This article is guest posted by Crystal Miller
News stories about Twitter have surged in recent months. Oprah jumped on the Twitter bandwagon in April 2009 and major news stories have been broken over Twitter in the last eight months (the January 2009 US Airways plane crash into the Hudson and the Mumbai shootings in November 2008 are two examples). These along with other news events have boosted the awareness of Twitter across the world.
What does this mean?
The Business Insider recently revealed a chart of the day (on 5/21/09) comparing the number of worldwide unique visitors of three big names in social networking: Facebook, Myspace, and Twitter. The chart from comScore follows the number of unique visitors each month from April 2008 through April 2009. Take note Twitter fans: While still only 1/10 th the size of Facebook, with around 32 million unique visitors, Twitter is on a similar growth trend. This exponential growth provides the perfect sweet spot for tapping into a massive stream of laser-targeted visitors.
Here are 10 ways you can take advantage of this surge to build your business and increase your profits.
1. Sign up – if you haven’t already done so!
This almost goes without saying, but obviously, you can’t take advantage of Twitter’s popularity if you’re not on Twitter. Sign up for your free account today. Experiment with it. Set up your profile. Watch what other people are doing for a while (and brush up on your Twittequette) and then adapt it for your own business needs. Scads of good help can be found with a quick search on any Twitter-related topic. A great place to find tips is Mashable, the social media guide.
2. Create an account for each niche or area of interest.
At this point, there is nothing that says you can’t have more than one Twitter account. In fact, it’s best if you keep your interests separate within the social networking realm whenever possible. This helps you communicate only with people who are interested in the same things as you. If your interests are gardening and science fiction television, you can’t assume that your followers in the gardening niche will also be interested in time travel or laser swords, too.
3. Customize each account by creating your own background.
One of the interesting features of Twitter that a lot of people still aren’t using is the customized background. Design your own background to showcase your business. You don’t have a lot of room but there is plenty you can do with the area to the left side of the Twitter stream to highlight your company to your followers. Ben Parr offers some great advice on customized backgrounds in his article, How to Create Custom Twitter Backgrounds.
4. Start using a variety of Twitter tools to condense Twitter management tasks.
A simple search on a search engine will reveal a boatload of free tools that have been developed for Twitter users. New ones are popping up all the time. Once you get to a certain number of follow requests every day, a good tool to help you automate the following process is TweetLater. TweetLater has an automated Direct Message (DM) feature to save you time on replying to new followers. You can also schedule your tweets in advance to be sent at a certain time. Your tweets will send while you’re off taking care of other business or spending time with your family.
5. Tweet valuable advice to your followers.
The core of internet-based communication is to provide something of value to those you are communicating with. So make sure you provide tweets of substance. This can be a picture that evokes laughter, a link to a meaty article on your niche topic, or a quote to ponder that relates to your business or hobby.
6. Tweet often.
The frequency of your tweets will depend, in part, on your audience. Certain businesses have a daily urgency built in while others require less attention. For instance, someone who follows the daily rise and fall of a certain stock will want one or more tweets every day. For someone interested in gardening, several tweets a week or even as little as once every ten days will probably suffice. Implement whatever works best for your niche and stick to it.
7. Unfollow those who aren’t contributing to your tweet stream.
Every so often (you can determine how often) you will want to unfollow people. Perhaps they aren’t tweeting the kinds of things you really wanted to know about. Maybe they aren’t tweeting at all. Whenever you discover that someone is not providing the value you expected, simply click the unfollow link because you don’t have time to pay attention to anything that’s not of value to you or your business.
8. Add a “Follow Me on Twitter” button to your blog and other sites.
One of the best ways to build your Twitter presence is to add a “follow me” button to your blog or other sites you own. Since you have links from everywhere funneling traffic to your sites, you never know if someone reading your blog is already a follower or not. You might as well invite them to join you on Twitter. Adding the code for a “follow me” button is easy. Twitip offers a good list of resources for buttons and how-tos.
9. Provide specials that are exclusive to your Twitter followers.
Big name businesses have been doing this for quite a while now. Dell is one notable example and is reported to have made $1 million or more through sale alerts on Twitter. There’s no reason this can’t work for your business as well. As long as you are following good etiquette and not tweeting your own horn too much, you may as well toss in an exclusive offer or two for your loyal followers. (If you make it especially juicy, you may gain new followers out of the deal, too, because your offer will get re-tweeted.)
10. Mine your tweet stream for golden nuggets.
Just as the tweets you send provide top-notch advice, so do some of the tweets you receive. Mine your tweet stream for these golden tidbits so that you can re-use them. For example, you can collect links to meaty articles on a certain sub-topic within your niche. When you’ve gathered enough, use them as part of a free guide you put together on that topic to give to your customers. To make it easier to track the tweets you receive, you can use tools such as TweetDeck. In TweetDeck, you can group people you follow and subdivide your list into more manageable chunks.
This will help you sift out the true gold from the fool’s gold.
With the continued rise in Twitter’s popularity, it only makes sense to put it to work in your business.
To learn more about social media and how it can turbo-charge your traffic, build your brand, and build a community of rabid followers.