9 Twitter Engagement Tips for Small Businesses



Though Facebook seems to trump Twitter in terms of brand engagement, that’s not to say that using Twitter as an entrepreneur or small business owner is worthless. In fact, it’s quite the contrary.

Although only 4% of fans said they use Twitter to engage with brands, only 7% of small businesses are using Twitter. With fewer businesses on Twitter than Facebook, of course there will be a lower percentage of consumers engaging with brands on Twitter. That leaves small businesses with a big opportunity.

Despite its massive evolution, Twitter still seems to perplex a good number of us and if we do use it, it seems to align more appropriately with personal enjoyment. So how do you make the most out of Twitter for your small business? Here’s how.

Tip 1:    Listen to Your Customers and The Industry

Listening to your customers and the conversation happening in your industry is the fundamental component to any social media effort. So before diving into Twitter, take some time to get a feel for the landscape.

Search for industry hashtags and evaluate the content that’s shared with them. Make a list of competitors and look up their profiles on Twitter. Find out what they’re tweeting about and look at how they’re engaging with their customers and others in the industry.

After doing your research, create a plan of action before launching. What will be your voice? What will your content accomplish? How will you differentiate yourself from others in the industry? How will you engage with your customers?

Tip 2:    Join the Conversation

Once you have a good grip on the conversation, use hashtags to join in. That’s the beauty of Twitter – the ability to search for a conversation based around your interests and take part in it.

Share unique content of value to your followers and aim to position yourself as a thought leader in the industry. Make sure you’re also actively engaging, retweeting and replying to others.

Tip 3:    Offer Top-Secret Info

Twitter provides a great opportunity to share behind-the-scenes or top-secret footage with your followers that they won’t find on your other channels. Tweet a special discount code, a photo from an event, the first glimpse of a new product or something else unique. Doing so will make your followers feel like they are exclusive members of a community.

Tip 4:    Be of Value

When it comes to tweeting, you need to be of value to your customers and industry. Don’t simply focus on promoting your brand messaging; focus on being an indispensable source of information within your industry.

Tip 5:    Follow Back

Part of Twitter etiquette is following those who follow you. However, many brands simply don’t do this. Regardless, make sure to follow as many people back as you’re able to so you don’t accidently ostracize someone that might be an important customer, an interested media party, a potential investor, etc.

Tip 6:    Retweet

Make it a goal on a daily basis to retweet other information you find useful and pertinent to your business. It could be a piece of information from another business that complements your own, or it could be a customer who thought your seminar was life-changing. By retweeting someone, you’ll expose him or her to a whole new crowd of followers and in the future, they’ll be more likely to retweet something you said.

Tip 7:    Don’t Schedule Automatic Direct Messages

You know what’s really annoying? When you follow someone and you get an automated direct message – “Hi. Thanks for the follow. Be sure to check out my website!” Um, no thanks. Doing this makes you look cheap, lazy, ungrateful and disrespectful. If you don’t have the time to personally thank someone for a follow, skip this step and just focus on engaging with them at a later date when you do have time.

Tip 8:  Be Inspirational

Everyone loves to be motivated and inspired. A great way countless brands extend their reach on Twitter is by tweeting insightful quotes. If the quote touches others, they’ll more than likely retweet to their follows, which amplifies your reach. But don’t attempt to impersonate Confucius by offering your wisdom for morning, lunch, dinner and bedtime. Do it sparingly and only when it’s something that aligns with the culture and philosophy of your business.

Tip 9:  Promote Tweets, Trends or Your Account

twitter attitude 2011


Promoted tweets, trends and accounts are a clever and effective form of Twitter advertising that consumers don’t seem to mind. In fact, despite most forms of backlash over advertising, only 10.9% of Twitter users are bothered by promoted tweets, according to a recent study.

And because Twitter offers solutions for both small and large budgets, you can extend your business’ Twitter footprint to new, highly targeted groups of people who are more likely to have an interest in your product or service.  Now, of course, you should only self-promote if you are going through a campaign or offering something of value to your customers or audience.  Otherwise, it does become annoying if all you are doing is self-promoting or advertising instead of offering helpful information that your customers or audience don’t have to pay for.

There’s No Excuse for Not Being on Twitter

If you’re an entrepreneur or small business owner who isn’t on Twitter, you need to add it to your agenda as soon as possible. With only 7% of small businesses using Twitter, you’d be foolish not to dive in while the market is rather mild. In fact, do your business a favor and make sure you’re at least active on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn – the three most prominent social channels that your customers are most likely to look for you on.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lisa Stein owns FreelanceMom.com, is a college business professor and a mom to Gabriela and Elle. Lisa is dedicated to playing a part in helping women and moms run a business they love, help support themselves and their family and create a flexible lifestyle. You can find her online on Facebook and Twitter or at home burning something in the kitchen.