Engaging your customers on Twitter

Still not engaging with current and prospective customers on Twitter? Here’s how Catriona Pollard suggests you get started.

People are often sceptical when I explain that engaging in Twitter can really benefit their business. Creating a Twitter account for your business opens up opportunities for communication and attracts new customers for businesses – when managed correctly.

Twitter is an effective method of reaching your target audience in real time, however having a presence on Twitter and getting your desired audience to follow you are very different things. To get people to want to follow your business’ Twitter account it needs to present a personality and, like all business communications, a strategy for using Twitter needs to be put into place.

Create a personality

If your tweets come across as marketing ploys or if they are really promotional, followers will see straight through you. If you display an honest and interesting personality, followers will recognise that there is a real person behind your tweets. If they see this they might be more inclined to take note of what your business has to say.

To create a Twitter personality for your business:

Hold two-way communication

A common mistake people often make when starting out on Twitter is to broadcast messages rather than watching conversations people are having and joining in where possible.

When people follow you, follow them back and engage with them. You can tweet questions or interesting ideas that encourages a response from your followers. You can also tweet about events taking place in your office or events your staff may be involved in. Show that you’re listening to others by re-tweeting relevant tweets and replying to people.

Don’t use your logo as your profile picture

People find it harder to relate to a company when they use their logo as their profile photo. You can show the ‘human-side’ of your business by featuring actual staff photos on your Twitter account’s profile picture. If you really want to use your logo, position it as the background of your Twitter page.

A good tip for larger companies that have no choice but to use their logo, is to include your first name within individual tweets to keep the messages personal.

Devise a strategy that aligns with your communications plan

Engaging in Twitter should be an element of your business’ communications plan. You should have a Twitter strategy aimed at achieving a specific objective. There is no point having an account simply because everyone tells you, you should.

Factor the following into your Twitter strategy:

Tweeting

Decide what your business wants to communicate through Twitter. Messages do not all need to be specific to your company, followers will find respect your business more if you tweet about news and events within your specific industry.

Start by setting up a few Google News Alerts that will deliver you daily information about the topics you choose. You can then post interesting articles and topics relevant to your industry on Twitter. Ask open questions to engage stakeholders and potential clients and to get the conversation started.

The most valuable tweets are those that that share information about your field and offer comments on topical issues. This will build your credibility and encourage trust between your business and your followers.

Schedule

How often should your company be tweeting? It’s important that this is decided on as part of your strategy so employees responsible for Twitter know how often they should be tweeting. This will make sure that your Twitter presence is consistent on a day to day basis. Three to six tweets a day is recommended however this will depend on the conversations that are taking place on any given day.

Follow your target audience

Many of the people you follow on Twitter will follow you back. Try to follow your target audience by searching similar companies and publications within your industry and follow their followers. Your list will gradually grow over time by adding new people you hear about through others on Twitter. Follow people based on their interests, conversation topics, location, mention of your business or based on who they’re following (ie competitors or other stakeholders).

If you are transparent and honest your followers will return the favour. Twitter is a pool of business opportunities, enter it with a direction and presence and your business’ Twitter personality will flourish along with your business.

  • http://www.davidcaruso.com.au David

    All rhetoric (with all due respect Catriona) – give me some real world examples of how small business owners are making money from ‘tweeting’.

  • Allan

    I agree with David, especially for people who do not work at a computer all day. Shop owners and manufacturers like myself are busy running our businesses away from the office not tied to a computer and using a mobile for short messages.
    Tweeting 3- 6 times a day is impossible and following others is not really going to produce sales unless people can easily buy your products or visit your shop.

    Computers are a vital tool for service providers but only an after hours attraction for out of office hands-on business owners.