It seems like only a few months ago when I wasn’t sure if Twitter was relevant to my business, or if it would be a waste of time. Now I have over 280,000 followers on Twitter as StartupPro, and the business is fun as well as profitable. I’m now convinced that any entrepreneur can use it to kick-start their business, and build their brand as well.
First, I’ll try to answer the most common question I still get from business people “What is Twitter, really?” For business people, it’s a way to put out “sound bites” or tiny ads on the Internet, much like you see them in the mainstream media on TV, but without the cost, to your prime audience.
Actually they are “txt bytes,” like cell phone text messages in length, and they are broadcast to all your followers, or directed at select recipients. People can respond in the same fashion with personal requests or general comments. The important responses are real “business leads.”
A lot of people are doing some very innovate things with Twitter. I won’t cover those here, but I’ll offer some practical tips to get you started:
- Offer something of value. Make the relationship a win-win. That means give before you expect to get – free advice, special promotion, pointer to useful information, or sometimes just friendly conversation. Show that you are a real person, sincere and trustworthy.
- Search tweets for business leads. With Twitter Search, and a host of free tools on the Internet, you can mine the universe of all tweets for people needing your product or service. Set up filters to find them, and follow-up diligently and politely on every lead.
- Use free tools to improve efficiency. Twitter’s native user interface is arcane. Use tools like TweetDeck to set up your control room, SocialOomph to spread out your responses, and WeFollow to find key players in your domain. There are many others.
- Create separate account for business. If you like Twitter for personal notes to your friends, use another account for business activity. Your business account should have a name, picture, and tone that reflects your business brand and logo.
- Become an authority in your area. One of the challenges of buying things on the Internet is to identify the quality sources from the scammers. Use Twitter to personalize your business, knowledge, integrity, and your leadership. People still buy from people.
- Stay top-of-mind with experts. Seek them out, offer interesting links, respond to tweets, and post thoughts for conversation at least a few times a day. Twitter is not like email, where people diligently save and respond to every message. Stand out in the stream.
- Follow potential clients. That’s how you tell your potential clients and customers that you exist. They will see you following them, check out your profile, and if you have something they can relate to, they will follow you back. This is “pull” marketing.
- Increase size and quality of following. Never stop working to increase your following, by finding others, and improving your offering. A larger following means more credibility, which iteratively attracts more followers. Don’t be afraid to un-follow people who don’t fit.
- Re-tweet for double impact. Adding ‘RT @username’ in front of the original tweet forwards it to your followers, and is a double win, if used selectively. It improves your value to your followers, and increases the audience and credibility of the original sender.
- Cross link all your web profiles. Make sure people can find you from all directions on the Internet. Your website should have a link to your blog, your Twitter profile, LinkedIn profile, Facebook, and vice versa. This also improves your Google search ranking.
Twitter is merely a constant stream of absolutely current public communication. The good news is you can turn it on or off as often as you like, and mine the database at very low cost for useful information. Even big companies like Dell and HP use it to find customers, and claim million dollar returns. It’s a valuable resource for every startup. Tweet me if you need help.