Small businesses are losing out by ignoring Twitter

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The other day I was talking to a restaurant owner who has become expert at using Twitter to build relationships with his customers. He finds it exciting because it relieves the boredom that sometimes creeps in during the day. Plus it gives him an opportunity to vent at things he finds wrong in society and elsewhere.

This is an example of a business person who has educated himself about the social Twitter site and uses it to communicate with customers, promote upcoming events, and publicise specials. His business tweets also help attract new and repeat customers to the shop.

One thing that has helped him up with this customer base of over 500 people is what he believes is the secret: responding quickly as possible to queries via Tweets from customers. It’s so important to show your customers that you take their queries seriously. It’s not on to keep them waiting. This loses confidence in your social media and even your business very quickly.

If you are going to put up a Twitter account for your business, you the business owner will need to actively engage with your customers via your Twitter account. It’s no use opening account and then leaving it alone for days on end and thinking that something is going to happen. It won’t. You’ve got to push it. If you don’t have the time to do this, then you need to get someone else in your business to handle it for you.

To make your twitter account work for your small business, you will need to learn how to engage your audience with tweets that interest or award them, find your voice as a business and perhaps even provide incentives for following or reading tweets such as offering special discounts to those who retweet. All you need to do is ask people to show you their tweet on their phones at point-of-sale.

When you get going with your Twitter account don’t be surprised to find that some customers will send complaints – and angry ones at that. This is something that you’re going to have to handle unless you want to lose face with your customers.

The larger companies such as the big retail chains stores are getting better at their use of Twitter. Some of the more open-minded retail clients have been carefully strategising their social media and Twitter in particular. Their approach to negative issues is handled promptly and with respect for the customer. For example, a customer recently was upset for being sent spam SMSs from a large retail fashion store even though the customer was not even a member when signed up to the fashion offers. The retail Twitter team quickly responded by apologising and promised to get back to the team to provide the customers with feedback. In this case the customer tweeted the next day thanking the retail fashion giant for quickly following up his issue.

Even short-term insurance companies have embraced Twitter. One such insurance company’s Twitter account is loaded with complaints as the company has a sincere tone of apology in their responses and get their representatives in touch with complaining customers as soon as possible.

If you own a small business or plan to start one, it may well pay you to have a look at opening a Twitter account to build a social network around your business. But remember to prevent making a Twitter account a total waste of time you need to respond quickly to feedback from customers if you want this social media tool to work for you.

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