I get asked a LOT by my clients if they should be using Twitter for business….My answer usually is that it depends on their business type and their own level of understanding and ability to commit to Twitter as a serious business tool.
Then I ask,
- Who are your target market and where are they?
- Who do you need to network with to help raise your business profile, and where are they, Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin?
- What are you hoping to gain from Twitter.
Everyone is on Facebook, that’s indisputable, but Twitter is growing exponentially, but it does have different advantages and requirements. For a small business starting off on social media I think FaceB is a good start, if you are new to online networking start there, get talking, posting, sharing and getting a feel for social media culture and then try Twitter. FaceB is less of a stretch particularly if you already have a profile. Twitter may not be the right place for you to focus on right now, and your expectations maybe the wrong ones for Twitter. If its all about gaining direct clients only, you will be disappointed with the results.
Twitter is a fantastic tool if you want to learn about what is going on in your industry, and your market place right now! It’s also great place to connect with the movers and shakers in your industry, there maybe people you would love to meet offline, but right now don’t have the right connections to do so. However you might be able to network with them on Twitter, if you use the right methods.
It’s much harder to connect with people you don’t know on Facebook and Linkedin, especially if they don’t accept random friend requests. On Twitter, unless their Tweets are protected, (and most aren’t) its perfectly correct to approach a person through their Twitter account…(don’t approach through @DM, unless you have already asked if this is OK, it will be seen as spam). On Twitter you can raise your credibility and profile, attract opportunities for media exposure or get leads for your business.
Note: If people are already talking about you or your company on social media you need to be there sooner rather then later to answer their concerns, but get some professional social media advice first.
Twitter Is Not For The Half Hearted
Don’t consider Twitter a part time marketing idea if you want to get any benefit from it. To make it worth your time investment, you absolutely need to contribute the right content, worded the right way, converse and share other relevant content regularly. If you don’t want to bungle through and make a lot of embarrassing mistakes, hire a professional for a time to get you started, but avoid the get 10,000 followers social media types, its snake oil social media and won’t do you any favours in the longer term. There’s definitely a Twitter culture to learn, the right way to Tweet, and the wrong way, so do get good verified advice.
Twitter Is Not Just About You!
Twitter’s slogan is “Join The Conversation” not…”broadcast your message” for good reason, if you ONLY broadcast and are only prepared to do that, i.e. me me me me..my business….you need me….etc…I’m sorry you are wasting your time, invest in a billboard instead. Twitter users are very rarely interested in only broadcasters (unless they are celebrities and even they would get a bad online reputation if they never replied or re-tweeted.) You’ll find that News organisations are also interactive in the most part listening as well as talking, taking a more human approach, which is essential on Twitter.
Avoid Twitter If You Hate Social Media
If you hate social media, you will either need to find things you love about Twitter, or pass the Tweeting onto someone who does love it. I have had numerous clients tell me quite openly they hate social media but want me to set them up on Twitter…I do hope they get to like it, maybe even love it, because, if they never learn to like it, they will be crap at it…..I guess that’s the same for anything in life…and business.
Follow Me on Twitter! Click here → @_LeonieGSmith
Beware though, if you do choose to outsource your Tweets…you’d better be sure your representative knows your business inside out, knows absolutely the right things to say, and is very clear that it is NOT you personally Tweeting but a company Rep. Take @juliagillard our prime minister for e.g she participates on Twitter absolutely the right way, she signs her initials after her own Tweets, and its TeamGillard when one of her staff Tweets for her, perfectly OK and very well done. Don’t Be A Fraud On Social Media!
What does Twitter Success Look Like?
Twitter success means that you start to build a highly influential network, you are conversing with people who have true influence in your area of expertise, you have built your credibility and reputation well enough that people start to offer you work, buy from you, offer publicity and opportunities from your social media profile. They believe that you know your stuff, and usually hope that you will promote them if they offer you an opportunity through your social networks to your influential followers. If your followers are a bunch of spammer-empty-not-influential bots, then using you to promote them is not gonna cut it, and you will not be asked again..so be very aware of your true follower value.
How To Be Successful On Twitter
There are also NO shortcuts to Twitter success, you do have to put in the time to build a worthwhile following, and to get something out of it…meaning.. real followers not spam bots, that really do read your Tweets and will re-tweet them and may recommend you in the future. Buying followers is a terrible idea, (yes there are companies that will do that for you..) you will gain an audience for hire that are likely to be window dressing only.
The best followers to attract are influential in industries that count, followers who are likely to actually read your Tweets and pass them on. Having a huge amount of empty spam accounts is pointless in the longer term.
Don’t believe me?
When you have been on Twitter for a time, and start to find some really smart influential Tweeps you will soon see that there are many highly influential people on Twitter that have less than 5 thousand followers, why are they influential? They are followed by other highly influential people NOT spammers or low participating accounts. These type of influential people might be high profile journalists, event company owners, publicity representatives, or potential clients, these people are all important to your company.
So How Do You Find Great People To Follow Who Will Help Make You A Success On Twitter?
- Look for recommendations
- Start with someone you know and look at who they talk to.
- Check out a potential connection via their profile and read their Twitter stream
- How good does their profile look, is it generic? Do they only have an Egg for a pic…(a very bad sign…run very far away)
- Have they got a professional looking profile backdrop?
- See who others in your target field follow. If a profile follows everyone back, (Auto follow back) that’s going to be impossible to do, doesn’t mean they are not worthwhile following though, see if they use lists, that is also a very useful way to find great Tweeters.
- How long have they been on Twitter?
- Look for Twitter accounts linked to your favourite blog or website
- Do a search on Twitter for a Keyword that describes the industry you would like to network with.
Who Is Influential?
Following influential people and connecting with them is really important to build your profile, (don’t bother with Justin Bieber, unless he knows you, and you are in his industry) using follower count doesn’t tell you if they are truly influential. There are other methods of judging influence and credibility. Profile graders like Klout, Kred and Twittergrader are free online apps you can use to test to see if someone really has influence. On Klout, which is the best known influence grader, an average score is 20, 50 is very influential 100 is a Celebrity! These scores do take in other social networks as well sometimes. They judge a user by how many times they get re-tweeted by influential people, who they are talking to, and who is following them. The amount of followers is important, but less so.
Many people are essentially “gaming” Twitter by following masses of people who are pegged at being most likely to auto-follow back inflating their follower ratio to look like stars. There are daily limits on following to try and prevent this, but unless Twitter changes some rules, the type of influence graders I mentioned above, will be more and more prevalent as it becomes more obvious that there are way too many pretenders. These new scoring methods aren’t perfect by any means, but if you try a few of them on the same accounts you will see very similar patterns that will tell you who really has influence and is a great person to follow other than someone who has gained 50 thousand followers in a month and follows more Tweeps than are following them back. Some Tweeters with under 5000 followers have the same influence scores if not better, as some people that have over 80 thousand followers…
So if its NOT how many followers that makes you influential and successful on Twitter what is it?
It’s about your content, your personality, WHO follows you, and who’s talking to you and re-tweeting your Tweets. Some businesses still don’t understand that, and are only impressed with follower numbers, they also want large numbers at any cost, and will hunt down others with large numbers, its because they don’t fully understand social media, and they don’t realise how easy it is to gain those numbers these days.
So should you be on Twitter? How useful is it? My answer is you need to be ready, get educated, take it as seriously as you do with all other aspects of your marketing. I think all business will benefit from being on Twitter.
If you want a professional approach and a professional result treat Twitter as you would any business investment and take it seriously. Twitter is not Disneyland, you cannot “Build it and they will come” and fakers will be fast ridiculed and outed so be real, be respectful, and be prepared to learn and be delighted!