These days it seems that when you start a business or launch a freelance career, acquiring a Twitter account is as essential as opening a bank account. No marketing plan is complete without Twitter and other social media activities. But while it is indeed a very useful tool for businesses and freelancers, like everything else it needs to be handled correctly.
Used well, Twitter can help to promote your services and products, build your reputation, establish you as an expert and find you more customers. All great. But get it wrong and it will do exactly the opposite.
ALWAYS BE POSITIVE
Even if you’re tweeting about something negative, it’s important to be upbeat and positive. If you’re uplifting, empowering and make people feel good, they’re more likely to want to build a relationship with you. It’s not that different to the relationships you have with people in real life. Think how much more you enjoy and seek out the company of upbeat people, and avoid the pessimists who always seem to have something to moan about. So, even if you need to tell people bad news, try to add a smile to your tweet. Consider these two examples:
• Sorry, we’ve run out of face cream and don’t know when we’ll have more in stock.
• Wow, demand for our face cream was so amazing we’ve run out! But we’re making more and will let you know when you can get your hands on it again.
They’re delivering the same news (we’re out of face cream) but while one makes it sound like you run a poorly stocked or managed business or service, the other makes it look like you’re a successful business that cares about its customers.
DON’T RELY ON TWITTER FOR CUSTOMER SERVICE
Twitter is a great way to interact with potential and existing customers, but isn’t a replacement for customer service. So if someone has a question or makes a complaint on Twitter, politely address the issue there, and then contact them through or direct them to a more traditional channel for a more ‘official’ response.
DON’T AIR YOUR DIRTY LAUNDRY ON TWITTER
Just as you shouldn’t use Twitter to manage your customer service, don’t use it to vent about how you feel. If you have a private matter to deal with, deal with it privately. Don’t give people cause to gossip about anything you post on your business Twitter account, or make someone feel awkward about reading a tweet.
DON’T OFFER POLITICAL OPINIONS
Unless your business or freelance service has a political angle, try to keep your feelings about anything controversial to yourself. Twitter is a great forum to build your reputation and nurture customer relationships, but if you are open about your politics and someone holds a different view, it may put them off buying from you or using your services. So try to avoid politics where possible on your business Twitter account, and if you are commenting on an issue, try to be as neutral as you can.
DON’T BE RUDE
Okay so maybe this seems like an obvious rule, but you’d be surprised how easy it is to inadvertently upset someone with a thoughtless tweet. Just read this cautionary tale of a careless tweet. If a ‘key online influencer’ can get it wrong and influence for all the wrong reasons, then anyone can. So think twice about every tweet and make sure that it couldn’t possibly offend anyone before posting.