June 28th, 2011

Top 10 Tips on Using Twitter for Business

Twitter, launched in July of 2006, has emerged as one of the top social media platforms enabling users to connect with friends and companies and stay current with constant streams of information. With over 200 millions users generating 190 million tweets a day, Twitter has become a great resource for businesses to engage with consumers.

So, what can you possibly say in 140 characters or less to help your business expand and increase traffic to your website? Well, Mashable and ChrisBrogan.com have identified a few tactics businesses should keep in mind while Tweeting.

 

Here are the top 10 you should check out:

1. Hashtags: You should familarize yourself with this symbol (i.e., #) and make it your friend. Put this hashtag in front of a keyword or your company website and Twitter will convert these hashtagged words into searchable keywords. What does this mean for you? Anyone searching for something can find all tweets containing your hashtagged word in a single location, thus making it easier for them to find your tweets even if they’re not one of your followers. Search the database for hashtagged questions pertaining to your business or topics of your expertise and connect with these followers. You’ll find you not only do you have more readers, but possibly more customers as well.

2. Engage with your followers: Simply sending out tweets and not responding to your followers will get you nowhere. It’s important to respond to those that tweet at you and answer any questions they might have. Each time you interact with your followers, make sure it’s a personalized message. No one wants to feel like they’re receiving a mass tweet. If they feel your message is sincere and they like what you have to offer, the chances of them retweeting your information is even greater, thus ultimately exposing your business to more followers.

 

3. Combine your platforms: Make it easier on yourself by synchronizing your Twitter account with all of your other social platforms. You can do so by associating your Twitter account with the RSS feed of your company website, Facebook page or blog. By doing so, every time you make an update it appears across all of your platforms, meaning you only have to make one update at a time. Sounds efficient, right?

4. Update your profile: Although most of your followers are only reading your tweets and not your bio, it’s important to have a profile in place that’s up-to-date and professional. Think of it as an extension of your brand. Potential new followers and customers will be checking out your profile to see what you’re about before hitting the golden “Follow” button.

5. The power of a list: This Twitter feature has helped companies gain followers and spread their knowledge to a larger audience. A Twitter list is somewhat similar to a Facebook group. Basically a compilation of followers, grouped together for whatever reason you come up with. You can use these lists to your advantage by promoting and rewarding customers. How? Try creating a list comprised of all your valued customers and reward those on the list with a 20% off coupon or free gift with purchase. Lists can also help your business internally. By creating a list of all employees and those that tweet on your behalf, it’s an easy way to manage these tweeters and aggregate accounts. Once you’ve created your list make sure people know about it by adding it to a list directory such as Listorious.

6. Keep track: It’s important to track your followers and identify whose really paying attention to your tweets. You can do so by tracking retweets, clicks, messages and hashtag mentions. This will give you the opportunity to engage with your loyal followers and maintain these relationships.

7. Ask questions: Get feedback from your followers by asking the right questions. Find out what you’re doing right, what you need to work on and what they want more of. This shows not only that you’re listening, but can provide you with valuable insights about your followers and consumers.

8. Tweet about others: You don’t always need to talk about yourself and your company. It’s important to integrate other’s ideas and links into your tweets. Retweet what your followers have tweeted, share their links and let your followers know what you find interesting about a particular tweet. This lets your followers know that you’re human and are interested in what they have to say as well. Not to mention it’s a great way to build and expand your community.

 

9. Promoted tweets: This is a new feature of Twitter that enables businesses to speak to a larger audience, even those that don’t follow them. How does it work? First, send a tweet to your followers and then promote that tweet. The promoted tweet then appears as content in search results, so those looking for something pertaining to your tag will see it in the search engine. Twitter offers these promoted tweets on a cost-per-engagement basis, meaning you only pay when users retweet, reply or clicks on your tweet.

 

10. Customer Service: Best Buy is a great example of how to use Twitter to provide real-time customer service. Create an account in which users can tweet questions about products or services to you directly and tag the answers with a hashtag back to your company website. This allows you to interact with your consumers and provide them with something of value. Best Buy is leading the ranks with over 2,900 employees on board to answer questions and have responded to over 38,000 inquiring tweets. You could be next.

What are some of your favorite tips on using Twitter? Did we miss any you think we should add? If so, let us know in the comments section below. While you’re down there, how ’bout Re-Tweeting this post for us!

Posted by Rebecca Wilson, marketing analyst for the 60 Second Marketer.

July 20th, 2010

How Colgate Toothpaste, Valvoline, A-1 Steaksauce and Pepsi Grew Sales Without Spending a Dime of Their Marketing Budget

If you’re like most marketing directors, you’re probably asking yourself, “How can I grow my sales and revenue without spending an arm and a leg on a new, expensive marketing program?”

Well, the good news is that companies like Colgate, Valvoline, A-1 Steaksauce and Pepsi have, in some cases, grown their revenues by simply putting their thinking caps on.

Pepsi marketing

You don't need a big marketing budget to grow your sales and revenues. Sometimes, all you need are a few good ideas.

What follows are some anecdotal case studies I’ve heard over the years. They illustrate that it’s entirely possible to grow sales and revenue without spending a dime.

(Please note: These are stories I’ve heard at conferences and events. I haven’t been able to independently verify them. Despite that, they illustrate a valuable point — that you don’t always need money to grow your sales and revenue. Sometimes, you just need a brain.)

Here are some new and innovative ways some of the Fortune 500 have grown sales just by being innovative and inventive:

Colgate Toothpaste did what all good brands do and analyzed the needs of their target market. They realized that even though dentists encourage us to brush three times a day, most people only brush twice a day. Based on that, they re-positioned their toothpaste as “The toothpaste for people who can only brush twice a day.” By re-positioning the brand, they were able to differentiate themselves from their competitors who, in the consumer’s mind, didn’t have the “twice a day magic formula” that Colgate had.

Valvoline Oil took a similar approach by creating a line extension for “people who can’t change their oil every 3,500 miles.” The new oil, which probably cost about 5% more to produce as their regular oil, was twice as expensive. Valvoline figured out that the person who couldn’t change their oil every 3,500 miles would probably be willing to pay a premium for an oil that protected their car for 7,000 miles. The result was that Valvoline got to charge twice as much for a product that only cost 5% more to produce. Brilliant!

A-1 Steaksauce grew their market share by changing 1 line of copy on their label. How did they do this? Their research indicated that consumers open their refrigerator door 8 times for every 1 time they open their pantry. So what did A-1 do? They added “Refrigerate after opening” onto the label (even thought that wasn’t necessary). By doing this, A-1 Steaksauce was seen 8 times more frequently than it had been in the past. The more times customers see a product on their shelves, the more times they use it. Bravo.

Pepsi grew their sales and revenue by convincing restaurants to offer free refills. Remember in the old days when you had to pay for every soft drink you ordered? Well, the folks at Pepsi decided that one way to grow sales was to encourage restaurants to give free refills. The more refills, the more Pepsi sales. How did they do it? They convinced one restaurant chain that providing free refills was a way to increase customer loyalty. Once the first restaurant started offering free refills, they just went to other restaurants and said, “Hey, your competitors are offering free refills. Why aren’t you, too?” The result? More sales and revenue for their brand.

Again, most of these stories are anecdotal, but they illustrate a point — you don’t need big bucks to grow sales and revenue. You just need new ideas.

With that in mind, here’s a technique you can use to generate new ideas to grow your sales and revenue:

  • Get your team together for a brainstorming meeting. All the regular rules apply. In other words, any idea is a good idea (initially). Keep track of the new and innovative ideas on a white board.
  • During the brainstorming meeting, get inside the mind of your customer. Figure out what it is they’re really buying. (Remember, people don’t buy Porsches because of their German engineering. They buy Porsches for their sex appeal. Keep that consumer insight in mind as you analyze what people are really buying when they purchase your product.)
  • Analyze some of your competitor’s marketing ideas. There’s nothing wrong with borrowing an idea from a competitor and using it for yourself. Jot these ideas down on the white board.
  • Ask yourself, “How would a physicist solve our problem?” Jot those ideas down. Then ask, “How would an artist solve our problem?” Keep asking that question from different perspectives to see what you come up with.
  • Interview your customers. Find out if they have any new and innovative ideas on how to grow your sales and revenue. You’ll be surprised at some of their outside-the-box thinking. Keep track of those ideas, too.
  • Interview people who didn’t buy your product. You’ll learn more from people who don’t buy your product than from people who do buy your product. Interview them. Find out why they didn’t buy. Then leverage that information in new and innovative ways to grow sales and revenue.

At the end of the brainstorming session and the interviews, you should have a bunch of new and innovative ideas floating around. Most of them will be bad ideas. But about 1% of them will be pure gold!

Here’s an example of putting this technique into action. I came up with it this morning while on a business trip.

Customer Insight: Regular sized tubes of toothpaste aren’t allowed through airport security. That means many travelers arrive at their hotels without toothpaste.

Opportunity: Approach hotels about providing  travel-sized toothpaste in the complimentary bathroom kit that’s in most major hotels around the globe.

Result: By adding a new sales channel to a toothpaste brand’s network, sale will increase accordingly.

We’ve covered a lot of ground in today’s blog post, but if there’s one thing that you should remember coming out of this post, it’s this — you don’t need a big budget to grow your sales and revenue, you just need good ideas.

Post by Jamie Turner, Chief Content Officer at the 60 Second Marketer, the online magazine of BKV Digital and Direct Response. Jamie’s new book, “How to Make Money with Social Media” will be published by the Financial Times Press this fall.