Kenyans have taken to Twitter by storm, but, have you ever wondered what the value of Twitter is for sales and business in Kenya. Everyone knows the indisputable value of LinkedIn for business to business sales, marketing, prospecting, and entrepreneurs in general. But Twitter is finally gaining popularity in business to business.
The latest Twitter strategies, tactics, tools, and best practices are laid out in this article.
What is Twitter?
Quite often, people’s gut reaction to Twitter is, “No one needs to know what I’m doing” or “I don’t care what other people are doing.”
While this may be the surface view, Twitter is also a great way to expand your network. It is a useful communication tool that allows you to interact with people around the world in three different ways:
- Send a short message to a bunch of people publicly
- Send a short message to a specific person publicly
- Send a short message to a specific person privately
Twitter is also referred to as a “micro-blogging” service, meaning you can post short updates limited to 140 characters or less. Why? Originally, the limitation was created to make Twitter compatible with mobile phones and text messaging. Now, it’s a useful characteristic that allows users to receive rapid-fire, concise information from many, many people!
A Business Perspective
Twitter is a relationship building and relationship maintenance tool; the most obvious business use of Twitter is to meet potential customers and leads the same way you would at networking event or tradeshow.
However, you can also use it to:
- Develop and promote your brand
- Interact with your customer base
- Track what people are saying about your company and brand
- Create a buzz around upcoming events
- Help individual employees act as liaisons to the public
- Promote other content you’ve created such as blog posts on your website
- Develop direct relationships with Kenyan bloggers and journalists for potential PR placement
Setting Up and Optimizing Your Profile
Signing Up For Twitter
Before signing up, consider if you want a personal or a business Twitter account. Both are good for a company to have, but serve different purposes.
Company account: Represents the company as a whole. Use this type of account to:
- Keep your customer base up-to-date on your events
- Promote recent blog articles or news
- Update your consumers about products/services
- Give real-time updates at conferences and events
Personal account: Used by an individual employee at the company. This account type is more personalized, can be used to talk about non-company related things and is better for direct relationship building. Use this type of account to:
- Act as a liaison to the public for your company
- Update people on what you’re working on
- Share tidbits about your personality
- Expand your company’s network and make connections
To create an account, go to http://twitter.com and click the “Sign Up” button.
Clicking this button will bring you to a page where you will select your username and password.
Your username is very important. This name will be how people will refer to you on Twitter, and potentially how people will acknowledge you if you ever meet any of your Twitter followers offline. Think of your Twitter handle as your personal brand name. That’s how important it is.
The following are a few ideas for Twitter Handles:
- Your full name (KimaniOdhiambo)
- A variation of your name (KOdhis)
- A combination of your name and your company (CompanyKimani)
- A combination of your name and your industry (MarketingKimani)
Making your Twitter handle as close to your name as possible will make it easier for people to recognize you at a conference or event. However, sometimes people will put their Twitter handles on their nametag to avoid confusion.
Using your real name on Twitter helps you look like a real, authentic person if someone stumbles upon your profile.
Twitter Handle warnings:
- Don’t name your Twitter handle completely random (ReggaeMan). This is a lost branding opportunity for you and your company.
- Avoid using numbers (Kimania123). Unless there is a reason for the specific numbers, it looks It gives an impression that you aren’t putting thought into your username.
- Don’t use an underscore (PR_Odhiambo). Don’t generally use underscore. It seems you are unaware of the “social norms.”
After you choose your handle and click “Create my account,” it will bring you to a screen asking to check if your email contacts are already on Twitter. If you have a Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo account, feel free to see if anyone you know is already signed up. (However, you can skip this step.) If you do decide to check, beware of the prompt asking if you’d like to invite them all to Twitter. This will send a message all your contacts. Only do this if you want to.
Personalizing Your Profile
It is essential that you personalize your account before you begin interacting and following people.
Your profile is where you can reference your company, your blog, talk about your interests and list your location.
Click the “Edit Your Profile” on your profile page.
The first item in your profile is your name. Always list your real name when using Twitter for business.
For your URL, or web address, it’s best practice always to include a link. Put a link to your:
- Company website
- Personal website
- LinkedIn Profile
In the “One Line Bio” section, be as descriptive as possible. This is your elevator pitch—your opportunity to convince people to follow you back. Consider it a snapshot of your background. You can include:
- Your company
- Your position
- Your hobbies/interests
- Your specializations
- Your recent projects
Protecting your tweets is not recommend. It will slow down your network growth.
By clicking on “Protect my updates” box, your Twitter stream will be private, and no one will be able to see your updates without following you. This is not recommended as enabling this option would protect your updates. Many people judge whether to follow someone back through the type of information you tweet. You are as valuable as your updates; don’t keep people from getting a peek!
Your First Tweet
You can start Tweeting even before finding people to follow. This will give people an idea of the type of content you will be tweeting. The most valuable asset is the information you provide.
So what can you tweet about?
Types of tweets:
- An observation: Tweet about what you’re thinking, feeling or doing
- What you’re reading: Post a link to an interesting blog post or news article
- What you’re watching: Post a link to a cool video from YouTube or any other channel
- What events you’re going to: Share a link to the next event you are organizing or attending
- Promote your content: Post a link to your most recent personal blog article or company
- Promote someone else’s content: Post a link to someone else’s blog article as a helpful resource
- Chat with someone: Send messages using an @ sign
- Retweet what someone else has tweeted: Retweet to repeat what someone else has said
Finding People to Follow
The most challenging and time-consuming part of using Twitter is building your network. Expanding your network doesn’t happen immediately; you need commitment and time to use Twitter effectively.
But where can you find people you would want to follow?
- Twitters Search (http://search.twitter.com): This is a search function that helps finding people who are tweeting specific words. For example, you can find people who have tweeted about “public relations.” Follow people talking about the topics you enjoy.
- Follow People Your Followers are Following: Once you begin receiving updates from a handful of people, watch to see whom those people tweet using an @reply. Maybe that person would be fun to follow as well!
- Follow bloggers and Thought Leaders: Following your favourite Kenyan bloggers is a good strategy. Various bloggers include a link to their Twitter account on personal info section or in their sidebar.
- Collect Twitter Names at Events: Many social media-savvy people will include their Twitter handle on their nametag at an event. Write down their names and follow them later. By adding their handle to the end of http://twitter.com/USERNAME you can find their Twitter account.
- Follow Hashtags (#) at Events: At every events, the organizer will establish a hashtag, so anyone tweeting at the event can include the hashtag (#) in their Tweet. Follow those people who are at the same event as you who you may not have met in person yet.
- Don’t follow too many people immediately: Do not follow more than 25-50 people a day, because there will be a time gap between following people and they follow you back. In your profile if you are following 3,000 people and only 40 followers have followed you back so far, it appears that 2960 of those who you followed chose not to follow you chose not to follow you back. This looks like an unfavourable ratio makes you look like a bad person to add o one’s network.
- Remove all who don’t follow you back: Although people do this in order to have a “valuable ratio”, it is artificial network building and not a best practice.
Getting Other People to Follow You
To have valuable two-way conversations, people should follow you back and receive your updates too. It is very essential to get your profile fully set up before reaching out for new connections. If you follow someone who doesn’t already know you, there should be sufficient information about you in your profile so that person can make the decision whether to follow you back or not.
Twitter usernames should be easy to find. Create a list of all the Twitter handles of the people in your company. By giving your customers an easy way to interact with individual people, it helps them get to know the type of people who work at your company. It also gives insight to your brand!
Make your tweets useful resources so people need you. You are what you tweet. People will want to follow you if they think they will get value from your content. You want to avoid making your Twitter account purely a promotional tool.
Engaging With Your Network
How do you tweet at a specific person?
If you need to send a message to another person on Twitter, you need to use @ before the person’s name. Think of it as the “address” of tweet. This type of message is public, viewable by anyone.
Here is an example of how you would send a tweet to Kimani Odhiambo.
Example: “@kimaniOdhiambo what’s up?”
If you use @USERNAME at the beginning of the tweet, Twitter knows who to send it to. This kind of tweet is also called a reply or @reply (Pronounced “at reply”). All of the @replies you receive will go into your @Mentions tab.
If you don’t put @USERNAME at the very beginning of your tweet, it will not go to that person’s replies.
Example: “Leaving for South Africa. Hope to have a wonderful trip with @Wanjiku”
The above tweet would not go into Kimani Odhiambo’s Reply Tab. anytime you put @ in front of someone’s username, it automatically becomes a link to that person’s profile. With this feature it is easier to check those people’s profiles and engage with them as well.
You can also send someone a private message on Twitter. This private message is called direct message or DM. Send a direct message by either going to that person’s profile or clicking the “message” link on the person’s profile or by tweeting D USERNAME and then your message
Example: “D KimaniOdhiambo Do you want to meet tomorrow?”
This message is a private message and will not be part of public Twitter stream. You will receive an email with the direct message, and it will also go into the “Messages” tab. However, you can only DM people if you follow them and they follow you back.
Using Twitter for Marketing
Twitter is a very effective tool to drive people to your website. Regular tweeting can do wonders to establish you as a brand. Tweet about anything related to your product or service or whatever your employees have posted on your blog or website. You can mention about the new white paper which people can download for free. If your site content is truly remarkable, people may start tweeting about it on their own! They can share your resource to their friends on Twitter.
Monitor your brand on Twitter. Twitter Search tool ( http://search.twitter.com), can be used to search and track what people are saying about your company, products, competitors or any other hot words in your industry.
Use the Twitter “Favorites” feature as a list of company testimonials. If people have favorited any of your tweets, it could be used as a testimonial.
Use Twitter to promote events. Twitter is one of the best platforms to promote events, as engagement is very high. Best practice is to send people directly to an event sign-up page.
Using Twitter for Public Relations
Twitter can be used to build relationships with reporters, bloggers and other media people. In Kenya,. as with other parts of the world, reporters and big-time bloggers are incredibly active in social networks, especially when gathering information for stories.
Watch for tweets about editorial opportunities. Twitter is a great place for media people to look for last-minute, additional resources for their stories because the nature of Twitter is very quick response. Keep close track of tweets when following bloggers and reporters and scan for any opportunities.
Sending a Direct Message to reporters. Direct messages are very casual, and people prefer DMs to email pitches. It saves time.
Using Twitter for Customer Service
Give response to people’s concerns. A business should always designate someone to track the company’s name and products in Twitter Search. That person can address any negative comments, give feedback and help customers solve their products in real time. The speedy response will impress customers.
A company can utilize twitter account to update customers with any temporary down-time. Safaricom has used this successfully in the past. If you anticipate a down-time or there’s a glitch which needs to be fixed, twitter works best. Your customers will be less upset and more appreciative that your company is trying its best to relieve the problem.
Follow back everyone who follow your Company Account. Although the company can pick and choose whom to follow back, there’s no reason to limit. Also, the added benefit of following back everyone who follows your company account is the ability to DM you.
Sending an auto direct message whenever someone new follows should be avoided.