6 Twitter Tips for Entrepreneurs

Just about every entrepreneur has a Twitter account these days, but tweeting effectively is what counts. Tweeting can increase brand awareness, build customer loyalty, and attract new business. But you have to be approachable, engaging, and genuine with your followers. This means your tweets need to be of interest and consistent, says Adria Richards, a business technology consultant and blogger (http://butyoureagirl.com).
“Obviously you want to be tweeting and promoting your own content, but that should be a small piece of the pie,” says Richards. “Twitter is also really good for listening, collecting intelligence, and finding out what customers and others in your industry are tweeting.”

Six Tips to Better Business Tweeting
1. Engage your followers and influencers. Tweeting is about building relationships. So, take time to retweet or reply to the posts of your followers–and the people you follow. Look for opportunities where you can offer help or advice. “Just because people are following you doesn’t mean they are engaging with you. Tweet resources that customers would find valuable,” suggests Richards. Also, “create Twitter lists for your customers. Be a curator of information.” Don’t overlook the back end of Twitter, adds Richards, so e-mail influential Twitter users to introduce your business or to keep them abreast of what’s going on to strengthen relationships and help generate business leads.

2. Mix it up. Your tweets should consist of links, status updates, breaking news, industry tidbits (especially about high-tech items, for example, the smartphones, monitors, of point-of-sale system you use), replies, and announcements about new products, services, or events, says Richards. Also, use Twitter to offer special discounts or run contests to attract and retain customers.

3. Use hashtags to promote events. You want people talking about your event. Also, ask to be the person being discussed in Tweetchats (Twitter conversations). Every Twitter conversation has a topic with a hashtag (#) and a time. Search for an industry-related topic. You can favorite tweets as well.

4. Use status update schedulers. It’s important for small businesses to get a tool that manages their social media communications, says Richards. Take advantage of status update schedulers for Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. HootSuite.com and CoTweet.com let you manage and monitor your social networks. Richards suggests releasing your tweets according to the schedule most bloggers follow: 9 a.m., 11 a.m., noon, 3 p.m., and 6 p.m. (Eastern time).

5. Tag your tweets. Ideally there should be one account used for your company, says Richards. Each tweet should be tagged with the sender’s initials so customers know who’s speaking–someone from marketing or sales and not just the person who manages the company’s Twitter account, she says.

6. Use twitter.com/search. Search what people are talking about in real time using keywords and phrases. Also, use Google Trends. To see what topics are trending in Twitter, go to Hashtags.org.