Is Twitter useful for your small business needs?
For some, it is. It’s quick. Punchy and you can say so much with so few words. It’s easy. You can show your style. Tell stories. Ask questions, take an informal poll, report what’s going on in your community or update your co-workers. And it’s free.
In case you don’t want to admit that you’ve never Twittered, know that it’s part of a vast array of social media that unique in that it limits posts, (called “Tweets”) to 140 characters. That’s anywhere from three to five sentences. This is great for those of you who aren’t ready to commit to a blog and find it overwhelming to consider updating their website every week.
Every time you Twitter, your “tweets” (posts, you can also call this form of communication micro-blogging) are listed on your profile page and sent to anyone who has signed up to “follow” you. You can create a private circle of family and friends, or you can make it public. To date, Twitter has about two million users–not a shabby audience.
Don’t think for one minute that Twitter doesn’t have business applications. It made a big impact in the elections and in the media. Large businesses run Twitter sites and they use it to offer human interest stories of employees, customer’s problems solved, how-to tips, recipes, and they have a huge following.
A great use of Twitter is when businesses use it to send each other updates on conferences, sales reports, when a meeting is postponed, and no doubt lay off news in today’s economy. CNN got Twittered in 2008–along with CBS, the BBC and just about everybody else. It’s proven useful in reporting natural disasters, such as the recent California wildfires as well as political events happening around the globe.
Some Helpful Tips If You Decide to Twitter:
Use Twitter Search or another search program to see if someoneâ€™s talking about you or your business (remember keywords?) Jump in if it’s appropriate. Be friendly, helpful, but don’t go for the hard sell.
Help! Keep that in the front of your brain. Your goal as a business is to be of help. Take a blog post or article you’d normally post on your site and break it into little chunk-sized bites. Spread out these helpful morsels. Give away just enough goodies to make them want to come and find you for more.
Try Tweetdeck or Twhirl–these two programs are great for managing Twitter.
Don’t feel the need to respond to every tweet. You’ll go crazy.
Use TinyURLs so you can use those 140 characters for something other than a web address.
Keep it all about the business. While you can certainly (and should) incorporate style and a sense of humor, you might want a separate personal account for un-business related chatter.
Be a commenter. It’s a compliment when someone takes the time to respond, so get a conversation going.
Go for interaction. Just as on your website or your blog, your purpose is build an audience, and there’s no better way to do that than to ask a question, get some opinions, or start a poll.
Don’t forget to tweet from your cell phone–that’s what makes Twitter unique. While you could use your phone to text your girlfriend or a co-worker, but can tweet the entire office on your phone via SMS.
Check out Twitter and see if it suits your style. Businesses are defining how to use social media, and Twitter might be just the tool that fits for you and your small business needs.