Somewhere over the rainbow bluebirds fly: Use Twitter to attract followers and get your message out

Now that you’ve chosen a target market, you want to more about what they want, and tell them about what you do. If your customers use Twitter, it can be a great listening post. Plus a tool to tell your story. If they don’t, move on to a more useful tool.

Follow you: One of your main goals is to create a community around your business or brand, and Twitter can help you build a group of followers.

Buy, buy, buy? Think about the people you have decided to follow. Why did you follow them? Did all of their tweets say, “buy my stuff, buy my stuff, buy my stuff”? Probably not. You followed people who are up to date on your industry or your customers’ industry. You chose people who are influential with your customers. They share useful information. They answer questions. Other people will follow you for the same reasons.

Smart gal/ smart guy! Your goal is to establish yourself as a knowledgeable expert in your field, someone whose opinion is worth listening to. Spend time looking online for unique and interesting information about your customers’ industry. Talk to people at meetings and trade shows. Don’t just repeat the news, use your expertise to add value. If your tweets are interesting to your target market, the number of people who follow you will increase. You should send 80 to 90 percent informative tweets, and 10 to 20 percent relevant promotions for your product, service, or event.

Relevant promotions: use your tweets to move people to your web site. Tweet about white papers or ebooks they can get. Release a new blog post or podcast. Link to a video demonstrating a new product. Invite followers to an event. Point them to a landing page with sale prices. Announce a contest.

Read all about it! Twitter is an important tool for public relations. Listen to, comment and build relationships with media writers before you need to promote a new product or tell your side of a story.

Use Twitter Search. Go to search.twitter.com and enter terms like ‘St. Petersburg Times’, ‘Tampa Tribune’, or ‘Tampa Bay Business Journal’. Look for listings of writers who cover areas that are important to you or your customers. If you see they have a question you can answer, respond quickly, respond only when your information is a good fit for their need, and include contact information in your response.

Time savers: Twitter can take up a lot of your time, but it shouldn’t. Organize your contacts and manage your tweets with tools like TweetDeck. TweetDeck (tweetdeck.com) lets you connect with contacts in Twitter, along with Facebook and LinkedIn. The most important advantage is that you can organize your followers and tweets into groups and keep track of them in separate columns. You can create a column to track tweets that mention you or your company. Set up another column that holds only direct messages (DMs) from followers to you. A column for tweets from industry leaders, and a column for important customers. And you can tweet and reply to tweets from the tool. Go to their site and see it for yourself.

Security! Security!Security! Be sure to activate the secure connection option, which encrypts your communication with Twitter. This gives you more protection from hackers in a Wi-Fi environment. Make the change in your account settings. Do it now!

Next – Marian the Librarian: finding business prospects in a library data base

Want to know more? Call the Pinellas County SCORE chapter at (727) 532-6800, email score@scorepinellas.org, or visit our web site at www.scorepinellas.org.

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