You run a local business. You’re the owner, operator, bookkeeper, PR and marketing person all rolled into one. You may have staff, but they work long full hours and the last thing you want them doing is spending time on Twitter.
None of you have time for social media.
I know the story, have lived it, and watched many small retailers fight the same battle. There’s a good chance at some point you set up a Twitter account. There’s an even better chance that if you did, it’s totally ineffective.
For the overworked and under appreciated, I’ve put together Twitter for retailers -10 ways to fix your presence
#1 – Make good use of your time. Don’t waste it – I’ve seen small business Twitter accounts with no engagement, no interaction, a handful of followers, but 3,000 posts. If it’s a personal account, and you’re talking with friends, this is not a problem. As a small business account, you’re doing something wrong. Steps 2 through 9 will probably solve your problem.
#2 – Understand your audience. You must first figure out who it is that you want to reach. Remember that your objectives have nothing to do with picking up random followers. Your love of baseball does not mean that your shop should start following and tweeting to your favourite baseball players and analysts.
If you sell designer clothing in the west end of Portland Oregon, you will want to be noticed by locals who are interested in the designer fashion scene in Portland. They can be local bloggers, columnists, newsmaker or the designers themselves. Your target audience is also anyone locally who may purchase designer clothing, or be interested in the subject.
#3 – Find your customers and potential customers, and follow them – – Now that you know who you hope to reach, it’s time to reach them. Search around using hashtags and advanced searches to determine who is talking about subjects that your audience will be listening to.
When you find these local newsmakers in your niche, follow the people who are following them. Follow hundreds at a time if you’d like. Do geographic searches and follow people in your area. Follow those who follow your Business Improvement District (BID) and other local shops in the area. There are maximum follow and unfollow rules, so be careful, but people aren’t looking for you. So you MUST look for them.
#4 – Give these people the posts that they want – You sell products for moms? Then share links, stories and inspiration that moms are interested in. If you are interested in horror movies, keep it to yourself, or start a different account. You can be genuine and honest but don’t stray too far.
You still need the right people to follow you and keep following you.
#5 – Tweet a lot and schedule. Sometimes it is very difficult to find time to tweet. Almost every article you read about Twitter will talk about starting conversations and engaging others. That is excellent, but it can drain hours of every day. So engage when you can, but make time to sit down for an hour or two when things are quiet, and schedule as many tweets as you can. Free services like Hootsuite allow you to do this.
#6 – Stop tweeting hundreds of pictures of your products. If you have something cool, or products to be excited about, share them. But endless product shots, with boring tweets – are painful. Stop it. Shops that treat Twitter as a dull bulletin board are destined to fail in their Twitter experiment.
#7 – Those Facebook posts on Twitter – Turn that thing off NOW. Twitter users don’t appreciate it and very often posts are cut off or don’t make sense.
#8 Use the @ sign, except in the first position – If you start a tweet with @, it is a direct reply and won’t be seen by your followers. That said, in every other position, it works. Add your BID (if you have one) or Chamber of Commerce into some of your tweets to keep them in the loop. Add others that might share your information or post stories to their blogs or websites. And copy other local businesses on your tweets. Compliment the flower shop two doors down – you know – the one with 2000 local followers!
#9 – Throw in hashtags – Doesn’t hurt to put in hashtags of your subject matter. Will it make a huge impact, maybe not, but with the right hashtags, you’ll pick up the right followers.
#10 – Remember it’s a two way street – There are people that will retweet your posts and interact with you. They will drive your Twitter experience. Return the favour to them and to others. But remember – your time is valuable, so engage the most with those people most likely to be reaching your audience.