As far as small businesses go, Twitter is for networking.
What exactly does that mean, “Twitter is for networking”? It means that contrary to the conclusions of a lot of spammers and less-than-savvy small business owners, the best use of Twitter is not just to broadcast your advertising messages in 140 characters or less all day.
Outside of perhaps promoting events, Twitter is not for advertising. It is for networking. Networking means making new connections with people you didn’t already know who can help your business.
On Twitter, people are
- Already overwhelmed with blatantly promotional messages and
- There because they’re looking to connect with people (sources of valuable information) outside of their existing social network.
Facebook, for most people, is a way to stay connected with folks that they have met in real life: friends, family, business associates, former housemates or classmates. In other words, Facebook is widely treated as a forum for cultivating existing relationships rather than seeking out new ones.
Meanwhile, Twitter never put any emphasis on connecting with or following people that you already know in the flesh. Twitter, from its inception, has been about getting up-to-the-minute information that you care about from the sources that are closest to the action. That’s why Twitter has proven so useful in organizing political movements. So how can you use Twitter to network and to move your audience?
1. Supply your fans and customers with an ongoing narrative of your adventures running your business.
We all love a good story. In your posts about your small business on Twitter, you are the hero. Don’t shy away from the hero position. Your trials and tribulations, your wins and triumphs: this is what people care about.
Plus, the better you tell the dramatic and humorous and triumph-filled story of your business, the more fascinated people will be when they look at your profile page and consider whether or not they want to follow you or tweet to you.
2. Follow other small businesses and leaders in your industry and boldly reply to their tweets.
Everyone loves to see that their tweets have garnered replies, so don’t be shy about replying to people’s tweets! Twitter is an excellent way to make connections with leaders and movers-and-shakers that you otherwise would have no access to.
Twitter is a great leveler. No matter how big or small you are, you can tweet directly to someone by typing their handle, and your tweet will appear in their feed. If what you’re saying interests them (if it’s smart, funny, and helpful) you’ll likely get a reply in-kind. Then you’ve got a new connection!
3. Spark up conversations with other small business and leaders by asking what they think about something that matters to both of you.
In a world of information overflow, we’re all looking to cultivate meaningful relationships with people. Meaningful relationships include the exchange of knowledge about something that matters to both parties in the relationship.
This means that a great way to start a conversation with other leaders in your industry on Twitter is to ask them about their opinion on a topic that probably matters to both of you.
Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be making new friends and garnering fresh fans on Twitter. It doesn’t take much: just you showing up, sharing your story, and showing interest in other people’s stories and work.
About the Author: Linda D’Angelo is owner of The Small Biz Shop, a place where business owners and nonprofit organizations can go for collaboration, consulting, learning, strategy and assistance with program execution. Working collaboratively with you, her small dynamic team helps you achieve your business goals via marketing and business support, workshops and consulting. The Small Biz Shop is an accredited Constant Contact Solution Provider and a HootSuite Solution Provider. Linda D’Angelo is also a Microsoft Office Accredited Specialist on several of the Microsoft Office products, including Master Certification on Office 2007. Linda also hosts a Roundtable Facebook group for entrepreneurs and small business owners.