Are you using Twitter to its full potential? Twitter is a social media tool that’s fun, fast, and -- most importantly for small businesses -- free. Twitter can help you drive sales, drive web traffic to your online store, and build a loyal customer base, all without any start-up costs. And, especially in the world of ecommerce, you’ll find that more and more customers will want to engage with you through 140 characters or less, so you’ll need to sharpen your wit and dive into the conversation if you want see your online business thrive.
Every once in a while the hashtag #ReasonsIUnfollowedYou starts trending on Twitter, with users posting both honest and hilarious reasons they have scrubbed someone off their timeline. One of the most common tweets, however, is usually “#ReasonsIUnfollowedYou -- your profile picture is still an egg”.
This refers to the fact that the user still has the default profile picture of an egg that all users automatically get when starting their Twitter accounts. It’s not that an egg is particularly offensive, a user with a default profile picture hasn’t spent much time, if any, cultivating their Twitter presence. Most Twitter users see this as a sign that their posts will be useless, uninspired, or nonexistent.
Don’t fall into this trap -- make sure you fill out your bio, link to your website, let users know where you’re located so local users can find you, and of course use an eye-catching image as your profile picture. Many small businesses use their logo or other business-focused image as their Twitter header, while using the face of an owner as their actual profile picture. You don’t have to do this, especially if your business is run by a team of individuals, but it can add a personal touch.
If you’re new to Twitter, the next step is to start following people. Start with your friends, business contacts, vendors and suppliers that you work with, and local businesses in your area. Tell everyone about your new Twitter account -- post in on your blog, your store, your newsletter, your Facebook account and more -- and follow the people who took the time to follow you.
It’s also key to start following the big names of people in your industry, as any time you respond to their tweets or mention them in one of your tweets it will show up on all of their followers’ timelines.
While Twitter is a great place to help you sell online, it’s important to remember that a lot of what you’re selling is yourself. Most people don’t want a timeline full of advertisements. Though they may want to know about a good deal once in a while, what they really want is amusement, engaging or useful material, and personal interaction with the brands they discover.
It can be intimidating to start talking right away on Twitter, but that’s the best way to get followers and start growing your base. While you’re perfecting your profile, take the time to watch what others say on Twitter and what gets the most retweets or responses.
If you want to start a conversation with someone that you admire on Twitter, or who often posts relevant and useful stuff, start by retweeting what they said. You can also post an article that the user has written and say something about it to show that you are engaged in the topic. Just a simple tweet like “Great article from @XXX on fashion faux paus”, with the link, can get conversations rolling. Just make sure that you are always posting things that are relevant to your target audience and make sense with your brand.
Remember, too, that your customers may seek you out and start a conversation with you instead of the other way around. Customer service on Twitter is extremely important for an online-based brand, and many people want the answers to their questions within a few hours in the face-paced world of Twitter. Failure to respond could mean losing a sale.
While that may sound stressful, think of how much you can gain from being able to give quick responses to customers. If you can ease a customer’s concerns or answer a question about logistics, you’ve massively increased the chance that they’ll place your product into their shopping cart. Your ecommerce store with SupaDupa has convenient buttons next to each product so that users can Tweet any product that they have purchased or have questions about. Linking your Twitter account to your store gives customers an easy way to get in touch with you, which gives you an opportunity to turn hesitant buyers into satisfied customers.
People want to follow Twitter users who are a useful part of their online community. When you create an online store, you need to know your target audience, and the same is true for Twitter. If you’re selling art prints, post links -- both your own content and things you read in your daily life -- that are relevant to your aesthetically-minded audience.
The key is to think about whether each thing you post has actually been useful to you -- if it has, share away. If not, keep from cluttering your followers’ timelines.
Of course, just because you don’t want your Twitter account to be a timeline full of advertisements, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t advertise your store at all! Twitter is a powerful marketing tool, and you should use it as such, but stay conscious of the fact that you want to deliver content that is useful and fun.
As long as you’re posting interesting content, answering questions, and having genuine interactions with your Twitter followers, you can afford to slip in announcements of sales and new products. Coupons are another thing that users may not want to see constantly, but generally love, so don’t hesitate to promote a product by giving your followers an exclusive good deal. You can even give out discount codes exclusively to customers that Tweet about your store.
If your boutique has a blog attached to it, write up your own useful content that you can then post on Twitter. This not only drives traffic to your site, but gives you authority in your field.
Like it or not, hashtags -- short phrases that group tweets from all over the world into the same conversation -- are here to stay. Use them to your advantage by creating your own hashtag to market your website. Hashtags are a lot like advertising slogans -- they need to be short, catchy, and make sense with your brand.
You should also be in tune with what hashtags are trending on Twitter at the moment so that you can join the conversation and get your name out there. For example, #TBT, which stands for Throw-Back Thursdays, has users all over Twitter posting pictures of themselves from the past. That means on Thursdays, you should consider pictures of pictures of yourself as a child, your business’ first office space on the day you moved in, or the first prototype of your product under the hashtag #TBT. In fact, everyone loves behind-the-scenes glimpses and sneak peaks, so tweeting pictures is always a good idea, even when it’s not Throw-Back Thursday.
-Behind The Scenes: MGM Logo, circa 1920s
Likewise, when you attend an industry conference, they’ll likely have a special hashtag for you to use when tweeting about the event. Do it, so that your tweets show up under the larger context of this industry-specific conversation. Clicking on the hashtag will show you all the other tweets about the event, revealing a huge list of potential business contacts to follow.
5 Twitter Tools - Find the best times to tweet, your most valued customers, and more...
HootSuite - a Twitter app that allows you to schedule and manage your tweets:
Bitly - a free tool that shortens website URLs and keeps track of how many times a link has been viewed:
The Art of Writing Great Twitter Headlines:
CopyBlogger - Techniques for writing magnetic headlines