Every day, Twitter is abuzz with clever comments from the likes of everyone from Rihanna to Martha Stewart to Seth Godin. It’s an equal playing field where people are free to share and discuss any topic under the sun. And, with 140 million users, it’s a great way for entrepreneurs to get known and connect with potential customers.
But, many business owners fall into the trap of using Twitter as a soapbox, rather than a tool for conversation. Below are five Tweet formulas to try that will engage your clients and customers.
Tweet Formula #1: Ask a question
This is one of my favorite ways to engage my audience online. People love to share their opinions, recommendations, or stories, so asking questions is a great way to spark a fun conversation. Let’s say you own a jewelry boutique. You could ask your Twitter fans for suggestions on what new products they would like to see in the boutique. Or ask them to share photos of how they wear jewelry they’ve bought from you (which gives you something fun to retweet!). Or share a story on what a special piece of jewelry meant to them.
If you’re a marketing consultant, you could tweet after the Super Bowl asking which ads your followers liked best. Or if you’re traveling to a new city, ask locals what yoga studios or cafes they recommend. Checking out the types of places your customers like to frequent could not only open the door to new connections, but you can also get a better understanding of what attracts your customers. (I just asked followers to share their worst old job moment, and between Twitter and Facebook, got over 100 replies!)
Tweet Formula #2: Give ‘em a “behind-the-scenes” glimpse
Your job online is to show that you are not just a business, you are a person who owns a business. So posting tweets that show some personality and some behind-the-scenes “footage” are always a hit.
During my recent launch, I tweeted about one of my team members whose 3-year-old son kept saying his mom “works for Charlie Brown”… How can you not smile at a tweet like that? People respond to small “slice of life” tidbits that are fun and relatable, but be sure to mix it up with more business-focused tweets, too.
If you’re getting ready for live event, you could snap a photo of you getting hair and makeup done or prepping behind the scenes and post it with a clever caption. (I do these all the time, because they are fun and candid.) They not only show you’re a real person, preparing for a personal moment, but they also remind your audience to watch.
Here’s another idea: If you’re flying to a client meeting, you could tweet about the delicious cupcakes you tried at the airport. Include the bakery’s Twitter handle so they’ll see it and possibly retweet it to their fans, giving you exposure to an entirely new market! I try to do this often, giving a “shout out” to clients, people and businesses I love.
Tweet Formula #3: Share useful tips & content
In addition to sharing your promotions and content, share tips, articles, and resources you think would interest your online audience. I love tweeting inspirational quotes that get me (and my community) fired up for success.
Don’t be afraid to share other resources with your community. It helps position you as an expert in your field, especially if you add your own commentary. Just make sure you always credit or link to the original source.
Tweet Formula #4: Start a Twitter chat
Most chats happen weekly or monthly at a regular time with a predetermined topic and typically last about an hour. It’s a great way to make new contacts and attract a specific type of audience that’s interested in your topic. Do some Q&A or have a particular theme.
You can start a chat on a site like TweetChat.com. You just need to choose a descriptive hashtag so participants can follow along, and promote your chat at least a few weeks in advance. If hosting a monthly or weekly Twitter chat is a bigger commitment than you want to take on, find an industry-related chat and pop in as a special guest expert.
Tweet Formula #5: Respond to @ mentions
How you respond to your customers online can be very telling about your business’s customer service philosophy. That’s why it’s so important to be responsive to your customers and clients’ tweets, especially if they mention you. For positive or neutral tweets, feel free to respond and/or retweet as appropriate. If a client or customer tweets something negative, try to mitigate the situation by inquiring for more information, or by deferring the complaint offline to your customer service department. But always post a public response so others see you take care of your customers! For example: “Thanks for letting us know. Susie from our service dept. will be in touch today.”© Copyright 2012 Ali Brown