If your business can benefit from networking, and most can, Twitter is for you.
Canada ranks 5th in Twitter use around the world at 2.9%. Although that doesn’t sound like a very big share, the U.S. accounts for 51% of all Twitter users, followed by U.K. (17%), Australia (4%), and Brazil (3.4%). For Canada, the actual numbers of Twitter users comes to just over 4 million people, and that has tripled since 2009 ( Sources Webfuel – Canada Social Media Statistics, Ipsos – Social Listening Ipsos Trends and Nielsen Social Media Report 2012).
About 3% of Twitter accounts worldwide, according to the Nielsen report, belong to entrepreneurs. Across Canada, small businesses are increasingly seeing the need for engaging their markets using Twitter, so we have a much deeper penetration among entrepreneurs than much of the world. According to a BMO study from June 2012, 31% of businesses in Canada that use social media in their marketing efforts make use of Twitter.
The top three reasons why businesses use social media are:
- To promote brand or reputation (33 per cent)
- To gather ideas or suggestions from people (23 per cent)
- To sell business products or services (23 per cent)
So let’s break all that down.
While we know that about fifteen percent of all online Canadians use Twitter, there is also a very high likelihood that Twitter subscribers are also signed up for LinkedIn and Facebook, which are the number two and number one most popular social media platforms in Canada respectively. This interconnectedness is a key factor for maximizing your online footprint (see my previous post, “What is Web Presence Optimizaton?”). Every person who shares something on Twitter is also likely to share it on another social media platform. So if someone likes something you posted on Twitter they may well share it with their friends and followers on other platforms. In fact, there are many other such very good reasons for using Twitter in your business.
Twitter offers small businesses a unique way to find and build a relevant targeted market audience. You can stay on top of your industry or market segment by using Twitter search to find out what others are saying about relevant topics. So, for example, one way you could make use of that feature is to follow companies similar to yours in order to see what they’re up to, as well as to see how their customers are interacting with them (and don’t forget your competitors can do this with you, too).
You can also follow individuals, groups, associations, etc., who have an interest in products sold by companies like yours. If you’re selling used books, as an example, you could follow tweets from a local book club to see what they’re reading. This might offer you the opportunity to add a certain book to your inventory in anticipation of increased interest in a particular title. Using that same principle, no matter what industry you’re in, you’re likely to find Twitter users tweeting about it.
Twitter is an important tool for focusing your brand message. A tweet has to be short (140 characters) by its very nature, and you are limited by what you can post in a single tweet. Therefore, you need to make sure that your tweets are on message, appropriate, and relevant to your brand so that they reinforce your brand message. You may remember the disaster of the Kenneth Cole shoe company tweeting that the Egyptian riots in Cairo in 2011 were because Egyptians had just heard that Cole’s new spring line had arrived. There was an immediate, negative backlash in the “Twitterverse”. The lesson is that you need to make sure you’re tweeting content that fulfills your target market’s expectations of your brand and their needs as consumers.
Excellent, well planned tweets will help you define your brand by the types of information and content you share. They help to create your image. Remember that small talk can build to brand loyalty. Another important thing to remember is that consumers often use social media to read other people’s reviews of a brand (70%), learn more about a brand (65%), and compliment a brand (53%), according to Nielsen (Social Media Report 2012). This means that they’re looking for brands that other people view in a positive light.
Customer service via social media is often referred to as “social care”. In fact, 1/3 of consumers prefer to get customer service this way as opposed to a telephone call to the company, while 47% have actively used social media in this way. You can build a positive reputation using a social media platform like Twitter by engaging with your target audience and subsequently monitoring for all mentions of your business. Are they good mentions? Are people making negative comments about your company or brand? Either way, use these as suggestions (rather than criticisms) to improve your customer service, products and services, and your brand.
Monitor Twitter for mentions of your brand so you can respond to complaints and compliments. Take control of complaints before they get out of control. Thank tweeters for bringing it to your attention online, then take it offline to follow up. Never hash it out with back-and-forth tweets between you and the customer online; this can get ugly very quickly.
Create Personal Relationships
One advantage that Twitter has over Facebook is that you can follow people without them having to follow you. You can retweet someone’s content and make a connection very easily, simply by sharing their content. Retweeting is a compliment; it shows that you value the original tweeter’s content. This can be a solid way to build relationships and a powerful networking tool. Above all, don’t turn your tweets into blatant advertising; people are sick of companies advertising to them on so many different platforms. Instead, make your content interesting and engage with others. Show them that their content is important to you.
Why and how is your business using Twitter? If you aren’t using it yet, why not? Please leave a comment below.
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