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Five ways Twitter benefits businesses

Get past the confusion of tweeting


September 15, 2010
By Heather Lutze

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TwitterCURRENT ISSUE

Five ways Twitter benefits businesses
While most business professionals today realize that social media
marketing is the way of the future, many are still confused about
Twitter.

While most business professionals today realize that social media marketing is the way of the future, many are still confused about Twitter. “It has no business application,” “It’s something that only kids use,” and, “Why should I post things like what I had for lunch?” are the most common reactions.

twitter 
  

These sentiments are understandable. Initially, the business application of Twitter was uncertain; kids did primarily use it, and most postings were about mundane things like what someone recently ate. But today, things are very different.

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Let’s finally set the record straight:

  • Twitter is for business.
  • Most kids have abandoned Twitter long ago. The majority of today’s users are age 18-34 (47%), followed by people age 35-49 (31%).
  • Today’s Twitter postings have great information and enough relevance for the search engines to take notice.

The bottom line is if you’re a business owner and you are not on Twitter, you’re missing out on some serious benefits. Following are the top five business benefits of being a loyal Tweeter.

Your tweets can show up in search engine results just as easily as your blog post or web site.

Everything you do inside Twitter is watched and ranked by Google. If you’re tweeting regularly, and Google starts ranking your tweets in search results, that’s a completely different  reason why you should be using Twitter.

In order to get your tweets ranked by Google, you have to think about the keywords you’re using and where you want your tweets to rank. For example, if you want to be ranked under the term, “business development consultant,” you need some derivative of that phrase in your tweets. Perhaps you post a white paper of how to hire a business consultant. Or perhaps you post an article about business development trends. Since you only have 140 characters to work with, you have to be judicious when picking your keywords. However, once you pick your keywords, keep using them in your tweets.

Not only is Google watching your tweets, they’re also watching who is retweeting you. The more retweets you have, the more Google views you as an authority in your topic, and the more credible your thoughts and posts become.
Retweeting others also lends to your credibility. You become a thought leader in your industry when you endorse other thought leaders. If you’re trying to position yourself as a thought leader, make sure you endorse others as thought leaders by retweeting them. Share other people’s white papers, links, articles, etc. with your community. You can’t talk about yourself 24/7 and look credible; you need to be plugging your followers into other great minds in order to add value to your connection.

Why retweet someone, especially a competitor, who could potentially take your business? When you share discoveries, quotes, ideas, and information, it makes you look good. This is your community you’re posting to; your followers like you and want to hear from you. They want you to share things with them – even things that come from other people. So don’t worry about your followers ditching you for the person you retweeted. It’s unlikely to happen.

The more you tweet, the more social proof you give to prospects and clients. In addition to being a social media platform, Twitter’s search engine (www.search.twitter.com) searches through Twitter posts and activity, but not the World Wide Web. Many people use Twitter as their main search engine because they feel comfortable with it. If someone searches for something, and the keywords they use in their search are the same keywords that are in your tweets, you’ll show up in the search results. Now the searcher can see that you’re walking your talk. You’re giving advice and sharing information. They’ll view you as a thought leader, and start following you because they have social proof of who you are.

It’s important to realize that people are trusting web search results less and less. Every website says their company is the best, the most revolutionary, the least expensive, etc. People today want social proof that you’re the best company or person to work with, and Twitter provides exactly that. People know that just because you say you’re an expert or your company is the best doesn’t mean it’s true. They want proof, and Twitter is a great way to ask a huge group of people for social proof.

Additionally, Yahoo and Twitter have recently created a partnership where people’s tweets will feed into Yahoo. This is a big step in social media and can potentially position Yahoo – a hugely popular search engine already – as the social search engine. No business would want to be left out of this.

You need to stay on top of what people are saying about you, your company, your brand, your products, etc., and Twitter is one simple way to do this. There are many Twitter productivity tools available, such as www.socialoomph.com, that enable you to keep your finger on the pulse of what others are saying about you.

Here’s how it works: Whenever someone mentions your name, company name, or any other keyword criteria you determine, you’ll get an alert. This is a huge benefit for all businesses, because you want to know what’s wrong before everyone else does. Large companies have dedicated employees who do nothing but monitor Twitter for irate customers or negative feedback. Now even small companies can monitor this sort of live feedback from customers.

Your tweet content can show up on your web site and other social media sites too. Even though your tweets can only be 140 characters long, that’s still some valuable content you’re generating. Quick tips, inspirational quotes, and links to key information are great content not just for Twitter, but also for your web site and other social media platforms. So make the most of your tweeting and don’t limit yourself. Integrate your tweets so they show up on LinkedIn, Facebook, your blog, and your web site at the very least.

Most social media sites, blog providers, and web site creation programs have simple plug-ins available that enable you to show your tweets on these different portals. Doing this instantly increases your credibility and your findability.
 
Tweet Your Way to Success
Yes, tweeting has many perks, but getting these benefits isn’t automatic. You can’t just tweet once or twice a month and expect your credibility and social proof to grow. Just as you use your Twitter productivity tool to monitor what others are saying about you, you also use it to pre-schedule your tweets so you have at least four tweets going out per day.

 This can be a mix of quotes, quick tips, links, and your own thoughts on your industry. You can even recycle your tweets during the course of a month, since you won’t get everyone’s attention the first time you post something.

As you tweet, remember that to keep a group of followers engaged, you have to include a bit of your own personality. It’s okay to go off topic every now and then to show that you’re a real human being, not just a computer program pumping out tweets. Use your best judgment to ensure anything you tweet about is appropriate.

Ultimately, Twitter can help your business grow, and the sooner you embrace it as a business-building tool, the further ahead you’ll be in the social media game.

Ninety per cent of Canadian organizations use social media

The vast majority of Canadian executives at large and mid-sized organizations say that social media has the potential to impact their corporate brand, and as a result are placing more importance on its use. One in six say that social media is the most important means for their organization to engage the public about their brand, while 31 per cent say it plays a major role and 43 per cent say it plays a limited role. Just ten per cent of organizations don’t bother engaging in social media. These are some of the findings of a SAS/Leger Marketing survey of more than 1,000 Canadian executives conducted earlier this year.

Provincially, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec executives are more on board than those in Atlantic Canada, with about one in five executives (20, 19, and 15 per cent respectively) saying social media is their most important means of communicating with the public. Just six per cent of Atlantic Canada’s executives feel this way.
At the industry level, which represents respondents from both the public and private sector, finance and banking executives lead the way, with 28 per cent saying social media is the most important means of communicating with the public about their brand. One in five advertising, media, and communication companies (21 per cent) say the same, while only six per cent of the health services/pharmaceutical industry say it is their most important avenue for public engagement.

Nationally, ten per cent of executives interviewed say social media is a waste of time. From an industry perspective, 15 per cent of construction, manufacturing, real estate and legal executives say it is a waste of time. Less than half as many – seven per cent – of retail execs agree. The private sector was also more skeptical than the public sector, with 12 percent (versus seven per cent) saying it is a waste of time.

“Consumers are now, more than ever, keeping a close eye on our brands as they continue to engage with social media channels at unprecedented rates,” said Lori Bieda, SAS Canada consultant and former marketing executive. “With corporate trust at the lowest it’s been in several years, consumers are relying on social media and their social networks to shape their buying decisions, making social media a powerful medium that businesses can’t ignore.”

Ontario, for all of its leading edge social media commitment, is also the most skeptical province when it comes to social media in general, with 14 per cent saying it is a passing fancy that will be gone in a few years. Three per cent in Atlantic Canada, Manitoba and Saskatchewan, and five per cent in Quebec agree.

“The true sentiment of brands is ‘out there’– in a more public form than ever before – and delivered at speeds that can make or break brands,” added Bieda. “Mining social media data well will empower marketers, PR professionals, researchers and customer experience experts to drive business forward.”  


Heather Lutze has spent the last 10 years helping business owners get
their expertise noticed on the web by their target audiences. She is
the author of The Findability Formula: The Easy, Non-Technical Approach
to Search Engine Marketing by Wiley & Sons. She has run her own
agency in Denver, Colo. for a decade and is working on her next book,
The Findability Formula for Social Media, due out Spring 2011. Visit
FindabilityGroup.com for tools and resources to increase your site’s
Findability
.