Kris Drey is VP of video hosting service Fliqz and we have asked him to share his insight into why (or why not) Twitter is a tool that small businesses can use to acquire more customers.
Kris has more than 10 years of experience managing and developing online products from strategy to launch. Prior to Fliqz, Kris was director of marketing, customer experience at LetsTalk.com, an online cell phone and plan reseller. At LetsTalk, Kris created CRM programs, developing the company’s content and community plan, including Expert Reviews and Ratings and the PhoneTalk blog. Before LetsTalk, Kris spent six years at CNET Networks where he was a Senior Product Manager for several online businesses, including CNET Wireless, Shopper.com, Internet Services and the Home Integrator Directory. Kris helped build and monetize these products from the ground up, adding key functionality and tools generating some of the highest CPCs on the network.
As small businesses we’re all feeling the pinch of this turbulent economy and as a result have read countless articles about how to best market our business, how to spend our marketing dollars wisely, and what to do and what not to do in this environment.
Because of the expectation of cost, marketing dollars are often one of the first expenses cut in tough times. However, there are ways to find new customers, promote your brand, and generate new leads outside of expensive advertising; billboards, direct mail and the like. In fact, some of these more affordable tactics can even be more track-able than their “traditional” counterparts.
One of these new cost-effective marketing tools is Twitter, the real -time short messaging service. As I am sure you have seen, Twitter has been the darling of every tech blog for the past year. Just try to read TechCrunch, Mashable, or VentureBeat any day of the week without being smacked in the face with a Twitter post. I was initially reluctant to join the herd, but after setting up Facebook, MySpace, and Friendster profiles and waiting for friends to drop by, I thought I’d give micro-blogging a shot. To date my company, Fliqz, has received zero quality leads from social networks but the micro-blogosphere has generated buzz in a more meaningful manner.
Since launching our Twitter profile four months ago, Fliqz has garnered over a thousand followers from just 138 updates, generated four highly qualified leads now in the Proposing stage (one stage from closing), and closed one deal. Considering the fact that these deals cost us nothing, the margins can’t be beat. The beauty of Twitter, and social media in general, is that there is no overhead other than your time. It costs you nothing to set up a Twitter account. All that is required to maintain it is some thoughtful time spent posting 140 character updates.
The unwritten rules are few. However, they do exist. Here’s a short list of Twitter do’s and don’ts as I see them:
- Don’t blatantly promote yourself. Don’t post links to your site simply marketing your products and services. But rather, post about relevant issues to your industry, things that matter to you and your customers. This will make your followers want to click your links to learn more. And don’t be afraid to drive traffic away from your site as long as the message is relevant.
- Don’t over post. If you post every 13 seconds people will no longer follow you. Mindless blather is boring.
- Do be thoughtful. The company’s that tell their followers something they don’t already know will win. Post updates that add value, providing insight others may not have.
- Do respond to your followers. In my opinion, this point is the most powerful. New media is about making connections. Not just numbers as in 500+ LinkedIn Connections, but rather deeper relationships in the form of actual responses to your followers. When someone follows you, send them a quick note thanking them for the following, and when someone follows you, follow them back. And when someone sends you a direct message or @reply, respond back to them, engaging them in conversation and making a connection.
In short, there are effective Web 2.0 strategies that are helping the small business market in this economy – and Twitter happens to be one of them.
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