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Using Twitter for Marketing

If you read my two previous posts on how small businesses can get started on Twitter and how to build and engage with your audience on the channel, then you are now ready to really put Twitter to work. Many small businesses effectively use Twitter as a marketing tool and it’s easy to understand why.

Just having a Twitter account and being reasonably active in building and engaging with your audience on the channel constitutes a solid marketing practice. In fact, a recent Twitter market survey of people who follow small and medium-sized businesses found that 72 per cent reported they were more likely to make a purchase from a small or medium business that they follow and 85 percent felt more connected to the business after following them.

This is a great foundation on which to build out deliberate marketing initiatives that take advantage of some of Twitter’s specific capabilities. The most potent of these is Twitter’s value as a two-way communications channel across which you can genuinely engage with your marketplace, as opposed to simply broadcasting messages at it. Below are some of the ways in which you can use Twitter to promote and market your business.

Launch a new product
It would seem obvious that you would tell your followers about any new product or service you launch. But don’t wait until it’s actually available to start tweeting about it. With the right forethought, you can get your followers to start talking about your new product before it even launches.

Here are some things you can do to effectively use Twitter to launch a new product:

● Tweet each day to let people know how many days are left until the launch

● Build momentum by offering a discount to followers who tweet about your launch

● Use discount codes exclusive to Twitter to gauge how well that channel works versus other promotional initiatives you might be trying. Or direct that traffic to a specific landing page on your website to track conversions.

● Pay attention to which tweets generate the most engagement and increase the frequency of those types of tweets while decreasing the frequency of others.

Use events to engage your followers
Whenever you’re taking part in community or industry events, make sure you let your followers know how they can find you at the event. You can also report on the event in real time (also known as “live tweeting”), letting followers who couldn’t attend in person know what’s going on. (I have found that real-time reporting on events I’m attending has proven to be the single most effective way to attract new followers.)

If you can devise some sort of tie-in to national or local cultural or sporting events — an Oscar-night special on your products, for example — then you can tweet about that. The same applies to national holidays: You can tweet your Christmas or Mother’s Day specials.

In all these cases, use hashtags to bring your tweets to the attention of people already interested in the event: there will be a lot of people following #Oscars on the day leading up to the big game, for example.

Use Twitter to reach out to journalists, bloggers
Journalists and bloggers are among the most enthusiastic users of Twitter and many of them welcome being pitched via tweets. Do your research first, though, and make sure you are targeting people who have a genuine interest in your business. Nobody likes to be spammed, and the number one dislike consistently cited by journalists is receiving irrelevant pitches, and that holds as true for Twitter as for any other outreach mechanism.

Once you’re sure you’re targeting the right people, however, simply send a polite tweet, including individual Twitter handles, that draws their attention to your news. Consider inviting them to an early, exclusive trial of your product, and continue to use Twitter to support them as they try it out.

Monitor and respond
You can use tools to monitor Twitter in real time for mentions of your business or product category and then respond quickly to those tweets to simply let the tweeter know that you are a local or nearby provider, or to capture immediate business with a time-limited special offer. You can even automate the process, albeit at a cost, by using promoted tweets as described below.

Promoted tweets
Twitter has a number of services to promote your Twitter account as a whole, as well as promoting individual tweets or even trending topics. Promoted accounts will show up in Twitter’s suggestions of who to follow, while promoted tweets will be displayed depending on whether you are targeting specific keywords (by matthew), hashtags or some other attribute. The services are priced using the same auction-based approach as Google adwords, and, as with adwords, allow you to set all kinds of parameters about when and under what circumstances your predetermined budget gets spent.

Don’t saturate the channel
If every tweet you publish is self promotional, your followers will soon tune you out, or stop following entirely. It’s important that you give followers good reason to stay engaged with your account. Discounts and specials are great, but so are tweets of more general interest. As a rule of thumb, intersperse promotional tweets with others on a one-in-five basis.

The bottom line
The most important thing to keep in mind when using Twitter as a marketing tool is to be responsive. Monitor closely for mentions of your business and for tweets directed at you and reply to them just as soon as possible.

Have you seen a business using Twitter in a clever way to market itself? What are some tips or advice you’d offer those just getting into the space? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

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