Twitter for Small Business – Tips for Navigating the Platform
As a small business owner, you have undoubtedly heard someone tell you that you just have to get onto Twitter. You may have your own personal account and be an old hand at it, or you might be completely mystified by it. Not to worry. Here’s your road map to Twitter for small business.
Why Do You Want to Be on Twitter? Twitter for Small Business
Your first question of course should always be: why are you doing this? Just because a social media platform is popular is never a good reason to get your company there. You need to look for some basic reasons why you want to spend time there. Or, maybe, have someone who works for you spend time there.
Here are the top reasons business owners just like you are on Twitter:
Your Customer Demographics Coincide with Twitter’s
According to OmniCore:
Demographics by Gender
24% of all male internet users have a Twitter account. And 21% of all female internet users have a Twitter account. But having a Twitter account is not the same as using it.
Demographics by Country
Do you sell all around the world? Then these stats should be very helpful for you.
79% of all Twitter accounts have a basis outside the United States. The UK has 13 million Twitter users. Outside the United States, the top three countries using Twitter are as follows.
There’s Brazil with almost 28 million users. And there’s Japan with just about 26 million Twitter users. And then there’s Mexico, with 23.5 million users.
American Demographics and By Age and Income
The United States has over 67 million Twitter users. A good 25% of Twitter users are ages 30-49. And a good 37% of Twitter users are between ages 18 and 29. Plus 54% of all Twitter users earn at least $50,000 annually.
If you have a product which tends to appeal to younger folks, and isn’t a bargain basement brand, Twitter could fit perfectly in your wheelhouse.
You Want to Get out a Quick Message to Customers
Here are some ideas for how to use Twitter.
Sales, Coupons, and Store Hours
Coupon codes and Twitter are a match made in heaven. You can also use Twitter in order to inform customers of sales. And you can also tweet about store hours or store openings.
You Want to Point Potential Customers to Another Site
This can be a website, blog, or Facebook page or group. It can also be a link to an online survey. Got a contest sign up form? Then be sure to tweet that.
You Want to Handle Customer Service via Twitter
Don’t knock it! Twitter can be a great entre to making contact of the customer service variety. For quick issues, such as a customer needing to get into an account or get a fast quote, Twitter could be ideal.
You Need to Respond to a Crisis
Twitter’s speed makes it a vital communications center if everything goes haywire. Plus the press is on Twitter. If you don’t look responsive there, it is not going to be pretty.
You Want to Engage with Customers and Potential Customers
If your customers and your prospects are on Twitter, then you had best be there, too. So demographics aside, if your people are on Twitter, then you will need to get set up there as well.
Getting Set Up with Twitter for Small Business
So let’s get you started. There are a few things you need to figure out before you ever send out your first tweet.
Your Twitter Handle: Twitter for Small Business
If your business is slow to get on Twitter, you may find your preferred handle is gone. Someone else has taken it. But all is not lost. Investigate who is using that handle. Is the account abandoned or active? Is it someone in business, or is it a private individual?
For an abandoned account, send a PM (private message) to the account. And ask nicely if they will give up the handle. They might do so, or they might ask for payment for it. It’s up to you whether you want to pay anything.
What’s a reasonable price for a Twitter handle? Probably nothing, or not much. Particularly if you have a new business, the better course of action is to just select a different handle.
Some people are squatters on Twitter. Conan O’Brien, for example, originally could not get his own name on Twitter. Therefore, he and his social media team created an account called Team Coco. Now the two accounts are both verified and connect with him. And they even put out different content.
But the chances are good that you won’t get into this particular situation.
So if your company is called, say McSweeny’s and you can’t get that as a handle, consider something similar. Or even go with what your customers call you, which might be McS’s. Or add a location element if there’s more than one McSweeny’s. Hence you could go with something along the lines of ChicagoMcSweeny.
Your handle can be 15 characters or less, and that includes spaces and numbers. However, you can add a name for up to 20 characters, for clarification. Your handle can’t have punctuation. But your name can.
Note: Twitter does tweak their rules on occasion. So these numbers and rules could very well change. Eventually, you may find there’s room for more information in a handle.
Extra Twitter Handles
Twitter is free, so it does not matter how many Twitter accounts you make. And there’s no law that says more than one of them has to be active. You can just toss a link to your main Twitter account into these extra profiles and call it a day. Yes, really.
But why would you want extra Twitter handles? The real reason is to lock them down. If you are ever in the midst of a social media crisis, the last thing you want is for someone to start a Twitter stream that looks like your business, but isn’t.
And always be sure, if it can fit into a Twitter handle, to get your business name plus the word ‘sucks’. For the McSweeny’s example, McSweenysSucks is 14 characters. It’s short enough to be a legitimate Twitter handle.
Of course you should also be locking down handles with more earthy words than ‘sucks’. I trust I do not have to get any more specific than that.
You can also use extra handles if you ever need to split up your content. If some of your clientele doesn’t speak English, then you could have, say, a Hungarian version of your Twitter account if that would reach customers. Or you might split adult and minor child customers if appropriate. In fact, that may even be necessary with GDPR.
Avatar (Profile Image): Twitter for Small Business
Do you have a company logo where any lettering isn’t too small? Then this is a great place for it.
Consider Nike, which really just has an image associated with it. It’s called a swoosh. That account’s avatar is a swoosh. Too much detail will be lost on Twitter, particularly on the mobile version. So go with a more basic version of your logo if it has too much verbiage. Streamline it.
Other ideas for avatars can be the company mascot if you have one, or even an image of your sign. If you are a company that retails other, more recognizable products, then you might want to go with an image of your product here. This could work if, say, you are a reseller of Corvettes.
If the company is just you, then a picture of your face is fine, too. You don’t have to wear a suit, so long as you look presentable. Make sure the image is clear and relatively recent – and for God’s sake, smile!
And even if your logo is fuzzy and hard to read, or you’re scowling in your picture, it’s still better than the default avatar, which is an egg.
This image is larger. So it should be of higher quality than your avatar.
You could showcase your city’s skyline, or your business’s menu, or the local Little League team you’re sponsoring. How about a picture of your storefront, or your best-selling product? You can even add a price list if you like.
This image isn’t clickable, but it’s another way you can showcase your business. Backgrounds look different on mobile devices, so look at yours on several before settling on one. Make adjustments if you need to.
If you have no idea what to use, there’s nothing wrong with a color associated with your business. It’s not very flashy, but it is better than nothing. As with your avatar, you will always do better to have made a modification rather than just going with the default.
Keep in mind, also, that the background image should look good in landscape mode. That is, think wide rather than tall.
Next Up for Twitter for Small Business
In Part 2, we’ll finish getting set up and go into detail about how to use Twitter.