Selling tires with Twitter.
Plenty of small-to-medium businesses find themselves mystified about social media, the differences between the platforms and how they can make them work for them. But, if you follow a few simple rules, there are plenty of ways to use Twitter to not only market your business but to directly increase your sales.
According to the report Building Trust and Loyalty With Drivers, based on a Google and Critical Mix survey, 30 percent of first time visitors to car service websites found their way there via social media. Other studies have shown that people are increasingly prepared to trust “strangers with experience” when deciding what business to visit. This is word-of-mouth in action. So how can you harness it? We spoke to Texan social media marketing consultant Meg Coffey, from Coffey and Tea, about some of the best, and worst, ways to use Twitter.
The two basic rules of social media are: it’s social, so you need to interact; and you’re representing your business, so you still need to be professional. But at the same time you want to make sure you’re a respected authority in your field. Finding the balance might take a little time, but it’s worth it to make sure your presence is relevant and engaging.
“The most important thing is to be authentic and true to your brand,” Ms. Coffey said.
“If you are a formal brand, don’t share informal content. Use Twitter as an extension of your brand and a way to connect with thousands of people you might not normally.”
Twitter for business – your public profile
We asked Ms. Coffey for her top three Twitter tips for business. Her advice? Be consistent, be responsive and be prepared to deal with problems.
“If you are going to use the platform for customer service then make sure you monitor it and respond in a timely fashion. If someone has taken the time to reach out, you should respond,” she said.
“Lastly, have a crisis management plan. You will get trolled. Learn how to identify it and when not to engage, and should you have an issue, how to handle it.”
Think about the news you can share with your customers and how it can be relevant to Twitter users. Your content could include: new products, booking features or services, reminders to people to replace worn tires, different tires when the weather changes, as well as business-specific news like awards or anniversaries of your staff members. This is a chance to share the human face of your business.
To craft a great, eye-catching tweet, you want to keep it under the 140-character limit but don’t indulge in abbreviations that make it hard to read. It’s a good idea to use an image. Also, make sure you familiarize yourself with any trending hashtags you might be able to use to get your tweet viewed by a broader audience. Don’t just throw hashtags on for the sake of it though; make sure they’re relevant.
“Twitter can serve as a lead generation tool, brand builder, customer service and more,” Ms. Coffey says.
“When selling using Twitter you have to make it easy. Give them an email link over a phone number every day. Pictures will definitely draw attention more than just text. Video is gaining popularity.”
Ms. Coffey says to remember that Twitter is a short-form service, so keep your content short and to the point with a link readers can come back to later.
Followers and engagement
It’s worth remembering that you’re building your business, not competing in a popularity contest. Keep a quality versus quantity mindset with regard to your followers. Given that this is a social medium, make sure you respond to any direct mentions you receive, especially if they’re questions. If you receive complaints on Twitter, make sure you respond to them but try to direct the actual problem solving to email or a phone call rather than airing dirty laundry in public.
Finally, when it comes to making money, you need to know how to measure your own success. Ms. Coffey says being prepared to tweak your strategy if it isn’t working is important.
“Lots of followers doesn’t always mean success, I can buy 10,000 followers right now, it doesn’t mean I’m any more influential,” she says.
“There are thousands of tools out there that offer measurements; find the one that works best for you. Lots cost lots and lots of money – I tend to avoid those. I’m not a massive fan of Hootsuite but it works pretty well for a very low investment.”
Promoted posts are a relatively new feature on Twitter. But before you use them, make sure you know what you want to get out of them. As Ms. Coffey says, they can get expensive if you’re not paying attention.
“When you are setting them up, don’t multi-task. Pay attention to all the steps and take your time. They can be really effective on a small budget, I’ve found, but you need to have very clear objectives from the get-go.”
Some U.S. tire dealers are really active on Twitter. Check out Virginia Tire and Auto and Express Oil Change & Tire Engineers to see how they are interacting with customers and providing them with advice on social media.