Twitter is a highly popular social media tool because of its unique approach to creating connections. Twitter lets small businesses connect with customers and potential buyers, promote new products, and bring traffic to an online store.

Best of all, Twitter is simple to use. Tweets – the messages you write and post – are limited to 140 characters (not words). You post a tweet and the people who “follow” you (those who’ve signed up to see your tweets) see what you post. If your followers like your tweet, they can “retweet” it, or post it in their Twitter stream to all of their followers – essentially forwarding your tweet. A single retweet from another business or person with a large following, especially a “favored tweet” that tells followers they thought your message was noteworthy, can potentially add dozens of new followers to your feed.

These tips can help you start building your business and boost foot traffic with Twitter:

Make connections
Your goal is to get as many followers as possible, at least among the kinds of people who are likely to buy from you. The easiest way to start getting followers is to follow your current customers, other people in your community, and leaders in your industry. If you follow people or companies who in turn have large followings of your target customers, you have the potential to connect with those prospects through retweets or paid ads.

Another way to get followers is to promote your Twitter feed by adding the Twitter logo to your site and emails and to signage in your store. But ultimately your follower count will be driven by the quality and quantity of your Tweets, so if you commit to Twitter, be sure you can share content regularly.

Provide updates
A common reason people follow small businesses on Twitter is to get news about upcoming products. For instance, a tweet from a shoe store might describe new riding boots and include a link to the store’s website. The Tweet wording might be along these lines: “Just in! Black and tan leather boots with gold buckle: $150.” Or, if you run a small organic grocery store, you can let customers know when your next shipment of mangoes arrives so that they can buy them at the peak of freshness. Some bakeries even tweet when croissants are fresh out of the oven so nearby customers can get them while they are still warm. Talk about real-time marketing!

Photos can help to tell your story and compel people to visit you. Did a celebrity wear a dress that you sell in your store? Include a link to the story and a picture of the dress, and invite people to stop by. Restaurants can tweet about seasonal items and include photos of beautifully prepared dishes.

Promotion of in-store events such as readings, wine tastings or trunk shows can also drive foot traffic. Tying a limited-time offer to the event can add urgency to your customers’ visits.

Establish your expertise
Everyone wants to buy from an expert. You can build your profile as a knowledgeable resource by tweeting information about your products or industry. For example, if you own an ice cream shop, you might tweet about how much is consumed every year in America, or the most popular flavor, or the craziest flavors you’ve concocted. A hair salon might tweet about how to create a hairstyle of the moment. Be careful to provide a mix of tweets, though; don’t just bludgeon your followers with facts. Twitter is a great way for your business to show its personality.

Have two-way conversations
Twitter can also help with customer service. First and foremost, you should respond quickly to all queries on your Twitter feed because this is important for keeping customers and prospects happy. Since Twitter is a very public tool, your responsiveness highlights your service orientation. Set a goal for Twitter response time and assign this responsibility to one person to maintain quality.

Twitter can also help with customer service by letting you broadcast, for example, that a shipment has been delayed, how  your appointments are running, or other issues that your customers should know about. You can also reach out to customers individually via a Twitter direct message to ask for their feedback. For instance, if someone recently purchased an appliance, you could follow up with a tweet to ask if they need help setting it up or inquire about how well it is functioning.


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