I’ll hold my hand up here, it’s only fairly recently I have seen the point in using Twitter for small businesses, well honestly, using Twitter at all…
If you read my last post, I don’t text. So micro-blogging in 140 characters or less just seemed pretty pointless. Really, I don’t care what you’re having for dinner either. My time is too precious to be watching the noise and crap that gets tweeted.
Twitter recently reached its 5th birthday and a landmark 200 million tweets per day. I thought I would share my thoughts on the platform and the reasons why I have come to love Twitter.
Over the last 5 years I have abandoned more Twitter accounts than I care to remember. My view on using Twitter for small businesses has changed over the last six months, since deciding to work full time online. So what has changed?
My attitude to tweeting has changed immensely.
I’ve been online for many years and what I was seeing was this race to thousands of followers and shouting out promotion after promotion. As much as it pains me to admit it, I was affected by classic social proof. When you see something a lot, it’s human nature to think that is how it works. So many people do it, it must work, right?
Now I have admitted I am human, it became very clear to me – that is what was missing. When I set up @jankearney I decided I would make an effort to be more human online.
I stopped trying to be something I am not, stopped the race for thousands of followers, stopped the continuous noise coming from my accounts and started sharing information and links that I found interesting, which are hopefully interesting and useful to others too.
This is another mistake I was making in the past. Most tweets were auto tweeted and I wasn’t sharing other peoples ideas, articles, news or re-tweeting and connecting. I’m definately not alone in that mistake.
I have now realised I am not Lady Gaga or Britney Spears.
While I may be a goddess in my own mind, other people do not realise it and are really not interested in me. Or me promoting products all the time. As small businesses we are not celebrities, people don’t join our Twitter following in their thousands to just to see what we are up to.
Don’t let that ego crushing statement put you off! The point is, don’t measure your Twitter success just in numbers of followers or expect to grow your list of followers without some work.
Like any other small business, my time is not best spent sitting in front of Twitter and watching feeds. Managing other peoples feeds too, well that would mean logging in and out of multiple accounts all day…
And, while I do use some automation, there is a real me sat at the keyboard who monitors and responds to tweets.
To monitor effectively, without taking all day, I use a great tool called MarketMe Suite. This tool can monitor multiple Twitter and Facebook accounts with Google+ and LinkedIn planned too. There are many social media management tools out there. I chose MarketMe because Twitter and Facebook are the platforms I use the most and because of the branding options available. It’s important to find a management tool that you are comfortable with, many have low cost or free trials, so give them a try.
The bottom line is – does using Twitter for small businesses work?
Here’s the cop out…
I am only speaking from my personal experience. What I have noticed is, I don’t get hundreds of clicks on any promotional links on the rare occasions I do send them out. BUT, on days when I tweet more than my average 2 or 3 tweets I do see mini spikes in direct traffic and searches for my business. I think I will have to look that more closely and do a more scientific study.
Personally, I no longer view Twitter (or any other social network) as sales platform. It isn’t a place to keep yelling your offers. People don’t like being sold to. From a marketing perspective, it helps with the “know, like, trust” cycle that precedes purchases and buying loyalty.
The main benefit of Twitter for small businesses has to be the bigger picture. That is being visible online and being able to respond online.
With search engines using social indicators more, the impact of your tweets is actually broader than the average 12 seconds on someone’s busy news feed. A combination of Twitters geo-location and using local hash tags can enable local businesses to reach out to people in their area without them following directly too.
What I have come to realise is there may not be a “right” way to use Twitter, but there is definately a wrong way. I think I made every mistake with previous accounts. I’m glad now I had the patience to learn from my mistakes and give Twitter another chance.
If you are using Twitter, it would be great to connect there @jankearney Please send me a message directly to let me know so I can follow you back. I no longer auto follow.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences of using Twitter in your business. Does it work for you?
Lady Gaga image © kate-xo CC Attribution 2.5 Generic licenceTwitter for Small Businesses: How I Went From Hate to Love in Six Months by Jan Kearney