Tips on Using Twitter for Business

Thursday, June 25, 2009

On Tuesday I spoke on a panel at Engage!09 called Social Media Success.  There were  four small groups that rotated to four different sessions, meaning that I, along with my fellow panelists Bee Kim of Weddingbee and Lara Casey of Southern Weddings, spoke four times in a row.  Given the broadness of the topic and limited time with each group, we were unable to get to each question or elaborate as much as we wanted - this is a topic that could take up a week of sessions just in itself!  Because of that, I am going to elaborate on some of the questions and topics brought up in the sessions that we weren’t able to fully address. Today, I want to expand on a few points on using Twitter for business. 

General Overview
Twitter is a social media tool, with an emphasis on the word social.  If you can’t commit to interacting with people, it is probably not the tool for you.  This doesn’t mean that you have to interact with every single person that replies to you, but it shouldn’t be a one-way press release for your business. That said, it is as time-consuming as you make it. If you don’t want it to overrun your life, set a boundary that you will check in on Twitter once or twice a day to update and connect with others.

Knowing Your Audience
Sales guru Jeffrey Gitomer has a saying that it’s not what you know or even who you know, but rather it boils down to who knows you.  Twitter is a way to get your brand in front of a group of interested people - many of whom you may never even meet or know personally.  If people aren’t interested in your company, they don’t have to follow you.  It is purely permission based in that sense, and as a result, gives you a powerful outlet to share your perspective, insight and snippets of your life with an audience who actually cares. 

It’s also important to be aware of who your audience on Twitter is so that you can get an idea of why they are following you (besides the fact that you are clearly awesome).  While anyone in the world will have access to your Twitter page, your actual audience will be much narrower and most likely fall into a small handful of niche categories: wedding professionals, small business owners, brides, etc.  For a long time, I assumed that my Twitter audience was the same as the Think Splendid blog audience. I later learned that this was not the case - while there is overlap in who reads this blog and who follows me on Twitter, there is actually a large number of people who only read the Twitter updates and don’t read the blog at all. 

Creating Relevant Content
There is a book on blogging called 'No One Cares What You Had for Lunch'.  I think someone should publish a sequel for Twitter called 'No One Cares How Full Your Email Inbox Is'. While you are able to write about anything you want, there are some things to avoid - namely, complaining.  Yes, it is important to be real and authentic - after all, authenticity and transparency are two of the founding values of social media - but complaining non-stop is unhealthy for you and toxic for everyone else. As professionals, it also sends a poor message to potential clients or fellow vendors as to how you run your business and how you treat your client relationships. 

It’s important to avoid talking about clients in any negative light whatsoever.  If they are late to an appointment and it is driving you batty, open a Word document, title it “Tweets No One Will Ever See” and type it in there.  It’s also especially important to maintain client confidentiality and keep those aspects offline.  Money is a sensitive topic for many people and your clients probably don’t want the world to know that they are your largest sale yet.  You don’t have to name them for others to figure out who they are.  If someone sent you a private email, don’t reply to them in a public space.  Pretty common sense, but sometimes these things tend to be forgotten in our excitement to share. 

While people may not care about how many emails you receive or that you ate at Chipotle for the 5000th time this month, they do care about you and the people behind the company because they want to do business with people they trust and like.  Everything you post on Twitter does not need to be life changing, groundbreaking or awe inspiring.  The dailiness of life is a reality for everyone, and more importantly, is relatable.  My twittering about purchasing fun toys for my nephew only for him to ignore them in favor of the TV remote is not particularly important.  It’s an insight into my life, however, and it’s something people relate to because almost everyone has had a similar experience.  Sometimes Twitter should be more about the ties that bind us together than about being strictly business.

One of the next posts will be on how Twitter can help your business. In the meantime, to learn more about Twitter, you can download my ebook called 5 Things I’ve Learned From Twitter (don't worry - it's free).  You can also follow me at @thinksplendid

What types of things do you like to read about the people you follow on Twitter?

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