Scott Gerber is a serial entrepreneur, angel investor, public speaker and author of Never Get a “Real” Job: How to Dump Your Boss, Build a Business and Not Go Broke. The content for this post was sourced from the Young Entrepreneur Council, a group of successful Gen Y business owners. You can submit your questions to this group on NeverGetaRealJob.com.
To tweet or not to tweet. That is the question on many business owners’ minds.
For some, Twitter has proven to be a powerful way to engage customers and build a community. For others, tweeting has been nothing but a useless time suck. The fact is, most small business owners have no concept about how to use Twitter effectively. Many entrepreneurs simply produce and promote useless spam, while others over extend and over engage.
In order to teach business owners how to benefit from this tool, I asked a panel of successful young entrepreneurs how their entrepreneurial brethren can utilize Twitter to their advantage rather than to their dismay.
1. It’s A Social Tool
Twitter is an amazing tool to market and really interact with fans and customers. It gives you real-time conversation with them, but if you don’t interact and answer questions people have, it’s a complete turn off. There is a reason that it’s a ‘social media’ tool and the key word is ‘social.’ Don’t constantly shove information down their throats. Be social and see what your customers want or need.
– Ashley Bodi
Company URL: Business Beware
2. Avoid Insecurity Work
“Insecurity Work” is when you compulsively check your e-mail, website traffic, blog comments, etc., and it’s poison. Twitter is one of the most common causes of insecurity work that I see among young entrepreneurs. I suggest that you limit the time you spend on Twitter each day to less than a half hour. Remember: You don’t need to @Reply every single person that mentions your brand.
– Ryan Paugh
Company URL: www.ryanpaugh.com
3. Engage With Your Followers
After running Ruby Media Group, a social media and personal branding agency for over a year now, my best tip for using Twitter to market to customers and fans is to not market! This sounds contrary to everything traditional marketers know, but the best companies on Twitter create conversations with fans and become “followers” of their lives, making their product embedded into their daily lives.
– Kris Ruby
Company URL: Ruby Media Group
I have an automatic responder using socialoomph.com set up so that when people “follow” me on Twitter they get a direct message regarding my website. For Schedule Makeover(TM) time coaching and training, the goal is to drive traffic to my newsletter signup.
– Elizabeth Saunders
Company URL: Schedule Makeover
Facebook: Time Coaching
5. Provide Value and Get Software to Help
There are two goals you should have when using Twitter to market to customers: Establish yourself as an expert and deliver relevant valuable content. Post tips, advice and guidance that will help your potential customers. Once you get the content down on what you want to post, I recommend using software like Tweet Adder to help you manage your account and stay active with your followers.
– Lucas Sommer
Company URL: Audimated
6. Provide Relevant Information
Twitter is a brilliant tool to push information out to your customers and fans, but it is important to remember that Twitter is not about self-promotion. Be sure you’re engaging your customer base and starting a dialogue. Create genuine interaction and work to distribute information relevant to your customers. Using this approach will help you harness the power of Twitter.
– Anderson Schoenrock
Company URL: Scan Digital
Twitter: Scan Digital
7. Be Personal and Interesting
Seventy to eighty percent of your tweets should be informational, fun or personal in nature, and only 20 to 30% should be commercial. Retweet interesting links, useful articles and photos taken from your cell phone. For example, at SitePoint we recently tweeted about Movember mustaches, posted photos of 10 staff members who grew mustaches, and asked our Twitter followers and Facebook fans to vote on the best one.
– Matt Mickiewicz
Company URL: 99designs
8. Twitter Etiquette
First, understand that quality always trumps quantity when it comes to social media. One hundred evangelists far outweigh 100,000 mere “followers.” Second, follow Twitter etiquette: listen, be relevant, mind your brand, engage, and give more than you get.
– Heather Huhman
Company URL: Come Recommended
More Business Resources from Mashable:
– 5 Masterminds Redefining Social Media Marketing
– 24 Professional Events & Organizations for Social Media Strategists
– The Future of the Social Media Strategist
– 7 Tips for Succeeding as a Social Media Strategist
– HOW TO: Define the Role of Your Social Media Team
Image courtesy of Scott Beale / Laughing Squid