Small Business Marketing by Jillian Shaw Marketing, Advertising & Public Relations for the Small Business

Essential “Outposts” – Twitter

02.11.2010 · Posted in Social Media, Twitter

Twitter Can Help Your Small Business Communicate

What are “outposts?”  Outposts are social media tools that help you stay in-the-know about what’s going on in your marketplace and eventually can help you spread the word about your own product or service.  I’m going to talk about one today:  Twitter.

Twitter is a social networking site that asks its users one simple question: What are you doing?  You must answer that in 140 characters or less.  This provides a great opportunity to send and receive short, to-the-point message about only the most pertinent information (hopefully).

If you aren’t a member on Twitter, click the link above and follow the steps to join.  Then, go to your favorite websites and blogs for gathering information and you’ll probably find a “Follow Me On Twitter” link.  Click it, and it’ll take you through a quick and easy process that adds that person/website to the list of people you ‘follow’ on Twitter.  As you find new sites or people that you think are interesting or informative, follow them as well.

Once you start taking in information you’ll notice that people share a lot of stuff created by others.  Often people will directly ‘retweet’ someone else’s information, which means that they click one button that just repeats that person’s message and sends it as if it came directly from them.  This is another great way to find new people to follow.

And of course, you can follow your family and friends as well, but that’s not the point of this post.

If you have a smart phone (like a Blackberry or iPhone) you can get an app that allows you to send and receive ‘tweets,’ or messages, with your phone.

After you feel comfortable listening to others, it’s time to start making your own stuff.  You can tweet

  • links to cool information regarding your field (“Check out this article about XYZ here:”)
  • pertinent information about your business (“The Gift Shop will be closed on Monday in observance of President’s Day”)
  • personal commentary that makes people feel like they know you (“My kids are starting a fundraiser at school today – hope you like candles!”

The more interesting and useful content you send out via your tweets, the more likely people that are interested in your product or service will be to follow you.

So now that you’re successfully taking in information and sending out information, the next step is to interact.  This is where the fireworks start.

Let’s say that you’re scrolling through your Twitter Feed and you see someone ask the question “does anybody know how to fix a leaky faucet?”  And hey!  It just so happens that you do – because you’re a plumber!  You can send a message directly to that person by starting your message with the ‘at’ symbol – @ – followed by their Twitter name (for example, @jilliansmitty) and then writing your answer.  Even if you can’t solve the entire problem in 140 characters, you’ve at least given that person more information than they had before, and the next time they need a plumber, they’ll think of you – and so will everyone that follows them and you.

So to recap how to use Twitter as an outpost:

  1. Start an account.
  2. Click ‘Follow Me On Twitter’ links, and find others on Twitter to ‘listen’ to.
  3. Begin sending useful messages about your field or product/service.
  4. Interact directly with other users and provide constructive information.

It’ll take you 5 minutes to set up a Twitter account and a few seconds during your net surfing time to start following people.  You have no more excuses, just do it!

Jillian's Currently Reading: Guerrilla Marketing, 4th edition: Easy and Inexpensive Strategies for Making Big Profits from Your Small Business
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