Twitter: Are you tapping its full potential?

Twitter may only allow 140 characters at a time, but those 140 characters can have a big impact on your business. Below are tips on how to make this social media site work for your brand.

First and foremost, if you don’t have a Twitter account, you will want to get one. This is a tool that will bode well for marketing your business. Once you have a Twitter account, you will want to make sure that you complete your profile completely. This includes your bio, location, and website as well your photos. The location will tell your followers where you are located and more importantly, where they can find you and you will want to have your website on there so they can have a place to visit for more information and to buy your products and/or services. Make sure to optimize your bio as this tells people who you are. You will also want this to be consistent with all other online marketing tools so as to not confuse your customers and allow them to fully understand who you are and what you do. This is presenting your brand so make sure it has the same look and feel as your other online tools and choose an account name that is identifiable and make sure this and the image is consistent. Make sure Twitter is integrated with your other marketing efforts. If you send out an email promoting a sale, make sure this is also on Twitter.

Now that you have an account set up and your profile complete, you will want to make sure your coworkers, family and friends are following your handle. Also that they are active: that they tweet, retweet and engage. Retweeting and favoriting tweets can help you become a thought leader in the industry. Also, favoriting tweets can get someone’s attention even more so than a retweet or a mention. You also want to make sure that you are tweeting regularly. It is a sign of an active profile. If you only tweet every so often, you are not showing yourself as an influencer in the market and chances are, people will forget about you. However, you want to make sure the content is useful and something people will likely read, not just random things so that you are tweeting. Include photos and videos with your tweets as it is shown that these visuals tend to drive more attention then just plain text.

When you send out a tweet, think about how your products and services benefit your customers. Use this to draw people to your website and blog and make sure that your Twitter information is on those sites. Another good tool is a “Tweet This” button that you can add to the middle of a blog post.

In order to engage more with your followers, you can run promoted tweets and contests that offer discounts. For example: post a picture using our product and the one we like the best will receive a free appetizer.

Next, strategically follow and interact with influencers and experts in the area in which you do business. Do you run a restaurant? Find journalists, thought leaders, potential clients, customers and partners in this market. But be helpful and not promotional. Twitter offers several tools to help you find these influencers such as Topsy™. Hootsuit™ or TweetDeck™ help you to keep up with the conversation.

Once you interact with them, you will want to make sure that you are responding to any mention of your brand. Customers often take to Twitter to complain about you or praise you and you want to be the first to know. Also, set up Twitter searches for terms relevant to your brand. Monitor these conversations and contribute where it is appropriate. Responding in a timely manner will also help you to build or improve your customer service.

Along the same lines as finding and interacting with influencers if following trends and hashtags. Look at these and find a way to make a relevant connection to your brand. By putting your brand among the trending topics, your handle will be seen when people search tweets regarding that certain hashtag (#). This is also a great way to help reach new clients.

Once you have established a good marketing and communication program through Twitter, use Twitter analytics to find out how you can better your program. This will tell you what the best days for you to tweet are, the types of content people interact with the most and the typical demographics of your followers.

Twitter is a great tool for marketing your business and one that should not be overlooked. By incorporating the above tips, you are sure to increase traffic not only online, but in your store as well.