Do you feel you have to use social media – but it does not seem to be helping your business?
Judging from some of the Twitter accounts that I follow for news about the areas of business and activity that I’m interested in, I’d say there’s still a large number of users pumping Tweets into the ether – and getting little, if any return.
I do not pretend to be a Twitter expert. Plenty of those exist, and many will give you professional advice – even take over your social media activity for you. At a price, of course.
As a non-expert, however, I can draw on the experience of developing my own Twitter presence – nothing amazing or outstanding, but just enough to make me feel comfortable with how things are going.
So if, like me, you are a small to medium business with Tweeting ambitions, here are 10 tactics that could help you. Remember, social media is an opportunity for interaction with the public. Start by putting your head above the parapet.
1 Follow users who are relevant to your business – customers, prospects, suppliers, service providers, trade bodies, local authorities and so on. These are people and businesses who may follow you in return, opening the way for ongoing engagement. Following your favourite TV presenters, musicians and comedians isn’t much help, because they seldom return the compliment.
2 Tweet regularly, but sensibly. You have just 140 characters but it’s amazing what you can cram in. Keep your message short and to-the-point so there’s space for some of the other useful devices (see next point).
3 If you use your name or business name for your Twitter ‘handle’, don’t waste characters by repeating it. But what you should always include are identifying hashtags – e.g. #clothingstore and #yourtown – because that’s how people can search for businesses like yours. If you are relating to a specific event, use that hashtag too – e.g. #Christmas.
4 If possible, piggy-back on the hashtag of a relevant major user or event – this can help you attract likes, and increase your exposure.
5 Comment on topical issues and trends, but stick to issues close to your business. Remember you are commenting to build your own credibility. Comments on unrelated issues may not help your reputation.
6 You should be using Twitter to attract people into your store/business, and certainly to your website or online store. So include a link – if necessary save space by using a free url shortener service such as bit.ly.
7 Twitter says Tweets with pictures get noticed – and they often do. As a test of this, I recently published a Tweet with a scenic picture and earned a like from the local tourism body. That may, however, have been helped by adding the town’s name as a hashtag.
8 Grow your followers – the more the merrier. It’s said to be desirable to have more followers than people you are following. I’ve kept my balance positive by weeding out a number of accounts that were either inactive or not contributing value to my Twitter time. I’ve grown my followers by publishing The David Goddin Daily News – a content aggregation by paper.li – and promoting it with a daily automatic Tweet that includes my relevant hashtags – e.g. #PR #marketing #haslemere. Paper.li often adds the day’s top news or sports hashtag. Something like #mufc or #lfc quickly increases the number impressions the promotional Tweet attracts!
9 Follow influential people. I’ve grown my numbers by selectively connecting with many such users in my target fields. At first I resisted linking with high-volume Tweeters, but it is possible to mute users (without their knowledge) so they don’t swamp your stream.
10 When people engage with you, by following, liking, retweeting, mentioning or responding by direct message, acknowledge them – as you might in a face-to-face situation.
Don’t expect any of these points to change your Twitter status overnight – but use them to think about your own social media tactics. Then consider getting help from an expert.