Every day, thousands of small businesses use Twitter to connect with customers, gain leads and build their communities online. Perhaps you have even set up a Twitter account for your practice, with limited success. What you are experiencing is not different from many businesses in the “Twitterverse.” Getting started with social media is relatively easy, but it takes smart and sustained efforts to show a return on investment.
Try implementing these tips in your day-to-day efforts as you continue to experiment with your social media activities.
Don't be too self-promotional
One of the most common mistakes I see small businesses make on Twitter is talking about themselves too much. Just like in any social gathering, nobody likes spending time with a self-promoter! Your followers chose to follow your business because they have some amount of interest in your services, but this isn’t an open invitation to clog up their Twitter timelines with an endless barrage of tweets about RICs and BTEs.
Instead, try to stick to a 1:5 ratio, or one tweet about your business for every five tweets that are replies to other accounts, retweets (RT), or other interesting content. Which leads us to my next tip…
Get creative with your content
You might be asking, “If I’m not selling my products and services, what am I supposed to tweet about?” While there is no magic formula for tweeting engaging content, there are countless examples of businesses that engage with their followers in fun and unique ways.
Perhaps you could hold a photo contest where your followers tweet pictures of what they are “hearing” with the most unique entry receiving a gift card to a local business. Or tweet inspirational quotes or interesting facts about the importance of hearing. A “Twitter only” offer on batteries or other hearing aid accessories might also get followers’ attention and give others a reason to follow you.
Engaging your audience with questions is a great way to encourage interaction with consumers and has proven to be an effective tactic for tweeting. In fact, Twitter recently reported that tweets that contain a question receive a 17 percent higher click rate than those that do not.
Know your audience
Generally, most social media users tend to be younger and this is especially true with Twitter. A late 2012 survey by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project shows that nearly 30 percent of young adults use Twitter, while only two percent of people older than 65 have used the medium.
Does this mean you should ignore Twitter altogether? Not necessarily. Just keep in mind that many of the people who read your tweets aren’t necessarily great candidates for hearing aids. Take advantage of this opportunity to cater some of your Twitter content to focus on caregivers and children who have a large amount of influence on potential hearing aid wearers.
Patience is a virtue
Setting up a Twitter account is fairly simple but creating a loyal following and seeing a return on your investment can take time. Social media expert Ted Rubin touched on this in a recent Forbes article “Why Small Businesses Are Losing on Social Media.”
“Social is a patience game, which for many can be a bitter pill,” says Rubin. “Return on relationship takes time. People are being sold on social as a place to generate leads, but it’s really a place to build loyalty, answer customer service questions and to build a community.”
Businesses that enjoy the most success on Twitter show a committed investment with the tool. Many are engaged when they first set up an account but quickly lose interest when their tweets don’t automatically lead to a stream of followers and countless sales.
For your hearing practice, this means having a dedicated person managing your Twitter account and posting and monitoring at least two to three times per week. I’d recommend giving this responsibility to your Professional Practice Ambassador or office manager. Try to set aside 15 minutes a day to monitor your account and create content. Soon it will just be part of this person’s everyday routine.
As with any marketing effort, success with Twitter takes effort and time, but the opportunity for success is there for those who remain patient and don’t quit after not seeing immediate results.
Side bar: The power of the hashtag
The hashtag or # symbol on Twitter is used to mark keywords or topics in a tweet. Twitter users typically use the hashtag before a relevant keyword or phrase in order to easily categorize those tweets and so the tweets show up more easily in a search.
Experiment using the hashtag before keywords or at the end of your tweets (i.e.) #betterhearing or #hearingloss.
The hashtag can also be an effective way to monitor conversations, find new people to follow, and track down interesting content. Some good hashtags to follow include #hearingloss, #hearing, #betterhearing and #tinnitus