Small businesses are flocking to Twitter to create an album of marketing eye candy. While this visual channel is a great engagement tool, can your social audience actually become paying customers? Yes.
Miss Bansal, the owner of ethnic fashion brand Maandna, says her small business gets more customer conversions through Twitter and Instagram than any other channel, social media or otherwise.
“We actually don’t call our Twitter followers ‘followers’ because they are so much more than that. They are our community,” Bansal says.
So how did this relatively young India-based business, which just opened in 2013, create such a profitable audience on Twitter? Here are her trade secrets:
- Share your story
Most small businesses treat Twitter like a photo and news gallery. It’s a site that serves as a nice place to post a picture of your product or an employee working late on holiday orders, but owners rarely use the platform to tell their story. That’s what Bansal did
She took the opportunity to share pictures and information about her brand and her inspiration. She posted everything from pictures of herself to launch a line of ethnic wear like kurtis. The entire Twitter page chronicles her journey.
“By sharing the Maandna crafts story, specifically my journey as a new entrepreneur, we have humanized the brand,” Bansal explains. “It makes the company more of a family rather than a product.”
She says every business should treat Twitter and Instagram in a similar fashion. As small business owners, show your audience the human side of your business. Show your audience pictures of you packing orders, heading to the post office, helping other customers and dealing with obstacles.
Get used to taking snapshots and “selfies” to populate your page with faces and images that tell your story, rather than just images of products. Use the platform to tell your business story one picture at a time.
- Build a community
Once you share your story, you’ll probably find engagement goes up. When people can relate to your story, they are more apt to reach out, comment on posts and ask questions about your business.
If comments are piling up, it’s a good sign that you’re doing something right. However, your involvement shouldn’t end there. As with any social media channel, engagement is a big part of the conversion process.
Take the time to turn your posts into conversations, rather than just daily updates, she says. On the maandna site, just about every picture has a stream of comments. Some are related to products, others are just friendly conversations between Bansal and other customers.
“By engaging in a dialogue in the comment section you will begin to know your followers and can learn what they want as customers,” she says.
These conversations become the foundation of a strong online community. With that kind of support, customers are compelled to learn more about your brand and eventually make their first purchase.
Twitter shouldn’t just be a place for you to interact with potential customers; it’s also a good place for you to network. Follow others in your industry and keep an eye on competitors. While it sounds a little like a spy mission, think of it more as an online business association. You can follow and converse with other like-minded industry folks, which usually has rewards.
“See what other brands are doing well on Instagram, learn from them, engage with them and partner with them,” she suggests.
“By following other brands and communicating with them on Twitter, we have established many wonderful contacts and working relationships that have resulted in everything from successful giveaways that provide increased brand exposure to product design collaborations.”
Additional tips to keep in mind:
- Share quality photos. You don’t have to have a professional photographer follow you around, but you want to share quality images. You can certainly use your cell phone or tablet to take pictures, but keep the crooked, blurry images off your site.
- Get fancy with apps. If you want to up your Instagram game, there are photo editing apps that can help you create killer pics. Instgram, for example, can boost the quality of your image and Facebook can help you create a more artsy shot.
- Upload video. Add some spice to your page by uploading videos.
- Post frequently. If you’re telling your brand’s story, you need to give your audience a piece of that story often. Figure out how frequently you can post and stick to it.
- Use hashtags. Hashtags allow your posts to come up in search results. New customers can find you by searching hashtags. You can also find others who are posting about similar topics.