When I talk to entrepreneurs about social media, I run into a lot of resistance to using Twitter as a tool to grow their business.
But by not being on Twitter, businesses are losing out on a lot. (Are you one of them?)
According to Pew Research, about 16% of Internet users use Twitter.
This may seem like a small percentage, but there are over 2 billion Internet users, so 16% represents over 3 million people. That’s a lot of folks that you can reach for free.
(Source: Pew Internet.)
Based only on this chart, you’d think that it would be better to be on Facebook, since there are more users.
However, more users doesn’t necessarily mean more sales.
Twitter’s biggest benefit is the ease at which you can connect with people outside of your social circle.
This is how I like to look at the big social media sites for business and how they compare to each other:
Facebook: Your “friends” on Facebook begin with the people that are in your real life — friends, family, former co-workers, friends from high school, etc. Facebook helps you to grow your friends list by suggesting “people whom you might know,” which are based on friends you have in common. So, here, it’s a network of friends of friends. While you CAN connect with people outside of your interconnected social circle, it is fairly challenging to do so. (Try searching for keywords related to your market and you’ll see what I mean).
Twitter: Twitter isn’t about connecting with people you know in the real world at all, although when you first sign up for your account, Twitter will ask you if you want to use your email address book to look for Twitter users that you know. Once your account is set up, Twitter is all about connecting you with interesting people that you don’t yet know. Suggestions are based on users who are similar to users whom you follow, not based on how many friends/followers you may have in common.
Twitter makes it easy to find and connect with others who have something to say about something that you are interested in.
Do you need advice about how to deal with an aging parent? Search “aging parent” and find a list of tweets to help you, from how to talk to your parent about accepting more care to how to ensure they are getting enough to eat. Want to connect with others who are facing the same issues? That’s easy too.
Want to connect with more providers like you? Search for “life coaches” or “nutritionist” or whatever it is that you call people who do what you do. The results will include Twitter users that feature that term in their username and tweets with the term. Many of the tweets will be from clients/customers recommending their provider (wouldn’t it be nice if you happy customers did that? It’s easier for them if you have a Twitter username/handle).
Interested in “listening in” on the conversations going on about your industry? Search for keywords associated with your industry and jump in to the conversation. Searching for “website strategy” turned up these interesting tweets about my industry.
From a business building standpoint, Twitter’s greatest value is in the ease at which you can connect with your ideal client.
On Twitter, the first step to getting more followers is to follow people. Most users will follow back people who follow them, so this is a good way to connect with people and begin to grow your following.
Here is the 3 step process to finding your ideal clients on Twitter:
- Define who your ideal client IS. What is their biggest challenge? What keeps them up at night? Where do they hang out? Do they have a common interest?
- Find Twitter users who serve the same market.
- Follow the followers of those Twitter users.
My ideal market is life coaches. Other Twitter users who serve life coaches include life coach training programs. To find my ideal clients, I search for “life coach training” on Twitter, go to the profile of coach training programs, and follow the life coaches who are listed and meet my other criteria. It is best to do this manually as not all of their followers will be appropriate – many will be spam or otherwise inappropriate.
The other big benefit to Twitter is that you can share your message and market your offerings more often without coming across as being pushy or overbearing.
On Facebook, it is easy to annoy your followers if you post more than once or twice a day. On Twitter, you can tweet every hour, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and people won’t complain.
They might complain if all of your tweets are about how you can get “10,000 followers in a day,” but if your tweets are interesting and you are sharing your wisdom, no one will care that you tweet all of the time. In fact, you’ll actually be more successful if you tweet on a daily basis.
Twitter users will only ever see a snapshot of all of the tweets sent out in any given day; It’s how the twitter-stream works. So if you tweet at 9am and then again at 2pm, it is very unlikely that any of your followers will see both tweets. This isn’t as true on Facebook and is one of the reasons that business people don’t post more often on Facebook — they fear offending their followers. This fear is significantly reduced on Twitter.
All of this being said, does every business need a Twitter account?
Well, actually, no. If your customers aren’t on Twitter, than it doesn’t make any sense for you to be either. But in order to make that call, you first have to find out if your intended market IS on Twitter and you can’t do that without trying it out. So, create a Twitter profile (it takes only a few minutes and is totally free) and then see who you can find on Twitter. You might be surprised at how many of your ideal clients are already using this micro-blogging platform and how readily they will connect with you.