What’s all the tweets about? If you’ve wondered what all the fuss for 140 characters is about, read on and discover why you can’t miss out on the business tool as a savvy professional or entrepreneur.
What is Twitter?
Starting in July 2006, Twitter was originally conceived as an SMS (Short Message Service) for the web by podcasting company Odeo, with its intent to provide status updates and a social platform for users. Within a short time, the company realised its potential and grew exponentially, adding functionality like images and videos (previously relegated to text-based links) that embraced the ever-changing landscape of the internet. As of 2015, Twitter has grown to become one of the most widely-used social media platforms on the internet with over 302 million active users.
The process to use Twitter is free and simple: after a brief registration process, users can type a post (known as “tweets”) with a maximum of 140 characters, which is then communicated to people following their username/profile. This is known as “microblogging.” Conversely, users can follow their friends and other’s tweets, reposting (“retweeted”) and replying to tweets they find interesting or relevant. Tweets can range from random thoughts, media links, and even business launches. The uses are only limited to the imagination and ingenuity of its users.
In a world full of distractions and tl:dr’s (“too long: didn’t read”) begging for our attention, Twitter offers a direct and no-nonsense format that boils down what people and businesses say in the most compact fashion possible.
How Can I Use Twitter For My Business?
Think of Twitter as public relations tool for your business with an active social component. Supporters and critics can respond to your tweets to give you insight into virtually every aspect of your business. Popular ideas can be retweeted, expanding the initial reach beyond your followers. Having an interested, active audience engaging in your products and brand are invaluable assets that older forms of direct marketing have missed out on.
Let’s take a look at some Twitter’s uses for your business:
Got something to say about your business? Tweet it! Almost everything related to your business can be worth a post, including new hires, successes, interviews and articles related to your business, and even media that reflects your business model. Each tweet can be considered a free miniature public relations event, and if there’s anything that businesses can agree on, it is greater visibility in the marketplace.
If you have content from other sources, such as articles or a Youtube channel, be sure to tweet these as well, as you’ll get more wide-spread traffic. This is also useful if you have affiliate marketing and monetized content, increasing the amount of revenue streams towards your business.
While content generation can be costly and time-consuming to your brand, there’s ways to use pre-existing material to promote your business without having to create new material. For instance, if you are a guitar manufacturer, posting videos and links to famous musicians’ performances can be a way of engaging your clientele, showing parallelism between your brand and established cultural memes. Try to find sources that reflect what your customers are interested in and what your brand reflects.
Beta Testing and Beyond
Depending on the type of relationship you wish to have with your customers, you can beta test products on your Twitter feed. By polling your audience, you can see if your followers would be interested in new features, expanded product lines, and so forth. One method to entice your audience to participate in this type of advertising is to tweet limited-time offers on new products, rewarding those who repost your brand and their experiences with incentives. Something as simple as, “we’re offering first 25 users who retweet us a free sample of our product. Visit us company.com/freeoffer (Australia only),” can work wonders as you get web traffic, emails to add to a mailing list, and genuine feedback on your product.
Social Trend Piggybacking
By staying aware of news events and social events on Twitter, you can keep a pulse on what customers and potential customers are concerned with. One way social media, and Twitter especially, compartmentalizes these topics is by utilizing “hashtags”. If you’ve seen an asterisk before a short phrase, such as #entrepreneurs, realise that these topic and all the tweets that use these are being aggregated together in a searchable database, continuing conversations from disparate sources including Twitter and beyond, like Facebook, Tumblr and Instagram uploads/posts. If you offer a product or service that emphasizes a solution, alternative, or is simply related, you can use these hashtags by placing the hashtag in your tweet to cast your virtual hat in the social arena.
Another way to use Twitter is to do market research. By following your competitors’ Twitter accounts, you can gauge how often they are tweeting, what they are tweeting, and what products and services they are promoting. It gives you reconnaissance into their social media structure. Combining several competitors’ feeds into one consolidated feed, you can have a market research tool at hand, as you can see satisfied and unsatisfied customers tweet their opinions in real-time. If you’re truly devious, you can try contacting dissatisfied customers directly and try to poach them into your business’ fold.
Shadow testing also lends itself well to Twitter. Setting up a fake Twitter account with an accompanying web page, you can get a good idea of the quantity and particular type of consumers would be interested in a product you have to offer. This is a good way to test something that may be damaging to your reputation or dilute your marketing approach if directly marketed on your main Twitter feed. For more information into the methodology of shadow testing, check out our article here.
With great power comes great responsibility. Be careful not to expose too much of your business model on Twitter, as competitors can just as easily poach your customers and incite negative media as you can to theirs. Be sure to measure each tweet and weigh the ramifications of controversial subjects.
Be careful using it for personal usage, even for Twitter accounts that are seemingly personal and unrelated to your company (including employees). Now that almost anyone’s dossier is available on search engines, it only takes a few missteps to have something dog your brand or company for life. Negative publicity has a tendency to mushroom if not managed quickly and professionally.
Twitter offers a way to keep your audience up-to-date with product developments, new service announcements, and engaging ways to interact with those who are familiar with your products.