January 26, 2010 – The Twitter buzz shows no signs of abating, and more entrepreneurs and small businesses are turning to the free social networking site to help spread their marketing message.
The idea, of course, is to use Twitter to drive users to your websites and/or brick-and-mortar establishment. But having a Twitter account alone is not enough to accomplish this task. You have to know how to make Twitter work for you.
Let’s say that you created a Twitter account for your business several months ago and have little to show for it other than 23 followers (primarily spam accounts) and a handful of Tweets. If this sounds familiar, it’s time to re-evaluate your business strategy for Twitter.
How Does Twitter Factor Into Your Marketing Plan?
Think of Twitter as a tool in your marketing toolbox. If you learn to use it correctly (i.e. Tweeting effective messages on a consistent basis), it can enhance your current projects and help you to build new structures.
If you neglect Twitter (i.e. you seldom Tweet, or engage), it will languish and grow rusty with time. Misuse it (i.e. spamming your followers, or Tweeting anything that can be considered grievously “off message”) and you risk destroying something that you have taken time and care to construct.
Remember, just because you don’t pay to use Twitter, doesn’t mean that it is “free.” Time is your most valuable resource and effective use of Twitter necessitates time. When creating a Twitter account or re-evaluating your current account, decide how much of your daily or weekly marketing time that you and your marketing staff can and will allocate to using Twitter.
If you want Twitter to enhance your marketing plan, you must designate specific goals and a direction for your Twitter usage. Frequently assess and evaluate your time expenditure on Twitter vs. your results.
Find Creative Ways to Cultivate Your Twitter Audience
Be creative as you locate and cultivate your Twitter audience. Use the Twitter “Find People” and “Search” functions to follow users that relate specifically to what you do. By doing this, you tap into a network of relevant Twitter users, from whom you can learn valuable industry information, as well as ideas on how to use Twitter.
Another way to get noticed is to incorporate trending topics into your Tweets. Trending topics are located in the right column of the page and are always preceded by a hashtag (#). When you include a hashtag topic in a post, your post will automatically get indexed with all of those related posts. Be smart about how you include #trendingtopics in your Tweets. If you can creatively fit a topic into your post, by all means, do it. Don’t go off-topic from your branding image or message simply to incorporate a hashtag, as this will do nothing to generate quality follows and could actually annoy your target followers.
Maintain a Consistent Twitter Presence
Remember when we talked about the importance of devoting time to Twitter? Because of the rapid nature of Tweeting, it’s critical that you maintain a consistent Twitter presence. This may mean delegating 30 minutes a day to using Twitter -10 minutes in the morning, 10 minutes before lunch and 10 minutes at the end of the day.
Use your specified time to post at least 3 quality Twitter posts daily. More is better, but don’t get carried away. Your audience wants you to be actively engaged in the conversation but they don’t want to hear from you 20 times a day.
As your Twitter audience grows and your needs fluctuate, you may find that you can give more or less time to Twitter, but try to stick to that minimum of three daily posts. With Twitter, as with anywhere else in the marketing realm, it’s out of sight, out of mind.