By business expert and contributor Sylvia Browder
Regularly, I travel to several rural counties in southern Alabama providing business counseling and training to local business owners. Â In discussing the importance of incorporating social media into their marketing plan, some clients are not sure if it is relevant for their businesses. Â In fact, a few give me that â€˜deer in the headlights’ look when I introduce Twitter as a viable way to increase their client base. Â By educating them, I help them understand the benefits.
As I explain, Twitter is used by millions of people each day who share, connect, promote and brand their business image. Â If you, like them are still not convinced, here are 3 reasons why Twitter is important for your business.
ConnectImagine having a captive audience waiting for your information every minute of the day. Â By positioning yourself as an industry expert, you can grow a small community of followers who will have a direct connection to you and who recognize your name and business brand! Â You can also barter, search for independent contractors or find employees. Â Twitter provides a great platform to connect with the right people to fit your business needs.
In addition, this is great way for existing customers to provide feedback.
By connecting with similar companies will enable the sharing of idea, best practices and opportunity to gain insight on improving your business.
Most small businesses have a very small marketing budget which results in continuously looking for low cost and innovative ways to leverage their products or services. Â Twitter is a free social network that can be a rewarding marketing tool for your business. A few examples:
Â· Your message will appear across the Twitter board over and over by your followers who will retweet your message to their followers. Â Can we say â€˜viral?’
Â· Stay abreast of industry trends to market effectively to potential customers.
Â· Publish your Twitter handle on all email newsletters, direct mailings, on your Web site and all other marketing channels.
Â· Promote your latest blog posts and newsletters
Still having doubts? Â Well, let’s say you manage an online specialty athletic shop. You can:
Â· Promote special offers, promotions and events using Twitzu
Increasing your sales and profit margins are imperative for success and a matter of survival. By using twitter to announce upcoming sales or events, you will drive potential customers to your website or physical location. Â For example, I assisted a client who owns a Mexican Restaurant, with setting up her Twitter and Face book Fan page. Â Every day, she posts daily lunch specials. Last year, she reported a 9% increase in sales from travelers who used social media to find a local restaurant.
The point is, with little effort and signing up for Twitter’s free social network, you can drive prospects to you by sharing relevant information about your business.
Handy Tools to Manage Your Social Media
Every day, 365 days per year at 6:00 am Central Standard Time, my followers from Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Blog and Community, receive a daily inspirational quote. Â Do you really think that I get up every morning, log on to my computer and tweet? Â Absolutely not! Â Though I get a chuckle from people that think otherwise! Â To help manage my various social networks, I use a tool called Hootsuite, which enable me to schedule each message into the future to one or all of my social networks. Â That’s reaching thousands of my followers in a single message!
As Twitter surges toward an estimated 190 million visitors each month who generate over 65 million tweets per day, there are many tools available to help you manage your time and productivity. Â Here are a few of my favorites:
Â· Hoot suite: a web-based tool that allows you to set up a number of social media profiles to manage. Â The free application offers basic analytics and five social media profiles including LinkedIn, Face book and Twitter. www.hootsuite.com
Â· Market Me Suite: allows thousands of small businesses to manage their social media. It allows each of your individual tweets to say, www.yourwebsite.com or via your name. http://marketmesuite.com/
Â· Seesmic: a powerful collection of social management tools that provide businesses and individuals with everything they need to build their brand online. With applications on every platform, Seesmic is the most comprehensive solution on the market. http://seesmic.com/
Â· Tweet Deck: your personal browser for staying in touch with what’s happening now, connecting you with your contacts across Twitter, Face book, LinkedIn and more. www.tweetdeck.comÂ List ManagementÂ· MyTweeple: Â a great way to manage your Twitter people in one place. You can easily see who you are following and who’s following you. Â With a simple click, you can follow, unfollow, or block people, and these changes instantly update Twitter. http://mytweeple.com
Â· Tweeter Karma: a flash application that fetches your friends and followers from Twitter when you click the “Whack!” button, then displays them for you, letting you quickly paginate through them. http://dossy.org/twitter/karma/
Â· Twit Cleaner: Analyses the profiles & tweets of your followers, looking for certain patterns of behavior, such as overly repetitive, common spam tactics, and posting the same links repeatedly, thus, allowing you to decide who to save & who to unfollow. www.twitcleaner.com
Â· Twibs: Give twitter users a place to find businesses on twitter. Â www.twibs.com
Â· Hash Tags: You can find information pertaining to tags, users, trends and whatever else is available or site if you are Â Â Â Â lucky.http://hashtags.org/
Â· Twitter Search: Twitter Search helps you filter all the real-time information coursing through our service. http://search.twitter.com/
Â· We Follow: view popular tags, the most popular people on Twitter by tag usage. http://wefollow.com/
Analytics and Tracking
Â· Qwitter: a service for tracking the tweeps that unfollow you. http://useqwitter.com/
Â· Tweet Stats: graph your twitter stats. http://tweetstats.com/
Â· TwittUrlLy: Â tracks the URLs around the Twitter verse and provides a quick, real-time view of what people are talking about on Twitter. Â http://twitturly.com/
Â· Social Oomph: a service that provides free and paid productivity enhancement services for social media users. A focus on productivity solutions for users of Twitter.com. http://www.socialoomph.com/
Â· Twitter Feed: tweet blog posts. Â http://twitterfeed.com/
Â· Twit Dom: The Twitter Applications Directory with over 2000 apps. http://twitdom.com/
Â· Klout: A tool used for an individual to measure and leverage their influence on twitter. www.klout.com/
In conclusion, by now you should see the value of using Twitter to help you market your business. Â Right? Â So what are you waiting for? Go register for Twitter now! Â By the way, feel free to follow me @sylviabrowder and retweet this post to your Twitter followers, Facebook Fans and fellow bloggers!
WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR E-ZINE OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it: Â Sylvia Browder is founder of National Association Women on the Rise, a virtual community for aspiring and established women entrepreneurs. The association’s mission is to provide professional and personal resources while uplifting and empowering women entrepreneurs through collaboration, education, mentoring, spiritual and peer support, leadership and networking. She has served as an online volunteer SCORE counselor since 2004. Â For FREE weekly articles go to Sylvia Browder’s Blog for Women Entrepreneurs, www.sylviabrowder.com. Â She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Key words: National association of women, women entrepreneurs, social media, social network, twitter