Twitter and Small Business: Waste of Time or a Powerful Asset?

By | February 29, 2012

Twitter For Business

Twitter is one of the largest social network sites available with over a hundred million users making, on average, between two to three tweets a day each. There has been a lot of interest in recent years in whether social network sites such as Twitter can be beneficial for businesses and small business selling everything from photocopiers to sandwiches have been trying to make Twitter work for their business model. Many people say that Twitter can be used to increase sales through promoting your business services, improve brand loyalty and carry out market research. Others argue that the benefits of Twitter have been over stated and it is not as cost effective a marketing medium as it first seems.

Advantages of Twitter

One of the initial draws of Twitter for businesses is that it is free and very simple to set up a Twitter account and begin interacting with customers straight away. Once you have set up your account you need to encourage people to start following you which you can do in a number of different ways, including giving away free gifts such as ebooks or you can offer advice or tips on your area of expertise.

The number of followers you have may just be the tip of the iceberg as many of your tweets can be embedded in other places or picked up by search engines. Research suggests that over twenty per cent of consumers read tweets each month even if they are not on Twitter. Twitter users are also very influential and they are three of four times more likely to write a product review, which means you are engaging some of your most vocal customers. A further advantage of a business having a Twitter account is that research has shown that for customers Twitter is the preferred way to learn about businesses and interact with them, as opposed to Facebook or email.

Disadvantages of Twitter

Businesses must carefully control their Twitter brand strategy as, if they get it wrong, this can very quickly damage the brand as a mistake in a tweet will be shared with thousands of potential customers. Even large brands such as Samsung and Chrysler have suffered huge embarrassment due to ill-advised tweets now and again.

Tweeting without a strategy can be a poor use of employee’s time compared to other activities and it can be very difficult to measure its impact. Twitter can also be very addictive and people can spend more time on it that is proportionate given its value, which can seriously affect the employee’s productivity.

Twitter is not necessarily useful for everyone and some companies do not have customers who are particularly well represented on Twitter, in which case your efforts will not be rewarded. One way of checking if Twitter might be useful for your business is by seeing if your competitors are using it, and if so, are they achieving a lot of interest in their tweets?

How to Use Twitter Effectively

To maximise the potential of Twitter, make sure you have considered your online strategy and make sure you schedule time to update the content every day or so. To save time, these tweets can be pre-written on software which will release them at set points using applications such as Buffer and Hootsuite.

Sending a few tweets a day is enough, otherwise your messages could be perceived as spam. Including photos and links to your website helps make your brand seem more personal which can improve your relationship with your followers and make you a more interesting and attractive account to follow. Make sure you have someone monitoring tweets to you each day, so they can be responded to promptly as this will also increase customer satisfaction. This is especially important in cases of customer complaints as research suggests people who complain on Twitter have already tried to resolve their problems in a different way. If complaints are dealt with in a timely and constructive manner there is every chance that this negative opinion can be quickly transformed in to a shining beacon of good customer service!

About the Guest Post Author: Hi I’m Ed, and I work in the exciting, fast paced and ever-changing world of business equipment and services. I’ll be trying my best to keep you abreast give you a wide smorgasbord of handy hints, tips and advice to get the squeeze the best out of your business.