By Doug Sandler, “Nice Guys Finish First”
Twitter messed everything up and I love it. Talk about equaling the playing field between the little guy and big business. Twitter’s 300 million users spread their wings about 500 million times every day using this short message social channel. With nearly half of the tweets generated from mobile, it’s no wonder small businesses are making it a challenge for big business to keep up; and that’s just one reason. But keep running hard little tweeter, big bird business is getting wise to us.
Exactly how much can you say in 140 characters on Twitter? Whether you are a small player or big business, you get the same amount of real estate; 160 characters was the SMS text message limit, so the founders thought the 140 character limit was good. Although big business is able to dump big money into advertising dollars on Twitter, it’s not ad money that generates the biggest bang. People sharing ideas, product reviews, advice, inspiration and real life relationships and experiences with products and services are what hits a homerun with other Tweeps (users of the social media giant). And if you get to be a pro at building relationships, 140 characters at a time, it can be a grand slam for your business too.
“Being social drives engagement; engagement drives loyalty and advocacy; and both correlate directly to increased sales. ” Ted Rubin (@TedRubin, #RonR)
There are a number of advantages little biz (#smb) has over business giants and until recently the little guy was more nimble, agile and much faster in the Twittersphere. But look out little fella, it’s just a matter of time before big brother learns your ways. In the meantime, take advantage of all you can and stick to the list below to stay one step ahead.
Responsive – When you receive a tweet, send a response. It’s not just enough to send a canned response, make it unique, personalized and fast. You absolutely will be given brownie points for being lightning quick. When someone tweets you, they want an answer, now!
Proactive – Anticipate the needs of people that follow you. Share information about the latest trends in your industry. Prove that you are the expert in your field and that you care about what the issues are that your followers deal with every day.
“The greatest technology in the world hasn’t replaced the ultimate relationship building tool between a customer and a business; the human touch.” Shep Hyken (@Hyken)
Quick and Knowledgeable – It’s not enough to be responsive. Offer advice, good advice, about the topics that your followers care about. Consider yourself the news provider in your arena. Would you want to receive news that was two days old and stale? Be on top of the pile of information providers, do your own research, see what your competition is saying and be a leader. Use Twitter as an ear to the ground to see what is important (trending) in your world. Tweet, retweet and hashtag findings and drill down deep within your areas of expertise.
Relatable and Easy – Make yourself easy to reach, easy to understand and very accessible. Whether you have a hundred followers or 100,000, you want them to know that you are reachable, friendly and nice. Don’t fake any of that stuff either, it’s critical to be genuine and caring and truly mean it. People can spot a faker. Don’t worry about the sale, build a relationship now, the money will come later.
“The average person can connect with extraordinary thinkers, and they are able to become extraordinary themselves through their network” Ted Coine (@TedCoine)
Personal – Tweets to you and retweets of your tweets should be recognized and responded to. Get to know your followers on Twitter and understand what makes them tick, what they are passionate about and what they like and dislike. Work hard to get personal, use their real names when you are able (not just their Twitter handle). Send links, blogs and tweets directly to your followers. Don’t just broadcast, you will get much more from Twitter when you are dealing one on one with your followers than to the masses.
Transparent – Good, bad and ugly; show it all. If a negative review is posted of your products or services, that’s ok. Be quick to respond (do not be defensive) and make sure you are keeping perspective on the exchange. This is not a time to get emotional. Your little business will grow as a result of hearing ways in which you can improve. Keep the exchange visible, don’t take it off line. Your followers will want to see how you handle bad reviews too. It’s easy to respond to a positive review. Remember, mistakes are bound to happen. It’s what happens next that really counts.
“Transparency isn’t sharing photos of your awesome vacation or latest purchase, it’s showing people who you really are. It’s most powerful when you are willing to show your less than perfect self. ” Tim Fargo (@alphabetsuccess)
It’s only a matter of time before the growing number of big businesses figure out how to cut through the red tape, legal mumbo jumbo and the administrative hassle to dominate the arena, so act as if your clock is ticking, because it is, and it’s not a cuckoo clock. Some are doing it well already. Companies like Marriott, Southwest Airlines and Zappos are big players using tweets to connect with their fans and doing a fine job creating personal one on one relationships. Even NBA super team Chicago Bulls get it, developing relationships with well over two million followers. Twitter is messing everything up alright, and that’s a good thing for us little peeps. Happy tweeting.