“ I just don’t get Twitter” This is something I often hear from small-business owners that I work with, as well as from my own friends and family. How can sending out short messages to the far-flung reaches of the internet be of any benefit to their business? This is an excellent question. The truth is that if someone sits down in front of their computer and fires out a bunch of random tweets, it really won’t do their business much good. But when used wisely and with purpose, Twitter can help you find new leads, connect with customers, create communities and spread greater awareness of your business or brand. Sounds good, right? So let’s get started! Step 1. Clarify your goals What is it that you hope to get out of using Twitter? Many businesses just aim for a high number of Twitter follows because they think it will make their account look good. Those businesses are wrong. Having thousands of Twitter followers won’t get you anywhere if the people following you aren’t high quality connections from within your industry. These random followers won’t care about the links that you share and they certainly won’t be retweeting them to the people who you hope will see them. On Twitter It’s the quality of your followers that counts, not the quantity (Click to Tweet!) Here are some of the goals you can hope to achieve by maintaining an active Twitter account: A strong relationship with your customer base – by being available on Twitter to quickly respond to customer questions or comments you will help cement your customers’ loyalty to you. It’s also a good opportunity to inject some fun and humor into your communications through emojis or just some casual conversation. New leads – start following potential customers and other people in your industry by searching for relevant keywords or seeing who your current customers are following. These people may not follow you at first but you can engage them by retweeting their links and asking them questions and eventually they may follow you in return, giving you the chance to help them learn about your business. Relationship with influential industry leaders – if you already know who your industry influencers and thought leaders are just look them up on Twitter and start following them. You may want to also see who they are following because you will likely want to follow them as well. Once you do that you can engage them by retweeting the links they share and participating in conversations with them. Relationships with peers in the industry – it’s a good idea to connect with businesses that that have a similar customer base as you and the people managing social media for other brands in your industry. If you become friendly then you can regularly retweet each other’s links, getting more views for your content. There is also probably a lot you can learn from each other. Increase in website traffic – draw more traffic to your website by sharing your blog posts on Twitter and participating in wider conversations about your topic or industry. Step 2. Determine who you want to connect with on Twitter Now that you have your goals outlined you can decide who you want to start following on Twitter, based on the outcomes you hope to achieve. If the goals in step 1 sound like they align with your needs, then these are the groups you want to target: Your current customers or clients. Potential customers or clients. Industry influencers. Industry peers. To find specific people on Twitter whose names you already know, simply look for their Twitter hashtags on their website, or input their names into the search field. This can apply both to your customers as well as to thought leaders that you respect and would like to connect with. To search for new leads and conversations you can use Twitter’s Advanced Search tool to do a targeted search that includes locations, dates, hashtags and several other helpful filters. Step 3. Decide how Twitter will fit into your overall marketing strategy As you become more active on Twitter you will discover yourself doing more than just following people and participating in conversations. Soon customers will reach out to you with support questions, you’ll start sharing links to your blog content and you may even begin using Twitter to search for conversations about your brand. All of these activities are part of your wider marketing strategy so you should decide in advance what resources you want to allocate towards them. You will also want to decide on some set social media policies for how Twitter should be used, the kind of content that you will share and the overall message that all of your tweets will tie into. Step 4: Create and optimize your Twitter account Design your profile page: Your Twitter page should look professional and be inline with your brand. Pick colors and a Twitter header that reflects your company brand and culture. Add a profile picture: Replace the default picture of an egg with your company logo. Write a company Bio: Write an interesting and informative bio for the profile; something that will make people want to visit your website to learn more about you. Don’t forget to include a link to your website underneath. Start Tweeting: Share high quality content that will be of interest to your followers. Include relevant hashtags in each tweet that you share to help your tweets get noticed. Share a mix of tweets that includes your own content as well as articles from other sources, interesting images, quotes and helpful tips. Begin following people: Start off by following people that you already know and who are likely to follow you back. You don’t want to follow too many new people at once because it will take a while for people to follow you back and it will look a little strange if the number of people that you follow is significantly higher than those that follow you. Engage with your followers: Thank every new person that follows you. Thank every person that retweets your links or says something nice about your business or products. Participate in conversation relevant to your business. Ask your followers questions to start conversations. Step 5: Track results You had started off your Twitter marketing strategy by defining your goals. In order to know if you are meeting those goals you will need to regularly track your results. Tracking results from social media activities is not always a cut-and-dry process, and it varies for each platform. When it comes to Twitter there are several different metrics that you can track. The number of tweets published each month. The number of tweets that were retweeted and liked. The number of new followers acquired. Direct traffic that came to your website from Twitter. Monthly mentions of the brand on Twitter. Monthly tweet impressions. The number of profile visits. The number of engagements or discussions that took place with other twitter users. There are many different tools that you can use to track your activities and results from Twitter. These are a few of my favorite: Twitter Analytics: Twitter has a pretty robust analytics tool of it’s own which will offer you an analysis of your tweets, your followers and your Twitter cards, if you use them. It will also provide you with a monthly summary of impressions, mentions, profile visits and new followers, which you can then compare to previous months. Commun.it: A good tool for tracking your followers and increasing engagement through automated tweets. Commun.it also offers helpful suggestions about people to unfollow due to lack of activity, people to reengage with or people to follow back. Bitly: Shortens your links and provides you with tracking information for each one so that you can see the activity of each tweet that you share. Hootsuite: Makes it easy to keep track of all activities in your Twitter stream, including retweets, likes, mentions and messages. It also makes it easy to track specific keywords that you want to stay on top of. By approaching Twitter with a well thought-out plan, you can make this social media platform one of your most valuable marketing tools. About Latest Posts Written by Simcha Lazarus Simcha is WiseStamp’s Content and Community Coordinator. She’s a social media enthusiast who loves teaching people how to grow their business online. When she’s not tweeting, liking, connecting, pinning or redditing, she’s probably reading a book. – Email Sign Off: The Definitive Guide – Keri’s Signature Story: A Social Media Pioneer – Bailey’s Signature Story: From Engineer to Entrepreneur – April Jackson’s Signature Story: From Paralegal to Managing Attorney – The WiseStamp Signature Story: Here’s Where it all Began Related Posts The 5 Tools you Need to Manage Your Small Busines... 3 Golden Rules for Boosting Social Media Engagemen... The 4 Must-Follow Rules of Social Media The 7 Best Facebook Marketing Posts of 2015 Find out more about: SEO Marketing: Making SEO as Easy as ABC!