Twitter, a microblogging platform, could represent a huge window to promote your business.
As opposed to Facebook (fun, family, friends) and LinkedIn (serious, business, colleagues), twitter is a service where users actually expect to hear from you.
If you want to cook a twitter recipe for success you will need the following ingredients:
- 1 Twitter account, in the future you may create accounts for billing or customer service.
- 1 Hour a day to work in your twitter account, this is a minimum and should include weekends.
- 1 Power to take business decisions (optional).
- Extra ingredients: formal language, original content for your followers and lots of patience.
- The very first thing to consider is that your twitter account will be the face and ears of your company; keep a professional and respectful tone. Basic netiquette is essential.
- Be present; if you are not going to dedicate time to twitter, do not open an account. Having a dormant or barely used account is not good for your business’ reputation; it will make you look uncaring or even unreliable in the eyes of your current and potential customers.
- Use twitter to share relevant information about your company and its industry. Be careful not to overcook; twitter users do not like their timeline to be flooded and will not think twice to stop following you. Unless you make a orthographical or grammatical error, you should never ever erase your twits, even less if you just shot yourself in the foot during an argument with another user.
- Be prepared to be contacted by recent, current and potential customers and, most importantly, reply to your mentions and messages; this is when you have to apply your daily “twitter time”. Needless to say, you have to be knowledgeable about your industry and/or products. Moreover, you need to be precise, concise and terse: the fewer twits you use to solve an issue the more efficient your company is considered.
- Solving issues regarding the services you provide or products you sell will certainly boost your credibility and will surely help to build a strong brand name reputation; here is when you use your “power to take business decisions”, maybe to provide exchanges, refunds, take care of billing mistakes or even ordering, for example.
- Protect yourself; add to your Terms of Service (ToS) the extent of what can be done via twitter and, if necessary, forward your potential customers —or even your current ones— to a copy of your ToS and remind them that any solution or agreement represents a binding contract. Always stick to your ToS: Trying to please/win one individual client could translate into future and more complex issues.
You need to understand that twitter is not a tool to measure how popular your company is; twitter is a business opportunity to grow your reputation, your brand name; the opportunity to be seen as a company that gets things done in a professional, clear and prompt manner.
Your goal should be to get feedback from your current and potential clients, remember that knowledge is power and, who could be a better source of information than your target clientele?
Businesses are successful not only because of the quality and popularity of their products or services but because they know how to get and analyze data from their target clientele and apply changes to the business plan accordingly.
Twitter could provide you with information to write a well documented FAQ section for your site where you actually address issues with your products or answer pre-sales questions before your clientele had the need to contact you via email or phone.
Being efficient translates into immediate results: imagine all the time you could save if you would not have to answer the same doubt or question or the increase in sales when a well documented pre-sales section answers to doubts at the precise moment your client is deciding whether or not to acquire your product or service.
Although there are no official numbers, it is commonly assumed that there are between 1 and 2 million twitter users in Canada with almost 80% being above 18 years old.
Being conservative, considering 1 million of Canadian twitter accounts and that from those only 1 out of 5 accounts fall into your target market, we are speaking of a minimum of 200,000 potential clients. Your success in this media depends on the quality of your content over the quantity of twits you post.
Why is a double-sided sword?
Twitter has a very strong influence on whether a company will be appreciated or repudiated.
Consider that twitter users are likely to be registered in other social medias (for example Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Google Buzz, tumblr) and they will trash you in all of them if any issue goes nasty. In a social media environment, negative comments or experiences about companies and its products spread faster and deeper than positive ones.
If you do not closely monitor and take care of your twitter account, the community could generate a negative buzz about your company and even influence buying decisions if there are repeatedly unsolved negative issues regarding your services or products.