Despite it being the world's fastest growing social platform at the moment, it seems that Twitter isn't getting a lot of love from small businesses. A recent survey ran by the Wall Street Journal and Vistage International found that six out of ten small-business owners say they believe social media tools are valuable to their company's growth. So far, so unsurprising, but what was particularly interesting wasn't the fact that LinkedIn topped the survey, 41% said that it had the most potential to help their company, but only 3% of those surveyed felt that Twitter could do the same.
The Wall Street Journal's survey is worth looking at if you want an idea of how social media is used among small businesses in the U.S. (as well as having some nice interactive graphics to look at). It does highlight the problem that some businesses don't see where the gains are. While LinkedIn is better suited towards professionals, it doesn't mean that Twitter shouldn't be apart of your overall strategy. Its speedy bite-size messages and low maintenance means that it's always a good tool to have in your social media arsenal.
Really, the only difference between the two is the type of strategy you use. Different channels require different approaches so don't be surprised if the approach that served you well on Facebook doesn't get the same results. Twitter is its own entity and if used correctly, can be a great way of generating new business leads. There's a process to everything though so here's a rundown of the important points.
It Gives Your Brand Personality
All social media sites are two-way streets and this is more apparent on Twitter itself. While it's easy to just tweet links to your site, the potential to express yourself and give your brand some personality is much higher and better for the company in the long-run.
For one, being middle of the road and neutral is quite boring and uninteresting, so tweet photos and videos, make a joke, ask a question, offer a point of view, mention a news event. Basically, make sure that when someone reads through your tweets, they see a person behind it instead of an automated account.
While you should always think about what you're posting - there are the rare cases where a tweet could be potentially misinterpreted - you should try to separate yourself from similar companies by allowing your Twitter account to develop a personality.
It Allows You To Be Both Proactive & Reactive
One of the great advantages of Twitter is that monitoring the conversation around your brand is easier than ever. Because the majority of tweets are public, you're able to see what people are saying and how they're sharing your content. Not all tweets are worth paying attention to, but the majority of them will give you an idea of how well your service is going since people like to express gratitude or annoyance at a service (the latter especially).
While it's perfectly fine responding to any mentions your account gets, the joy of Twitter is that you can jump into any conversation you wish. So use Twitter search or a dashboard app like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite, look at what people are saying and if there's a discussion taking place or an interesting opinion expressed, tweet them. They won't be expecting it and you could end up striking an interesting conversation with them, which in turn builds familiarity with the brand.
It's A Great Platform For Customer Service
Tying in with the last reason, Twitter is a great way to deal with customer complaints and queries. Its snappy nature means that it's great for getting a point across and saves you time and money as you rely less on phone calls and typing out long emails.
Make sure you mention it on your other accounts so that people know how to reach you if they do have a complaint. There are numerous companies out there that use Twitter as their main channel for consumer complaints so if you get small queries and complaints regularly, it's a more efficient channel to use compared to email.
However, not all problems can be explained properly through a tweet so in those cases, it's best to direct them to your main email address so that you can address the problem better. If you're thinking about adapting this into your customer service strategy, this guide goes into a lot more detail.
It Makes Brand Messages Easier To Digest
While tweets only give you 140 characters, it's normally better to leave your tweets shorter than that. The first is that just because you have 140 characters to play around with doesn't mean you should. The second and more important reason is that by leaving some space, it's easier for people to retweet it and include their own comment. The latter is important if you want people to engage and share your content as most retweets will include your Twitter handle and any tweet that they modify or add to will definitely include it.
Sometimes this isn't always possible, especially if you're making a point that needs more than 140 characters to get across, but it's something you should aim for when you can. Give your tweets some breathing space and you'll get more out of them.
While on the subject of quick Twitter advice, you should check out the #twitterwisdom hashtag, where a number of Twitter users tweet tips on how to use it better. Most of the tips can be used either personally or with your brand and the handy part is that the best ones have been curated by Steve Garfield and placed on a Storify page here.