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November 17, 2016

Cindy Penchina, President

Twitter for Small Business Marketing

Twitter can sometimes be a little intimidating, especially for small businesses owners. How do you turn this giant platform into something that can really benefit your small business? It seems like there's so much noise you have to break through to even be heard.

Sure, your Nikes and your Nabiscos out there can afford dedicated always-on social media teams to man their Twitter accounts 24/7, pumping out professionally-designed marketing images and intricately-crafted tweets day in and day out. But if your business is like most businesses, that’s just not going to be feasible.

Turning Twitter into a workable social media marketing solution when your resources are limited is a real challenge, but it’s not one that’s impossible to surmount.

Know Your Goals

It’s time to be realistic: Twitter probably isn’t going to dramatically increase your sales. If you’re a B2C small business, you’ll have an easier time promoting to your customers there – everyone loves a 2-for-1 special on large pepperoni pizzas – but even then, your reach is always going to be limited, and your ability to really make a 1:1 connection between promotion and sales will be even moreso. So if you’re going to do Twitter marketing, it’s important you set realistic goals for what you want out of it.

Now, depending on how small your small business is, your overall business goals can vary. We strongly recommend you begin by thinking through what you want your business to achieve, and how Twitter can help you get there; tweeting out into the void for no real purpose won’t do you any good. Set a concrete direction for your business that your marketing can work into – and built your strategy around it.

If, for example, your larger business goal is to expand to a second location, think through the larger structural ideas surrounding it:

  • Why do you want to accomplish this?
  • What do you need to do to get it done?

Once you have those two questions answered, you can seriously begin to contemplate how a Twitter social strategy can contribute and what you need to put in place to make it happen. This can be building up your following and Twitter reach, functioning as a customer support resource, generating a certain (and specific) number of new leads – whatever it is that serves your larger goal.

Use Twitter deliberately, and not haphazardly.

Use Twitter Analytics and Dashboard

You can sit there and wonder if your tweets are making an impact, or you can sign into Twitter analytics and really find out.

Twitter recently unveiled a new service called Twitter Dashboard that focuses on improving the platforms utility and usability for businesses without requiring anyone to go through third-party tools like HootSuite, many of the functions of which it replicates natively. It’s basically designed to help busy and resource-limited businesses turn Twitter into a real asset – which means it was designed for small businesses like yours.

The Dashboard provides you with a thorough overview of the last twenty-eight days of activity, including the all-important metrics of Impressions (how many people saw your tweets), Engagements (how many people actually interacted with your tweets), and Engagement Rate (the percentage of impressions that clicked your tweets), both for individual tweets and for your feed as a whole, and how those trend over time.

The tools that the Dashboard offers are actually incredibly rich (allowing you to export data for outside analysis), but for now, let’s focus on the value of the basic analytics above. Pay attention to them, because they’re full of amazing information:

  • When your audience is most active
  • What tweets people are actually responding to
  • Whether your reach (including followers, mentions, and organic audience) is increasing, decreasing, or holding steady
  • Who your biggest, most influential followers are
  • How your followers and wider organic audience breaks down demographically

This information is solid gold, and even without a detailed number-crunch, a cursory examination can help provide you with a real sense of what you should and shouldn’t be doing. So don’t neglect your analytics.

Be Light & Conversational…

Isn’t it awful being sold to? Your entire interaction with another human being is transparently designed to get you to part with your money. But when you’re just on Twitter, shootin’ the breeze and retweetin’ George Takei, you’re probably not expecting a salesperson to step in and talk to you about the features on a luxury Jaguar just because you mentioned you like the cars.

So don’t be that guy.

Instead, focus on conversational interactions. When someone engages with your content, don’t snap right back into sales mode; keep the conversation going! Be light and entertaining to leave them with a positive impression. It doesn’t net you a sale, sure, but it leaves them wanting more – or at bare minimum leaves them feeling good. And that’s a big get.

The fact is that most people aren’t rational purchasers; they’re responding to emotional cues, impressions, and biases. When you head to the store to buy one of a large number of identical cake mixes, you’re a lot more likely to buy the one from the brand that shared those funny cat gifs with you than the brand that has never, ever, spoken to you once in your life. You’re investing in positive mindshare, and that’s not a small thing.

…But Be an Expert

Light and conversational is all well and good, but there has to be real value in your interactions with your customers, and you establish that by making sure that you’re always speaking from a position of authority in your field. You can do that by focusing on providing the answers to common questions; when you’re sourcing content to share, whether you generate it or it’s from a third-party source, you want to focus on providing expert material that establishes you as a go-to industry hub. You want to be the best place to find content relevant to your field – and then engage from an expert perspective with people who comment on and re-share this content.

Think of it like this: someone interested in your industry comments on a post you shared containing a link to an article, and makes a comment disagreeing with the content. You, as an expert, can engage this person, either reinforcing their claim, disputing it, or (most fruitfully) directing them toward additional resources. By being a friendly, approachable authority, you encourage interaction.

As always, Twitter will be more or less of a priority as time goes on; you need to make sure that you’re factoring it into your marketing strategies appropriately, and allocating sufficient resources to make it a meaningful weapon in your marketing arsenal. Use it well, and it’s a powerful one, but neglect it, and it will be little more than a drain on your precious time.

Make sure, if you’re planning on engaging in Twitter marketing, that you make it a real priority – and that you work on keeping it one.

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