Build Your Business with Twitter’s Search Function

By Marian Harmon

Many businesses are utilizing the power of social media such as Twitter to advertise their products and services. You can do this, too, but the challenge is in marketing your product or service without being annoying. By following a few rules of etiquette and utilizing the power of the search feature, you will quickly be seen as an expert in your field that people trust.

If you do an online search for some of the most annoying habits of Twitter users, one particular complaint seems to be constant – too much self-promotion. Many Twitter users will post updates that are only meant to advertise and add links to drive traffic to their own website like these:

“Need a plumber in NYC? Call me! ”
“TRAVELING NOTARY PUBLIC & LOAN SIGNING”

If you want to advertise on Twitter, keep it on your bio and background image. Make sure that your profile is informative and contains a link to your website. Use a background image that defines your business and adds depth to your profile. As a business, you want someone to come to your Twitter page and know within just a few seconds who you are and what you can offer them.

Beyond that, don’t use Twitter to actually offer them your services unless they ask you first. Instead, remember that Twitter is a social arena, not a networking meeting. Think of it as a cocktail party or mixer. Meet people, listen in and introduce yourself…not your business. As you listen, use your knowledge of your business field to educate and refer, rather than advertise. Utilizing the search function on Twitter can help you do this.

Think of key words and terms that come up in the course of your business and search for those. The results will show all of the tweets with those words or phrases. So, let’s say Plumber Mike searches for ‘install faucet’ and he sees a tweet in the results from someone who says, “Trying to install a faucet. What is this white tape for?

A good reply to this might look like this:

“@diydude, that white plumber’s tape is called Teflon tape. Wrap it around pipe threads to prevent leaks. Good luck w/ the faucet install!”

By doing this, Mike is using his expertise to answer a question using the same key words in a social way without overtly advertising. People will start to take note and find his profile. This will lead to more people following him, which will, in turn, expand his audience. The key is to keeping it social.

Another way to build your business with Twitter’s search function is to give direct referrals or find someone some help. Let’s say Mike is a member of a an International Plumber’s Association. A lot of the people who follow him are fellow plumbers. As he is searching Twitter for key words, he notes a user in Canada says, “Help! I need a plumber. Anybody know one in Vancouver?

Mike could respond to this in several ways. First, he could go to his association’s member roster and find a plumber in Vancouver. A good response might be:

“@leakycanuck, I’m in NYC but I’ll bet @vancouverplumber can help you out. I met him at a conference last month. He has a good reputation.”

Or, Mike could give this user a reputable source to search for a plumber:

“Seems @leakycanuck needs a plumber. He should look at ThePlumberDirectory.com and search. There are several good plumbers in Vancouver.”

Finally, Mike could simply retweet messages so that his colleagues who are following him will be alerted to possible work:

Hey guys, if you’re in Vancouver, @leakycanuck needs a plumber. Anyone willing to help him out?”

The point is to be creative with your response, offer tangible assistance and keep key words in your response. Why? because people who are following you should be able to understand what you mean in a single tweet. They shouldn’t need to follow an entire conversation. Also, people performing a search later on with those same key words will take note of the quality and number of responses you’ve made, which will lead to more visitors to your profile, more followers and more potential customers who see what you do.

It may seem like you’re giving your time and effort away, but if you look at it as an investment in your business, rather than a billboard, people will take notice.

Marian Harmon is a Virtual Assistant specializing in small business support. She can be found on the web at justcallmarian.com or on twitter at twitter.com/justcallmarian

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