Social media has changed the way people are doing business around the world. Ever evolving and largely free to get started, it can greatly impact small businesses. Sometimes allowing companies to leapfrog competition if done correctly. Twitter in particular is word of mouth on steroids. So here are your 7 steps to success for small business owners on Twitter.
1. Register – it’s Free
Firstly, if you’re a small business owner; you must be on Twitter. Leveraging tools like Twitter Search will help you with measuring chatter regarding the products or services that you’re selling. You will be able to track buzz and potentially cultivate relationships with like minded people that may become customers. I recommend a “Trial and See” approach. It’s FREE!
2. Dedicate Human Capital
It takes time and effort to build a following. You can’t expect to open a Twitter account, and immediately have 1million followers. You’re not Oprah. You must engage the community. Talk about your business, of course, but offer some transparency to your passion. Discuss why you started your business in the first place. Tell stories that move you. Tweet about what makes you laugh throughout your work day. Tweet about which customers you love to see every day. Tweet about the story behind the business transaction.
3. Be Transparent
Engage and empower your influencers. If you see that there are people that blog about your products and services, allow them to have access to you and your business. Invite them to your store, and offer full disclosure. Transparency is key.
4. Be Authentic
If your intentions aren’t authentic your audience will sniff it out rapidly. The moment you use Twitter as a promotions engine, is the moment people will start to unfollow you. Remember that you should conduct yourself as if you were chatting with someone who strolled into your store. You don’t immediately say: “You should buy this”…you ask them about the weather, you talk about the parade happening on main street, and you engage them before you discuss a transaction.
5. Share Passion Points
Imagine if you own a framing store. Nothing very social about frames, right? Wrong. Think about how powerful it will be if you share why someone had an item framed other than discussing the frame itself. I have a lovely frame at my bedside. If you were to look at the frame you may think it’s pretty, but you may not think much beyond that. In fact, if you look closer you’ll that it’s a letter that my late Grandfather penned offering me congratulations for winning my football team’s “Coaches Award” in 1992. I stumbled upon this treasure in my parents basement. It’s a nice frame, but a powerful story, and reminder why people buy. Stories like this can be told via social media. People can relate to a story, they can’t relate to a frame.
6. Be Polite
Be aware that your competition will follow you. They’re interested in what you’re doing just as much as you’re interested in them. Keep the slander to zero. There’s no room for it on Twitter, and it will backfire. The Twitter environment is highly polite and reciprocal. You follow me, and I’ll follow you. Which leads to another subpoint – follow people that you’re interested in to help build your community and following. Engage with these people and allow your followers to see this conversation, @reply, don’t private message. This is a social network, so open up your conversation with the local chamber of commerce, and let people in on the chatter. They’ll love you for it.
7. Offer your expertise
I’m assuming that you have some sort of passion or expertise if you’re running and operating your own small business. Don’t be afraid to offer your expertise for free. This will not pull away business. It will establish you as an expert, and leader in the community. You will be rewarded for offering advice for free. I highly encourage this. Proactively seek people that may need your services.
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