3 benefits to my small business of having a presence on Twitter

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I joined Twitter back in 2010 and then promptly did what a lot of people do. Had a quick look, felt completely overwhelmed and then didn’t look at it again for around 5 years. With only 140 characters to make my point and not really having any idea of what that point was I decided it wasn’t for me. What with hashtags and mentions, squeezing in a link and possibly an image it all seemed like hard work and many of the Tweets I was reading could have been written in a foreign language for the amount of sense it made to me.

“When people ask me what the best tip is for their new business, or any business for that matter, the answer often surprises them: Twitter.” – Gary Vaynerchuk

Fast forward to now, March 2018, and I would probably agree with the quote above. In 2015, when I started my own small business blog, I realised I was going to have to do something to get visitors to those painstakingly crafted posts and ultimately to my website.

So, I decided to up the activity on Twitter and can now see definite benefits to my business:

In the last 12 months I have won two new projects as a direct result of Twitter.At just under a month in my most recent blog post has already received 2,000 visitors.Last but not least, I’ve forged some online relationships that have helped all aspects of my business beyond converting to new customers.New customers as a direct result of Twitter

Back in 2015 when I realised I was going to have to take some action to get traffic to my blog and website, one of the first things I did was to start following other small local businesses. Many of them were as active as I had been. In other words, they’d created an account and Tweeted a handful of times followed by a sustained period of inactivity.

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Should you auto direct message all new followers and fans?

Auto_DM

Short answer ... I don't think so!

First of all what is an automatic direct message or auto DM?

Twitter has a private messaging facility for sending direct messages to other users. An auto direct message is one that is sent automatically, usually triggered by a new follower.

Social media is just that ... social!

You should definitely be interacting and engaging with your followers so why is a message welcoming a new follower not necessarily a good thing?

Think about how you interact with someone who you've just met face to face:Do you dive straight in and talk about yourself and your services? Probably not.Do you ask them to do something for you, like recommend your services to a colleague? In social media speak follow you on other networks or re-tweet for you? Again, unlikely.Do you immediately start to sell to them? I doubt it.

With the above in mind you can imagine my reaction when I recently received the following message:

"Hey Ann Warne, fancy a top of the range website with no upfront costs? Our design team could create you a cutting-edge, pay monthly website from just £39pm. Packages include: - Bespoke Expert Design - FREE Domain Name - Website Hosting - Content Management System (CMS) - Desktop, Tablet & Mobile Responsive - On-site SEO - Social Media Integration - Business Email - Ongoing Support If you like I can arrange to give you call to discuss things a little further? Many thanks, Amy"

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Hashtags! What, when, where and how?

Hashtags

They’re everywhere and we’ve all seen them cropping up in all sorts of unexpected places, but if you’re new to social media and you’re finding your hashtags a bit of a minefield then read on.

What are they?

A hashtag is a way of tagging, or key wording, your posts on your social channels. They help to get your posts, tweets, status updates etc. found by users searching for content on any given subject.

So for example, if I were searching on Twitter for information about the recent Olympics I might search for ‘#Rio2016’ which would return Tweets containing that hashtag.

When and how should you use them?

Whenever you can but proceed with caution:

Make sure they are relevant to the content you’re sharing. For example, if I'm posting a fun image of a dog that has nothing to do with web design, I wouldn't tag it #webdesign.Use your keywords. So for example, I use #webdesign #smallbusiness #websiteTry not to join too many words together. Better  #smallbusiness #webdesign than #smallbusinesswebdesignTry to use hashtags that are already in use and there is a useful little autocomplete that pops up as you type … unless of course you’re creating your own intentionally. More on this another time.Avoid tagging every word and generally over tagging – although it’s more appropriate on some channels than others.Humour works and it goes without saying … correct spellingWhere do you use them?Twitter: This is where it all started. One or two per Tweet and I would say no more than three. Adding a hashtag at the end of the Tweet will create a link to all other tweets on that topic, so only do this if it’s going to enhance the value of your own Tweet to your audience and is relevant.Facebook: Hashtags are not generally associated with Facebook although they are now being used. As a general rule no more than two per post. Research shows that the number of interactions drops as the number of hashtags increases.Linked In: Hashtags are not supported by Linked In so they are best avoided.Instagram: The hashtags here really should be about describing the picture and use all that are relevant … you can use up to 30. It’s OK to use two that are similar – for example, #webdesign and #websitedesign

This is by no means a comprehensive list of all the social channels or all the appropriate usage, so please add your own experiences in the comments below and anything else that may be useful to a small business just starting out with social media.

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