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Use these tips to leverage Twitter and bring real rewards to your business.

Most people consider Twitter to be one of the top social networking sites in use today and if it continues on its current course, it will only continue to increase in both size and relevance in the coming years.  According to a study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, although the percentage of people using twitter hasn’t increased substantially over the last year, the number of adults using Twitter on a daily basis has doubled.  This means that businesses of all types can reap real rewards from leveraging the platform, if it is done in the right way.

To call Twitter a social networking site and lump it in with Facebook, Google+, and even LinkedIn is to misunderstand how people are using it and how it can be useful for promotions and publicity.  Although there is a certain level of interaction between tweeters, it is more akin to the comment/response seen on blog sites.  This makes sense once you see that Twitter is more about micro-blogging than it is about socializing.   To get the most out of the Twitterverse, you need to understand how it really works and how others are really using it.  Here are some of my tips for making Twitter work for you.

Treat Twitter as Your Company’s Personal News Network

More than a social network, Twitter is the source for social, regional, national, and international news.  Want to know how hot it is in Houston or how far the wildfires have spread in Colorado?  Twitter is where you will find up to date, real-time information from a variety of sources.  Use twitter and hashtags to talk about new products, inform customers about sales, offer special discounts, and provide details about promotions or events.  Using Twitter as your own personal news network provides customers with a single source where they know they can go to find out what is going on.

Don’t Follow the People You Know, Follow the People You Need to Know

Well, you can, but they are not the ones that are going to bring new business in the door.  This is one of the primary problems I see with my small business clients.  They don’t understand the point of Twitter, which means they don’t see how it is going to help their business.  Invariably, this is because they are following the wrong people and attracting the wrong followers.  You want to follow the people you want in your professional network, the movers and shakers in your industry, the journalists and bloggers that write about what you do, and the companies you admire or hold in high regard.   With the right followers and the right following, you can take a regular pulse on what’s happening in the areas that matter to you and make contact with the people who can tell the people who are looking for what you are selling where you are and why they should buy it from you.

Think of Twitter as the Online Answer to Word of Mouth

If you mixed together a sandwich board sign, your gossipy know-it-all neighbor, and that guy at the hardware store that always seem to be able to help you find just what you need and manifested it online, you would have Twitter.  For many businesses, word of mouth is what makes people walk through the door which means you need to look at how you are using Twitter from that perspective.  You want people raving about you, so give them something to rave about and a #hashtag to use when they do it.  Listen to what people are tweeting about you, your competitors, your industry, and your community.


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