Twitter is becoming a popular social media network in South Africa these days. Although it has been in existence for some 7 years, South African users have been a bit slow in jumping on board. But now that South African politicians, celebrities, business and media companies have been using this micro-blogging platform for various reasons, the South African public have been signing up for a free Twitter account in droves. In March 2013, it was estimated that there are some 5.5 million South African Twitter users, earning us a place in the top 10 list of countries with the most users.
While we all know the benefits of social media for personal purposes, many small and medium enterprises (SMEs) still do not appreciate the benefits of services like Twitter. If your business does not have a Twitter account as yet, then sign up immediately. You are missing a huge opportunity to connect with your current and prospective customers on a one-on-one basis. But do you have the time for Twitter and how do you grow your presence and make it work for you in business terms?
Market Your Twitter Handle
Firstly you should market your Twitter account as much as possible – on your stationery, business cards, shop front and website. It will allow customers who have physical contact with your business or paraphernalia to connect with you on Twitter. Its not just about marketing your products and services to these Twitter followers but also gives your customers an additional route to communicate with you directly. Some companies, like FNB through its @RbJacobs account have revolutionised customer service through social media.
Start Following The Right Tweeps
One of the best ways to start building your Twitter following and gaining exposure for your brand is to follow the “right” Twitter users (commonly referred to as tweeps). Start with local celebrities, radio and TV stations, newspapers and other prominent people in the country. This gives Twitter a basis to help you with local Twitter recommendations and exposure to users in your region. Next follow players in your industry or related industries – even your competition. It further helps Twitter refine your exposure to people interested in your products or services.
Do not hesitate to follow personal Twitter accounts. Many of these tweeps may be your current or prospective customers. By following them you allow for direct messaging so that they can communicate with you on a one-on-one basis. It also gives you more exposure to their followers and through this association helps to improve targetted marketing through social media. Avoid accounts that look dodgy though. There are many spam Twitter accounts that can prove to be irritating and a distraction in managing your social media campaign.
Use Software For Tweets
Tweeting on a regular basis is not always easy if you are not a dedicated social media manager for your company. Fortunately Twitter-related software can help. Some like TweetDeck are free and will easily fufil most of your business needs. The bottom line is that you need to tweet regularly – not only about your products or services but about your industry as a whole. With TweetDeck, you can write your tweets ahead of time and schedule it for posting at specific times without any further participation on your side. It will ensure that your tweets are released at the desired intervals.
Remember to keep your tweets interesting and relevant. When discussing your products or services then include a link to specific pages on your website. Since tweets are limited to 140 characters, you may want to save some characters by using a URL shortener. This is a service that will make a long URL (website address) much shorter in order to spare character use on tweets. Bit Ly and Tiny URL are two popular URL shortening services that you can use for free. The more engaging your tweets are to users, the more likely they are to retweet it (share it with their followers).
Engage On Twitter
Your Twitter campaign should not be one-sided. While your followers may enjoy reading and retweeting your tweets, they will also want to engage with you. It may be an enquiry about your products/services, after sales complaint or commendation or even sharing of information that could be useful to you. Ensure that you engage with your Twitter followers. Fortunately you do not have to sit in front of your computer with your Twitter account opened all day. Twitter will email you when you receive a mention, direct message or tweet. Try to respond to it promptly during working hours.