1) Make more money
Let’s start with the main reason why most people use Twitter for business: to identify potential customers and generate sales.
Micro-blogging is all about people. It’s not about getting up on a virtual podium with a megaphone and making noise about your organisation: it’s about building a network of individuals and getting to know them.
Establish your brand in its industry by building a fan base or, as it’s called on Twitter, a network of ‘followers’. Start with people you know: your customers, suppliers and business network, then add suitable people to your network by running keyword searches through tools such as Tweetdeck and Tweepsearch. [Tip: every month, run a search through Tweepular.com to identify people who aren’t following you back, then un-follow them. It’s supposed to be a two-way thing.]
Engage with your followers regularly and they’ll start re-tweeting your posts and becoming advocates of your brand. Not all of your followers will necessarily become your customers but they’ll do something just as important, which is to advocate your message to their network. From our own experience at Write My Site, most of the business we’ve generated through Twitter has been the result of other people re-tweeting our posts or sending us public messages which were spotted by their followers.
2) Generate PR coverage
Follow journalists and editors in your industry, send them an introduction and ask them to follow you for industry updates and breaking news. Then, when you’ve got a press release available, put it on your website and send the journalist a message with the link. Interacting with journalists is no different to interacting with the rest of your business network, so take an interest in their updates, re-tweet anything that might do them a favour, and engage in dialogue with them where appropriate. (It’s much cheaper than taking them to lunch at The Ivy.)
3) Find out what your customers think
Invite your customers to follow you on Twitter. Follow them back, and ask for their honest feedback about your products, services and brand. Used properly, Twitter can be a great tool for learning what your customers like and dislike about what you do. Look at negative feedback as a gift: you’ve just been handed free information about what your business needs to improve. Twitter is also a great way to conduct initial customer research about new product and service ideas. Can you distil the idea into 140 characters? (If not, it’s too complex.) When you’ve articulated the concept, put it out there and see what comes back. Use the feedback to refine the concept and develop a highly targeted product or service.