Twitter, the microblogging service that lets you send out messages of 140 characters or less, has fast become one of today’s hottest tools for networking and marketing your business. Twitter messages are called “tweets,” forwarding a tweet is “retweeting,” and users “follow” each other. If you’re not already on Twitter, it’s time to give it a try. Here are 10 steps to using Twitter to grow your business.
- Start slowly. Begin by importing your e-mail contact list to Twitter and following those contacts who are tweeting. You’ll see who they follow, you’ll start following some of those people, and your network will begin to build.
- Take control. The sheer volume of tweets can be overwhelming, so you’ll need tools to manage Twitter. Search “Twitter applications” or visit http://twitter.com/downloads for applications to simplify and organize tweets. I like Tweetdeck (www.tweetdeck.com), which lets you sort your Twitter feed into columns and create different groups you can monitor.
- Share useful information. Many people use Twitter to share links. But don’t just link to your own blog or Web site; also share other interesting and valuable content. Focus on quality over quantity and you’ll soon become known as a trusted resource.
- Offer deals. Tweet your followers special offers, discounts and other limited-time promotions. For instance, a restaurant owner might tweet today’s lunch special; a consultant might offer 25 percent off a seminar for those who sign up in the next hour. Deals make followers feel like “insiders,” and they’ll likely retweet them.
- Be easy to find. Help people find you on Twitter by including your Twitter “handle” on your business cards, Web site, Facebook or LinkedIn page, in your e-mail signature…you get the idea.
- Track trends. Twitter is a good gauge of what people are talking about at any given time. Use Twitter Search to search your company name or industry keywords and find out what people are saying about you and your competitors. Do instant market research by tweeting an informal poll or survey.
- Follow potential clients. Recently, a company I was following tweeted about plans to launch a new Web site. I tweeted to let them know how our company could help, and we ended up landing a new account.
- Follow the competition. Twitter is an easy way to see what your competitors are doing, planning, investigating and thinking about.
- Get real. Twitter connects you with people online, but don’t let it end there. Solidify the connection in the real world with a “Tweetup”—an offline get-together. Meeting up with Twitter contacts takes your relationships to the next level.
- Measure results. As with any marketing tool, you need to know what you want to get from Twitter and measure your ROI. It does take a good deal of time, so assess your results periodically to make sure the payoff is worth your investment.
Rieva Lesonsky is founder and President of GrowBiz Media, a content and consulting company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Before launching her business, she was Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Follow Rieva at Twitter.com/Rieva and read more of her insights on SmallBizDaily.com.