Celebrities use Twitter as a platform to interact on a personal level with fans, big businesses use Twitter to establish their online presence and to show their customers that they are accessible, mere mortals use Twitter to follow celebrities and businesses and for news stories... and so on. There are many, many different kinds of Twitter accounts and many, many ways of making Twitter work for you or your business.
I used to think Twitter was not for me or my business AT ALL. I used to think Twitter was just a platform for celebrities to share their lunch habits, flirtatious messages and mudslinging matches with each other and everyone who cared enough to listen. I was wrong.
When I set up The Cotswolds Concierge, a website dedicated to sharing tourist and visitor information about the wonderful area where I'm lucky enough live, The Cotswolds, I set up a Twitter account almost in protest. I recognized that other online businesses had an online presence here and I figured I'd give it a bit of go, but I had no faith in it being something I would find useful in any way. I never imagined I would become an avid Twitter user or that I would end up with lots great, local followers and many useful experiences to share.
Twitter has been a great success for me, especially for this area specific business... for this reason I would like to share some of my tips on how to make it work for your local business too.
1. Don't miss the brand opportunity
Use your logo as your Twitter avatar.
Next to every tweet you write, your chosen Twitter image appears and this is a great opportunity to get your brand recognized. Use your logo as your Twitter avatar, don't use an image that isn't clear and concise or one that isn't easily recognizable.
2. Follow your competitors and those you would like to follow you
When you follow someone, they notice you and they might start following you.
Followers is alpha and omega on Twitter - the more followers you have, the bigger the audience and the bigger the audience, the more opportunity to reach potential customers for your business.
When someone starts following you, you get a message on your email with their details. So when you follow someone, they will find out and they might find you interesting and start following you also.
If you have a local business, follow as many other local businesses in your area as you can, even if (or perhaps "especially if") they are competitors of yours. Chances are you will find that local businesses help each other because they themselves can use all the help they can get.
3. Tell everyone you're on Twitter
If you have a website, a Facebook page or a business card, share your Twitter ID.
Twitter is a great tool to get others to notice your business and your website. But it goes both ways, so share that you are on Twitter through all the channels you have available.
4. Share images whenever you can
People always respond well to images.
Images are great on Twitter and if at all appropriate, your tweets should include an image. People like and respond well to tweets that include an image, and when you share images from your business or your life, you are not only more interesting, you also show your followers that there are real people behind the business and this is something customers respond well to also.
5. Involve other businesses or people
Involving others is an easy way of getting retweets and new followers.
If your business, like The Cotswolds Concierge, have a reason to involve others, write about them and include their Twitter @-name. This way, they will automatically get a message about what you have written, and chances are they will be pleased or flattered and then share (retweet, which is also referred to as RT'ing) the message with their followers. This means that your tweet is suddenly given an even wider audience and often some of the business' followers will see the retweet, like it and start to follow you also.
6. Keep personal and "off topic" conversations to a minimum
Personal conversations are likely to bore your followers.
There might be people you know in real life amongst your Twitter followers and interacting with them is tempting... but you need to resist this. When you engage in a conversation on Twitter, every tweet you write will be shown to all your followers, so if you have a lot of tweets that are part of a private conversation, this is not interesting for your followers and can result in them choosing to "unfollow" you on account of your tweets being boring.
7. Be 90% funny or interesting
Only 10% of your tweets should be business offers.
If your business is weddings, offer your followers 90% useful wedding tips and advice and only 10% offers of product or services. If your business is area specific and aimed at tourists of a certain area, offer your followers 90% interesting area information or funny stories from the area and only 10% offers of services.
Twitter is a great platform for branding your business and for creating a following for your brand, but this is best done by sharing your knowledge, not by offering boring links to what you offer your customers. If you offer your followers something they find interesting or useful, they are more likely to visit your website and become a potential customer, than if you only share links and write about you and your services.
Follow Mette Poynton on Twitter: www.twitter.com/MettePoynton