Using Twitter To Strategically Market Your Business

Thomas Fox is president of Tech Experts, southeast Michigan’s leading small business computer support company.

Seth Godin is one of the most widely read bloggers in the world. The success of his blog, which covers marketing and business development, fuels his book sales and keeps his day planner filled with high-paying speaking engagements.

But Godin does not use Twitter. Or Flickr. Or even Facebook. Here he explains why: “My reasoning is simple … I don’t want to use a tool unless I’m going to use it really well. Doing any of these things halfway is worse than not at all. People don’t want a mediocre interaction.”

Secondly, Godin had to face time and money constraints, because “if you want to be in multiple social media and also have a day job, you’re going to need a staff.”

As you consider whether to use Twitter, Facebook or other social media as part of your marketing strategy, think about Godin’s reluctance as well as his high standards. People don’t want a mediocre interaction.

Social Media Requires A Commitment
Should your business commit to social media marketing (you must commit if it’s to work at all), I suggest that you invest time upfront, before your first tweet or status update, to get to know the medium, outline your objectives and define what success looks like.

In 2009, amid the hype surrounding Twitter and Facebook, many businesses took a scattershot approach to social media.

To the extent that there has been a slight backlash against social media in business circles, much of it is attributable to poor planning and execution on the part of businesses themselves.

All of this is to say that social media can be a terrific waste of time and money if there isn’t a solid strategy behind it.

A crucial part of that strategy is understanding your potential audience. One of the first Twitter stars from the business world was Randy Crochet of Naked Pizza, a boutique pizzeria in New Orleans.

Crochet saw Twitter as an opportunity to maintain a presence among fans of his healthy pizza. It helped tremendously that Crochet had a passion that others could buy into – pizza made with fresh ingredients.

Most importantly, Crochet’s personality had that certain x-factor that helped him retain and grow readers. (He’s now partnered with the Kraft Group and has plans to go national with Naked Pizza.)

The majority of Twitter success stories come from businesses that have passionate customers.

Companies that produce less glamorous products have learned the hard way that tweeting their way to fame and fortune is a heavy lift.

That doesn’t mean that social media can’t work for less exciting industries, but a change in approach and expectations is required.

Blue Cross Blue Shield provides a good example. BCBS started using Twitter as a customer service channel, and they defined success less in terms of revenue-per-tweet formula (the model the accountants understand) and more in terms of customer service-per-tweet formula.

And this gets to the heart of social media marketing: it can’t just be about dollars and cents. Sure, every business owner needs to keep an eye on the bottom line, but with social media, the key is to add as much value as you hope to take away. The less you give, the less you’ll get.

With that, here are six best practices to keep in mind when getting into social media marketing:

1. Grow your readership by gaining the trust of your audience;
2. Produce content that plays to your readers’ interests, not your own;
3. Provide transparency into your business;
4. Become a trusted resource to your readers;
5. Maintain the conversation – don’t try to control it;
6. Retain valuable followers.