Twitter, a social media platform that allows users to broadcast, or “tweet,” 140-character messages to the world, has more than 200 million users worldwide. So does that mean that your business should have a Twitter account, too?
Not necessarily. Some small business owners feel guilty if they don’t use Twitter, but also aren’t sure if the platform would really help their bottom line. “I call it social media guilt,” says Jason McDonald, director of JM Internet Group, a social media and SEO consulting company in Fremont, Calif. “Social media might be technically free to utilize, but it takes a lot of work and if your customers aren’t listening, it might not be worth it. Sometimes you have to throw stuff over the boat.”
Consider the following questions before opening a Twitter account for your business.
Question #1: Are your customers on Twitter?
McDonald’s daughter is obsessed with the apparel brand Juicy Couture. She follows the brand on Twitter and shares photos of celebrities donning the clothing. “Juicy is a company with a good demographic for Twitter,” he says. “Customers are 18 to 28 years old and really into their mobile phones. They want to know about the latest products before they hit the market and get the inside scoop.”
But what if you are a plumber or a CPA? “I recommend opting for Google Local or Yelp for those professions,” he says.
Question #2: What can you offer only on Twitter?
Taking the plumber and CPA example, there are very few value-adds that those professions can offer on Twitter. On the other hand, a food truck or pizza restaurant can provide great value to clients on the social media site.
“In the case of the pizza place, you could tweet out a special deal for the lunchtime crowd or alert them to a change in the menu,” says McDonald. “If you own a food truck, you could tell your clients when and where you will be the following day so they have insider information.”
Question #3: Do you have a plan for your Twitter page?
Survey your customer base before launching your Twitter page. What business-specific insights would they find valuable? Once you collect that information, create a well-thought-out plan for your Twitter page. Detail how often you will Tweet, what you will send out, how many discounts you will offer, etc.
Bonus Question: Do you ever go to conferences?
One of the best ways for small business owners to get their feet wet on the social media site is to join a conference-specific Twitter conversation using hashtags.
“Twitter is huge a tradeshows,” says McDonald. “The next time you go to your industry’s version of ‘nerdworld,’ boot up your Twitter page and participate in the conversation. It will help you get an idea of how to use the site.”