When using social media tools like Twitter to promote your business, it’s important to use them strategically so that you’re not wasting your time.
To take advantage of the below tips, I generally recommend using a 3rd party application such as Seesmic, Hootsuite or Tweetdeck since they offer column based layouts which typically makes it easier to navigate, in addition to features such as scheduling tweets.
1) Use Lists to Keep Track of People That Are Important to Your Mission
If you’re following a lot of people, it can be hard to keep track of who’s who and to make sure you see updates from the people that count. Organizing people into Lists (both public and private) can help you keep tabs on what’s important to you. Remember that you don’t have to follow someone in order to add them to your list.
Examples of strategically useful lists could be: Customers & clients, business leads, people you’ve met in real life at networking events, bloggers you want to connect with, etc. This will make it easier for you to manage and develop your relationships with these people. You might also need to add some social proof to your account before you start connecting with them (did you know that you can even purchase followers for Twitter?)
2) Do Your Market Research
You can set up saved searches for any number of important keywords and topics. By monitoring keywords and phrases related to your niche you can do valuable market research such as keeping up with news and finding relevant people (potential customers, promotional partners, resources etc) to connect and interact with. By sipping into your streams of saved searches you can also find out what people are thinking or asking on a certain topic. This can inspire new content for your blog or ideas for new products/services.
3) Make Tweeting Easy & Fast -Use Apps and Shortcuts
It seems to be human nature that the easier and more quickly accomplished something is, the more likely we are to do it. Twitter is something that people often feel they don’t have time for, so set up some systems that make it effortless to add content to your Twitter stream. If you have a smartphone, download an app so that you can easily Tweet when not at your computer if you get the urge. Set up your browser so that when you are surfing the internet you can easily Tweet out useful content you come across, without leaving the webpage.
For example, I’m a fan of the Hootsuite Hootlet – a little button that sits in my browser tool bar and enables me to Tweet without having to go to my Hootsuite dashboard or Twitter.com. There are several similar options such as the Shareaholic add on (which lets you share to lots of sites), Cortex (for Chrome), and Twitter also has their own browser bookmarklet. Lately I’ve also been using Diigo to achieve something similar – I can bookmark a site on Diigo (using a toolbar button) and have my Diigo RSS feed sent automatically to Twitter.
4) Slice and Dice Twitter Searches
Twitter offers advanced searches, also accessible via the 3rd party apps which allow you to do some nifty things. For example, you can search for tweets that are asking a question on a certain topic, so that you can helpfully answer, of course. If you run a local business, you can search tweets from specific locations on relevant topics, and find potential customers, or local people to connect with. Get to the advanced search page here: http://search.twitter.com/advanced and if you’re using a 3rd party app, you can integrate the specific parameters into your search query – see the list here: http://search.twitter.com/operators
5) Listen With Intent
“Listening” has become a social media clichÃ© – you’ve been told to “˜listen’ to what’s being said about your company and your market. But then what? It’s not just about seeing what’s being said about you, but what you do with that information that really counts. If you find people waxing lyrical about your service, can you reward them somehow? Twitter is increasingly being used for customer service – empower your customer service people to provide real solutions for people voicing a legitimate issue.
Also understand that sometimes you should simply step out of the way and let people have their conversations without you hovering like that parent who tries to be cool and join in on their kids’ fun. Use information gleaned on Twitter to benefit your mission by communicating things you find to the appropriate department of your company. Don’t let valuable info about customers, feedback, problems, successes etc get bottle necked within the social media department. The information should be funneled throughout the company as appropriate.
About The Guest Author: Lucy Beer of WebTrainingWheels.com is an online marketing consultant for solopreneurs and small businesses. She also provides WordPress, blogging and social media training.