How Twitter Can Make Us Money As Small Business Owners

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To tweet, or not to tweet? How Twitter can make us money as small business owners

Twitter has been in the news almost constantly since its launch in 2006, with hype, scandal and celebrity gossip keeping the site firmly at the forefront of public consciousness. We all know that Twitter has multiple benefits for small business owners. We understand that we need to ‘tweet’ compulsively in order to reap these benefits. The thing is, many of us still don’t ‘get it’.

I have to admit from a personal perspective that the rationale behind Twitter eludes me. How has it become so popular? Why? What is the magical formula that makes Twitter as successful, commercially, as social networking giants Facebook? Most importantly, how do we get in on the action, and generate revenue from Twitter?

The site grows from strength to strength

Twitter’s latest escapade has been to celebrate the posting of the twenty billionth tweet. That’s a lot of tweeting. A Japanese Tweeter has been freaked out by a flurry of attention all over the world, following the landmark posting up of the milestone tweet on the site.
The poor gentleman who was singled out for attention has the username ‘GGGGGGo_Lets_Go’. He has found unwanted notoriety following his tweet, which was sent on 1544 GMT Saturday. The rather innocuous message stated: "So that means the barrage might come back later all at once."

The gentleman is a graphic designer who works for an advertising agency based in Tokyo. He has released a comment which demonstrates his confusion at being singled out, and the rather unexpected notoriety which has occurred as a result of him inadvertently posting up the landmark tweet: "Looks like I posted the 20 billionth tweet. I’m getting replies from people all over the world. It’s scary. What are the chances? Maybe I’m going to die. Is it more amazing than winning the lottery? I thought it was a joke."

It has taken Twitter just five months to double the number of tweets it had, going from ten billion to twenty billion. Japanese users of the site send eight million tweets per day (twelve percent of the global total), and are the most prolific tweeters in the world, after the United States.

Fast facts about the 140-character phenomenon

Twitter was founded in March 2006 by Jack Dorsey, Biz Stone, and Evan Williams. As of June 2009, there was an estimated 45 million user accounts. Everything you write on Twitter is indexed and can be found on the web, meaning it carries a kind of data footprint which records every single thing which is written on the site and archives it. Weirdly, this doesn’t stop us from tweeting compulsively, even though we are, in effect, giving away our intellectual information to an unknown source and offering them our permission to store, analyse, and reproduce it in any way they see fit.

Harvard researchers have released the following facts about Twitter:

  • Although men and women follow a similar number of Twitter users, men have 15% more followers than women
  • Men comprise 45% of Twitter users, while women represent 55%
  • Men also have more reciprocated relationships, in which two users follow each other
  • An average man is almost twice more likely to follow another man than a woman
  • An average man is 40% more likely to be followed by another man than by a woman
  • An average woman is 25% more likely to follow a man than a woman
  • On a typical online social network, most of the activity is focused around women – men follow content produced by women they do and do not know, and women follow content produced by women they know
  • Among Twitter users, the median number of lifetime tweets per user is one. This translates into over half of Twitter users tweeting less than once every 74 days
  • The top 10% of prolific Twitter users accounted for over 90% of tweets. On a typical online social network, the top 10% of users account for 30% of all production. This implies that Twitter’s resembles more of a one-way, one-to-many publishing service more than a two-way, peer-to-peer communication network.

Twitter? It brings us business

Really, the main thing we all want to know about Twitter is, HOW DOES IT MAKE US MONEY AS BLOG OWNERS? All the other information is great, but, so what? How do we tap in to this interesting phenomenon and get some cash out of it? Can we exploit twitter? Can it work for us?

In short, yes. Twitter provides us with exposure, advertising and revenue for our blogs. It gives us access to new potential customers, links us in with other people in the same industry as us, and allows us a platform from which to express ourselves. Twitter does make money, when used properly. People are using the site more and more to find service providers, and if our Twitter accounts are up to date and well-run, and we tweet often, we greatly increase our chances of being found, and recruited for our services.

How to optimize our chances of making money through Tweeting

The following tips are designed to refocus our energy, to make sure we’re optimizing out tweeting prowess to make money through our business. Just for effect, they are all 140 characters or less!

  • Keep your profile clean and up to date, so customers can find you easily
  • Remember Twitter is an advertising space, and use it accordingly
  • Tweet often to keep people informed
  • Tweet wisely, and remember you are using a sales tool
  • Stay industry-oriented to keep stakeholders engaged
  • Don’t engage in personal dialogue – this is a business platform
  • Keep it interesting so people stay involved and keep following you
  • Avoid obvious selling – incorporate useful messages and content
  • Re-tweet and respond to direct messages – stay polite and engaged with customers.

By observing these simple rules, Twitter can become a genuinely interesting and lucrative platform from which to launch your services. As the gentleman from Japan remarked, Twitter is obviously important, which is why he questioned whether he had won the lottery, when faced with the global hype surrounding his milestone tweet.

Using Twitter To Promote Your Blog and Enhance Your Business

You can’t visit many blogs these days without seeing the Twitter logo and being invited to ‘Tweet’. Twitter is a micro-blogging tool which is becoming more and more widely-used and no longer seen as just a bunch of people “writing about what they had for dinner” (I had a salad by the way…). Here are a few ideas on how Twitter is beneficial for you or your business:

As a research tool:

It allows you insight into an amazing community of people from around the world to find out what they are thinking, feeling and experiencing in different ways. In a sense, Twitter has become a news service where you’ll quickly find if there is a breaking story somewhere in the world, by watching it. It is getting more popular because it’s very quick and easy to use. A wide variety of people use it because of the character limit of the messages, which keeps communications brief, convenient and productive.

For collaboration and networking:

Ongoing interaction is helpful for your business, in a number of different ways. It can support you to generate new ideas, or get you in front of potential new customers or collaborators. For your existing customers, it can inspire confidence and let people know what you are up to, encouraging them to stay in touch. It can also create significant relationship opportunities which are useful both now, and longer term.

To direct traffic:

Twitter is all about encouraging people to stay in touch! If your Twitter page is not driving direct traffic to your blog, then it’s not doing its job properly. There are many ways to drive direct traffic to your own website, from your page. You need to use these key benefits by posting regular, informative ‘Tweets’ to your followers to keep things lively and interesting.

As a marketing tool:

For marketers who use it, this is a great way to reach out to a different demographic. For those who are not able to commit to regular blogging, particularly due to time restraints, it could be the answer for social marketing. Using it is an interesting exercise for companies, to try communicating their own announcements.

To reinforce your brand:

You can use it to expand your brand or to show a different side of you. Some people inject humor into Twittering that you don’t see on blogs. There’s also something a little more personal about many of the people on it, letting you see the ‘real’ person behind the business image.

To promote content:

Twitter can potentially drive traffic and promote content to your primary sales site. It offers a tool called ‘Twitter Feed’ which will take the titles and URLs from blog feeds and publish it on your account. This is a great way to promote your content, without you having to lift a finger.

To enhance SEO:

You can increase the popularity of your profile page with the help of some tricks. Find people’s Twitter pages which rank highly. For Example, ‘Brent D. Payne’ is a popular user who has a 7 page ranking and 21,720 followers to his profile. If you can link to a well-visited profile page, your profile will get popular and ranked in return.

For easy updates:

Now you can use your cell phone to post updates! This will help you to keep up with fresh and related content from anywhere, any time. You can very easily post text from your cell phone as Twitter allows 140 characters for one post. Updating your profile page frequently will bring people back to find what you are posting.

To assess your audience:

Through Twitter, you can get the sense of what people think about a subject, which is a very positive way of making sure you post well. It helps you to know people better, and supports you to keep updated on the thoughts of your potential readers and their requirements, and then cater for them.
All in all, it’s a convenient, fun and simple tool to use which holds a number of benefits over conventional tools. If you’re not Tweeting already, perhaps it’s time to sign up?

There are may other benefits, what are your favorites?

Free Guide To Twitter

A free “geek’s Guide To Promoting Yourself and Your Online Business in 140 Characters or Less with Twitter” is now available for free from Geekpreneur. For those new to Twitter and it’s benefits then it’s a great guide.

Free Twitter ebook

The book is split into four main sections:
1. Why You Need To Join Twitter Right Now
2. How To Use Twitter As A Mini Blog
3. Using Twitter To Enhance Your Online Business
4. Twitter Tools

The book is 48 (short, fat) pages long, with the first section explaining neatly what Twitter is. It has some quick tips on getting your page set up, finding people to follow, and more importantly, getting people to follow you.

The second section gives you more tips and advice on writing tweets (your messages on Twitter are called tweets), while the third part has some good solid advice on building your business and brand through Twitter. Finally the book talks about all the (free) Twitter tools out there that can make posting tweets easier, or help you automatically add blog posts.

Personally, I wouldn’t think too long and hard about, just join and follow me and I’ll be your first follower back :). If you like Twitter then I’m also on Plurk if you want to give this Twitter competitor a try.