Let’s Consider Twitter for Small Business Owners
There’s more to Twitter for small business owners. In Part 1, we talked about getting started. Here’s some more about getting your Twitter act in gear.
This is Twitter for small business owners.
Twitter for Small Business Owners: Your Profile on Twitter
You will have some space in your profile to add information about your business. But it is not a lot of space.
The name can be up to 20 characters and it is a searchable field. So it could be McSweeny’s Original. This clarifies things if your Twitter handle is just McSweenys.
Note: as with everything else, Twitter will undoubtedly change over time. So it may eventually turn out you have a lot more space in this area.
The location should be meaningful information. If McSweeny’s is in Chicago, then this could say they are in Chicago or in Chicagoland. Chicagoland works because it is a recognized name for the surrounding area.
People do search on location, and locations are often part of overall searches. For someone looking for a sports bar in Chicago, our hypothetical will lose out on business if they do not refer to Chicago somewhere or other.
There is space for a URL, so be sure to put in your website or blog here. You can switch up this URL if you like, plus it is searchable. Do not leave this valuable real estate blank!
A Little More Space
As for the remainder of the space, many businesses use phrases and break them up with pipes (|) or asterisks. The pipe icon, on a standard Windows keyboard, is what you get when you hold down the shift key and hit the backward slash key. That key is often to the right on a standard keyboard.
Your information might say something like: McSweeny’s Original | Best Sports Bar in Chicago | Specials Every day.
Of course you can change this up any time you want to.
But do not leave spaces like this blank. They are a gift of free, prime real estate. Use them.
Twitter for Small Business Owners: What to Tweet
And one thing you should keep in mind is, Twitter is a community. So try to divide up your tweets accordingly. One third can be about your sales. Another third about your industry or trends or the like. It should be something related but not self-promoting. And then make the final third something fun and interesting.
Your small business’s Twitter should never be all sales, all the time. So, what should you tweet about? Here are a few ideas:
Tweet coupon codes for your products. Differentiate by giving them names with something that makes it clear they come from Twitter. This is very helpful if you are running the campaign on multiple platforms. So your Twitter coupons might say 5PERCENTOFFTW whereas you might call your Facebook coupons 5PERCENTOFFFB.
Use landing pages wisely. You can tweet links to your site, your blog, and your Facebook page, or really anywhere else. If you want to tell people about your sale on widgets, then tweet a link to the widget sales page and not your site’s home page.
Unexpected Scheduling Issues
Will you be closed unexpectedly? That is a great message to tweet. “Sorry, we’re out for a day to fix the boiler, folks.”
Is your company related to another one, or sponsoring an event? If McSweeny’s has a battle of the bands going on, then they could tweet about the competitors.
Is a major community event going on? Even if you have no connection to it, you do as a member of the community. A Chicago company could tweet to encourage local sports teams. But that should not be the focus of the profile. Rather, it should be an extra. You want to keep more or less on topic.
Applicable News Stories
It is the same thing with news stories. You probably want to stay away from politics, but if your city was just chosen as a future Olympics site or the governor is visiting or something like that, then that’s good Twitter fare.
And certainly anything interesting going on in your industry is tweet fare. Are there new regulations? Or are there innovations? These can be great tweets.
Twitter for Small Business Owners: Interacting on Twitter
Don’t just talk on Twitter. Listen. What are your customers saying? Regularly search for your company name, and pay attention when your Twitter handle is mentioned. Your customers might complain about slow customer service or rave about your low prices.
Thank people for praise. And try to make the complaints right or at least learn from them. Courtesy never, ever goes out of style.
Oh, and check if your company’s name is being used as a hashtag, or a hashtag with it stinks (or something more earthy). #McSweeneysChicagoStinks – if you see that (in our hypothetical), then it is time to do some damage control.
Twitter for Small Business Owners: Crisis Management
Respond directly to customer complaints, even if the answer is “I have to ask someone else.” It is better for it to be obvious that you are listening, even if you do not know the answer yet. Speed is of the essence, so answer as quickly as you can.
For anything which has privacy implications, tell the person complaining to take it to direct message so that you can help them better. Explain why if you have to. This is for issues with items such as customer addresses and credit card numbers, legal matters, etc.
Here, as in all other aspects of customer service, it pays to be courteous. It always pays to be courteous.
Twitter for Small Business Owners: Lists, Timing, and Metrics
You do not have to follow everyone.
You can make your own lists or you can follow others’ lists. Group your lists into customers, local people, etc. You can also have private lists, so why not make a private list of your competitors?
Lists are also a great way to manage your follower/following ratio. Because let’s face it – no matter how awesome you are, Bill Gates and Oprah are not likely to follow you back. So put them on a list and you do not have to follow them at all. Yet you will still see their tweets. This is where lists can really shine.
And you can put a Twitter account into multiple lists. So in our hypothetical, if there is someone attached to a local sports team who is also a great singer, they might go onto two lists. These could be, for example, Local Sports and Entertainment. Yes, definitely make the list names as obvious as possible.
Times to Tweet
There are really no perfect times to tweet but here are a few pointers.
Welcome to the Working Week
If your customers are working people, they are probably only going to be on Twitter before or after work, during lunch hour, or on the weekends. 3 PM on a Thursday is probably not a great time to tweet. But 8:30 AM on Monday or 5 PM on Friday are great.
If any of your customers are international, take their time zone(s) into consideration. And use a scheduling app like Hootsuite or Buffer to schedule tweets for when you are asleep.
Twitter’s own metrics tend to be rather basic. If you use Hootsuite to shorten long or complex URLs, you can get some metrics on those URLs (they take the form of ow.ly). Buffer can also shorten links.
Another metric is just your follower/followed ratio, which is a simple math problem. If you have more followers than people you are following, that generally means you have more influence than someone with the opposite ratio. But the quality of your followers matters. Being followed by a lot of spam accounts will not help you.
However you will need to keep up with this, at least a bit. If you are following too many other accounts without a lot following you back, Twitter will limit your ability to follow. An easy way to manage this is to unfollow anyone who is not following you back. Use Tweepsmap to find recent unfollows.
Twitter for Small Business Owners: Takeaways
So the bottom line is, Twitter is essentially a microblogging service. You use it to broadcast your thoughts to the ether. Some of those thoughts are more interesting than others. Keep yours more on the interesting side and you will become a Twitter pro in no time.