Is Your Small Business Using Twitter Correctly?

Using Twitter to help grow your brand requires more than just sending out an occasional tweet.

Twitter iconTo use the social networking site effectively, it takes a combination of finding customers who are already on the site, sending out appropriate content and constantly assessing whether your efforts are paying off, said Anne Mercogliano, head of small businessmarketing for Twitter.

To help small businesses meaningfully engage with customers on Twitter, Mercogliano offered three tips:

Find customers in context.

To find and connect with your customers on Twitter,it's important to learn what they are already talking about. Some ways to figure this out include searching Twitter to identify keywords and hashtags that are relevant to your business; identifying popular accounts, influencers and thought leaders in your industry; and discovering what partners, community leaders and other similar businesses are tweeting about. "These tactics should inform your tweeting strategy and the conversations you join, putting your business in a better position to be discovered by new customers," Mercogliano wrote on the Twitter small business blog.

Create a balanced content strategy.

People enjoy interacting with small businesses on Twitter. The key to this interaction is content. While many businesses may want to keep selling their own product or service, Twitter recommends an 80/20 principle, in which 80 percent of your content is focused on driving engagement and 20 percent is focused on direct offers. To write Tweets that drive engagement, Mercogliano said small businesses should consider that people are more likely to engage with and share content that is informative, helpful or entertaining. "Behind-the-scenes photos, third-party articles or Vine videos are great examples of content that will help you build relationships with customers," Mercogliano wrote."Once you've established those relationships, you can begin to mix in tweets that include direct offers."

Use data to assess your efforts.

Once you have found your customers and started engaging them, you need to determine if your efforts are having any impact. To do so, Twitter recommends using several resources to see what's working, including the timeline activity dashboard, which provides insight into the number of favorites, retweets and replies for each individual tweet; Twitter's recently released conversion tracking to help measure customer actions that start on Twitter — such as landing-page visits or purchases — but are later completed on your website; and the followers dashboard, which helps you learn more about your Twitter followers, such as their interests, location and other accounts they follow. "These approaches will not only help you assess your current Twitter strategy, but also serve as guidance for your future efforts on the platform," Mercogliano wrote. "As you continue testing, integrate tactics that work well, and keep iterating as you watch your results improve.

Have a question about using Twitter? Connect with a SCORE mentor online or in your community today!

About the Author

Chad BrooksChad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter as well as on Google +.