If your customer base is on Twitter your small business should be there as well.
Of course, just having an account isn't enough! On Twitter, if you're not engaging with customers, prospects, and industry leaders, you're not doing it right.
Here are the five biggest mistakes small businesses make on Twitter:
1. Before you jump in, have an idea of what you want to accomplish.
Don't just be on Twitter for the sake of being on Twitter - check out some of your competitors, communicate with your customers. Once you've established that your small business should be on Twitter, decide what you want your Twitter handle to accomplish. Do you want to use it for customer service? To distribute content? To engage with prospective clients? All of the above?
2. If you're on Twitter, you better be on Twitter!
At the very minimum, you want to setup an updated profile that includes your business name, phone number, and website. Once you're there, depending on how much time you can set aside, you can determine Twitter's value based on your industry, client base, or product.
With a B2C audience, you're likely to need more time per week than with a B2B audience. With a B2C audience, customers will be expecting quick response times to inquiries or complaints, and will expect daily updates to anything relevant to your company, product, or industry. You should have notifications sent directly to your phone and should check up on your Twitter account several times per day.
With a B2B audience, your users are less likely to be online throughout the day or expecting immediate answers. You can update your feed a few times per week, and only need to check Twitter a couple of times per day depending on the size of your follower base.
3. Twitter is emerging as one of the most relied upon customer service tools. Be ready.
Especially in the B2C space, your customers or prospects will likely expect quick responses to a variety of questions, 24/7. Many companies add a line in their Twitter bio about response times (Ex. "We try to answer all questions within 24 hours") as well as an email address if you prefer customer service inquiries come through your email program.
Some questions will require a simple, "please check the FAQs on our website: www.company.com/FAQs," while others may be angry customers demanding accountability for a service mishap, etc. In cases of angry customers, the suggested way of dealing with them is to take the conversation "offline" by responding that you'd like them to Private Message ("PM") or Direct Message ("DM") you. That way, an angry customer gets a more personal experience, and any mishaps that may have occurred stay private and not for the whole Twitter world to see.
4. Posting content matters.
Use a tool like Tweetdeck to help you manage your feed. With Tweetdeck, you can build lists of relevant users, industry leaders, or other influencers in order to engage with them, or share their content. Of course, sharing your own content (Ex. blog or video) is ideal, but as a small business owner creating your own content isn't always possible.
Within Tweetdeck you can also schedule content to be distributed throughout the day. If you're short on time, curate content for the day before you go to work, and schedule it to be distributed throughout the day so your customers see that you're active and willing to engage on Twitter.
Don't be afraid to reach out to an industry leader or influencer every once in awhile, too. You'd be surprised at how likely they are to respond! That kind of engagement can boost your credibility and even make you some powerful industry "friends."
5. If you have the time, engaging with users 1-on-1 is incredibly valuable.
Of course, if you're just starting up a business, or if you have limited help, engaging with users 1-on-1 is nearly impossible. However, if you find that you have a spare 15-20 minutes per day, it is worthwhile to locate potential or existing customers and create/develop those relationships. You can use a tool like FollowerWonk to locate relevant users in your area, or you can search through competitors' users to engage with any unsatisfied customers.
You can also create lists in Tweetdeck for specific keywords — say you're a spa owner, make a list for the hashtag "#SpaDay" and reach out to customers in your area with special offers to try out your spa on their #SpaDay.
Following potential or existing customers on Twitter can work wonders, as it's customary on Twitter to "follow-back" those who follow you.
An added bonus...
While those are the five biggest mistakes small businesses make on Twitter, I'll add one more piece of advice for good luck: don't get discouraged! Your Twitter following isn't going to grow overnight, and your customers may not immediately engage. Stay persistent, stay consistent, and remain vigilant in responding to customer requests or praise.
Best of luck, and feel free to reach out in the comments below with any further questions you may have!
About the Author
Eitan Katz is a seasoned Social Media Marketer and Online Writer. He's managed the social accounts of EA Sports and the National Basketball Association, worked as a community manager at Uber, and was a featured columnist for Bleacher Report. He currently works at Booker Software, where he runs Social Media, maintains the Booker Blog, and hosts a Booker-themed web video series called "On the Road with Eitan."More Content by Eitan Katz