Guest author Brad Shorr has agency, in-house, and entrepreneurial marketing experience. He writes frequently about social media, SEO, content strategy, and other business issues of interest to small and midsized companies. He lives in the Chicago area and has been blogging since 2005. Connect with Brad on Twitter: @StraightNorth.
Twitter is my favorite social network. It’s fast, making connections is easy, people share great information, and the atmosphere (at least in my corner of the twitterverse) is friendly and open.
Another nice thing about Twitter is how conducive it is to relationship-building. Big brands use Twitter routinely to provide customer service. I’ve had personal experience with this with Comcast and Ford Motor Company — the latter case being a direct result of a blog post I did right here!
But using Twitter to build loyalty is not just for the Fortune 500. Small businesses and entrepreneurs can use Twitter just as effectively for communicating with customers and potential referrers. Here are a few ideas …
1. Reply when Mentioned
They say the opposite of love is not hate, but indifference. When someone mentions you on Twitter, in the form of a question, a retweet, or something more generic like a Follow Friday shout-out, acknowledge it! This is always good form, but takes on added importance if you think about it from the loyalty-building perspective. How likely are people to recommend you or endorse you they get the impression you are ignoring them? The downside of not acknowledging a mention could be huge, even though you may never be able to measure the new business opportunities you don’t get.
2. Make the Unexpected Gesture
A successful sales rep I know makes a practice of sending out Thanksgiving cards rather than Christmas cards. Why? Because Thanksgiving cards are unexpected, and are therefore more appreciated and better remembered. The same idea holds true on Twitter when you endorse someone out of the blue, or retweet a great piece of their content with glowing praise and without being asked. Do you think clients will remember that when they are considering a new contract? Do you think referrers will keep that in mind when someone asks them who they recommend in your field? I know I do.
3. Make the Effort when Asked
Once in a while, your Twitter connections will ask you to retweet something, or to help get the word out about a promotion or a new service. When asked, do you roll up your sleeves and get to work, or just go through the motions? I’ll admit there are times when someone asks me for a hand and all I do is shoot out a perfunctory tweet or two. This is not good. What I should do is put together a really compelling set of tweets, and go a step further and tweet the message directly to people I suspect will be very interested. When you make an effort in response to a request, people notice — not just the person asking, but everyone else in your community. Which is better for building loyalty — earning a reputation for being generous, or earning a reputation for being oblivious?
Over to You
“Give to get” is the social media mantra. How have you made this principle work for you and your business?
Note: Brad Shorr works for StraightNorth.com, an agency doing Web development in Drupal, located in Chicago. They specialize in small and midsize B2B, with clients in diverse niches such as knife safety gloves and online payment gateways.
(Image Credit: © Wichittra Srisunon #38996339 – Fotolia.com)