By now, you know all about the tweeting masses that are making the most of the microblogging sensation. Everywhere you turn—from the television to the corner store—everyone is talking about “social media,” and Twitter is often a focal point in those discussions. Many businesses may wonder how they can benefit from Twitter and use it to generate interest in their company. Here are five things to think about before you take flight:
- Separate your personal accounts from your business accounts. Your business may be your life, but that doesn’t mean your life should always filter into your business. In general, it’s best to have a separate business account. That said, start using a personal account first, so you can get the hang of things before taking the leap with your business.
- Don’t build and run. Just as the “if you build it, they will come” strategy doesn’t work with websites, the same holds true for Twitter. Post frequently, network with colleagues online and offline to build followers, and monitor your account(s) faithfully to ensure you’re responsive to the community you’ve built and that you’re adding value for them.
- Protect your brand. Make sure your posts are appropriate and relevant to your business objectives. If your posts are filled with complaints and various ways you’ve been wronged, that negativity will reflect on your business and may drive prospective customers away. If you’re a restaurant posting specials and “Twitter-only” deals for Happy Hour, odds are your followers will have some interest in what you have to say. Used properly, your account can help you close the gap between your existing and prospective customers by allowing them to get to know how your business works, what your customers applaud you for, and even some of your personality.
- Be patient. Unless you’re a member of the cast of The Twilight Saga: New Moon (e.g., @AshleyMGreene—a native of Jacksonville, just like Web.com—amassed tens of thousands of followers in a matter of hours), it will take time to build a following. Don’t expect Twitter to make you an overnight sensation with your target audience. If you do things such as add your Twitter name to your email signature, business cards, and website and even hang a sign up in your store (if you have one), you will.
- Be careful what you wish for. If your goal is to form a community of engaged customers, you just may succeed. But Twitter isn’t always about offering praise, helpful hints, and singing “Kumbaya” around the campfire. If you have a customer who is upset, he or she will use whatever means necessary to communicate it to you—including Twitter. Trying to solve the problem of one customer in fewer than 140 characters is challenging enough, but doing so in front of scores of other followers/customers takes it to a whole other level. Make sure you respond to any issues as quickly as possible and reach out to those customers personally. You don’t have to be perfect—but if you’re responsive and show that the satisfaction of your customers is important to you, all of your followers will witness that as well.
So, are you ready to tweet your way to success?