Want more small business shine? Grow your Twitter universe
Rep. Devin Nunes' legal team claims Twitter is complicit in defamation by "knowingly hosting and monetizing" abusive content on its service. USA TODAY
Question: I see that you are very active on Twitter. I am too via my small business, but I have very few followers. What to do? – Jacob
Answer: I was definitely a fairly late convert to Twitter. The first time I wrote about it in this column – a decade or so ago – I told small business owners not to tweet. “No one cares what you had for lunch,” I said, not getting it.
I stand corrected and these days have about 50K followers between my personal Twitter account and my business Twitter accounts. I tweet a lot and find it really helps my business.
But I am sort of alone. It is estimated that fewer than 25 percent of all small businesses make Twitter part of their marketing mix, and that is understandable. Twitter can be a strange mix of breaking news, random thoughts, uber-promotions, out-of-context conversations and about a hundred other things. So it is understandable why a small business owner may think he or she is simply too busy making a living to learn another platform.
That said, it is equally true that many small business owners have found success on Twitter. There are three reasons you might want to court more Twitter followers:
1. A bigger network
One of the great things about social media is that it allows you to expand your network; online you have a chance to meet people you otherwise would not normally meet. That equals opportunity.
2. More connections
Having a lot of people follow you on Twitter creates a big broadcasting platform for you. You can use it to announce sales, make special offers, share info or otherwise remain top of mind.
3. It looks good
Let’s face it, in the social media universe, there is respect in numbers. If you have thousands of 'likes' for your business Facebook page, that is a good thing. Similarly, in the Twitterverse, plenty of followers makes you look like you are important enough to have, well, plenty of followers.
How do you get them? Here’s how:
1. Tweet quality.
This is Rule # 1 for a reason. The best, most organic, most authentic way to get real followers is to tweet tweets of value and substance. Do NOT just tweet about you, your business, your lunch. Instead, tweet something that will be of value to them: articles, videos, infographics and specials.
If you tweet things that add to a person’s day, they will 1) follow you, and 2) retweet you. That’s when you go viral.
2. Follow the right people.
This is the secret sauce of getting Twitter followers. There is an unwritten rule on Twitter that says that it is good form to follow people who follow you. So by following the leaders in your field, you will see that many will follow you back, and after that, then watch when some of their followers begin to follow you.
3. Follow the followers.
Following the followers of people who are like you in business will mean that those people will be more likely to follow you. Why? Because they already follow people like you and you followed them already.
4. Follow the right hashtags.
As you likely know, hashtags signify Twitter conversations. People who join in on hashtag conversations relevant to you and your business are people who will likely be interested in your quality tweets.
Now, what you don’t want to do is buy followers. Not only can people see through that, the bots these companies send your way are generally horrible. That said, advertising on Twitter itself does work and can also help you gain a bigger following. Twitter Promote Mote is especially promising in this regard.
Today’s Tip: I recently came across a great new site for small business called the SAP Business Exchange (Note – SAP previously sponsored my podcast.) The site is a new digital experience designed to help inspire innovation, foster learning, build new relationships, leverage buying power, and tap into insights.
It’s great. Steve says check it out.
Steve Strauss, @Steve Strauss on Twitter, is a lawyer specializing in small business and entrepreneurship who has been writing for USATODAY.com for 20 years. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can learn more about Steve at MrAllBiz.com.
The views and opinions expressed in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect those of USA TODAY.