Why Twitter can still work, even for small businesses

Twitter can seem like a scary place, especially for small businesses. But there’s a way you can navigate the Twitter jungle and make it work for you as an SME.

The common perception of Twitter these days is of a place where activists of both left and right stripes go to yell at each other with CAPS LOCK ON in 140 character bursts of venom. And there’s some truth to that.

However, the microblogging site can still provide excellent return on investment for businesses. Even smaller SMEs that don’t necessarily have the brand clout of Nike or the cult of personality that surrounds entrepreneurs like Elon Musk are still able to cut through and engage with their audience.

Here are nine things to think about when you’re putting in place a Twitter strategy for your business.

1. The idea of Twitter is to have conversations, so don’t shy away from them

It’s not good enough to be on Twitter just tweeting out your message without engaging in some conversation. That’s the great thing about Twitter and it should be what you are trying to do. Create opportunities for people to ask you questions or offer helpful suggestions on topics you know about.

2. Tell people about what you do in an interesting way

What’s great and unique about what your business does? Can you demonstrate it with a short video, GIF, infographic or even photo? There are millions of people on Twitter with all sorts of interests and passions. Find them and give them reasons to engage with your message.

3. Use Twitter not just to broadcast your message but to learn what others are doing

Who you follow on Twitter is almost as important as the people who follow you. Why? Because Twitter is actually an excellent source of information for what’s happening in your industry. Find the movers and shakers pertaining to what your business is about and hit follow. You’ll find yourself opened up to all sorts of views and perspectives, as well as some great networking opportunities.

4. Twitter ads to target audiences

The idea of organic traction is fantastic, with the wit and wisdom of your tweets helping your business build a large army of followers. But Twitter is a pretty crowded place and investing a little money into Twitter ads is a solid way to give your Twitter strategy a nudge in the right direction. This is especially so in the early days of your Twitter life or if you’re trying to expose your brand to new audiences. Twitter has some very sophisticated targeting tools to help you find the people you want to be talking to.

5. Follower targeting

This tool helps you put your message in front of people who will probably be receptive to it, rather than just random anybodies. It works by targeting usernames that already follow businesses similar to yours or follow industry accounts such as trade publications and newsletters. It helps identify and enlarge the potential users you can find on Twitter who would be interested in your message.

6. Keyword targeting

This works by basically matching your ad to the words and phrases people are searching for on Twitter. This applies to keywords in both search and timeline. It’s especially useful when you are trying to get in front of people who might be plugging in search terms about specific events.

7. Geo targeting

Twitter takes your business global but you might really be wanting to connect with people in your neighbourhood. This search tool allows you to sharpen your focus to the granular level of even postcode matches. This means you can get very localised about your targeting.

8. Great images help your tweets stand out

Don’t make the mistake of thinking Twitter is only about words. Compelling, funny and intriguing images will always get the attention of people, including on Twitter. Go beyond the generic images you can find for free on the internet and think about either investing in some specialised photography that captures the essence of your business or pick up a camera or smartphone and do it yourself. The same goes for video too.

9. A/B testing your tweets

You should be using A/B testing methods across all of your marketing efforts and Twitter is no exception. Twitter analytics gives you great insight about what tweets have worked and why, so don’t keep on pushing out the same old message only to wonder why you’re getting no response. Are your followers responding to softer, maybe more humorous tweets or do plain-talking and serious tweets get the response you’re after? Find out what’s working and what’s not and then keep refining.

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