One thing I have always liked best about Twitter is the conversations. Some people may think it’s nearly impossible to carry on a meaningful conversation when you’re limited to 140 characters per tweet, but that is really not the case. It’s less of a limitation and more of a creativity booster. Even better? The conversations can go on as long as the parties involved care to participate.
Brands of all sizes report a variety of benefits from having conversations on Twitter, such as: brand exposure, client acquisition, and everything in between. Twitter offers a more level playing field for small businesses – as well as larger corporations – to have meaningful conversations with other brands and individuals.
This article will show you some ways in which you can make Twitter work for your small business by engaging with your followers through conversations. And, just to state the obvious, the tweets and conversations from a small business will significantly differ from those of celebrities (either real or self-perceived), or even regular individuals.
Twitter for small business requires strategy and perseverance to accomplish the following:
- Gain followers who are interested in your company and its solutions and/or products
- Build relationships and brand awareness through conversations with your followers
- Earn the trust of your followers through conversations
- Generate leads and acquire new clients through Twitter while maintaining high levels of customer satisfaction with current clients
- Provide relevant and valuable content which educates and entertains your audience – and which hopefully serves as conversation-starters with them
The following are five things a small business can do to effectively maximize Twitter and start having more (and better) conversations:
1) One of the most important things a small business that is new to Twitter should do first is to learn the “rules” of the road…or the “stream.”
Observe how often others in your industry tweet, and what type of content they share. Learn to use relevant hashtags, but not too many. When you learn the basics about tweeting prior to starting conversations, you decrease the chances of making your small business look like it’s trying too hard to fit in.
2) When initiating conversations or replying to someone, always remember to “@mention” the other user or users to specifically include them in your tweets.
Back in my day, you had to dial a 7-digit number on your (rotary) phone to specifically reach another caller. Oh wait, you still have to do that…although the number of digits you have to dial…I mean press…varies.
Twitter works in a similar way as the telephone. If you want to get someone’s attention in the stream, you’re going to need to use the “@” symbol in order to connect. Otherwise, your well-intended comment(s) for a specific someone or someone’s is going to get lost in the stream.
3) Determine a strategy for having conversations on Twitter as a small business
Many people remain hesitant to have conversations with “logos,” so it means you may have to work a little harder to prove you’re really a human at first. Part of building a Twitter conversation strategy will involve deciding how you’re going to be “human” in your interactions. You’ll want to give people reasons to follow and engage with you.
Charlene Kingston says this about creating a Twitter conversation strategy in her article for Social Media Examiner:
People will follow you if you talk about things that interest them. Of course, you can talk about your business, offer discounts and exclusive specials, share practical tips and announce your business products and services. Be mindful that you need to talk about things that others find interesting if you want to build a community.
Choose your conversation topics carefully because it’s important that you really care about these topics. People can tell if you really have passion for a subject, or if you’re just showing up to sell them something.
4) Be polite and professional in your Twitter conversations
I like to think of Twitter as a virtual cocktail party. The conversations flow constantly, and the topics cover anything and everything. As a small business, you can also participate in virtual cocktail party conversations. However, just like in a real-life cocktail party, you should always be polite. For example, make sure you’re not interrupting a private conversation. As well, if you’re joining a conversation, make sure you’re being relevant and adding value to it. Remember that you’re representing your business, so being professional is always a good idea.
5) Avoid using Twitter conversations for showing off or promoting yourself or your small business’ agenda
It’s highly unlikely that someone is impatiently waiting for a business to sell them something while they’re hanging out on Twitter. If you’re thinking about doing so, just don’t.
I really like the way Toby Rosenbloom explains it in his article, “How to use Twitter to talk with followers and engage influencers”:
Twitter is the place that people go to let off steam and engage with each other – and certainly not to read your self-promotional content. The only way your followers will truly engage with you – and spread the word about your brand – is if you use your corporate Twitter account to strike up real conversation that offers genuine value; show love to your followers.
In other words, be authentic and genuine – and be yourself – when having conversations with your followers on Twitter. The sales will fall into place.
Over to you
How does your small business use Twitter? Are you having meaningful conversations with your followers, or simply advertising your brand? I’d love to hear your thoughts…please feel free to leave comments below.