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Twitter Tips & Tricks to Help Build Your Business

Last month, I shared my thoughts on how a Facebook page is a tool to have in your local business’s marketing mix. It’s an easy (and free) way to add a level of engagement with your consumers which can often lead to valuable foot traffic. I personally have had many Facebook posts by local businesses get me into their establishment that same day.
This time, I want to share some thoughts on how you can put Twitter to work for your business. When you set up a Twitter profile, be sure to fill out your bio with some brief details about your company and your website’s URL. If you’d like to have all of your tweets appear on your business’s Facebook page, you have the opportunity to integrate the two.
I find Twitter and Facebook to be complementary products with things I like about each, but probably the biggest advantages of Twitter is that it allows everyone on Twitter the opportunity to read what you Tweet and engage with you. People don’t need to be fans or followers to contact others in real time; they simply just have to “mention” you in their tweet (you can find us @ComcstSpotlight). This allows customers to quickly and easily ask you a question or provide feedback. 
Like Facebook, I find that local businesses use Twitter to let people know what’s going on “right now” at their establishment. Twitter is even more real-time as many people have their followers ‘ tweets automatically emailed or texted to them, plus there are live feeds that stream on smartphones when you are logged into Twitter.
One small Italian restaurant group in my neighborhood uses Twitter really well; they have a tweet schedule that they follow like clockwork, in part by using a free tool called Hootsuite that allows them to plan their tweets in advance:
1)      At 11:45a, they tweet “Daily Giveaway coming up at noon.”
2)      At noon, they tweet: “You win a <fill in the blank Italian dish> if you are the first to retweet!” and they include a link to their giveaway rules which are posted on their site.
3)      At 12:30p, they congratulate the winner with a post: “Congrats @<winner’s Twitter handle>! We'll DM you the details. RT @<restaurant’s name> You win a <fill in the blank Italian dish> if you're the first to retweet!”
To break this down, they teased a promotion was coming up to get followers excited, then they asked people to retweet their post (which virally spreads their message and their Twitter handle) and lastly, they congratulated the winner which spread the winner on Twitter to all of the restaurant’s followers (people like publicity!) and by including the original tweet they let people know what this person won and how. And who doesn’t like free food? 
This all falls in line with the old motto - "you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours." You give me exposure and I’ll give it right back to you. If someone retweets (RT) something you tweeted (giving you exposure to their followers), it’s always nice to thank them for their RT (giving them exposure to yours). 
Coming back to my local restaurant group example, they also use Twitter to always be top of mind with customers. Again, they tweet every day at 5pm, teasing that their daily specials will be posted in an hour. At 6pm, they tweet they have great specials tonight and include a link to the specials on their site (which also has their regular menu). And you know what? This really works - I always think of their restaurants when I can’t decide what we should eat because their specials sound so good (and I get them delivered to my phone or desktop via Twitter every day).
One of the best resources for local businesses that want to proactively find new customers in their area is Twitter’s Advanced Search. An example would be a Houston bakery doing an advanced search on “bakery” within 15 miles of Houston and select the “Question?” checkbox to narrow the search results to tweets that also posed a question. This will return results of people that may have asked their followers for recommendations on a good bakery in the Houston area. The shop can then respond to the tweet, letting the tweeter know that first-time customers can get 10% off. Oftentimes they will thank the bakery via a mention and then the bakery will in turn get a new customer - thanks to Twitter. You might not find potential customers in your first search, but I’d recommend that you use the “Save this search” feature and do it weekly or monthly to see If you can find new customers that way.
All of the examples from this post and my previous one can easily be adapted for your business. These businesses often vary up their content, again posting a little bit of self promotion with a little bit of industry news (or in the case of my local restaurant group – what’s happening in the neighborhood). It’s pretty easy to do; just try, and let me know how it goes in the comments below or if you have any questions, feel free to ask.
And remember, like Facebook, Twitter is a public place that can impact your reputation, so if someone has a complaint about your product or business make sure you respond in a professional and timely manner. You can use Twitter to increase customer satisfaction and to prevent a lost customer who may have had a bad experience at your place of business.
Lastly, make sure you include a link to your Twitter page on your website so people know they can follow you!