Unlike something like paid search (PPC), social channels rarely convert directly into business from minor effort. Rather, using Twitter to grow your business – both acquiring new customers and encouraging repeat customers – is the process of growing your relationship with the audience over time.
This can turn a lot of small business off, because there can be substantial early effort for what feels like little monetary gain. However, there’s no arguing it can be an important channel to drive business, so how do you balance effort with expected return, especially in those early days?
Take a look at our articles on learning and support, which help give an overview of what Twitter can do for your business beyond directly growing it. Often, you can construct an initial strategy around customer support and joining existing conversations as a less burdensome way of building your reputation and audience on the platform while still getting some value.
Beyond that, think in terms of market segments. The most basic segment divides your efforts between completely new customers and returning customers.
For new customers, you’ll want to look to enter conversations that are relevant to your business in a natural, unsales-y way. Try to add value by answering questions that draw from your expertise in your service or product. Rarely, you can sprinkle in some direct sales language by combining it with humor. But make it the exception, not the rule.
For encouraging return customers, tweet out specials, new inventory, location/hours information, exciting news, etc. This will depend on your business type and we’ll go over some case studies and examples to help, but try to think exactly in terms of getting people in off the street or if you had a booth at a fair; what would attract attention without coming across as pushy?
Overall, we don’t like to mislead businesses jumping into Twitter for the first time. This is a channel that can be very rewarding, but it takes time to grow, like any relationship. Don’t expect to jump in and start making money hand over fist through this channel; it’s a communication channel, not a sales channel. It is used for sales-enablement, but rarely direct sales.