Is Twitter ready for prime time with small businesses?
Stuart Crawford, a Calgary-based small business IT professional, thinks so, yes, part of his marketing strategy for 2009 includes leveraging Twitter to reach new markets, educate customers and work in the community.
Twitter is all the rage among assets in the online world. Sending out tweet after tweet, updating their Twitter followers regularly on their status, where they are, what they’re doing, where they’re going and who they’re meeting. The big question many marketers are asking today is. Can Twitter be effective as a prime-time tool in mainstream marketing?
Twitter plays an active role for all small businesses and should be part of your overall marketing strategy. Companies have already begun to move away from traditional Yellow Pages and other forms of traditional marketing for their businesses in favor of a more direct and active online marketing campaign. Twitter is playing an active role in the online strategies of many entrepreneurs.
Still confused about Twitter? Twitter is a very easy to use online service that broadcasts your messages, status updates, web links and other forms of fast and quick messages to your loyal followers. Twitter is a wonderful example of permission-based marketing because those who want to follow you just do. Permission-based marketing is now the de facto standard, replacing email marketing as spam rules begin to restrict what can and cannot be emailed.
If you can’t figure it out for yourself, there are many consulting and marketing agencies now offering Twitter services to their clients. “We encourage each of them (customers) to have Facebook and Twitter sites and act as stewards to send ‘killer’ messages about the services/products they provide.” says Pauline Harris of SPIN in Baltimore, MD. Her agency acts provide consulting services for businesses that simply need a business to stay on top of Twitter.
Twitter broadcasts a short 140-character message to your followers every time you have something to say, post, or share. The wonderful thing about Twitter, and a long-standing secret to Internet marketers who discovered this early, is that Twitter is simply a conduit to other great services. Twitter can be used to pull information for your corporate, association or personal blogs, you can use your smartphone to send tweets (tweets are what Twitter users call their messages) or you can write your tweet directly on the online page from Twitter.
Twitter will then send your message to your followers, and using the services built into social media applications, your message can also be sent to their services. Twitter is a robust tool for reaching thousands of people every day for the cost of your time to develop the content.
Still confused about the business benefits of Twitter? You have to look outside of the main Twitter app to see the real value, and you also have to steer clear of “get rich” advertising that promises you’ll grow your followers to several thousand overnight. Many business owners are moving away from the spray and pray approach, choosing to choose who they follow, and in return, who follows them.
Effective use of this powerful social media tool requires careful planning and consideration before true mastery of this marketing tool occurs. Many business owners and entrepreneurs just stop at Twitter’s main website, see a lot of noise, and dismiss it. Twitter is more than an online teleprompter for the news of those you follow. If that’s how you see it, Twitter may not be a tool for your business.
Here are three great tools to have in your Twitter arsenal:
Twitterfeed: Twitterfeed.com is an online solution that provides a mechanism to take your blog posts or any other RSS feed and broadcast it to your Twitter followers and social networking websites, including Facebook. If your business blogs, writes articles, or submits news to online services, then you need to have this solution up and running to promote the work you’re already doing to a larger audience.
Tweetlater – This nifty app is a useful service for the busy businessman or entrepreneur. With Tweetlater you can take advantage of this online web solution to schedule your tweets. Just make a series of tweets and then have Tweetlater send them out. Tweetlater also allows you to set policies that allow you to automatically follow those who follow you. It’s a matter of karma and karma goes a long way in the world of Twitter.
TweetBeep: You don’t have time to watch Twitter all day or how to keep up with the people you follow. With TweetBeep, you can now monitor Twitter for keywords and when an item of interest is tweeted, it shows up in your inbox. This service even works with shortened URLs. Keep an eye on your domain names. Keep an eye on what your competitors are doing. Stay on top of industry trends and much more.
There are many great online apps available to enhance your Twitter experience, find the one that meets your business needs. Twitter can get very noisy and you’ll need to find tools that provide a filter to limit the noise and bring the messages you want to the fore.
Twitter, when harnessed correctly, can deliver amazing new business results, connect you with industry leaders, and provide a conduit to share your experiences. Dawn Meade of Advanced Video Systems says: “I looked up other Twitter users in my field looking for AV and similar terms, followed several and discovered that one was a writer on two industry magazines. Through our Twitter ‘friendship’ I ended up being interviewed for an article and sidebar about my company!”
Before you dismiss Twitter as just another online social service with no relevance to the business community, do your homework. Twitter can work to help promote your small business to the world or just to your local community. You could learn from industry leaders.
Relationships are still important in business, whether virtual or in person. Take that first step to develop deep and meaningful relationships with others in the business world and enable you to share your knowledge with the global community.