It was announced yesterday that Twitter was in line to make $140 million in revenue from its Advertising offering. That news got us thinking at Approved Index on why Twitter is proving to be beneficial for small businesses.

Twitter has had a huge impact on the world, it’s announcing new stories as they break, it’s helping uprisings in oppressed countries and with 350 million tweets sent every day, the 140 character limit blogging site appears to be slowing for nobody.

We then pulled together a top 10 list of reasons why your business should be using Twitter to enhance its social media, online and overall presence within its market and too its existing and potential customer base, be you a B2B or B2C organisation, this top 10 twitter tips list will really help you to grasp the power of the micro blogging phenomenon that is @Twitter.

1.    Learn about your industry/ get latest news

Start by following as many relevant journalists, industry leaders, colleagues, competitors and anyone else in your industry who posts thoughtful, insightful and importantly relevant information about your industry. By following these people you will be able to quickly find out about market developments and comment on them yourself. It’s a great way to find inspiration for content that can go on your blog or website. This not only increases your overall web presence, but the search engines like it as you’re updating your website on a regular basis.

2.    Keep an eye on competitors

We follow our competitors and regularly monitor their tweets, not only this we monitor their websites and a whole host of other material. Do this!!! Monitor your rivals so that you know what they are up to, it may provide inspiration, it will also help you to gain a competitive advantage. If your competitors aren’t on Twitter, be brave and be the first, there are 200 million users on Twitter, some of these will be existing or prospective customers, connect with them first and get building that relationship.

3.    Build relationships with industry thought leaders

Contact industry leaders, journalists and any other relevant industry people. Not only will you learn about industry news, as mentioned above. You will begin to develop online and hopefully offline relationships with these people, who over time (this isn’t a rush job) will consider your opinion and mention you for free, and who can beat free advertising. With social media, the emphasis is on trust and building communities, so getting a positive mention from a well respected figure can do wonders for your brand.

4.    Helps with business and sales development

This is a tactic that may take time, but one that can pay off if managed correctly. If your business prospects are online, many are and more are coming. This channel can pay dividends in way of business development. It’s low cost and if you can convert prospects into customers then the ROI will be high. Monitor your industry; build relationships and over time those relationships should develop into business. They may not come quickly, but it’ll be worth it in the end.

5.    It’s an “extra” customer service channel

It shouldn’t be your only customer service channel, but as an extra channel Twitter can be invaluable. Look at ASOS for a great example of fast, professional and friendly customer service using Twitter; this is what makes them one of the most trusted online brands. Your business doesn’t have to go to that extent but making sure you respond to enquiries and complaints that arrive via Twitter will help build that human relationship for your brand. For some great examples on other companies using Twitter read this great article about companies excelling at using Twitter for customer care.

6.    Posting customer centric tweets will position you as a thought leader in your industry

When first starting out on twitter many businesses fall into the trap of ego-centric tweeting.  Don’t be one of them.  Your potential customers are likely to be short on time and overloaded with information, so they’re really not interested if your business has a new logo.  By tweeting genuinely useful information and providing real value in the form of advice, tips or breaking news, you can position yourself as a thought leader within your market, even if you’re a small business.

7.    Increase traffic to your site by announcing new content, offers and products on Twitter

Give people a reason to visit your website when maybe they weren’t thinking of it. Announce on Twitter when you have new content or an offer that is likely to attract them to your site. If it’s compelling enough they may re-tweet your offer and that could potentially reach thousands of people. Twitter is a quick way to enter people’s conscience, and it can happen at any time of the day with the increased usage of smartphones. You now have the chance to send out product messages to followers who have acknowledged they have an interest in your business and the products and services you offer. JUST REMEMBER!!! Never bombard people with sales messages, you’re meant to be providing content and messages with value, you’ll alienate the people you want to connect with if the Twitter stream is purely sales based.

8.    Find out what PEOPLE think about YOUR business

With the proliferation of social media you can now monitor when and in what context your brand name, products and organisation are mentioned. Using freely available tools such as HootSuite, Tweetdeck and analytics tools such as Crowdbooster, you can monitor what works and doesn’t work on twitter, and what is being said about you. This can be an effective way to manage your reputation and respond to the comments about your business in real time.

9.    Increase brand loyalty by utilising Twitter and other social media platforms

By interacting with your existing and potential customers on Twitter, both when they have had positive or negative experiences, you are likely to gain trust and brand loyalty – as long as you deal with issues professionally. Brand loyalty will enable you to encourage discussion and share ideas on Twitter and other social media platforms, so it’s important to be consistent in your approach to achieve this.   

10.    Ask Questions, Get Opinions, Get Feedback

What Twitter allows you to do is exactly the above: Ask Questions, Get Opinions & Get Feedback.

Twitter allows you the opportunity to ask a large number of people for their thoughts, product reviews and allows your business to open up communication channels. It’s a simple thought but one that can provide important information from people that matter…the customer.