Unless you have been asleep for a long time, you know what Twitter is. The social media micro-blog is no longer just for computer junkies – the big corporations have jumped on board, with staff dedicated to maintaining a Twitter presence. Consider Ford Motor Company, whose “twitter guy” Scott Monty has over 11,000 followers and himself follows more than 10,000 accounts. Ford has discovered that the public's propensity to bad-mouth big corporations (and, perhaps especially, American car companies) can be mitigated by having someone who responds to you personally. When there is a face (and a Twitter friend) for a huge corporation, it is easier to quieten criticism and even turn it to a positive energy. Monty responds via Twitter to negative comments about green issues and bailout money, for instance.
Smaller businesses and entrepreneurs can effectively form these relations, too, of course. While you may not aspire to 11,000 followers, you can build a network of other Twitter-folk who can help you pass the good word about your products and services, or about useful information and ideas that you wish to pass along to the public.
Twitter has its own little social code, so here are a few tips if you are just getting Twitter-ized.
- Share information that is inspirational or of value to your audience. No one really needs to know that your coffee was cold this morning.
- Don't market yourself first and foremost. Build up some followers and relationships first, and the weave some of your offers into the mix now and then.
- Retweet (RT or just R) information you see that is particularly valuable to your target market. Always give credit to the original Tweet-person when you reTweet.
- Use related software (often freeware) that helps you manage the massive amount of information coming your way on Twitter. For instance, try TweetDeck to get a handle on who is saying what to whom, and TweetLater for putting your Tweets in line to be delivered throughout the day.
Twitter is a very rapidly growing online community – and just like any community there are the givers and the takers. Be a giver, and remember that the primary purpose of Twitter is to build relationship, not sell. If you keep that in mind, oddly enough, Twitter will impact your sales positively in the future.
(c) Sue Painter