In February 2012, registered Twitter users officially hit 500 million. Despite the significantly growing population of tweeters ― approximately 11 new accounts are added every second ― there are many business people still asking, “Why should I be on Twitter?”
The social media platform that limits posts to 140 characters appears to non-users as a cryptic code that includes “@” signs and hashtags (#); this commonly prompts the response, “I don’t really understand how it works or why it matters.”
In simple terms, Twitter is one of the fastest and easiest ways to share information about your product, service, organization or platform. It allows you to communicate, connect and engage directly with your target market in real time. So it matters. If its capabilities combined with its growing number of users are not enough to make you consider jumping on the bandwagon, every small- to mid-size business owner or manager should consider the following reasons for adding Twitter to the company’s marketing and PR efforts:
Spread the word
Twitter gets the message out quickly and efficiently. By tweeting and sharing company announcements with potential and existing customers and referral sources, you can introduce new products, promote special deals, or post info about upcoming events.
Research market trends
Twitter can keep you updated on industry trends and/or activity in your market segment. Through Twitter Search, you can find out what people are saying about a particular topic, and you can keep tabs on comments about your company and your competition.
Leverage current PR and other marketing activity
Potential customers and referral sources may have missed a feature article showcasing your company in a trade publication, but by pushing the link out on Twitter, they can not only read it, but also now share it. If your budget won’t allow for a direct mail campaign, you can run an ad in the local paper about an upcoming sale or event and then expand your reach by posting the information on Twitter.
Secure additional publicity
The print and broadcast news media represents a large number of Twitter users, so it is no surprise to learn that they spot trends that inspire stories and find sources on the social media site. A finance expert’s frequent posts about business led to an invitation to write a feature article in a trade publication. A local radio host posted news about a story and was contacted by a CNN producer to appear as a guest on a connected topic. These are just two examples of how Twitter can help position industry experts and lead to more publicity.
Enhance customer service and build relationships
Twitter is about connecting and engaging. A pool service company uses Twitter Search to learn what others are saying about its pools. A question posted about a pool turning green provides a warm lead that turns into a new customer. Monitoring and responding to what others are saying on Twitter can improve customer service with existing customers and create new ones.
Establishing an active presence on Twitter gives you opportunities to meet and talk to people you may never get the chance to talk to otherwise. Think about making business contacts with referral sources, people you want to start projects with or even hire, without ever leaving your desk.
Drive traffic to your website and through your door
It’s not enough to just have a website anymore. Sharing your knowledge on Twitter with links back to your website and Facebook pages can help potential customers find you. It also allows you to consistently post new content that will enhance your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts and help increase your rankings in a Google search.
Adopting Twitter as a communication and marketing tool provides companies the ability to present and develop their image and define their brand.
The Illinois-based start-up, Foiled Cupcakes, is a great example of the power of Twitter. Introducing a Twitter campaign prior to the launch of its website, the owners began posting interesting and engaging conversational information and building followers that met the demographic of their target market. The build-up led to more than 2,000 followers before the business was off the ground. While it is often said that Twitter doesn’t lead to sales, owner Mari Luangrath has a different story:
“90 percent have come from social media. We also have a pretty intense follow-up system, so by the time a customer has gone through the process, we’ve had seven opportunities to figure out how they’ve heard about us.”
Targeted engagement works both ways, adds Luangrath. “Twitter makes it so easy to reach out directly to people.” In addition to attracting customers, Foiled Cupcakes’ social media campaign has also caught the attention of the press. “We’ve been approached by Investor’s Business Daily, American Express Open Forum, Entrepreneur Magazine, and appeared on NBC and The Food Channel,” as a result of Foiled Cupcakes’ transparency and accessibility on social media platforms like Twitter.
If that isn’t reason enough to tweet, then consider what you are gaining by holding out.