Like any marketing medium, or any medium that can be used for marketing, Twitter offers you results commensurate with how thoughtfully you approach it and how wholeheartedly you engage in it.
Look past its non-traditional exterior to see Twitter’s real ability to connect people in ways that can transform your company a little bit at a time. The following are simple instructions to follow:
1. Remember that success on Twitter can build slowly, and that trying to hurry it by buying followers or using shady shortcuts doesn’t work. As SocialMediaToday points out in a case study of hardball marketing run amok, “There is no magic pill, magic ticket or free ride to success in social media and business.”
2. Be yourself: That means two things on Twitter. First, make your tweets sound like the cohesive voice of your business. If you’re small, capitalise on your identity as a one- or two-person business and equate your size with a focus on treating customers like individuals.
Second, even if you’re bigger than a sole proprietorship, assign one person who’s good at communicating your authentic value as a business to be your official and singular voice on the service. Keeping your participation real goes a long way toward attracting followers.
As Twitter itself suggests, “Share photos and behind the scenes info about your business. Even better, give a glimpse of developing projects and events. Users come to Twitter to get and share the latest, so give it to them!”
3. Balance overt attempts to attract customers with tweets that convey your company’s personality without making an obvious commercial pitch. When you post a discount offer or a special sales event, your followers pay greater attention to it because you’re not always explicitly soliciting their business.
4. Use your Twitter presence to gather more than customers. You can share insights with fellow business people, and even find opportunities to barter services, collaborate on a project with community implications, build a network of like-minded entrepreneurs or learn from veteran business owners.
Use mentions and following strategically to build a position of authority in your field. Twitter recommends that you “Reference articles and links about the bigger picture as it relates to your business.”
5. Think twice about following everyone who follows you. If you’re using your Twitter timeline as a place to rub elbows with customers and suppliers, trying to keep up with a long list of people you followed only as a thank you turns your tweet stream into a raging river of who-can-read-all-that.
If you do decide to follow back routinely, define whom you’ll follow and whom you won’t on the basis of attributes you can discern easily, then create original, non-automated thank-you responses in keeping with your focus on authenticity.
As Mashable points out in an essay on the American Express OPEN Forum, “If you do decide to follow everyone, authenticity is key. Your followers will be able to tell whether they’re talking to a robot or a person — and a real person is always more valuable on Twitter.”
6. Leverage your plans for charitable giving into your Twitter strategy. New Twitter followers of charitable sites trigger additional donations.