If you ask most small business owners what social media network they are using (or should be using if they—gasp!—aren’t using any), odds are they’ll say Facebook. That is a shame because Twitter has a number of advantages over Zuckerberg’s kingdom, chief among them being that tweets are open to search engines while it could be said that what happens on Facebook, stays on Facebook. With that in mind, here are some tips to help SMBs successfully leverage Twitter, using America’s favorite sweet treat, chocolate, as an example.
1. Complete Your Profile
This may sound basic but you’d be surprised. Be sure to have a logical and properly cropped photo for your profile. This will be the image that appears next to every one of your posts (called tweets) so make it good. As a general rule, people do better than logos. Use an attractive header photo that shows off your brand, and a professional handle such as ChocolateUSA—not XXXChocolateLover. If you can, have a custom background image designed, or create your own in just a few minutes with a site like Canva.com. Finally, fill out the actual bio and include your location and URL to your company website.
2. Understand Hashtags
Hashtags (i.e., the # mark) are a tool Twitter users can use to help search for topics or trends. For instance, if you want to find recent posts (called tweets) about chocolate, you can search for #chocolate. And, if you want your post to be more easily found by chocoholics, you can add #chocolate to the end. But, don’t go crazy like this: I love #chocolate! #thesmell #heaven #brown #goodness #cocoa #getinme #foods #nom.
3. Use Images
One of Facebook’s strengths is that it’s an easy platform for photos, memes, videos, and even animated GIFs. Guess what? Those all work on Twitter, too. Just like Facebook, posts with images get more impressions and clicks than those without so always keep your mind open for opportunities.
4. Hijack Popular or Trending Handles
This is a tactic that should only be used when it feels natural and not forced, but a well-timed and welcome reply to a popular handle, such as one representing a celebrity or athlete, can attract a lot of attention to your own brand. Look for people who regularly interact with their followers, follow them so they show up in your newsfeed, and then wait. When you feel there’s an opportunity, send your reply or quote their tweet. Don’t make it a sales pitch. The goal isn’t to sell chocolate; it’s to raise your profile and engender good will.
5. Twitter Analytics
Twitter provides a free analytics tool called, aptly enough, Twitter Analytics. It can be found in the pull-down menu beneath your thumbnail profile photo found next to the search window in the upper right of your screen. It provides account summaries, highlights and other handy information. Look at your successes, study them, and see if you can replicate them.
Finally, as with any other sort of social media outreach, have something useful to say. If there are special offers or contests underway, feel free to promote those to some extent. But, otherwise, try to provide value to your followers in the form of interesting retweets (perhaps related to chocolate), links to helpful articles (e.g., “5 Ways to Get Out Chocolate Stains”) and fun facts (e.g., the average American eats 11 pounds of chocolate each year). And be responsive; if someone has a question or complaint, reply quickly.
These tips should help you better run and manage your SMB’s Twitter account. Of course, feel free to substitute chocolate for your own favorite treat.
Photo by Suat Eman/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Bernard Perrine is co-founder and CEO of SocialCentiv.