Twitter for Small Business Part 3: How To Build Followers & Extend Reach

In our first two Twitter Guides we talked about Twitter Setup and Twitter Strategy. As we have seen, any business can start a Twitter account, but making it successful takes time and patience. The secret is finding, building and feeding relationships with your followers.

But how do you locate the right relationships, extend your reach, and build followers in the Twitter community? There are numerous ways to amplify reach, some ethical and others not. Regardless, nothing trumps genuine work.

1. Learn to be a follower.

“In order to lead, you must learn to follow?” This quote does not just insinuate face-to-face interactions; it also rings true in social media. Learn how to become a follower and it will teach you how to communicate and be successful with your followers.

Use the Twitter search function to locate businesses in your industry and follow them. Search for professional associations and groups where you can make connections. Jump into conversations on relevant topics or interests and share your opinion.

Participate, but be careful of how you communicate. Do not be too cocky or too knowledgeable. Be a part of the conversation.

Upon discovering similar businesses, leverage their following/followers lists and nab some peeps. This is an excellent way to find a generous amount of significant professionals to interact with. Follow them, RT them and leverage their lists, too.

Tweetspinner is an excellent way to locate and follow people who compliment your business and personal interests. The maker originates from Portland, OR and his product is an incredible resource.

Also, join scheduled chats. They may seem intimidating at first, so feel free to watch a few before participating. But scheduled chats will introduce your business to a large array of people online and give you validity in your field. Here’s is an open list of all the Twitter chats.

Ahna’s advice: Your business is the new kid on the block and it will take time to establish credibility. Don’t take it personally when someone does not show appreciation for sharing their information or for your follow. View these moments as examples of how not to treat your community. With time and patience, your business account will gain validity and it will be easier to start a conversation. In the meantime, be willing to go the extra mile and learn everything you can from the professionals surrounding you. Twitter is overflowing in resources.

2. Focus on quality, not quantity.

Believe it or not, your business account will have a greater impact online if the focus is on the quality of your followers versus the quantity.

In the beginning we think the goal of Twitter is to acquire a large number of followers, but that is a myth. The goal is to expand your reach and create a community of followers who interact, share your tweets, take the time to say hello and genuinely care about your business.

The quick-fix businesses offering to bring large amounts of followers in a short amount of time will only bring silent, dead-end peeps who have nothing to share or add.

Do not get caught up in the folly of numbers, but stay focused on finding and developing relationships. Follow relevant people in your industry and share valuable content with your followers. Change it up by tweeting pictures, videos, funny cartoons and personal info.

Use Google Alerts for specific keywords and share the articles and posts in a timely manner with Bundlepost. Add hashtags to your tweets so people will locate your account easier. Participate in trending topics because it will expose you to a large number of people. And once you are really brave, host a tweetup in your area.

Focus on quality instead of quantity, and it will bless your account in every way.

Ahna’s advice: Never believe in the quick-fix solutions over going the distance to create a solid account. You get what you pay for and Twitter is no exception.

3. Promote Your Twitter Account EVERYWHERE.

Literally. If you want to expand your reach then put your username in every reachable place imaginable.

Start with the business website – add it to pages, blog posts, and upload widgets to make following a simple click of a button. Promote it on every business site or page account – Facebook, Tumblr, LinkedIn, blogs, everywhere. Add your username to Twitter directories and leave it when you comment on blogs.

Tackle tangible items. T-shirts, hats, pens, business cards, paper supplies, or place a Twitter logo on your business window.

And talk about it, constantly. Let your current clients know, announce it in your email newsletter, use WiseStamp to include it in your email signature, ask employees, family members and friends to promote it.

You can also pay to promote your business account on Twitter. Check out business.twitter.com to decide if this is right for your business.

4. Promote Other Businesses

If there is one karmic lesson you must learn in the social media community, it is that promoting other people and businesses will always build real relationships.

When you find businesses online that you like, sharing them, talking about them, and ask your followers to do the same. Stick to the positives and do not ever use a negative example.

Mention their usernames in the tweet. Check out their followers and participate in their conversations. Say hello for the heck of it, and ask questions. Curiosity wins every time.

Make a local impact by connecting with other businesses in your living community, whether in a similar industry or not. Grab a partner business and use each other to promote your services or put promotions together. Think of creative ways to leverage each other’s pull in the community and make a positive impact. Promote charity events, parades, newspapers and local events. Get involved.

You may view Twitter as an opportunity to gain new leads or generate more income, but unless there is substance, your followers will not stick around for long.

Ahna’s advice: Social media is a two-way conversation in every way, whether through words, action or promotion. Think about how awesome it makes you feel to get a RT or have someone say something positive about your business. Now, share that feeling with someone else and see what happens. And do not bypass the opportunity to be a positive influence in your local area.

5. When in doubt, give things away.

If the other options are not enough, get some buzz going with the word FREE. Plan a promotion, special or offer a discount to new followers or those who RT your tweets. Promotions can be used in conjunction with any of the other suggestions to amplify your reach. Any two or more will be a powerful online punch.

Give away business paraphernalia, offer discounts on products or services, or set up a sweepstakes giveaway. Customers showing their phones can easily claim discounts or you can keep track with an Excel sheet.

But make sure to include a rules & regulations link in every tweet for all promotions. Be crystal clear with the contest rules or your followers may get confused and vent their frustration, turning it into a catastrophe.

Plan it out ahead of time, be clear in your execution and upload a rules and regulations summary online for viewers and to protect yourself.

Ahna’s advice: Hosting online promotions is an exciting idea, but they can be a lot of work. Do the research beforehand and see how other businesses executed similar promotions before planning your own. It will give you direction on how to implement one successfully.

Conclusion

Extending your business account’s reach in the world of Twitter is not a difficult task if building relationships and offering value are at the top of the list.

Even though we are participating in a social media community online, it is still an interaction between people. With time and dedication, your business account will become a successful account.

Twitter for Small Business Part 4: The Dos and Don’ts.

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