Before you can truly use Twitter to its best for your business, it’s very important to understand:

  • A. what you want to achieve by being on Twitter
  • B. that Twitter’s main purpose is to be social and to build relationships.

This was a very clear thread running through both presentations we have had so far this month from Claire Dowdall & Rebekah Harriman. If you go on Twitter with the intention of SELLING your product or service you will not get positive results. The culture of Twitter involves connecting & interacting on a regular basis just like you would in the real world.

A good basic rule to follow is don’t Tweet anything that you wouldn’t be comfortable saying in conversation to a stranger….

Building relationships on Twitter is the same as building relationships in the ‘real world.’ I’m (author:Yiannis Gedeon) writing this blog for the benefit of business owners or individuals who have Twitter accounts but still aren’t too sure about how it can help them build their credibility.

It still astounds me that many people I speak to about Twitter think that after tweeting once, should suddenly overnight, be inundated with demands for their product/service and sales should soar.

Do these same people believe that if they were to make one sales call, or deliver one leaflet a la ‘traditional’ marketing methods they would get a deluge of phone calls from customers begging to purchase their latest product? I suspect not.

“But wait,” they may say. “Twitter is all about reaching out to many with just one tweet. That one sales call/leaflet/email is not. It just targets one customer.”

True, very true.

But I liken Twitter to your first day at the office. No one really knows you, no one really cares what you have to say, you’re just the newbie. Bit by bit you build your credibility and you get listened to in the Monday morning meetings. You get invited out for drinks at the local pub for Sarah’s birthday (although be careful with this – giving away your thoughts about your co-workers after a few beers is to be avoided.) Point is, developing strong relationships always takes time.

Hence when you eagerly post details of your product or service on Twitter and wait for a response, unless you’ve spent time cultivating the right kind of followers, it’s unlikely anyone’s going to really bother responding.

So, Twitter as a marketing tool is not that different to any other way of marketing or building up a client base. It is just an EXTRA METHOD that could potentially give you access to a WIDER audience than just the one around your immediate contacts and clients.

Just think of Twitter as one big happy virtual networking event.

So, how to make an impact? Just follow the same rules you follow whilst building ‘real’ relationships in the ‘real’ world.

Tweet Regularly & Interact With Other Tweeters

Consistency is key. If I had a pound for every Twitter account set up which had minimal tweeting action going on I’d be a multimillionaire. Just like people, there are millions of accounts out there. If you’re not telling anyone about your business and its benefits in real life, you wouldn’t expect to get customers, so why would you on Twitter? Aim to tweet about five times a day and to interact with people or brands you want to get to know.

Patience Is The Key

The most important thing is not to give up in the early days. Once you learn the true value of Twitter you will realise it’s not just a load of people writing about ‘Washing their hair’ (yes, Twitter virgins often complain that they don’t want to read about pointless trivia such as this) but, if you’re following the right accounts you will see how they interact and it’s a great idea to learn from the experts. Which brings me on to the next point…

Target The Right People

There’s no point following Britney Spears if you run an IT consultancy. Be serious, target those you really feel you could benefit from and who also follow other accounts that could potentially benefit your business. If you get one of your posts ‘retweeted’ by one of your followers, it could reach an audience of hundreds or thousands of people. Let your followers be your viral marketers but remember to ADD value to their Twitter feeds – nothing is more annoying than constantly seeing someone posting pointless information that clogs up your feed!

Be Respectful

As many have already noted, Twitter etiquette is the same as the one you follow daily with other humans. Don’t say anything to anyone you wouldn’t say to their face, thank them when they retweet you and generally don’t be abusive. Online personalities should be an extension of the best bits of your own personality.

Don’t Be Afraid To Mix And Match

Some Twitter users advocate staying on topic and never tweeting about anything else. Of course it’s best to be very aware of your identity, why you’re tweeting and to work on building valuable content. However, it’s always good to be sociable, that’s what Twitter’s there for! So why not tweet occasionally about what you’re up to at the weekend, wish everyone a Happy New Year/Christmas/Thanksgiving. It’s about being friendly as well as professional!

Don’t Be Overwhelmed By The Time Aspect

Some small business owners really fear the amount of time Twitter takes up. It’s true that it can be addictive, however, it shouldn’t distract you from deadlines. Give yourself a ‘tweet quota’ and if striving to finish a project cut off social networking for a few hours while you focus purely on the important stuff. If you just think of it as something that fits in with the ebb and flow of your day, it’ll seem less scary…

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