Making The Most Of Your Twitter Profile

PRMG's Twitter Profile
PRMG’s Twitter Profile

Over the past year, Twitter has emerged as one of the most popular social media tools to be used by individuals and companies, evolving as an important tool in brand marketing. Cable service provider Comcast uses Twitter to engage directly with its customers and solve customer complaints in real time. Besides direct brand engagement and customer service, companies like Dell have directly generated over $3 million in sales through Twitter, offering exclusive discounts and deals to their “followers.”

Yet, it’s not just the big corporates that can successfully tap into Twitter; small businesses can also utilize this tool to build their brand, increase sales and engage better with their customers. Twitter.com offers this example: When an employee working in the Empire State Building tweeted that he was craving Tasty D-Lite ice cream, Tasty D-Lite offered to deliver it right to his office. Houston-based café Coffee Groundz allows customers to order their beverages and food through Twitter – which the café says has helped it double its customer base and discover a completely new way to engage and build a community of loyal customers.

As a local business, how can you tap into Twitter’s potential and achieve the same results? Read on to learn about our tips for understanding Twitter and making the most of your Twitter profile.

What is Twitter?
Twitter is a free “microblogging” service that allows members to send short messages or updates (called “tweets”) that are 140 characters or less. The message, which can be sent or viewed from your computer or mobile device, is sent to a person’s “followers” or those who are interested in what you may have to say or share. The quick, short updates and the ability to send or receive them anywhere, make Twitter a useful tool for communicating in real time.

How can you use Twitter for your business?
Many organizations use Twitter for customer service and as a quick way to monitor what others are saying about their brand. Besides this, Twitter can be used to stay connected with customers by sharing the latest company news or other information about your products and services and drive traffic to your Web site or blog. It can also be used to obtain real-time feedback or ideas from customers. Since it only consists of short updates, Twitter can often be easier to keep up with, as compared with blogging, and still help you stay connected with current or prospective customers.

Getting started with Twitter
The first step should be to create a Twitter account; signing up for one is quite quick and easy. For more information on how to get started with Twitter, read the Twitter Help Guide. If you are setting up a Twitter account for your business, enter the name of your business or brand in the profile information section with a short description and a link to your Web site.

Select a username also known as a “Twitter handle,” which is displayed as a ‘@’ sign followed by your username (For example @ThePRMG.) Usernames are limited to 15 characters, so you may need to abbreviate your company name. Upload a small profile picture, which could be your logo or your own picture (if you want to add a more personal touch to your business profile.)

Next, search for those in your industry or community by entering search keywords in the search box or the “Find People” tab and start following them and their tweets. You can also invite those in your e-mail contact list to connect with you over Twitter. A final word of advice: Don’t post too many updates over Twitter and if you are using Twitter for business, have something relevant to say.

Cracking the Twitter Code – Your Guide To Twitter Lingo

Tweets = Messages/Updates over Twitter
Twitter Handle = Your unique identity on Twitter – @ followed by your user-name
Following = When you “follow” someone over Twitter, you add them to your list of followers (think of them as friends you add on Facebook.) Once you follow someone, their tweets appear on your home page.
Retweet = You can repost or “retweet” any interesting update posted by those you follow that you want to share with others. This can be done by adding the letters RT before the message and giving proper credit to the original author.
DM = Direct messages sent by one Twitter user directly to another that can only be seen by the recipient (think of it as messages sent to your inbox over Facebook.) DMs also cannot exceed more than 140 characters and you can only DM people who follow you.
Hashtag = # symbol followed by a specific keyword. This helps you find other users who have used the same word in their tweets, helping you categorize tweets and see what others may be saying about a particular subject.

PRMG is on Twitter! Find us and connect with us here.

How Small Businesses Can Tap Into Social Media

Search for “Will It Blend” on Google and the top result will throw up Blendtec, a Utah-based company that manufactures a $399 heavy-duty blender. George Wright, Blendtec’s marketing director, conceived the idea of creating a video series where the company’s founder attempts to blend various unusual items (a hockey stick, cubic zirconia and even an Apple iPhone) to demonstrate the sheer power of the blender. The videos, which cost a few hundred dollars, were posted on free social media sites like YouTube and Digg, generating six million downloads and 10,000 comments in just a week. Following the first few videos, sales at Blendtec went up by 20 percent, followed by appearances on national television shows.

Blendtec offers a great example of how small businesses can exploit the power of social media to drive business results. Before the rise of social media, most organizations needed to either buy expensive advertising or receive media coverage to attract the attention of their customers. The Web, however, acts as a great equalizer and creates opportunities for both big and small companies to build brands virtually and interact directly with customers and other target audiences.

Today, most consumers look for the right product or service to satisfy their needs when they are online, and using tools like Web sites, podcasts, blogs, microblogs and social networks, you can deliver useful content to your audience when they are seeking it versus one-way interruptions through advertising or direct mail messages.

Getting started with social media:

Listen

The first step should be to listen to what your customers or prospects are saying about you by monitoring online conversations on blogs, social networks, forums and microblogs like Twitter. This will eliminate the need for conducting expensive research to understand your customers’ needs and perception of your brand. Listening will also help to learn about your industry and competitors. 

Using these insights, your organization must define its goals and develop a social media strategy to determine whom you want to target and how you want to reach them. Tools like Google Blog Search and Technorati can help you identify influencers and blogs relevant to your business or company, while an RSS reader can provide regular updates from various websites on specific subjects. 

Participate

Once you have defined your social media strategy, the next step is to participate in these conversations. You can tweet company news or events, leave comments on blog posts, start discussions and ask or respond to questions. While engaging in online conversations, it is important to be personal, authentic and transparent. Social media tools should not be used as just another channel to spread the “corporate message” but to put a face to your company and to build relationships with customers, employees and prospects. 

You can also use social media tools to drive and influence media coverage by connecting with journalists and influential bloggers who look for sources and story ideas over social media channels. Dell’s Guide to Social Media for Small Businesses offers a good example of this. Pinder, an online retailer of lightweight, stylish laptop and computer bags, identified and reached out to an influential marketing blogger, who reviewed a sample of the company’s latest laptop sleeve. After she wrote about the product on her blog, Pinder’s sales went up 30 percent. 

Sustaining conversations with social media tools takes both time and effort, but it can work wonders for your brand and company, if used correctly. As David M. Scott, a virtual marketing strategist and well-known author says, “Word-of-mouse is the single most empowering tool available to marketers today.”

*Sources: Dell’s Guide to Social Media

The New Rules of Marketing and PR by David M. Scott