starters you might consider include responding via the @reply function to users mentioning your business or related topics in tweets, answering questions directed in this manner to you, fostering retweets by posting intriguing questions, weighing in on discussions around topics in your industry, engaging with influential users and networking with other small business owners in your area.

Be strategic with your content: With the launch of Vine, Twitter added yet another multi-media resource to the platform, however, words still rule the roost. To cut through the clutter, your language needs to be as fresh and exciting as possible while also acting as an appropriate voice for your business. Use hashtags creatively to capitalise on trending topics where appropriate, promote new products, highlight competitions and as strategic sticking points to search for tweets related to your business. Branded hashtags can spread your message further while also encouraging interaction and sharing when formulated in an inviting manner. Adding images, music, and videos to your posts will bolster your message and give followers something more to share across the network. These can also be instrumental in bringing your retweet competitions, offers, exclusive promotions and behind-the-scenes tweets to life.

Ads and integration: As Twitter opens its DIY advertising services to businesses around the world, you should familiarise yourself with the products that will best benefit your strategy. Soon, small businesses will be able to directly purchase and control their advertising campaigns on the platform via a self-service interface offering Promoted Tweets and Promoted Accounts. Based on specific targeting criteria, Promoted Tweets will publish your tweets in feeds of non-followers, while Promoted Accounts will suggest your profile as one to follow in Twitter's recommendation engine. You will be able to target your Promoted Tweets by location, interests, gender, device, users similar to your current followers and by the keywords used in tweets.

While you use Twitter to drive traffic to your website, it is also important to remember to drive traffic to your Twitter profile. Incorporate Twitter sharing buttons into relevant areas on your webpage and embed positive tweets as customer testimonials these are a great way of showcasing good reviews as they are instantly verifiable. Make sure your account handle or pertinent hashtags are included in your communications, signage, editorial, online and offline ad campaigns, product packaging, marketing collateral and so on.

Measurement and learning: As with any time investment, it is imperative that you have a good idea of how your activities on Twitter are paying off. Monitor responses, favourites, retweets, mentions and analyse the sentiment of all your interactions on the platform. Additionally, you can track link click throughs and evaluate consumer behaviour on your website through Google Analytics. You can use this information to continually improve and tailor your content and adjust your strategy as needed. Additionally, Twitter can provide a valuable source of customer feedback, which can be used to develop new products, address service issues and enhance your operations offline.

Don't forget that Twitter can also be a rich source of information. Follow handles like @TwitterSmallBiz for helpful tips and news, seek out leaders in your industry to follow and network with and subscribe to relevant lists to stay on top of new developments online and offline that might affect your business.

As with many facets of running a small business, Twitter is what you make of it. While based on the simple concept of sharing 140-character messages, the micro-blogging platform has diversified over the years and can be an incredibly flexible tool to fit your marketing, customer service, sales, networking and PR needs.

George Guildford is a Senior Account Director at integrated digital agency Punch Communications. For more information, please visit: www.punchcomms.com

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