Like Me? Follow Me.
Every business, regardless of sector or size, could be on Twitter, and could be using it to grow their brand online. Whether your business should be there or not depends entirely upon how you use it:
- Do you only post links to your own content?
- Do you only log on for ten minutes every day to say good morning and good night, and then let an automated service do the rest?
- Are the majority of your tweets, retweets of other people's content?
- Do you search for, and respond to, other people's tweets when they are relevant or specific to your business?
If you answered yes, yes, yes, no, your business should not be on Twitter - at least, not in its current form.
If you're trying to take your business into the world of social media, creating an account such as that described above isn't gaining you anything, and could even land your business with a negative online reputation.
On the whole, the world of social media is highly resistant to the idea of the likes of Twitter and Facebook being used by businesses as direct selling or self-promotion tools - Habitat's classic Twitter hashtag mishap from last year is a prime example.
What should I be doing?
At the end of the day, social media is intended to be social, therefore businesses must use it as such:
- Find and respond to people talking about your industry.
- Follow other people in your industry, and people writing about your industry such as bloggers and journalists. If you find one of their tweets interesting, retweet it to your followers.
- Post links to other people's content, as well as your own.
- Make sure you regularly search for any clients or customers talking about your products. If there's a problem, ask them how it could be rectified, or explain the reason this problem may have occurred and present a workable solution.
These are the basics you need to get started - once your account is up and running and you've started to see a healthy interest in your content, you can begin using it in more innovative ways.
For instance, consider holding regular online customer service forums using a hash tag, e.g. 'Any problems or issues with our products, let us know today between 1pm and 2pm, #customerforum'.
By using Twitter, and social media in general, in a respectful, sociable way, you're bound to fashion a fantastic online reputation for your business.
Who's Using Twitter Well?
- Sweet Mandarin: Manchester Chinese restaurant Sweet Mandarin is best known nationally for its appearance on Gordon Ramsay's 'The F Word', but the restaurant's Lisa Tse is also a keen advocate of social media. Their feed displays a nice mixture of adverts for their restaurant and cookery courses, and interaction with customers. Note that the interaction / engagement vastly outweighs the self-promotion.
- Lanyon Bowdler Solicitors: Once again, this law firm's feed demonstrates a nice mixture of engagement, retweets of news stories and the firm's own blog content.
- Virgin, in particular Virgin Trains: Note how Twitter is being used to provide travellers with live updates on particular services and giving reasons for delays - '~PR Delays and cancellations to and from Euston on Virgin Trains due to signalling failure near Milton Keynes.'
- Lush Cosmetics: The Lush feed is all about interaction, seeking out other people on Twitter who are talking about cosmetics, skincare and other topics relevant to the Lush brand, and responding to them. This is a fantastic way to build your firm's online reputation, but is extremely time consuming; this kind of interaction really requires a dedicated member of staff.
Twitter Takes Time
If you're interested in taking your business into the world of Twitter, and social media in general, but you're worried that you don't have the time to do it properly, there are businesses that can help.