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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

       

By: Molly Guendert
With Larry Stopa

Business people often don't comprehend Twitter. They think that all it has to offer is the 140 characters to update followers in a Tweet. They fail to recognize that Twitter, when used for business, becomes a whole new way to interact and connect with customers.

A November 2011 article from All Twitter showed that 81% of small businesses are using social media, with 60% using Twitter. You might be wondering, "How does Twitter benefit these businesses?" There are many answers to that question.

Connect with customers

Twitter is an effective means for businesses to quickly and directly connect with their customers and prospects. If they ask questions, it is simple to type back a quick response. This will benefit your business for two reasons:

1. Replies on Twitter are a personal way for businesses to interact with their customers. Customers appreciate direct interaction. Tweeting often with your customers is a great way to earn their respect.

2. Quickly replying to your followers' questions is a great way to establish credibility and potentially gain new customers. Customers don't like to wait for answers. Twitter's capability to instantly reply to anyone, anywhere in the world is a great benefit.

Twitter also allows you to ask them questions, which is equally as important. Businesses consistently seek customer feedback. Asking questions on Twitter is a great way to get it. Some effective questions for your business to ask on Twitter might be:

1. What could we do to make our products better?
2. What would you like to see from us in the future?
3. Are you getting everything you need from our business?

Customer service tool
Twitter it is uncommonly effective as a customer service tool. Think about the old days of having to wait on hold for what seemed like forever while you wait for a customer service representative to pick up the phone. Now businesses can use Twitter to instantaneously reply to their customers' inquiries or problems.

Small issues might be resolved with a single Tweet. But bigger problems might require the brand to start a deeper conversation with the customer via direct messaging. Things that make people happy, such as good customer service, is what gets talked about which could help give your brand more attention. Twitter is a viral platform that can make one happy customer into a trending topic or even an international story. To top it all off, this quick and easy form of customer service is free!

Let your followers market for you
Twitter is an opportunity for businesses to let their customers do the marketing for them. A good way for this to happen is by offering incentives. A great example of a brand that uses their Social Media followers to get their name known is Tasti D-Lite.

Tasti D-Lite has a rewards program where customers earn points each time a cashier swipes their card. Customers can earn even more points if they link the rewards card to their social profiles. When their cards are swiped, they receive a message like "I just earned 5 TastiRewards points at Tasti D-Lite Columbus Circle, NYC!" that is automatically sent to the customer's Facebook and Twitter pages. The automated posts often include a link to a coupon, so a patron's loyalty generates a benefit to his or her entire network.

Incentive programs like Tasti D-Lite's benefits both customers, since they get more rewards points and coupons, and the business since everyone on the customers' Facebook and Twitter feeds will see a post and coupon from Tasti D-Lite, which could possibly generate new business. Check out details on Tasti D-Lite's Social Media success.

Can benefit your business' search ranking
Twitter can benefit your business' search engine rankings because major search engines, including Google and Bing, now use Twitter's social signals as one of the factors that influence their search results. Social signals involve content such as Facebook Likes and Tweets to be included in search engine results.

Link Building Opportunities
Twitter is also the perfect site to help your business build links. Many times Google is used to find linking opportunities which leaves websites like Twitter overlooked, but Twitter supports the advanced search queries that Google does. Some of the ways Twitter can be used for link building include:

1. Contests: If your business is holding a contest, this is a great opportunity to get links. Search for a business in your industry that is having a contest and use a tool like Open Site Explorer to find sites that are linking to the contest. After that, you can reach out to those sites to see if they would be willing to link to your contest.

2. Staying Current: Though you probably already know what is going on in your industry and specific business, Twitter can be a helpful tool to keep you as updated as possible. Searching Twitter can help your business tap in to what's trending, such as keywords and top Tweeters in your area. Knowing this information and
staying connected with customers can help create more link building opportunities.

3. Guest Blogging: Writing your own content on someone else's blog can be advantageous in many ways: your business can connect with a new audience and blog owners will usually promote your guest blog on their social marketing accounts which link back to your website and social accounts, including Twitter. This helps build links as well as boosts your business' SEO.

When used effectively, Twitter is a great tool for businesses. It's quick, easy and free. It puts many business necessities, such as customer service, in one place. Social sites aren't going anywhere, so make sure your business takes advantage of Twitter if it hasn't already!

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