Learning the ins and outs of Twitter can seem overwhelming for a small business. That's because there are about a billion tools, experts, and reports written to broach the subject. In truth, however, there are a handful of very effective strategies you can employ to spread the word about your small business -- and they reflect the values and techniques you should already be doing in real life! Here are three of my favorites, taken directly from experiences I've had with small businesses (experiences that caused me to actually become a customer!)
Right Way #1: Thank your customer
This is one of the most commonly-used tactics to engage on Twitter -- as it should be! A tweet is a cheap and effective way to let loyal brand users (and even first-time or infrequent buyers) know that you appreciate their business. If you are larger brand with thousands of customers on Twitter, pick just one or two to give a uniquely-crafted “thank you” to. (Please don’t use the same automatic message over and over, however. This wreaks of phoniness and will do more harm than good.) If you are just starting out and have only a few customers talking about you on Twitter, go ahead and thank them all! Hopefully, you’ll soon find yourself with more than you can personally address.
Right Sample: Consumer: “Just bought the new frozen meal from ABC Company. Can’t wait to give it a try!”
ABC Company: “Thanks for giving it a try @Consumer! Do let us know how you liked it?”
Right Way #2: Seek and Sweeten
This is a fun way to have a brand engage, and I still loyally purchase from a company that first used this strategy on me personally! To begin, find a trend that naturally compliments your product: flu illness for a chicken soup company, for example. Then search for trends surrounding “flu.” (Searching for #flu is a great start!) Once you’ve identified a handful of prospective customers that have shared that they or a loved one have the flu, tweet them a special reward or offer opportunity to show empathy for their situation and introduce them to your product. This one may take a bit from your bottom line, at first, but your using this only on vetted consumers.
Right Sample: Consumer: “Yuck! I can’t believe the #flu has found me again!”
ABC Company: “Oh no! DM us your address, and we’ll send a free can of soup to help you get better soon.”
Right Way #3: Make it human.
I used auto-DM’s for the first time last year, in an effort to reach my followers right away, but with a bit of fear that I might not come off as a human being. I decided to tie my DM’s into a current event and made a commitment to change it frequently. You can do the same thing by choosing a current event within your business niche. I did this by asking my new followers if they planned on going to BlogHer 2011 (a huge social media/blogging conference). I got many replies from real Twitter followers answering my question! Many may not have even known that it was an automated reply. I made sure to change it to reflect a new conference, event, or media-worthy announcement every few months or so. If you bake, you could ask your new followers if they have heard about a new cooking contest that offered cash to the winners. The key is to make it current and always change it up!
Right Sample: ABC Baking Company Auto DM: “Thanks for the follow! Will you by any chance be entering the Annual Baking contest? I heard the prize is $1K! ”
The Subject of Auto-DM’s: I understand why some companies chose to use an Auto-DM (automatic direct message) for all new followers of the brand. It gets a brand message directly in their face, exactly when they start to follow you. The problem lies when you do anything en masse, without personal care, and with no knowledge of who you are sending it to. As a result, many people no longer read their Direct Messages on Twitter, as their inboxes are full of auto-DM “spam” messages requesting that they visit a Facebook page, download a free ebook, or join a MLM (multi-level-marketing) scheme. How can you use Auto-DM’s in a way that is fresh, worth noticing, and genuine? You do it very carefully.
What about you? Have you found a sure-fire but simple method to sell your business on Twitter? We'd love to hear about it!
*Photo by eldh via Flickr.
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