First of all, what are some of the benefits of Twitter your business?
- Marketing & branding
- Customer service and interaction (putting a face to your company:)
- Source of fun for the business
- Development of company culture
- Education for your market.
Earlier this year, I undertook a social media campaign in a team of 4 people to help raise awareness and donations to restore Fats Domino’s white Steinway piano that was destroyed during Hurricane Katrina. Our goal was to help raise the $20,000 required to restore the piano through the use of social media on behalf of the Louisiana Museum Foundation. Luckily, Paul McCartney had already generously donated $2,000, so we were off to a good start. We created a Facebook page, Twitter account (@Fats_Piano), and a Pinterest account for the project, but we soon realized that Twitter was the best channel for the project. Since then, we narrowed our focus to the Twitter campaign, developing a unique personality for the piano and generating a buzz around the restoration project. Eventually, we built up an international following, and one New Orleans expatriate in Australia found out about the cause through our Twitter account and donated $18,000. We were done and closed out the campaign. In the span of a month and a half, we managed to help restore a great piece of rock and roll history.
So what do you need in order to generate a sizable following and successfully brand or market your product or business?
In the world of social media, it’s a well known fact that content is king. But every king needs a queen to truly influence an audience. And the queen of social media is the right strategy to go about pushing content out to a market or audience. The first step to developing your Twitter presence is to know your target market. You have to know who you’re trying to market to and attract in order to build your account towards. Once you know your target market, you will also know who to target to gain those followers. Say that you’re providing a music service. You want followers who love and keep up with music right? So you narrow the genre a bit and target the different Twitter accounts of music bloggers, review sites, and artists that your target market likes. Follow those accounts and tweet at them. When I say tweet at them, I don’t mean spam them with 20 tweets an hour begging for a bump because you’re more special than everyone else. What I mean by tweeting at them is to push some related content their way or write something witty or funny with their handle attached. This way, you’ll have a better chance of them retweeting your comment to an established audience of your target followers. Another good way to get at them is to find some current things that they’re doing and retweet them (assuming you have some followers), offering some more insight on the news. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you might get into a conversation with them and if you do, don’t let it sizzle out – write back more than a thanks (remember how I mentioned content is king?).
A lot of the time, different companies have the same social media manager, working their accounts and responding on their behalf. They do what you think they might do: respond to tweets, push content, and provide instant customer service. Target those movers and shakers, for they usually have their own Twitter account aside from the ones they manage. They know how to do social media and 9 times out of 10, they’ll be happy to help you out. Tweet at them or email them if you can find an address. Start a conversation with them, talk about things relevant to their jobs or the accounts that they manage. If you can, provide some insight about sector that they’re in (I say this assuming that you smartly targeted a SM manager of the same industry that you’re in). If you can start a relationship with them, they’ll grace you with a bump or push for your account.
Remember, the entire time that you’re reaching out to these hubs of your followers, be sure that you’re pushing content. Keep tweeting news or interesting things concerned with your business or field. Find things that are humorous, fascinating, and most of all, related to your marketing goal or product. But don’t spam marketing for your product. When I say related to your product, I want to emphasize a subtle relatedness or fun relatedness. Remember “Can It Blend?” by Blendtec? That SM campaign did a great job of marketing a blender in a fun way to push their presence and also conveyed a point that their blenders are superior in every way that competing blenders can’t liquefy an iPhone. It was refreshingly original and humorous, exactly that you want your tweets to be.
In regards to maintaining your Twitter account, be sure to keep updates consistent. Don’t update sporadically, sometimes leaving your account alone for weeks on end. Instead, pick an interval that works for you: hourly, daily, or weekly, though weekly is stretching it a bit far. The point is to provide content in a consistent and reliable fashion. If you have your product out, it’s a great way to provide customer service. If someone complains or compliments you, respond ASAP. The quicker the better, this way you can show that you really value your customers. And please, under no circumstances start a flame war with someone under your company account. It never ends well for you. Remember that this is social media and everyone can see what’s going on when you start arguing with a customer. Just respond with a brief, courteous message to an angry customer and leave it at that. And if the angry customer actually did you a favor by pointing out an obvious fault, be sure to recognize the value in that.
The last thing I want to leave you with is that like becoming wealthy, social media presences take time and effort to build. But if you keep it consistent and have the right strategy to build your presence upon, you will end up with a sizable presence and a better company to boot.