So you have a twitter account – now what?

It is interesting now that Twitter gives you suggestions on whom to follow.  I often click on the links and a lot of the time I find what looks to be a dormant account.  A business has set up an account, tweeted a few times and then …… nothing.  Occasionally there are no tweets at all.

Having gone to the trouble to set up an account a little more effort is required to give people a reason to follow you.  Depending on the size of the business you need to make a decision about the profile avatar (picture). Small business owners may choose to put their own face up there so customers know what they look like.  Others may choose to go with a logo. Either way it is important to change it from the standard Twitter profile image.

Fill in the bio. You have 160 characters to describe yourself or your business.  This is your chance to introduce yourself and give a reason why others may want to keep reading what you have to say. Think about the followers you want to attract and include relevant keywords.

Change the Twitter background.  There are many sites that have free and personalized Twitter backgrounds if you don’t want to create your own.  A Twitter background is a great piece of real estate that allows you to tell customers and potential customers more about you. Just remember if you build a left-hand column that is popular on many Twitter backgrounds, make sure it’s small enough not to be covered up by the central Twitter content.

And finally, tweet. Tweet often. How often is up to you.  Ideally two or three times a day spread out during the day to reach more people.

Stuck on what to tweet about?

  • Share links to cool stuff your followers will like. Sometimes these links should be links to your own blog posts, but mainly link to other stuff.
  • Retweet others when they tweet something you like and want to share.  The more you help others, the more they will help you.
  • Engage your followers. Ask questions; make a statement to trigger a conversation.
  • Reply to someone else’s tweet.
  • Use multimedia tools, such as Twitpic to bring some variety to your tweets. People like to look at pictures or videos.

It takes time to build up a social media presence. Giving people a good reason to follow you is a good start.

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The Revolution

If you didn’t think Social Media was for you, just take a moment and watch the following video, it’s for you… Social Media is now a part of what you need to be doing, just like phones, faxes and computers….

YouTube Preview Image

Can you afford not to consider Social Media in some form?

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Facebook – Why should I use it?

Facebook is a popular free social networking website that allows registered users to create profiles, upload photos and video, send messages and keep in touch with friends, family and colleagues.  It is the largest of the networking sites.

Why use Facebook?

With over 400 million active people on Facebook not only are your friends on Facebook, so are your prospects, your customers, your JV partners… and, of course, your competitors. You need to be on too.

With the explosive growth of Facebook, it is becoming a social networking software development platform of its own. Members can access a wealth of applications made for all purposes, and most of them are available at no cost. Facebook is already the number 1 photo sharing application on the web, draws more than twice as much traffic as its major competitors combined together. Facebook’s event application invited three times more people than other leading focused websites.

How to use Facebook

Set up a personal profile. Since people like to know the person behind the business, this is a good way to interact with them.  Make sure you set your privacy settings correctly.

For most businesses, Facebook Pages (distinct from individual profiles and Facebook groups) are the best place to start. Pages allow businesses to collect “fans” the way celebrities, sports teams, musicians and politicians do. There are now 1.4 million Facebook Pages and they collect more than 10 million fans every day, according to the site.

Facebook pages can have unlimited “fans” whereas personal profiles can only have 5000 friends. Your Facebook Fan Page can be a part of your Search Engine Optimization strategy. Why is that, you ask? It’s because Fan pages are indexed by search engines. Profiles are not.

Some basic rules: Buy-buy-buy messages won’t fly. The best practitioners make Facebook less about selling and more about interacting. Engage with fans and critics. Listen to what people are saying, good and bad. You may even pick up ideas for how to improve your business. Keep content fresh. Use status updates and news feeds to tell fans about specials, events, contests or anything of interest.  And remember to also post to your personal profile, not all your friends may be fans.  Keep them up to date with what is happening as well.

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Twitter – Do I need to tweet?

Twitter is an instant messaging system made available to the public. Some people call it a micro-blogging platform. You are limited to 140 characters for a tweet.

You follow people and then you can see their tweets. When they follow you, they can see yours.

Why use twitter?

Even Twitter knows about the power of using Twitter for business and they’ve set up a special Twitter 101. Here is what is says:

“Every day, millions of people use Twitter to create, discover and share ideas with others. Now, people are turning to Twitter as an effective way to reach out to businesses, too.  From local stores to big brands, and from brick-and-mortar to internet-based or service sector, people are finding great value in the connections they make with businesses on Twitter.”

Business is about making connections through networking, developing leads, and closing deals.  Twitter gives you another way in which you can connect with current and potential customers.  It is free publicity and expands on the “word-of-mouth” principles of marketing.

You can use it to find out what they think of your company and, if required, remedy any concern. You can also read what customers are tweeting about your competition.

How to use Twitter

Include the name of your business and a link back to your company blog or website. In your bio be sure to tell people where you are located if you do business in a specific geographical area.

The thing to keep in mind is providing great content and input and not just broadcasting marketing messages, which can turn people off.

Pass along great tips relating to your industry, share amazing resources that benefit your customers and even open up dialogue for honest feedback and advice.  Drip feed content throughout the day as opposed to publishing a bunch at once to reach more people.

Find people who are interesting or relate to your business and follow them. Create conversations and see where it leads!

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Social Media Marketing – not a short term fix

Social media marketing is a specific online marketing strategy based on utilization of online social media sites i.e. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Digg, Reddit, StumbleUpon, etc. It can encompass not just text and information based services like blogs etc, it can also contain image and video based services such as Flickr and YouTube for example.

Social media can benefit any type of business and if approached correctly, can help build relationships with consumers and other companies through networking and raised awareness of your service.

Forget the short term fix. This is more than just a three month campaign. To really benefit from social media it has to be a long term commitment. It takes time to first listen to what’s being said about your business and brand. It takes time to build trust with your customers as you publicly practice your willingness to listen and converse back. It’s more of a process than it is a campaign or a press release.

It won’t hide a poor product. If you really want to know what people think about your product you will find out as you begin to listen to what you customers are saying. However, if your product isn’t good, social media isn’t going to fix that. It doesn’t matter how many blog posts, Twitter posts or videos on YouTube you produce. If your product isn’t solid, social media isn’t going to bring you the results that you are looking for.

It won’t fix a poor business plan. Business basics are still business basics. It you don’t have a strong business plan adding social media to your plate isn’t going to solve the issues if this foundational piece of your business isn’t solid.

And it’s not the answer for poor customer service. Experts say that businesses spend six times more to attract new business than they do to keep their current customers. If you don’t have a strong customer service plan and practice in place, social media won’t fix that. You must have specific plans in place to engage your customers, listen to their requests, answer their questions and help facilitate a positive experience. Don’t forget most people buy products that they have been referred to more than what has been advertised.

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Facebook, Twitter ‘powerful business tools’

Last night I read an article on The Age online about how Social Media such as Facebook, Twitter and blogging sites ‘have become powerful tools that influence what people buy’.

The article reported that nearly 75% of worldwide internet users have visited a social networking site (such as Facebook, Wikipedia and YouTube) and spend almost six hours a month on them.

Online product reviews are the third most trusted source of information when deciding to buy a product.

“The findings we’ve uncovered in this social media report highlight, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that social media is here to stay and needs to be taken seriously by the broader business community,” said Megan Clarken, managing director of Nielsen’s online business in the Asia Pacific.

Social Media is here to stay.

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