“Branding,” “visibility,” and “loyalty” are all well and good, but chances are, if you’re a small business owner, you have a single question burning in your mind whenever you discuss the benefits of using Twitter: “How can tweeting get me more customers?”
All other benefits of Twitter aside, it is more than possible to use it as a lead generation tool to discover, interact with, and convert customers. Here are five ways that small businesses can use Twitter to do just that.
1. Find new customers using Twitter search
Twitter search is one of the not-quite-secret secrets of Twitter. Many small business owners don’t understand how powerful it can be for discovering new customers, but if you talk to a Twitter veteran, they’ll tell you they can’t live without it.
The billions of tweets that are sent every week are all available to be searched and sifted through using twitter.com/search-advanced.
To find new customers, try searching for keywords related to your product. If you are a pet grooming business, for instance, you might search for “dog shampoo” or “smelly cat.” Search for terms you think your customers would use when they’re talking about the problem that your business solves – and then send them a polite tweet letting them know that you can solve them.
2. Connect with your influencers
Using Twitter, you can network among the “rich and famous” within your niche. Thought leaders, influential customers, journalists, community figureheads and others are all on Twitter. By identifying and building a relationship with these people, your business can benefit greatly from word-of-mouth marketing.
To find your influencers, start by searching for industry keywords and paying particular attention to who is getting retweeted the most. Once you have a handful of influencers, you can put them into a list (and keep it private, if you don’t want them to know they’re on it) so you can keep track of what they tweet and engage with them on a regular basis.
3. Know your hashtags
Hashtags are like little windows into a larger conversation. They show you what is popular on Twitter and in your industry. By using Twitter search or paying attention to the hashtags your influencers use, you can identify popular hashtags and use these in your tweets to get them in front of a larger audience.
One effective, albeit not necessarily cheap, way of attracting new customers is to simply pay to show your tweets to a wide, targeted audience. Twitter Ads offers many types of advertising, including promoting your account or promoting specific tweets, that you can purchase to reach potential customers who may not yet be aware of your brand.
5. Join your local community
Lastly, small businesses can connect to their local communities on Twitter in order to get in front of a local audience. Try searching for your local chamber, business organizations, prominent community leaders, and other accounts that would be interested in promoting your own local business.
It’s also a good idea to use the Twitter search operator “Near this place” to identify tweets sent from locals, and engage in the ones that make sense.
(Magnifying glass image via Shutterstock)