I should have discussed this before. I should have realized that all of this chatting about Twitter would eventually find it’s way to small business in my area. I should have seen that if a business appears on the cover of Time magazine (as Twitter did in their June 15th issue) it would come up eventually. But I didn’t. In my own mind, I’ve been covering Social Media from every feasible angle. That’s until I met Chris Cornell (no not THAT Chris Cornell) although I’m fine with calling this Chris Cornell a rock star.
Chris is owner of Cornell Gallery in Pleasantville. Last week Chris and I spoke about Social Media, and how it was changing the way he was doing business. We sat at the back of Starbucks in Chappaqua, New York and I was inspired. We bounced ideas off each other and chatted about how the Social Media landscape is ever evolving. Throughout our discussion a few topics came up that I thought would be appropriate to discuss here because I’d realized I’ve discussed large brands ad nausea, but rarely have I covered how Social Media can impact small businesses; how foolish. Social Media is ideal for small businesses.
Twitter is word of mouth on steroids
7 Steps to Success for Small Business 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 your 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 you 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. You can respond rapidly to PR crisis.
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
While talking with Chris about his framing store we discussed the stories and passion behind the framing. Think about how powerful it will be when Chris shares WHY someone had something framed other than discussing the frame itself. I thought about something I have in 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 the “Coaches Award” in 1992. I stumbled upon this treasure months ago in my parents basement. It’s a nice frame, but a powerful story, and reminder why people buy. 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. For whatever reason the Twitter environment is highly polite and reciprical. 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 yourself 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 our services. For example: go to http://www.search.twitter.com, and search for Framing (using Chris’s store as an example). I immediately see that @dayinleach something suitable for framing and has tweeted about it. Think about how powerful it would be if Chris reached out to this person, and offered to frame it at a steep discount, or even free. Then tell that story on his website. He’d have a new customer for life, and build affinity for his business from those that follow him on Twitter. His following would grow and he would build good will toward his business. That person will tell everyone that listens about it.