Twitter as a marketing tool for SMEs

Low cost marketing for smaller businesses on Twitter

twitter-follow-meBudgets are tight, time is short and the emphasis for many businesses is sales, sales, sales. And this is correct – for today… but what about the sales next week, month, year?

Gaining sales from existing customers is by far the most effective cost per sale according to much of the research, however gaining access to markets is getting harder. In the UK once upon a time it was easy:

  • 2 commercial TV stations
  • Few commercial radio choices
  • A local paper
  • 2 local business based telephone directories
  • Local town centre shopping for posters
  • Business Link networks
  • Chamber of commerce

Advertising was limited in breadth, but you knew that your audience would be there…

Now however things are very different:

  • 100′s of TV channels
  • Commercial radio stations able to operate nationally, so 100′s of them
  • Most local papers full with property and little else
  • What telephone directories?
  • Out of town shopping in multiple centres that do not permit post type adverts
  • 1000′s of web sites
  • You-tube
  • Text messaging
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Business Link networks
  • Chamber of commerce

Getting your message across is getting harder, although it is also cheaper than ever. Freelance professionals, SMEs and larger firms now need practical and integrated digital marketing strategies.

In the past the most successful adverts and promotions have been through word of mouth, viral if you like. Well now for the first time ever viral marketing is available to ordinary business owners – its called Twitter.

Twitter is in essence an ‘opt in’ marketplace, where you have 140 characters to promote your idea or thought, when someone likes what you are saying they will ReTweet (forward your message) to other users, then if enough people find the message of value it can go viral (sent to lots of people).

So how can you use Twitter as a marketing tool?

Get a name, the shorter the better with either your company name or a word that promotes your business/ product. The shorter the name is the easier it is for others to promote your product! Use your company name for the twitter name (i.e. @rapidbi) and your real name as the user.

Design your home page. As well as the messages you send, your homepage can contain a link, a bio of your business and other information that people can read about your offer. You can change this periodically.

Getting enough followers (people that want to listen to you) can take several months, and while there are tools that will build this quickly, its quality not quantity you want. Remember the goal is for OTHERS to send your messages, so even if only 100 people hear your message, and 10 sent that to their 1000 followers, and 10 of them send that to their 1000 followers, that is over 30000 people that have read your message!

You need to spend time finding people that are interested in the sector you operate, or the products/ services you provide. There are “keyword” software tools that can help do this such as http://www.socialoomph.com/ and http://www.tweetspinner.com/ .

Next you plan on what to say to people, just pushing your advert will bore people very quickly and they will stop following you and certainly wont be ReTweeting (broadcasting) your messages out on your behalf. One thing to to is to write 100 tips on how to… and put these out as regular messages, no links, no adverts, just good value added. Then once every 10-20 “Tweets” you can send a promotional message. The more interesting or curious it is the more chance it has of being broadcast by your followers. If you have any ‘end of line’ offers or seasonal discounts promote those too

Be human, one of the elements that most business users forget is that Twitter is SOCIAL MEDIA, this means that people are interested in the person behind the business. So every few days tweet something personal, to show you are human. The goal is for people to trust you and your company.

If your business operates a blog to help people in your industry or users of your products, link your blog to twitter using one of the many twitter plug-ins. This is a great way of telling the world that you have a new article, it is also liked by the search engines, so a win win! If you don’t operate a blog yet to support your business, then consider it now! Most of our product sales are on the back of our blog articles.

Press Releases – using twitter as a strategic marketing tool

Every time you put a press release out, tweet it, get your PR firm to tweet it too. If your PR firm are not using broadcast technology like Twitter or other social media platforms, re-consider who you are using.

Why does Twitter work as a marketing tool?

Twitter is about right here, right now, and if you happen to promote that you have a product that does x, and the person reading the stream has a problem that requires x, then guess what, if the message was a ReTweet, then in effect that is a recommendation, and we know how powerful recommendations are.

This great value also makes the marketing challenge slightly more difficult, as of course we need to send our message out regularly, but without being seen to spam. If twitter (or a user) thinks you are spamming you will be investigated and have your account deactivated, so we need to be careful here. Both of the tools listed above offer a text spinning facility, where the text in a message can be random, thus creating a different message. for example in a sentence:

  • The cat sat on the mat

Could be replaced by The [cat:dog:mouse] sat on the  [mat:chair:table]

  • The dog sat on the mat
  • The mouse sat on the table
  • The cat sat on the chair

In essence it is the same message, but with text changes. this is a highly effective way of constructing a single message that can be re-used without spamming.

Give credit to others

If there are other twitter users that put out content you think your customers will value from then it is up to you to ReTweet their messages, If you only ever send your material then there is less reason for people to follow you. Sure the very big players can get away with this – but the world of social media is changing and they will lose out in the longer term.  This is supposed to be a social media platform after all, so pay it forward and it will come back. Sites like http://www.twitterfeed.com can help you tweet your blog, and the blogs of others

Customer service

Twitter is more than a marketing tool, it can be a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tool. As your customers can follow you, they can also message you directly, this is a powerful way to show you care. If you offer poor customer care DON’T use twitter – word will get out! The odd problem can be resolved really quickly and act as good PR

Make the most of Twitter as a marketing tool

Twitter is so much more than on the basic Twitter website, look at software tools like tweetdeck, seesmic or hootsuit, as they allow you to see and interact more easily with messages and content that is more relevant to you.

 

Summary – Top Tips for using Twitter as a strategic marketing tool:

  1. First things first – Make sure your account is set up correctly with all your details so that others can find you.
  2. Target the right people – people that are potentially interested in your product/ service
  3. Quantity vs quality followers – go for quality every time
  4. Get involved with other Tweeters – reply & comment on discussions
  5. It’s all for the love of the links – but not too often
  6. Have a great avatar  – have a photo (a professional one) rather than your company logo
  7. Have an effective background on your twitter page
  8. Update regularly – 1-6 times a day
  9. Don’t be a pest – do not use auto DM’s or auto replies
  10. Promote your twitter name on your email footers, blogs and business forums
  11. Twitter is only ONE communication channel – never rely on one strategy for your marketing
  12. The personal and business link is critical for success in social media based marketing

WARNING

There are many sites on the web that claim to grow your followers fast – please avoid them, many also tweet adverts to your followers, and they look like spam, you have been warned. Never give a site your twitter name and password, remember this is YOUR brand image we are talking about!

What are people saying about your industry or company? check it out at http://search.twitter.com/

Note - This blog article is based on our experience of using twitter as a marketing tool over the past 12 months. If a person is going to train you in these things, please ensure that they use the tools for their business, if they have only a few hundred followers and an out of date blog, then ask the question why are they not doing this effectively? Many of the tips on so called expert sites just do not work, everything I have written about here has worked in the field.

Twitter as a marketing tool, Twitter as a communication tool, Twitter as a training tool, Twitter as a strategic marketing tool


Management and Leadership development are importent to you and of course to the team here at RapidBI. We hope you find this information valuable, if you do please tweet or facebook like this page. Thanks

Read more management articles from the team


 

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About Mike Morrison

Mike Morrison is a consultant and change agent specialising in developing skills in senior people to increase organizational performance.
Mike is also founder & director of RapidBI, an organizational effectiveness consultancy.

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