10 Ways to Rock #Twitter for Business

So, your company is on Twitter, that’s fabulous! Let me ask you, since you’ve been here have you garnered any leads? Seen an increase in customer engagement? Noticed a difference in bottom line sales?  If not, you may want to give some of these ideas a try. If Twitter is a good fit for your business getting creative might be all you need to do to see a real return. Twitter for Business with logo

  1. Follow your customers and encourage them to follow you back. This is easiest of course if you are a smaller business and know their names, if you’re larger make sure you follow back.  If you reach out first they will love that and you can DM each other if there is ever an issue either of you would rather not have play out in the newsfeed.
  2. Delight and surprise your followers when possible. This can mean anything from a shout-out to a random upgrade – can you image the share potential here? (In my opinion ALL airlines should randomly upgrade a Twitter follower each day – the engagement would be off the charts and even disgruntled customers would want in on that game! e.g. “If you’re flying in the next 4 hours tweet us your flight # – someone’s going first class baby!”  See?
  3. Tell your business story using your customers experiences and mention them when you do. You’ll be helping them build an audience and they will appreciate that.
  4. Listen to your customers and offer them solutions to their issues. For example, if you’re not in the pizza business and you know a business that delivers on time, pass on their info when someone complains about wait times. The key here is to provide value to your customers.
  5. Use Follow Friday (#FF) and fill your tweet with customers. Caveat – don’t go nuts, one or two tweets each week is enough to call out your customers but not enough to tick the rest of your followers off.
  6. Ask your followers what they want. Make sure you reach out to your audience and see how you might be able to do better – they will likely tell their following if you implement one of their suggestions.
  7. Do not leave them hanging. If a customer complains, comments or just gives you a shout-out be sure to respond as soon as possible. Less than 5 minutes is optimal. No matter what they are complaining about they will remember that you responded promptly with an offer of help. Set up notifications for your phone if no one is monitoring the account 24/7.
  8. Speaking of offers – give loyal followers exclusive Twitter offers – Have them tweet to the cashier for a special discount or fill in a promo code they only get by DMing you. Get creative if you can’t manage all those DM’s.
  9. If you have a large following and a large number of customer issues, consider creating a separate account for customer service. That way you can keep the brand account for the fun stuff and handle complaints without them falling through the cracks.
  10. Have fun. Show the less than serious side of your business at times. People want to engage with people, not businesses so don’t be afraid to show your human side.  Oh, and if there’s more than one person tweeting make sure to sign your tweets so we know who’s who.

Your turn – what’s worked for your business on Twitter? What have I left out? I would love to hear from you in the comments!

Happy tweeting!

5 Ways to Avoid Being a #LinkedIn Fail

I use LinkedIn. I didn’t just fill out my profile and let it sit there like a stone. I reach out strategically and post strategically and have a plan to create qualified leads from my activity there. Doesn’t everyone?

Linkedin_wall_logo_200_133LinkedIn, when used correctly can be a business persons best friend. It can get you an audience with the people you most want to work with, but perhaps even more valuable, it can expose what you do to your ideal customer.

When you attract that ideal customer you’ll want to make sure they don’t find any of these on your profile:

1. A less than fabulous profile pic. Make sure you have a picture that is as close to a professional headshot as you can find. It helps if you are smiling. I say ‘as close to’ because it truly doesn’t have to be professional, I used a well executed ‘selfie’ for years, until I had a professional shot taken.

2. A summary that only contains a line or two. Use this area to explain in detail and in your own voice, exactly what you do. Do this in first person, third person can sound lofty and overly formal and gives no opportunity to highlight your communication style.

3. No recommendations. You may have a ton of one-click-endorsements (which equate to a little less than a Facebook like) but they are widely considered much less credible than a written testimonial of your work in a specific position. Reaching out for recommendations can be tricky and requires more work than just clicking but it’s well worth it as they will enhance your credibility incredibly when peppered throughout the experience portion of your LinkedIn profile.

4. The same update they found on your Twitter profile and your Facebook page. Don’t be lazy about updating your LinkedIn profile. It is a completely different platform than other social networks and requires its own strategic application of content, especially when you intend to get business from your connections there.

5. A lack of contact information. Some people are still not comfortable reaching out online so make sure you include a telephone number along with your various social media accounts and emails. If you have a complete profile this will likely be already taken care of but if not start there and get that profile complete.

What about you? Ever visited a LinkedIn profile and decided, based on what you did or didn’t find there, not to pursue the contact any further?  Please let me know in the comments what I might have left out.

Here’s to your business!

Why You Need Twitter in Your Business Social Mix

Image I always say, you don’t need to have a presence on every social network, just the ones that your customers are on. These days more and more of them are flocking to Twitter. Maybe because it’s the perfect place to let your personality shine.

When I first joined Twitter about 5 years ago, I had no idea what the attraction was so instead of diving right in I sat back and watched for a few months and when I saw an opportunity to add to a conversation I took it. I recommend if you’re new to Twitter, you start the same way, except, if you want to dive right in, go for it. With a caveat.

Be careful when you engage in the same controversial topics that might get you negative attention offline, religion and politics. NL has a hugely popular local political scene that hang out on Twitter. They spend a lot of time cutting each other down and arguing incessantly. If that’s your thing then go for it but you may want to consider your reputation as a business person and how it would be affected if it appears that you are putting on your short pants and playing in the mud puddles with some of the most vocal political characters. 

If your customers are local, do searches for them and follow as many as you can. Let them know you’re there and take part in their conversations, but don’t sell to them. Of course there are times when you will want to promote your wares but use the 80/20 rule and you should be OK. Better yet, find creative ways to mention products and services without outright selling and you will have found a way to get your company’s story out there which, on Twitter, will be much more appreciated than a direct selling effort.

 I’ll admit I am not the most prolific tweeter on the block but I do enjoy the time I spend there and I am realising more and more the benefits of my Twitter presence when it comes to my business.  I take part in many local conversations (because most of my clients are local), tweet about events I attend and answer questions about my industry whenever possible, I also tweet relevant articles about social media that others post to their blogs as a way of helping my followers stay current.  

Large brands and even some small ones have adopted Twitter as their preferred mode of delivering customer service, and it’s working. Customers get heard with minimum wait times and no annoying phone line ups and they often tweet about how wonderful their experience was when dealing with companies on Twtter. Be warned however that excellent customer service on Twitter means 24/7 monitoring of your account(s) and knowing how to respond to sometimes irate customers with tact. If that’s not your level of commitment it might be something to work up to, especially if your customers start reaching out to you.

Lastly, once you’ve signed up, promote your Twitter account everywhere – on other social networks, on your email signature, on your business card and through word of mouth when networking. Once you are up and running, there are many ways to build your following, watch my Twitter account (@alisonstoodley) for some great articles on that and many more ideas for your social media marketing.
Happy Tweeting!

 

 

Have you heard about the changes to Facebook’s Promotional Guidelines?

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Now all of those Like and Share contests are actually OK. I think it’s a good idea to scrap unenforceable rules don’t you? You no longer need to use a 3rd party application to run contests – that makes things a lot easier for businesses wanting to promote their wares with a give away or contest.

The official announcement is here: https://www.facebook.com/facebookforbusiness/news/page-promotions-terms

Make sure you take creative advantage of this feature to increase fan engagement in a huge way. Your fans will love winning more often and with these rules relaxed you can offer smaller, more frequent contests. For instance – 50th fan to LIKE this post gets a free lunch, etc.
Will these new guidelines encourage you to use contests on Facebook more often?

3 Things You Should Never Say To A Customer

excellentcustomerservice

Each of these has happened to me, and they have all resulted in me taking my business elsewhere. What about you, what key customer service points are you looking for from businesses? Which ones are you delivering?

1)  “If you had contacted me earlier I could have taken care of this for you but now you will have to wait “

Bottom line, you want clients to feel good about doing business with you, even if they have to be delayed. Most of us don’t mind a wait when we are treated kindly, fairly and with respect. Instead of admonishing customers say something like, ‘we’re working hard to get this done as quickly as possible ‘ or ‘you have my word that we will do what we can to make this work’ – now, no matter that the circumstances I feel good about doing business with you even with the delay. If you admonish your clients in a childish manner they will feel bad – feeling bad means lost business.

2) “See how poorly ‘insert competitor here’ does that job? Obviously we are the better choice”

If you have to resort to name-calling or put-downs to elevate your case, you’ve lost me. If your product, service, customer experience and follow up can’t WOW me on its own merit you need to put your energy into fixing your product or service and creating a better customer experience rather than into putting down your competitors.

3) “We understand your time is valuable and appreciate your patience” …..while you wait 10+ minutes for a customer service rep….

This one drives me crazy especially when it happens every time you call. If you truly understood how valuable my time was you would hire more customer service reps and not make me wait at all, or you would credit my account for each minute waited. Attempting to placate me with meaningless platitudes only proves to me how out of touch you are with your customer. What it doesn’t do is make me enjoy the wait, or justify it, regardless of how surprised you might be with the ” higher than average call volumes.”

Customer service is the one area that can instantly level the playing field regardless of company size or resources. One very satisfied customer with a Twitter account can beef up your bottom line in minutes. You dont even need a superior product if you get the customer experience right. So take a moment to audit yours. Pretend you’re a customer or better yet, get someone to walk through the experience of your company from every customer touchpont and see where you might be able to enhance the system. Sometimes all it takes is a second to turn a so-so experience into a WOW one.

5 Ways for Business People to Keep Twitter Followers Happy

new-twitter-logoTwitter is the bomb. Millions of people check in every day for relevant, funny, engaging and informative updates from the accounts they follow. If you are using Twitter for business and you haven’t been around very long, you may have mistaken it for a sales pitch platform, or you may just chime in when someone insults your hockey team, or worse, your political party. If that sounds like you, read this post before you find yourself unfollowed by prospects and customers alike.

  1. Know your audience – truthfully, this is my mantra regardless of the medium but here’s why it’s a must on Twitter. Most consultants will tell you not to sell on Twitter but what if you own a restaurant and it’s lunch time and people gotta eat right? Give the people what they want – knowing your audience ensures you some insight into what they want.
  2. Do not repeat tweets. Some people will argue this point but I am sticking to it. I have unfollowed dozens of accounts, even great big, famous Social Media ‘experts’ because of this. At the very least, if you must duplicate tweets separate them by a couple of days. Ask yourself what’s worse, having some of your audience miss one of the 100 tweets you sent that day or having some of your audience stop following you altogether?
  3. Answer people. When someone takes the time to retweet your content, ask a question or comment on your tweets, give them a shout out. This is the reason you are here – to garner engagement – and interaction with your content can often be considered a qualified lead.
  4. Follow your customers. You are using Twitter for business to actually get business so make sure you target potential customers and stop worrying about increasing numbers. Growth will happen organically if you’re consistently active and that’s the best kind of audience out there – people who are actually interested in what you are saying.
  5. Reach out. Let your audience know you’re paying attention. Mention them in tweets and retweet their content. They love that, it makes them feel special and listened to, and people do business with people who make them feel all warm and fuzzy.

I’m sure I’ve left some out so feel free to share your tips on keeping your audience happy in the comments.

Frequently Asked Social Media Questions Series

“To save time shouldn’t I connect my Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts?

Short answer: No, no and definitely no.

Here’s why. These 3 platforms could not be more different and one of the best ways to show you aren’t aware of how they work is to connect them.

Look at it like this, Facebook is the backyard barbeque, Twitter is the local bar and LinkedIn is the corporate networking event. All social, but all with completely different agendas and acceptable practices.

Connect Accounts What could go wrong you ask? Picture this, a bank manager who is also an avid hockey fan tweets passionately about his team losing, using a little ‘colourful’ language. Arriving at work the next morning he is horrified to realize that every one of last nights tweets (and there were many) is greeting each of his professional contacts as they glance over their LinkedIn newsfeed.

Now, what if his boss is also a connection, or worse, what if he is looking for work?

Using social media effectively for business is about gaining awareness and exposure that translates into qualified leads, leads that increase your bottom line, right? So, saving time, although a valid idea, becomes less important when your efforts are paying off. In fact, if your social media presence is helping to increase business wouldn’t you want to do more of it rather than less?

Knowing your audience and giving them appropriate content on each of the platforms will get the job done. Connecting your accounts might not only hinder that effort but could have it blow up in your face altogether. Just ask that bank manager….

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