Why You Need To Tweet

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Have you been trying to decide if using Twitter for your business is worth the effort? Or, are you looking for ways to freshen up your Twitter marketing strategy? No matter your current state of Twitter knowledge — expert, novice or clueless — this increasingly popular social channel provides you with a method for reaching your customer base, as well as those who can shed a positive light on your brand.

Twitter Is The New eMail

Despite the fact Twitter has more than 500 million active users and has become one of the top ten most visited websites, maybe you personally are not yet convinced Twitter is a viable approach to marketing. To a degree, this is understandable. Social media seems to have taken many of us by storm, with a bevy of new online streams or feeds of content gushing at us like an overflowing river.

But isn’t that how most of us — well, those of us who are old enough to remember — thought of the internet and eMail when they first debuted? Some said eMail would be an underused and forgotten communications tool in a year or two. That didn’t happen, did it?

Start by thinking of Twitter as a modern version of eMail or compare it to the telephone. While it is true that Twitter is often used for fun and non-economic activities, it can also be put to work for businesses. It can expedite the efficient flow of communication from the seller to his or her customers.

Growing Followers Takes Finesse

Those willing to devote a reasonable amount of time and energy to developing Twitter channels that have true value for their followers tend to yield the best results. It is like all forms of marketing; you get as much out of it as you put into it.

If followers see Twitter content as worthy of their time and attention, engagement almost always increases. As a result, ongoing Twitter dialogues with individuals and audiences ensue. Conversely, if tweets appear like poorly posted “after-thoughts” with little value or relevance, followers will quickly lose interest and delete your Twitter account from their feeds.

Social media is about as transparent as you can get, which ultimately is a good thing. It means there is a completely open dialog with followers. And isn’t that what we all work so diligently to develop, the ability to communicate openly with our customers, peers and segments of the industry that are important to our sales efforts? By adding a creative and well-managed Twitter account to your marketing plan, you can unleash an innovative tactic to create new conversations with customers.

Twitter Helps Sell Product

Studies conducted by our firm and other social media practitioners indicate that Twitter followers are more likely to purchase products from companies they “follow.” Kyle Lacy, one of the country’s leading experts, details case study after case study showing that Twitter and other forms of social networking generate sales.

In turn, Brian Solis, the author of Engage, which is regarded as the industry’s reference guide for businesses to build and measure success in the social web, says business leaders should stop talking about social media and begin using it as one of the enablers for transformation. Simply put, a business that implements Twitter widens the opportunity for memorable engagement.

One particular statistic we uncovered while studying those who generally use Twitter to learn about business-to-business sales information stated that 82 percent of the people polled feel social media-oriented customers are key to brand management and selling. While it can take time and a budget to do it right, the importance of social media marketing is escalating dramatically. Businesses of all sizes are increasing their social media budgets in order to migrate from traditional platforms of advertising, with a goal of connecting more deeply with significant demographics. The effort surrounding business-based social media is bigger than you may think. When done strategically, the results are bigger too.

The Right Way To Use Twitter

Results-oriented Twitter use really boils down to a few key elements and good practices. These practices involve connecting with customers and others via quick conversational exchanges. The point is to create short phrases and messages to instantly get your meaning across in a direct manner. Essentially, Twitter is a short-form messaging tool, geared toward businesses looking for new ways to communicate consistently with target audiences. Don’t forget, Twitter is also a platform for listening to the communication of others, so it’s important to adequately respond in a timely manner.

A Quick Guide To Twitter Lingo

Twitter’s primary difference from other social media channels is that each tweet is restricted to 140 characters or less. As a Twitter user, you can post updates, follow and view updates from other users and send a public reply or private direct message to connect with another tweeter.

While these are only the basics, the following are four simple steps to create meaningful tweets.

Mentions: Twitter allows users to interact and connect with anyone else on Twitter. This permits you to easily share and re-share content your followers might enjoy. In doing so, use the @ symbol to “tag” other Twitter pages or users. Along with a Twitter username, the @ is a means of sharing valuable information from or with an outside source who also has a Twitter account. This virally connects your Twitter page with the source’s page.

If possible, select tweets should include a mention. This will not only help potentially multiply the number of followers you have by reaching out to another page’s
audience, but it can also increase the number of retweets and comments related to your tweets.

Hashtags: A hashtag is a means of helping spreading information on Twitter, while organizing the information in ways that allow interested tweeters to find it. In essence, hashtags are subject matters pertaining to specific trending events, topics, products, etc. The hashtag symbol (for example, #garden) causes users to come together as part of a single conversation. Hashtags should not be overused, but they can be a creative way to reach precise audiences with common interests. This allows companies to expand social networks and create wider brand awareness.  

Links: Including links to related online pages, whether they are to company websites, online resources, articles from publications or any online content, gives tweets more value and interest. This will direct your Twitter followers — your potential and current consumers — to helpful and informative content. Being the bearer of good and resourceful information can lead to brand loyalty on the part of your customers. After all, everyone appreciates those who offer beneficial insight.

Comprehensive Tweets: It is essential to develop concise, comprehensive Tweets within the 140 character limit. Your target audience must be able to clearly understand the message your business is trying to get across. Keep tweets meaningful with relatable suggestions, topics of interest, diverse conversation threads and motivation to participate. Following the same principle, your followers may be inclined to recommend your product or company to their followers.

Above all, be consistent. Once you begin your Twitter feed, keep the conversation active and on point. You wouldn’t initiate an in-person dialog with a customer or prospect and simply leave the room without closure or conclusion. The same rings true for a Twitter conversation.

So, to tweet or not to tweet? Before you answer the question for your own business, keep in mind there are approximately 340 million new tweets every day. Consider being part of the conversation, so your competitors do not fill the gap between you and those with whom you would like to interact.

Don Eberly is president and CEO of Eberly Collard Public Relations, an agribusiness and home/garden-based firm that specializes in public/media relations, marketing, advertising and branding for garden centers, professional nursery and greenhouse growers, grower consortiums, plant breeders, horticulture product companies and landscape designers. He can be reached at 404-574-2900 or doneberly@eberlypr.com.

Dominique de Bruin is the assistant public relations manager at Eberly & Collard Public Relations, a firm specializing in home, garden, design and agribusiness PR and social media. You can eMail her at ddebruin@eberlycollardpr.com.

Jeff Collard is vice-president of Eberly Public Relations, a PR and advertising firm specializing in the home, garden, design and agribusiness industries. You can eMail him at jeffcollard@eberlypr.com or call 404-574-2900.

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