HOW TO Start Tweeting for Business Success #smallbiz


Okay, so you don't look like the average Twitter bird or Social Media guru...but you have a sense Twitter is a place to be for you and your business to be...and you're here....Now what?  A few, quick suggestions:

ACCOUNT SET-UP ASSESSMENT

1.  PROFILE PICTURE.  Make sure you have one that is recognizable, professional and, preferably, in a picture, tells a little something about what your business does.  Ask a few people to tell you what they think about the avatar (i.e., profile picture) you've chosen. 

2.  LOCATION.  Let us know where you are located.  Make it easy for us to find you. 

3.  BIO.  You don't have much space, so make it count.  Remember the use of keywords to help would-be customers and clients find you.  Fine to include a phone number, your hours, whether you accept credit cards.  We want the basics quick and easy.

4.  WEB.  Bring us to your website or to your Facebook page so we can learn more about you and your business -- and please make sure your website is current and has information on how to find you on Twitter! 

SIGN UP AT TWITTER DIRECTORIES

There are several great sites that allow you to register your Twitter account in a way that is akin to a Yellow Book listing.  (Sorry, kids, long ago, there was a non-digital directory of businesses that usually appeared each year on your front porch that was a pretty comprehensive listing of businesses.)  Twitter directories will help you be found by those looking for your goods and services, as well as give you a good gauge of what your competition is up to.  Sign up. 

See: "14 Twitter directories to find new friends" - http://goo.gl/Jkmn)

TWEETING

So what to tweet about?  Sure, you'll get to let us know a bit about your business or services, but you'll need to be patient and social.  How?  Network on Twitter the same way you would network anywhere:  it's not about you, it's about your company (no, not "company" as in your business, but "company" as in your social community).  Basic courtesy counsels you to be a good listener, invite conversation, learn about others in your setting, talk about film, current events, subjects beyond your business -- to engage them.  Viola!  That's it.

"Say that again...."  Be a good listener.  Invite conversation.  Learn about others in your setting.  Engage them.  -- "'Engage' them?..."  -- Good point:  Talk to them.  Tweet with them.  Give and take.

DO STRIVE TO BE A LEADER IN YOUR NICHE.  Focus your tweets on subjects related to your business so that people will turn to your as a thought leader in your field.  But, mix it up.  Throw in a YouTube link to an exciting clip about your business.  (They're out there!)  Take a twitpic of your hottest dish or newest dress.  Think mixed media.

OBSERVE THE 80/20...90/10 RULE.  The percentages are always a subject of debate.  The Rule, however, is not.  A business brand is expected to contribute to the Twitter community by sharing content that is not simply self-promotional.  Strive for 80% of your tweets being about others, 20% letting us know about your goods and services.  Some brands ignore the percentages and still thrive.  How?  They offer great Twitter promotionals and discounts.  Find and follow the ones in your business or profession to see what they are doing.

HASHTAG IT.  What?  Use the symbol #, attached to your business, to let others target in on you.  Hashtags are a way that experienced Twitter users locate subjects that are of interest to them.  You're a pizzeria?  Throw in a #pizza or #pizzeria ever now and then to your tweets.  Add some geographic hashtagging as well, e.g.:  #NJ  But, please don't overdo it.

RETWEET.  Finding and sharing great content from other Twitter users is a great way to "make friends and influence people" on Twitter.  Retweeting tells people that you are listening and sharing.  You'll also find that your content is shared more often as you retweet the content of others.  It will also bill bonds with those whose content you retweet.  (By the way, if you want to increase the likelihood of your content being retweeted, make it easier for others to do so:  leave room for an RT and the senders name.  Try not to use more than 120 of the 140 characters you have to tweet.) 

FOLLOW AND FOLLOW BACK

Use Twitter search and directories to identify and follow good prospects, beginning, perhaps, with those who are geographically close to you if location is an important component of your business.

Follow back.  If you want your following to grow, following back is important.  As a "social" network, mutuality is important.  Following back says that you are interested in a conversation.  It also allows people to direct message you.  "Why is that important?"  If someone has a complaint about your business, best to give them a way of venting privately or they'll do it publically.

USE TWITTER APPS TO OPTIMIZE YOUR TWEETING

There are an abudance of Twitter applications that will help you to pace your tweeting, keep track of your new contacts, and see what others are saying about you or your profession.  Use them. 

See:  "Business Twitter Applications " http://goo.gl/NY1G

KEEP AT IT

You're unlikely to build a big following overnight.  Done right, establishing a strong Twitter presence takes time and a consistent effort.  Share.  Learn.  Contribute.  Along the way, you will build brand awareness and customer loyalty.  You do, however, need to listen and respond to both the good and the bad.

WHAT ABOUT MISTAKES

You will make mistakes tweeting.  When you do, fess up to them, apologize if appropriate, and move on.  Despite popular lore, social media is usually a pretty forgiving place for honest mistakes.
 
*Photo credit: Pylon757 via Flickr.

22 Random Twitter Tips [NEW]


Following are twenty-two random twitter tips.  The earlier forty-seven may be found among my earlier posts.  Please feel free to share your own!  (Will be glad - maybe - to include them in a later post!  Thanks.)

48.  #TwitterTip NOTHING replaces P2P contact. Aim to #TweetUp, even if just with 1 or 2: it'll rocket-fuel your Tribe.

49.  #TwitterTip Listing "Everywhere" as your profile location gets you nowhere: be specific and build a base.

50.  #TwitterTip Deepen your Twitter contacts: connect on FB and LinkedIn. It'll create real opportunities.

51.  #TwitterTip Focus on finding and following a core of good content providers: you'll never be at a loss for tweets.

52.  #TwitterTip Why were you unfollowed?...Very simply: because of ur BLINKING avatar...(As in actually blinking!)

53.  #TwitterTip Set specific tweeting goals: "I'm going to make one person smile today!"

54.  #TwitterTip Be social. Be supportive. - And you will build a Tribe you can count on.

55.  #TwitterTip TWEETDECK Create a column for ur content kings to make finding and sharing good content easy.

56.  #TwitterTip Create multiple social network connections w ur closest, so WHEN Twitter goes down ur still connected.

57.  #TwitterTip If u get a tweet asking, "Is this u," with a link, it's safe...to block it and report it as spam.

58.  #TwitterTip: If you didn't see it on Twitter, it didn't happen. (And, just bc u saw it on Twitter, it doesn't mean it DID happen.) 

59.  #TwitterTip If you don't lose followers along the way...you're not tweeting right!

60.  #TwitterTip It's not about how many followers you have - it's about how many tweeps you can count on.

61.  #TwitterTip Take a stand and you will lose some followers - and build a stronger tribe.

62.  #TwitterTip Don't forget your personal brand: create an account with your name before someone else does!

63.  #TwitterTip You are what you Tweet.  (Yes, too cute, but very true!)

64.  #TwitterTip Want more followers? Follow, follow back and SHARE! (The benefit? More learning and contacts.)

65.  #TwitterTip Concentrate on making people...angry, happy, enlightened, laugh - share content that makes a difference.

66.  #TwitterTip When u see a #FridayFollow fr someone u respect, follow the listed tweeps and build a better tribe

67.  #TwitterTip Even if u follow 80/20 rule, if u tweet about ur business u will lose some followers - get over it.

68.  #TwitterTip If someone unfollows u bc u mention ur #biz - they were never part of ur tribe to begin with.

69.  #TwitterTip When you share links, try to bring readers to the primary link: spare them the second click.

70.  #TwitterTip Your avatar is a first impression - make it a good one.

71.  #TwitterTip If u share something and someone notes a significant problem w/ it, share that too!

BONUS

"Your value in social media is determined by what you share." GDG #quote #socialmedia

What Love Teaches Us About Social Media: 15 Tips


Social media, at its core, is about building relationships. The ultimate in relationships is love.  Love offers some important lessons for social media proponents.

So What Does Love Teach Us About Social Media?

1. Follow your heart.

Where you go in social media, depends on you. What are your interests, your passions? You’ll find success in social media if you stick to those things you truly care about and enjoy. It’ll come through in your writing.

2. Begin by listening and observing.

Social media can be an intimidating and dizzying forum. Only by listening and observing will you detect the voices that connect with you.

3. Smile and say something nice.

Never underestimate the power of a smile and a kind word. They are quite often all that is needed to spark a relationship. Similarly, in social media, a kind word in answer to a question or concern can be the beginning of an incredible relationship.

4. Help one another.

It’s often easy to help another by doing something that doesn't require much effort on our part, other than sharing something we already have.  Do, and you'll not only help the other person, but likely help yourself in the process.

5. Be dependable.

Love requires dependability, a bond that can counted upon. Relationships in social media will only grow and deepen when there is a sustained voice and exchange.

6. Make time for it.

To succeed in social media requires a commitment of time. If you’re serious about succeeding in this forum, you must dedicate time to it.

7. Have fun.

If it’s going to work, it’s gotta be fun. This is why following your heart is so important.

8. Laugh.

Don’t be afraid to laugh with others and at yourself. Too serious and you’re going to lose the lightness that makes its magical.

9. Be honest.

Real relationships can handle just about anything, except a lack of honesty. The same is true in social media. Lose your credibility and you’ve lost everything.

10. Don’t forget to say “thank you.”

This is a phrase that never gets old and can't be used too much.

11. Remember that the little things are the big things.

See above.

12. Be creative.

Creativity is a great ingredient for making the old new.

13. Make allowances.

Everyone is entitled to a bad day or two. If you’ve succeeded with the other points, making some allowances along the way should be pretty easy and worthwhile.

14. Love. Be passionate.


Love requires love. In social media, if you’re a brand, you better love your product or service or no one else will. Want your customers to love you? They’re going to expect a little love first.

15. Work at it.

Work at it? Trust me, work at it! 


#Ford CEO: 14 Lessons in Leadership & #Marketing


We are fighting for the soul of manufacturing. There is no reason we can’t compete with the best in the world. Ford Motor Company CEO, Alan Mulally

With these words, Alan Mulally, dubbed “Ford’s Comeback Kid” by Fortune magazine, summed up his passion for success and his confidence in the resilency of American ingenuity even in the worst of economic times.

Alan spoke these words during a charitable dinner in Hershey, Pennsylvania. The dinner was sponsored by a local Ford dealership, L.B. Smith, to benefit a local charity that offers a variety of services for at-risk children. About five-hundred people attended the event.

I had the privilege of attending the evening as a guest of the event organizer, fireball  Anne Gallager, a dear friend and business colleague, in the company of the great connector, Amy Howell, another dear friend and business colleague - a story of Twitter friends networking in real life, a story deserving of its own blog post at a later time!

You don’t need to know Alan Mulally's bio to know that he is an icon of American industry. Unflappable. Charming. Extremely bright. A visionary. A leader in every right. What follows is a mix of lessons in leadership and marketing from a wonderful evening spent in the company of Alan Mulally.

Before we begin with the lessons, I should mention that through the course of this post, I’ll be referring to Mr. Mulally as “Alan.” Do I know him that well? Actually, I only met and chatted with him briefly during this event. Still, my sense is, he wouldn’t have it any other way.

The Lessons (And all by example!)


1. Smile…genuinely smile.

The first thing you notice about Alan Mulally is his great smile, a genuine smile. It is the smile of man who enjoys people.

A genuine smile conveys warmth, openness, and confidence, all important traits in a leader who seeks to build a team and inspire others. It is a simple gesture that works wonders when it is present and genuine.

2. Be interested in others

Alan agreed to participate in a photo line at this event, a marathon “meet and greet” where a public figure agrees to have his photograph taken with a long line of well wishers. Every person or group of people that made its way to Alan, found him energized, asking questions about where they were from and what they did. He was no longer the center of attention: he made everyone he met the center of attention and they (ok, I, too!) loved it!

3. Be passionate

In every conversation, Alan Mulally made it clear that he is passionate about the future of his company, the excellence of his workers, and the promise of the future for his industry.  He conveyed a sense that we still do live in a world where hard work and talent pay off.  He insisted that one must not compromise in any small detail on the mission of making sure that one is building the best product possible.  He noted that while others were pulling back in their operations, Ford was accelerating development while constantly testing the inventory it produced.

4. Make sure your customers have fun

I guess since I’m writing about marketing, I could have said, “Make sure that the customer experience is enjoyable.” That would’ve sounded more professional and businesslike….But it would not have captured as accurately part of what Alan Mulally had to say to the many members of the Ford family who were present at dinner. Alan’s words were: “Make it fun…Make it a little like you’re walking into an Apple store.” (You know, the store that sells the iPhone, iPad and other cool gadgets!)

5. Be approachable

Alan Mulally arrived at the event with an entourage, an envelope of blue suits that bespoke the presence of a blue-chip CEO. There was no mistaking that an industry captain was in the house.

It is common for leaders of all stripes and sizes to be surrounded by an entourage; it is less common for a leader to move beyond the entourage and become approachable. Alan Mulally is approachable. He made time for the local reporter. He made time for the garrulous guest who strode over to say hello. He didn’t have his entourage block approaches.

“Approachability” is the sort of demeanor that encourages subordinates to share their concerns and ideas, always a good thing for business leaders interested in keeping abreast of the real pulse of their company and keeping it moving forward. 

At the conclusion of his remarks at this dinner, he opened the floor to questions.  There was no screening of the questions or of those asking the questions beforehand.

6. Never lose the common touch

So what did this iconic captain of industry do on his way to the charity dinner at which he was being honored? He stopped by a local Ford dealership, discovered that a customer was about to complete the purchase of a Ford, and asked if he could help complete the sale. Imagine the buyer’s reaction when Alan introduced himself and asked the buyer if he had any questions! Talk about customer service!

7. Always take the customer’s call and complete the sale

Nothing can infuriate a client or customer more than an unreturned or late-returned phone call. When a cell phone rang in the middle of Alan’s remarks, Alan was quick to quip: “That’s ok, take the call, complete the sale,” a response that went over well with the scores of Ford salespeople and dealers who had come to hear their beloved leader speak.

8. Never forget where you came from

Many marveled at the fact that Alan accepted an invitation from a local Ford dealer to be feted at a charity dinner in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Speaking on this point, Alan noted that in accepting the invitation, he had thought of the many who had helped him along the way.

As an aside, what was particularly impressive was Alan’s determination to keep the date despite warnings of a blizzard – which did arrive and force his stay overnight. Equally impressive was the turn-out of nearly five-hundred attendees who also braved dire warnings of an impending storm, a testament to the esteem so many have for Alan.

9. Make sure you have a great product and let people tell your   story

“Make sure you have a great product and let people tell your story,” Alan said during his talk. The statement succinctly captures the key ingredients of business success, especially in the age of social media: you must first produce a great product and then encourage others to tell your story.

Ford, under Mulally's leadership, has concentrated both on building the best cars possible, while also inviting its customers to tell their story about their Ford vehicles in numerous forums, from their website, to Facebook, to Twitter.  It exudes a confidence based on a confidence in the quality of their product and customer service. 

10. Invest in Social Media

During his remarks, Alan declared, “Social media is the future.” (Some of us might add, “Social media is also the ‘now.’”) Expressing his sensitivity to the power of social media, he joked that he would be taking care in his remarks as he was aware that many in attendance would be twittering during his talk. 

Ford’s prowess and investment in social media is legendary. Each automobile model get’s its own Twitter page. Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, and blogs are all part of the Ford sales and customer service workforce.

11. If you’re not good at something that’s important to your business, find someone who is and let them run with it

Alan Mulally is clearly a man who gets the importance of social media….It might, however…ah…erhh…not be his strongest, personal suit.  Though he is an advocate of social media, he has not entered the arena himself...Asked about it, he gave an "aw shucks" smile, shrug of the shoulders, accompanied by a pantomime of typing with two fingers….Alan, that’d work just fine!

Even in the absence of what would be a colorful and engaging presence on Twitter from the man himself, Alan has entrusted Ford’s social media to Scott Monty, a man who serves his company well in the fast-paced world of social media.  He maintains a strong Twitter presence, engaging the many who turn to him for answers and insights.  He also makes himself available for a never-ending cycle of interviews in the social media sphere, giving Ford the transparency and engagement that reap reward in brand awareness and consumer loyalty.

12. Be gracious to your competitors – but don’t let up on the gas!

Asked about Toyota’s woes, Alan was gracious. He made a few kind remarks about the company.

His advice to companies in such circumstances? “Find the problem, fix it and learn from it.”

He concluded his remarks on the topic, however, with a smile, observing, “Oh, by the way, we do have a lot of good cars to sell…Ford...Ford...Ford…You’d look good in a Ford!...”

13. Be authentic

A brief time in Alan’s company tells you that he’s the real deal: an incredibly talented guy who is just being himself and telling it like it is, though with a great sense of vision.

During his talk, he commented on the “ubiquity” of information on the web and the consequent necessity of authenticity where so much is known by so many. It is an evolution and a revolution in information exchange that make authenticity an imperative for businesses that hope to earn and keep the loyalty of customers.

14. Do good

Alan noted that it’s great to get up each morning and know that you’re working for a company that’s “doing good.” Now he didn’t say, “doing well” - he meant “doing good,” as in doing social good.

Alan spoke about the point of doing social good in the context of Ford investing in greener cars. It is great to hear a captain of industry speak of doing social good as in integral part of job satisfaction! (Not to mention a compelling reason for people like me to consider Ford when it comes time to buy my next car.)

Speaking of doing good....please feel free to join me on Twitter!  @GlenGilmore