Did you know 500 million tweets are sent every day? (source). 500 million. Millions of tweets about sport, fashion, news and, of course, for promotional uses. But there's a very thin line with the subject of promoting ourselves and our business on Twitter. We have a common ground - it's something we all have to do in this industry. When you're a one-woman show and you're managing social media for your own business, you're okay. You know what voice you want to use and how you want to come across. The problem arises when someone "thinks" they know Twitter, but then has to tweet on behalf of a small business. Do you tweet as yourself? Or tweet as the business? That's what Tom is here to talk to you about today.
Twitter for a small business is without doubt a goldmine if used in the right way. There aren't any rules with what you can and can't tweet; as long as you steer clear of certain taboo topics and treat it as though you're talking to a customer over the phone, you'll generally be fine. No promises, but generally you will be.
Of course that isn't exclusive to Twitter. Social media, while targeting different sets of customers, must encapsulate that overall brand identity that can be cross-referenced across different platforms. Your Twitter followers, for example, are a different audience to your LinkedIn connections. With Twitter, however, and only 140 characters to play with - and even less when an image and a link is included - there seems to be an urgency to get whatever message out in any form manageable. While this may be true for the causal user, publishing a business tweet is a whole different story. Today, I'm going to break down unforgiving business tweeting actions into two key areas -Grammar and Modesty.
Running a business involves being professional. This means you need to have good grammar for projecting a professional business image across to those who don't know the first thing about your company. Whether they're a potential customer or not. Tweeting for consumers doesn't mean that grammar rules instantly go out the window. You're not texting a mate circa 2005. You're adopting a professional yet friendly approach to promoting your business whilst engaging with the community.
Just keep it simple with your business brand and tone of voice. No one's going to berate you for not including a full stop at the end of a tweet that would take you over the character count. But you must take care to read and read aloud before hitting the Tweet button.
The main misconception, especially on Twitter, is to pump out constant engagement to keep up an active profile. This is true to an extent when pushing certain deals and competitions, but it is always quality over quantity.
Rushed tweets that miss out words and punctuation can appear sloppy and potentially send out the wrong message, so it really is worth a quick read over. As much thought must go into a good engaging tweet, as a good engaging blog post.
The final note for grammar, dare I say it, is exclamation marks. I do understand the temptation to bash away at those symbols that stress the excitement and fun of the team's working day. But included in every tweet quickly begins to lose that buzz you were desperate to achieve. Depending on your brand, stick to one exclamation mark every five tweets as a minimum and go from there.
Many small businesses either have one person responsible for all social media channels, or various members of the team all contribute and dabble in it as and when. There's no doubt the first option is best in terms of organisation and consistent engagement, particularly for businesses seeking to build their brand online. But this person must represent the rest of the team, not just themselves. From experience, I know that sadly this doesn't always happen. Where efforts of the team become attributed to certain individuals - it's a job, not a competition - take in-house praise on board without showcasing it to the world through a series of tweets.
The Twitter community enjoys knowing what your business is up to. Some have followed you after all. But followers and casual users will quickly tire of self-indulgent comments and obvious attempts to make something go viral. By all means have good intentions for the latter, but don't become obsessed with it.
So if you're the only one doing social media for a business, that's great. A lot of trust has been placed in you to show the business off to the world in the best light possible. Just bear in mind that tweeting boils down to three crucial elements: keep it in third person, everything is a team effort and always, always maintain your professional brand voice.
Best of luck.
We'd be really interested to know - do you have any other insights for managing Twitter for a small business? Just leave a comment below.
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