How SMBs Can Most Effectively Use TwitterSocial media certainly isn’t the only thing that small to midsize businesses (SMBs) can do to connect with their customers, but it is a channel that many are using. According to a survey by Gallup and Wells Fargo, the biggest challenges small to midsize business reported was twofold: identifying and finding new customers and marketing their businesses. By the way, this data is really interesting, especially as it delves into the importance of corporate websites, the integration of technology, etc., but you’ve got to hang in there until you get to about page 26 for that info. The survey indicated that most small and mid-sized businesses are reaching out to consumers through social networking channels like Facebook and Twitter. Nothing shocking there, but chances are good that their efforts in that regard could use some fine-tuning.

ways smb use social mediaConducted on over 600 small business owners via telephone interviews, the survey revealed that social media is, in some instances, helping SMBs fulfill some business goals. Of the seven most popular reasons to embrace social media, the top four were: connecting with customers (78%), marketing and promotion (72%), building online reputation (72%) and advertising (69%).  From a personal standpoint, it’s so interesting to me that businesses are still focused less on marketing or promoting or advertising than they are listening – what a missed opportunity.

While social media is growing in popularity overall, SMBs are showing some serious love for Twitter. In fact, research from Twitter and its research partner, DBS (clearly unbiased, of course), shows that 60% of customers have made purchases from an SMB due to its presence on Twitter. This 10 minute survey, performed across 1,000 SMB customers in the United States offers some crucial data about consumer behavior and how Twitter influences a significant part of their purchase decision.

The report uncovers some interesting insights on how consumers view a brand on Twitter and what triggers them to take action. For instance, did you know, while you’re hunting for a potential customers, 57% of them are looking for a new SMB? Not just this, your followers on Twitters show the greatest possibilty of converting into new customers. So taking positive steps toward gaining more of the right kind of followers could potentially translate into better sales.

Twitter stat

This is interesting, but it’s also important to remember that prospective customers aren’t really interested in you singing your brand’s praises on Twitter. What they are looking for, however, and why they report they follow SMBs on Twitter is to learn about new products, show support for products and brands they already love and to get information they can use. Keep that in mind as you’re crafting your social media strategy and the content you create and share in social media channels. This research may be specific to Twitter, but I’d guess it can easily be extrapolated across other social media channels as well.

But how do you get the most out of Twitter?

If you’ve made it this far, you’re either interested in how to better maximize Twitter and/or wanting to evaluate your own efforts. Let’s talk for a minute about how to use Twitter in the way that makes the most sense, and which can potentially deliver the greatest value.

Get your basics right

Twitter can be a confusing platform when you just begin experimenting with it. There are all kinds of resources out there that can help you and making time to get the fundamentals right can make a big difference. Start with a profile that’s complete and interesting. Also use an avatar that’s easy to see/understand and use a background on your Twitter page on the native Twitter app. If you are a local business, be sure and include your location in your Twitter profile.

Post short, engaging tweets

Keep your messages short and sweet. Learning to write engaging, interesting content that is short is an art. You’ll notice that the people and brands who are most successful on the platform have mastered this. Just because you have 140 characters for a message, doesn’t mean you should use them all. Don’t be afraid to be human. Don’t be afraid to be silly—those are the kinds of things that can often resonate most with an audience, so try to avoid being boring and stuffy. Here are some examples of short, but effectively written tweets:

- Great info from @JamesInteriors on #design #trends (shortened link) (trackable)

- Who else is attending #MMEA Conf in #ATL? Hope to see you there.

- #Design industry pros, are we connected on LinkedIn (shortened link to profile)?

- Cool photo from the xyz project in CT via @JamesInteriors (link to photo)

And note that in the examples above, @JamesInteriors is not the brand tweeting, they are a client of the Twitter user being showcased for the good stuff they are doing/creating. Lifting others up instead of constantly yourself on the back is a key to success in social media channels.

See how easy it is? And when you write short content, it’s easy for others to share without having to edit or modify your tweets. This is something at which many fail on a regular basis. Remember to use hashtags if they make sense, and always use links that are trackable and speak to your target audience.

Target the right influencers

Twitter is an amazing platform, especially when it comes to how easy it is to target influencers (read that: your prospects and customers). And yet, it never ceases to amaze me how many people don’t think of using Twitter for influencer identifcation and outreach. There are a plethora of tools that make finding users by interest and geographic location extremely easy. Some of them include directories like Listorious, Twellow and WeFollow. You can also use tools like Twibes and TwitChip to find influencers and don’t ever underestimate the power of search.twitter.com when it comes to finding influencers in a particular geographic location or with specific interests. That ought to be enough to get you started!

Be smart and creative with your content

If you’ve got it, Twitter is just the right place to flaunt it. Things like events and product launches are some of the best ways to add value, get attention, win followers, and drive your audience to take specific actions. Always keep in mind what it is your audience is looking for: information they can use. Use Twitter to share fun, interesting information, as well as things that add value for people (think deals and special offers). Create and/or share interesting, engaging things like trivia questions, polls or quizzes and reward your loyal follower base with early access opportunities, sneak peeks, and other things that make them feel special.

Measure the impact of your marketing efforts

I say it so often it kind of makes me want to barf, but really, if you’re not measuring, you’re not marketing. Make sure that for all of your campaigns you are looking at the data that’s available to you. This means Google analytics, Google Social (which we love!), as well as Twitter analytics. Your data will show you what’s working and what’s not, and allow you to test, measure, tweak, and test some more.

Consider investing in paid Twitter advertising

I’ve not done a ton of Twitter advertising, as it hasn’t really been a fit for our SMB clients, most of whom are in the B2B space. I would love to hear from readers who have, though. I’m a firm believer that social media is very much a pay-to-play channel and that you ultimately get what you pay for. It stands to reason that adding paid promotion to what you’re doing on Twitter, then testing it against what you’re doing elsewhere is an important part of any integrated marketing strategy. In the early days of paid advertising on Twitter, you had to be willing to spend quite a bit in order to get any traction. I believe that is changing, as Twitter moves to court small to midsize businesses.

Bottom line, Twitter can deliver great value for SMBs, but you need to be smart about it. Hopefully some of these suggestions and tools can help you leverage Twitter more effectively for your small to midsize business. And if you get started and have a question, come on back and ask it. We love Twitter and love doing what we can to help get folks pointed in the right direction.

Additional resources on this topic:

Twitter Profiles Revamped: What that means for the future
How SMBs Use Twitter Data
Twitter for Smaller Businesses

photo credit: Garrett Heath via photopin cc

Article was written by Shelly Kramer and originally published on V3 Integrated Marketing Blog.

This post was brought to you by IBM for Midsize Business and opinions are my own. To read more on this topic, visit  IBM’s Midsize Insider. Dedicated to providing businesses with expertise, solutions and tools that are specific to small and midsized companies, the Midsize Business program provides businesses with the materials and knowledge they need to become engines of a smarter planet.

===

Have you been wondering "How Do I Start A Virtual Assistant Business? or "How To Find Virtual Assistant Jobs?".

{ 0 comments }

Facebook Monitoring Job

Now Hiring for Part-Time Contractor Position!

Overview of what team members do:

Our team provides Facebook and Twitter monitoring for our pharmaceutical clients during evening hours, on the weekends, and major holidays. To accomplish that, we utilize a combination of tools, including third party cloud-based software, Excel and by working directly on the Facebook platform as well. Our team members monitor comments left by consumers on several pharmaceutical Facebook fan pages (currently there are 16 different pages). Each Facebook page and Twitter account have differences (based on client needs). Each has a unique workflow designed specifically for the account, which describes what steps to take based on the type of comment left on the page. Most of this work is fairly routine, however critical thinking skills and the ability to function well under pressure are necessary.

Hours/Pay:

Our team is responsible for covering 6-10 pm CST Monday through Friday and 9 am – 10 pm CST on Saturday, Sunday, and major holidays. We split evenings shifts with people covering the shift from 6-8pm and another covering the 8-10pm shift. On weeknights we also have a secondary who is scheduled from 6-10pm who must be available as needed during those times. Weekend shifts are typically 3-4 hours in length. Our team is compensated for actual time worked, not the length of time scheduled.

Scheduled days: based on current needs this position will start off as a weekend only position so we need consistent, availability during our weekend hours – primarily 9 am CT through 2 pm CT (both days). The hours could increase in the future based on new assignments and other factors.

This is not a W2 position. It is a part-time, 1099-MISC position. The starting pay rate is $12/hr and the pay increases to a minimum of $15/hr. once fully trained. The opportunity exists, for the right individuals, to take on more responsibilities and, as such, an increase in pay.

There is Adverse Event (AE) training that needs to be completed for each pharmaceutical company. All but one are self-paced and each takes about 30 minutes. This is paid training time.

Tools/Software used:

As mentioned previously, our team uses a variety of tools to perform these tasks. They include:

  • Google Docs / Google Drive
  • Specialized software specific to the task functions required (each team member is issued their own unique login)
  • Facebook (Fan Pages)
  • Excel (cannot be an open-source alternative such as Libre or Open Office and cannot be a free, trial version)
  • Freshbooks (for time-keeping and invoicing)
  • Paypal (for payment), we do not mail paper checks
  • Hootsuite
  • Twitter web interface

Necessary Skills:

  • Ability to follow written instructions
  • Scheduled days: based on current needs this position will start off as a weekend only position so we need consistent, availability during our weekend hours and major holidays – primarily 9 am CT through 2 pm CT (both days). The hours could increase in the future based on new assignments and other factors. (Having consistent weeknight availability is not necessary, but preference will be given to the candidates who have it.)
  • Good written communication and comprehension skills
  • Working experience with tools and software listed above (we’ll provide training on the specialized software mentioned)
  • Eye for detail and critical thinking skills
  • Must have solid, full working experience with Hootsuite (at least one year of experience)
  • Must be active on Twitter (either for yourself or clients) and be well-versed in all Twitter terminology
  • Must be able to handle multi-tasking and be able to have a quick turnaround with little to no errors
  • Must be US based and English must be your native language

If interested, apply here.

===

Have you been wondering "How Do I Start A Virtual Assistant Business? or "How To Find Virtual Assistant Jobs?".

{ 0 comments }

Twitter’s Renewed SEO FocusAfter a fallout several years ago with The Google, Twitter recently announced the move to allow search engines better access to popular hashtag pages, making Twitter once again in the traffic game.

The revelation, which came at a Twitter analyst event, as reported by Danny Sullivan at Search Engine Land, seems to be a move to reassure investors that the company has a solid growth strategy. The short-term results seemed to be impressive, with Twitter reporting that the monthly number of logged-out users coming to its site increased ten-fold to the current 75 million following the changes.

The move means that search engines can more easily access pages where Twitter compiles tweets and information relating to particular hashtags. The result is that “logged-out” users of the search engines will see more than 50,000 of the more popular hashtag pages appearing in their search results. Clicking through from these will take the user to a landing page with tweets all about the hashtag such as this one for #socialmediamarketing. Take a look ….

Twitter search

The main purpose of this landing page is clearly to demonstrate to non Twitter users what they might be missing and encourage them to sign up for the service, signifying continued growth to investors and analysts. And it only makes sense that Twitter will no doubt be exploring other ways to monetize these pages following the upgrade to the search capabilities.

This is an interesting move by Twitter in view of the previous deal that they had with Google, the so-called “Twitter Firehose” that has been highlighted again by Danny Sullivan, this time over at Marketing Land. Although Twitter now says that historically SEO hasn’t been that important to them, Danny rightly points out that five years ago, when they signed their deal with Google, they had SEO to rival any company. There was a time when Twitter results landed in Google’s search results, which had a big impact on search and, of course, traffic.

The original deal, which gave Google’s search engine access to every tweet in real time, eventually became the core of a real time search service from Google. Add in the fact that Twitter achieved the rare distinction of having paid ads on Google and you could see that the relationship between the two companies was pretty tight. That all came to an end in 2011, when the deal came to a well publicized, but unexplained end.

A similar deal with Bing has continued, but it seems clear that Twitter now needs to increase its search traffic as part of its future plans. Thus, the move to get more out of Google, although this time by way of an SEO strategy rather than a formal arrangement with the search engine. Does having a link to search results in search results violate Google’s spam rules? On the face of it, it’s possible, but we’ll have to watch and see.

It will be interesting to see how greater visibility in Google’s search results affects Twitter’s user numbers and revenues. On a wider scale, it will be fascinating to see how the SEO community reacts. Will they see twitter hashtags as a route to more Google traffic? Might some even try to replicate the link to an internal results page from Google search results in view of Google’s seemingly relaxed approach to Twitter? What do you think, SEO friends? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Other resources on this topic:

Linking for SEO: Has Linking Lost Its Value?
How Twitter Generated 10x Visitors from SEO: Our Thoughts

photo credit: Yung Tsai via photopin cc

This article was written by Shelly Kramer and published originally on V3 Integrated  Marketing Blog.

===

Have you been wondering "How Do I Start A Virtual Assistant Business? or "How To Find Virtual Assistant Jobs?".

{ 0 comments }

The Best Time of Day to Write Your Blog Posts [Infographic]

by Michelle MangenMarch 11, 2015 Productivity Tools

If you blog a lot like I do, you probably have a certain time of the day or night when you prefer to write. For me, it’s early in the morning. I get up very early, and that’s usually the time of day that I can be the most productive with my writing. However, that’s […]

Read the full article →

How to Keep You and Your Loved Ones Safe on Facebook [Infographic]

by Michelle MangenMarch 4, 2015 Facebook

I know some people who share every detail about their personal lives on social media. For those peeps, online privacy is not a big deal. For the rest of us though, there is a certain degree of privacy that is still important to us. Each person has their own threshold for what they are willing […]

Read the full article →