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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Can Twitter Help Your Small Business?

We've all heard that social media ... and using social media in your marketing arsenal ... is all the rage. Twitter .... one of the more popular social media venues .... appears to have grabbed the attention of many small businesses as a potential leverage maker for growing business (sic customers).

Can Twitter really help your small business efforts? Read this enlightening contribution by Cindy King from Linked-In and judge for yourself.

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Twitter has helped my business in more ways than 1.

I first started tweeting for business shortly after I signed up for Chris Garrett's Authority Blogging course in August. As a freelance copywriter and marketing consultant with 2 blogs and using web marketing for international lead generation, I wanted to improve my blogging skills. Twitter is one of the key tools Chris recommends to create stronger relationships online - Twitter is micro-blogging.

I went into Twitter hating the idea of wasting my time listening to mundanes stories about other people's lives. My business keeps me busy and I did not have time to waste. So I totally focused on Twitter for my business and finding a way to fit it into my schedule.

Following the right people to understand Twitter was key - Community Managers, Authority Bloggers. There are some people very gifted at building relationships on Twitter. As I followed these online community builders, I realized that some of them are also excellent direct response copywriters. They get their Twitter followers to take action.

Light bulbs went off, and I spent a weekend putting together a tweet marketing plan and entered in 6 weeks worth of tweets, 5 a day, using TweetLater. I used a mindmap, categories, varied times on tweets and used BUDurls so I could track results and improve my tweet plan the next time around. That was a month ago.

I now use Chris Garrett's advice. Twitter is like a big meeting room. There is no pressure about "following" everyone. When I have 2-3 minutes free in between projects, I just step into this room and see what people are talking about and participate... then leave.

In practice, when I take a break, I check my Tweetlater alerts on my keywords - emailed to me every hour, so when I check it, they are recent. I check out anyone who tweeted something interesting, respond to them, rebroadcast their tweet, follow them, and answer direct tweets.

Here are my observations:

1. The synergy with other web marketing channels - 2 blogs, LinkedIn & Facebook - adds to both the number of leads and the lead quality I now get out of online marketing.

2. My Tweets are primarily aimed at getting market feedback from potential leads and my blog readers. To do this, I target my audience with a percentage of about 80-90% tweets on resources and useful information on my main subject - cross-cultural marketing for faster international business development - and the other tweets are surveys and questions. Good news: also have university professors & associations for business development following me.

3. New relationships with peers and competitors. This increases my business intelligence - with less effort. It's easy to stay on top of your field when you are on Twitter and they are too. A few interviews scheduled and quality referrals.

4. In addition to better online marketing, I have also added Twitter coverage of events to my list of freelance marketing services. This fits my other copywriting services - International Success Stories to international event participants. I live just outside of Paris, and hope to get my first client tweeting from a live event there soon.

Results: Mike, this is working for me. Since I started using Twitter for business, I have had a 800% increase in direct mails to my personal email, through LinkedIn and on Facebook. Many times people say they have seen me elsewhere, but they choose to make the connection using their favorite social media channel.

Twitter is where I "got" the social media mindset. You need to understand the difference in how to market to your customers in this community environment compared to traditional environments. And you can only do this by jumping in and participating.

And as a marketer, it is obvious to me that you need to understand this mindset before you can carry out effective multichannel marketing needed to reach today's consumer.

1 comment:

Liz's Two Cents said...

Appreciate this post, puts even more validity to making a serious effort to network with Twitter.