That’s exactly what Twitter can do for you. The popular microblogging site is becoming an increasingly friendly place for small businesses to reach potential customers and offer discounts or incentives when prospects are most receptive to such offers.

In business speak, that’s known as “intent based marketing.” It happens when you are able to put your marketing message in front of a potential customers based on an action they’ve taking to indicate their interest in a particular product or service

To use Twitter effectively, what you tweet about – your “voice” – should reflect the online identity of your business. For example, you can tweet about the value your business brings by sharing links and photos with your followers and letting them see what happens behind the scenes. The more people who talk about your business on Twitter, the more followers – and customers – you will get.

Here are 12 tips to help activate Twitter power for your business:

Twitter1. Strong profile: Create a Twitter profile that reflects your company’s culture and generates interest from existing customers and potential buyers as well. If you don’t yet have a Twitter account you can set one up for free at Twitter.com.

2. Great header image: Use strong artwork for the header image on your Twitter page. There are specific size requirements, so if you have someone who does graphics for you, ask them to create a Twitter header. You might incorporate your business logo and related photos and graphics. Check out @ideapaint as one good example.

3. Proactive search: Be proactive about finding the right people to follow. Use Twitter search to look for users in your area or industry.

4. Tailored tweets. When responding to tweets, customize your message for each conversation. It’s important to make all of your responses as unique as possible so your business can build meaningful relationships with followers.

5. Featured content: Highlight what’s important with “pinned” tweets that are featured at the top of your page. You can choose a tweet to pin from your Twitter profile page.

6. Special promotions: Once you start to build a following you can offer special promotions available exclusively to your followers. Some businesses tweet a special offer code or secret word that customers can mention to get a discount when they visit your business in person or online.

7. Helpful hints: Create an ongoing series of helpful tips related to your product or service that people would find interesting or surprising. A kitchen store, for example, might tweet helpful kitchen tips. Set a regular day for sending your tips and people will start to look for them.

8. Media mentions: Whenever there’s positive news about you, your business, or your industry, that’s something to tweet about. Be sure to mention the media outlet where the story appeared and include a link if possible.

9. Q&A: Pose a question in your tweet and then answer it yourself with a link to your website or another location. For example, a car dealer might ask “What are the top 10 reasons people choose to lease a car instead of buy?” and then link to a blog post on your site that has the answers.

10. High quality images: Include photos in your tweets. Research shows that a descriptive tweet with a high quality photo will get more clicks and inspire others to re-tweet it. Think of it as a caption and photo combination. The words are the setup and the photo is the punch line.

11. Insider info: Tweet behind-the-scenes photos and videos that provide access to information your followers can’t get other ways. For example, a baker might tweet pictures of how the breads, muffins, cakes and cookies are prepared and decorated.

12. Special tools: Sign up for tools and services that help small businesses get the most from Twitter and other social media accounts. These include such things as SocialBro, TweetDeck, Hootsuite, Buffer, Nimble, SocialCentiv and many others.

 

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