People use Twitter in different ways. It can be a news feed for political junkies – by following an MP’s tweets, you can find out who the new prime minister is before the official announcement. For others, Twitter is a way to share specialist information, which can be ideal for businesses. For instance, ‘Brisbane Business News’ tweets items of interest to Brisbane business owners.
But is Twitter going to help your business prosper? Is it worth devoting time to tweeting every day? If you are in real estate or run a café or an entertainment venue for example, the answer is yes. The real estate agent can tweet new properties for sale, cafés can tweet daily specials, and venues can list coming attractions.
If you’re not sure if there’s an audience/customer base for your business on Twitter, test it out. Start searching for groups that relate to your type of business. If you find a competitor already tweeting, follow them and see how they use Twitter to generate customer interest. If you do decide to start tweeting, here are some tips to make your 140 characters stand out.
How to use hashtags and usernames
Hashtags are easy to understand. You place the # symbol before a topic or issue so that people interested in that topic can see it. If you include #beautytips in your tweet about your new cosmetic line, it will automatically join a stream of tweets on the #beautytips page. Attract customers to your website by including your website link in the tweet as well. (If your website has a long link, use Tiny URL or similar to make it Twitter friendly).
Usernames can direct your tweets to certain individuals’ Twitter feeds, and this can be a powerful tool. For example, if you want to attract customers to your new retro, 1950s-style café, you could include @elvispresley at the end of your tweet, which would bring it to the attention of fifties-loving Elvis fans.
The joys of retweeting
Retweeting or RTing is when you copy someone else’s tweet and put it on your own feed, which sends it out to your followers. One advantage of this for busy business owners is that you don’t have to think up your own tweet! It’s important to include the original tweet’s username so that your followers know where it came from, and put ‘RT’ in front. Even easier is native retweet, which automatically retweets for you and includes the original username.
Tweet yourself, not your products
Remember that Twitter is a social networking site, it’s not a chance for you to cut and paste your advertisements. People will soon stop following you if they think you aren’t there to share something of yourself as a person.
For this reason, it’s important to engage with other tweeters. If someone disagrees with you, don’t shoot them down in flames – engage them and appreciate their point of view. Never tweet in anger, because once your nasty comment is out there, it’s out there forever.
Staying in touch outside the Twittersphere
As a businessperson, there are other ways you need to keep in touch with customers and suppliers apart from tweeting. Email is the most dominant, but you can add a faxing capability by using a virtual number that lets you receive a fax through email. If you know how to fax from a PC or smartphone, you don’t need to rent a fax line, or even buy a fax machine. The virtual fax number combines with your email to send documents as attachments that can be received by a traditional fax machine. You receive by reversing the process, which means you can send and receive faxes from your smartphone with the right app.
Twitter is encouraging businesses to join up, and even has a ‘Twitter of Business’ section that shows you the Twitter basics and how to create a profile for your business. So if your Facebook page just looks like a messier version of your website and isn’t working for you, it could be time to take flight with this short but effective form of communication.