As online marketers understand, having a strong social presence is vital to a holistic online marketing plan for businesses. Clients, especially those accustomed to traditional marketing practices, are usually a hard sell when it comes to paying for social media marketing services; this becomes especially true once they discover that the ROI is nearly impossible to measure. What’s more, even as businesses are beginning to grasp how Facebook works, Twitter remains an anomaly for most. To help those business owners and clients who are still struggling with Twitter, I’ve provided 5 easy ways to build your Twitter followers and grow your business.
1. CREATIVELY AND PROFESSIONALLY PREPARE YOUR PROFILE
In order for your business to be taken seriously on Twitter, it’s important to put your professional face forward while still allowing your business personality to shine through. The following tips may serve as a guide to ensure your business’ Twitter account is both professional and personal.
Use your logo as the profile picture in order to keep your business top of mind, as your followers will repeatedly see your logo in their feed even if they’re not visiting your profile often. For many businesses, such as hotels, consumers may only need to use the product 1-4 times per year; therefore, when it comes time for them to decide on a product, your business will mostly likely be a contender because the consumer is familiar with your logo and your business personality. Ensure your logo is formatted correctly so it’s clearly seen.
Give your business a personal touch with a creative bio to allow your followers to connect with your business. Your company bio should tell the story of your business and your company’s goals while inserting a little personality. Companies with a focused goal or companies that were conceived after an issue should certainly include those details in their bio. For example, Josie Maran Cosmetics were created as a result of “existing eco-friendly, natural beauty products lack[ing] the sophistication and level of luxury she craved” (Josie Maran website). Loyal customers are built by similar core values so it’s important to convey those in your bio and subsequent tweets.
Your background is prime real estate – use it! Customize your Twitter background to provide additional information about your business. Plus, having a custom background will help make your profile more memorable and thus, top of mind for your followers.
2. BUILD YOUR FOLLOWERS
Without a respectable following, your tweets will fall on deaf ears (or blind eyes?). Not only is it important to build a large number of followers to increase your “klout,” it’s arguably more important to have relevant followers. Quality over quantity is the 2013 motto, right? If your business is having a hard time accruing relevant followers, try following them first for them to discover and follow your company back.
Don’t forget to follow customers to build your followers both online and offline. Yes, following customers will encourage them to follow you back, but it will also allow you to join the conversation. Being privy to customers’ concerns, suggestions, and general questions can help your company determine areas in which it needs to improve and it provides opportunities for your company to give advice, answer questions, and ultimately lead the customers back to your product. Furthermore, with enough customer followers, your contests and promotions hosted on social media sites will be more effective, have more engagement, and will create a more loyal following.
Don’t forget to follow your competitors. Help level the playing field in your industry by following your competitors to track your progress against theirs. Are your competitors running more promotions, tweeting more often or less often, and who are they following?
3. QUALITY OVER QUANTITY: SHARE VALUABLE CONTENT
One of the biggest online marketing trends of 2012 was to provide a valuable user experience and that trend is only going to grow stronger in 2013. Twitter is no exception to this trend as followers don’t want their feed cluttered with invaluable chatter or constant product promotion. To improve the quality of your Tweets, provide something with substance in 140 characters and follow these tips:
Listen to the conversation to learn what your followers want and what your company should tweet. Read your followers’ tweets, watch competitors’ successes, and look for mentions of your business by searching for your business name.
Set-up Google Alerts for updates on things that your audience is interested in that you can share on Twitter. For example, in the hotel industry, I set my Google Alerts to notify me of top travel locations, travel deals, and even topics such as exercise tips when traveling.
As with any social platform, photos are a proven way to engage your community. I encourage my clients to take quick snapshots of their property or of events taking place at the property for a quick Tweet that packs a punch. Tweets such as photos also help further personify your account and helps your followers connect with your company.
Share special offers or contests on your Twitter account in which loyal followers are rewarded. Having phrase protected offers are always a hit and they help to bring your marketing efforts offline and into your physical business. Wow Bao, an Asian restaurant chain, releases a secret phrase every Wednesday that can be redeemed in-store for a free menu item. Needless to say, I love following their account.
4. DON’T STALK: ENGAGE WITH YOUR COMMUNITY
A common complaint heard among social platform users is that they don’t want other people to “stalk” their accounts. A social stalker is characterized as someone who logs on to social sites to view other people’s contributions without any of their own. To foster a strong Twitter following, your business must engage with its community and join the conversation.
Being a part of the conversation will help your business gain even more followers, as there will be multiple other tweeters in the conversation. For instance, if you’re able to provide though-provoking insight or expertly answer questions, you have a better chance of being followed.
Once your business gains a reputation as a strong social communicator, customers may start a conversation with you. This will provide your business an opportunity to build a relationship with customers and all potential customers who see these Twitter conversations.
On the other hand, customers may use Twitter to complain about services or products. Rather than playing the part of a social stalker, use this as a perfect opportunity to showcase your business’ customer service skills by responding to the customer complaint.
Your business can even start a conversation by creating a hashtag. Hashtags can be used to target a certain group (#businesstraveler) or it can be used to build up a contest or promotion (#petsincostumes).
5. PROMOTE YOUR TWITTER ACCOUNT AND BUILD YOUR ONLINE BASE…OFFLINE
People can’t follow what they don’t know is out there, so don’t be shy to promote your Twitter account offline and build your following online. Ensure that there’s a link to each of your social accounts, not just Twitter, on all of your business collateral. Put a link to “Follow Us on Twitter” on email signatures, business cards, and store fronts. Remember to invite customers to follow you on Twitter at every occasion, such as after posts on forums or customer service interactions. Add a Twitter button to all online collateral, such as your website and customer surveys. Don’t forget about QR-coded links to Twitter on sales flyers or around your business to provide easy one-click access to your Twitter account.
Building a strong online presence for businesses requires a holistic approach, including building and maintaining a strong social media marketing campaign. While I would always advise businesses to partner with an online marketing agency to manage their social media accounts, that option is not always attainable. As companies’ social media presence continues to have a strong impact on their search engine optimization rankings, understanding Twitter has become even more vital. By following the 5 easy steps outlined above, your business’ Twitter account is sure to be more successful in 2013!