Tweet Yourself to a Better Business

A little fun and a little commerce can go a long way.

by Dennis L. Prince
- Sep 20, 2013

Decision time: You're eager to broadcast the banner graphic for your upcoming sales promotion, but your cat has also found her way to your computer keyboard and seems eager to answer customer questions. Which should you tweet to your business' followers, and which message might lead to more activity today?

When it comes to Twitter, some of the usual rules of marketing have flown out the window, revealing that customers are looking to engage with you and your business in ways quite different than in years past. Here are some things to consider about the sorts of tweets you'll float by your customers and how to determine which ones could have longer-lasting impact.

A little birdie told me

The power of tweeting lies with its ability to give your followers a sense of having inside information or a closer-than-most relationship with you. The social media phenomenon is partly based on the feeling followers get when they have your ear, or when you're whispering into theirs.

They feel they're receiving preferential treatment or are privy to details that most others aren't. When you tweet, then, you're nurturing the relationship with your followers by letting them know what you're up to throughout the day.

The power of tweeting lies with its ability to give your followers a sense of having inside information or a closer-than-most relationship with you

For a business, tweeting about your cat at the computer keyboard might seem silly, but your followers will feel you've let them see behind the scenes of your world. This gives you and your business a style of being personable. Sure, you'll later share details about your products and special promotions, but first you'll want to establish that relationship with your followers—customers, hopefully—so they'll see you and your business as being interesting and engaging, not just always pitching product. So when the cat does something cute at your office or place of business, why not let others enjoy the moment, too?

A balanced flight

What is the right balance between business-focused and off-topic tweets? Remember that Twitter is just one part of your business outreach and awareness strategy, and not solely responsible for converting purchases. That said, you should limit yourself to just 10 percent of tweets that are intended to drive transactions. The other 90 percent should be about timely or topical matters that don't aim to make a direct sale.

In your tweets, spend most of your time talking to your customers/followers rather than always pitching to them. They'll quickly grow weary of the latter. Tell them about the interesting or sometimes funny things that are going on with you, your business and your local area. Also, ask questions in your tweets, like "Who are you rooting for in the big game this weekend?" or host question-and-answer sessions with your followers, allowing them to ask questions of you.

And, yes, when they get to know your cat by name thanks to its nutty exploits, you will have developed a business mascot that might serve to attract and amuse your followers—provided you don't overdo it.

For that business-centric 10 percent, share news of products arriving, seasonal promotions upcoming or insider-only discount codes good for your faithful followers. When those sorts of tweets are sprinkled in, they become more effective to your audience because they impart that by-the-way information sharing that only close friends can enjoy and benefit from.

While it's good to talk about timely events, take care to stay neutral over matters steeped in ideology or controversy

Shredded tweets

On the cautionary side, take care when constructing your tweets. If you're angry or otherwise perturbed about something, it's probably best not to tweet about it. It could cause followers to take sides on the matter and could be polarizing within your audience. Also, while it's good to talk about timely events, take care to stay neutral over matters steeped in ideology or controversy.

While that might seem like a cop-out, it's important you keep your tweet stream positive, personable and appropriate to your business reputation. And coarse language is best left out at all times.

Besides the content aspect, be sure you use good grammar when tweeting. Sure, this is a time where we're becoming used to deciphering bad spelling and sentence construct, but that tends to indicate laziness or ignorance. Keep misspellings and bad grammar out of your tweets, so you'll be sure to maintain a presence of professionalism and reliability. Aren't we just a little wary of doing business where it seems the basics of communication are missing?

Keep your flock flying

The most important part of managing a Twitter presence is to keep it flowing, day in and day out. It's quite a commitment to keep the conversation going, but once you establish a style that engages your followers, you'll develop a rhythm for keeping the chat alive.

Set a schedule for your tweeting, too, and you'll make it easier to connect with followers rather than sending tweets "when you get around to it." That's a sure way to have the conversation stall and leave followers wondering if you're still around and still in business.

Allow your followers to take up the conversation, letting you respond to their comments or answer their questions. They'll keep the chat alive and that will help you better understand what's important to them, personally as well as in regard to your products. When you achieve that level of engagement and interaction, your Twitter presence is likely to soar, bringing a new dimension of enjoyment to your business, for you and for your followers.

About the Author

Dennis L. Prince has been analyzing and advocating the e-commerce sector since 1996. He has published more than 12 books on the subject, including How to Sell Anything on eBay…and Make a Fortune, second edition (McGraw-Hill, 2006) and How to Make Money with MySpace (McGraw-Hill, 2008). His insight is actively sought within online, magazine, television and radio venues.

Opinions expressed here may not be shared by Auctiva Corp. and/or its principals.

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