Often times, people tell me, “But my customers aren’t ON Twitter.” This is probably true. Twitter still has only 140 million or so users. But that doesn’t mean that you couldn’t invite them onto Twitter as a way to communicate with your business. You might just have to help them out a little bit more than putting “Follow Us On Twitter” on the bottom of your recent marketing materials.
Your Approach to Twitter
First, make sure your approach to Twitter is that you wish to use it to both inform your customers, as well as to engage with them in between purchases. If you’re just going to do A, it’s not very useful. Tweeting out your coupon codes isn’t going to show you a huge return on effort. Keeping people interested in what you’re saying and showing them that you’re interested in what they’re saying will keep you top of mind, which translates much better into future business and repeat business, plus referrals.
Make your account a picture of you or of whoever’s going to do the tweeting. If you MUST have a logo, have the logo be a little badge in the lower third of the avatar picture. We’re shooting for a human connection here. People don’t form connections with logos (though they can be brand enthusiasts).
What you’re going to talk about is kind of a recipe. You talk about 50% of the time about them, your customers. You interact with them. You cheer their victories. You mention which song they talked about and that you like it or don’t. 50% is about them. 25% is about stuff pertaining to others that might be interesting to them. If your customers are runners, you point out interesting races, or new technology that you’re not selling, or new techniques. The last 25% can be about you, but hopefully, you’ll think in terms of how you equip them. How can the information you provide, even if it’s selling something, equip them to do better? That’s the big goal.
How To Invite Them
There are two ways people can participate with you on Twitter. One is very passive, and it might just be that your customers only want that. In this case, you can just explain that you use Twitter to share useful information to their interests, and that you also share company news on Twitter. You provide them the full URL of your Twitter account: http://twitter.com/youramazingbusiness . In this case, you’re presuming that your customers don’t really want all the interaction we talked about above, but that they can still benefit from your updates.
In the second, you help walk them into starting their own Twitter account. It’s not that hard to explain to people. You show them how to sign up at Twitter.com. You can explain that there are all kinds of interesting people to follow on Twitter. (A great service for finding people to follow is Listorious.) Show them the FUN part of using Twitter. Do your customers like Lada Gaga? Then show them where to find her. Are they into politics? Show them both sides of the aisle. My dad’s into Poker, so he follows all kinds of professional poker players. It keeps him reading and interacting. You can do the same with your customers.
If you do it the second way, make sure to get their Twitter account names. Add these to your CRM, so that you can contact these folks via Twitter, so that you can add them to your list.
Find Some More People on Twitter
If your business is location-specific, go to http://search.twitter.com and put in the various ways people talk about your location. For instance, Milwaukee people often also say MKE when talking about their city. Make sure your search says “Milwaukee OR MKE” to find everyone talking. From that, pluck out the people who might also be useful to follow as prospective customers.
You can do the same with search terms for what your business does. Do you sell plumbing supplies? Look for people talking about construction, building, architecture, etc. It’s slow going. No one will tell you otherwise. But there’s some opportunity in doing this legwork, at least to get a base going. Then, when you’ve started even a small community of people to follow and interact with, some organic growth will happen.
Twitter Isn’t a Chore
Twitter’s something you can fit into your business in between other things you’re doing. You don’t have to schedule off Twitter time. You just have to get into the habit of finding a little moment to add something to your stream. It gets to be a simple habit over time. It comes effortlessly, once you get the sense that people are listening (even sometimes) and that you’re adding some value.
If I’ve left something out about the concept, here’s your chance to ask. And others, maybe you can add your experiences in doing this for your own business? Tell us the good and the bad. Fair?