How Small Businesses should be using Twitter

For every twitter follower we have, there's that many or more that we've heard say something like "I just don't get Twitter. Why would I want to tell someone everything I'm doing all the time?" It's a fact that the mom-and-pop shops that are the backbone of this company have struggled with the whole idea of getting online and monitoring themselves there. I'm also certain that this is because probably 80% of Twitter Users are not businesses and don't use it properly. So, how should we be using it? Here are a few of the best ways of how you should be using Twitter for your business:

To Listen. First and foremost, don't get a twitter account to get on there and start yakking about your business. Sign up, fill out your profile info and give them a good link to your website, then be quiet and listen. Look for your brand and start finding out what others are saying about you. Follow industry leaders and hear what they have to say. Search for keywords related to problems you can solve. Twitter is a communication tool by definition, but use it first to listen to others and find out their needs.

To Share. If you're following the right folks, then you should be gaining some valuable insight and tips on helping your own business, why not spread the love? Retweet the good stuff, and use Twitter to share links and tips you've found all across the web, including in your other social media circles. In fact, with the right tools, you can share the same stuff across multiple social media networks at once, saving you time and effort. 

To Apologize. I think this is an often unused benefit of being well-known on twitter. Not saying that it should be done in a way that makes it easy to cover your bases, but when you've made a mistake that affects a ton of people – even if only a few of them realize it – Twitter is still seen as a personal touch to the corporate identity, and should be used as such. Don't wait until you've been called out on Twitter. If it's possible, go ahead and make the customers aware and give them your plan of action to correct it.

To Follow-up. If you're gaining customers via twitter and they're regular tweeters, it makes sense to use twitter as a chance to check in and see how they're enjoying the work you did for them. What's even better, Twitter also offers the chance for widespread feedback. Did you have some sort of event? Were at a tradeshow? Just launch a Groupon deal? Ask folks how you did on Twitter and Facebook and you'll get a rare thing: honesty. Something about being faceless will allow your customers be perhaps be more honest with you than they would if you were on the phone with them or staring at them from across the countertop – and it'll give you the information you need to make the necessary changes.

To Give. Some of your most popular tweets will be the ones when you're offering something free, particularly if you need some good feedback on something brand new. Announce your giveaway on Twitter and watch those retweets start rolling. And don't stop there – make it fun! If a radio show can give something away to the seventh caller, why can't you do it for the eleventh tweeter? Or give them the chance to double their chances by posting on Facebook as well – the impressions will start coming in, building a greater image for your brand online.

So, now you understand how twitter can be used to engage with customers and grow your brand online. Looking for additional reading?

And you should definitely be following these folks on Twitter:

Image credit Scott Beale / Laughing Squid