Numbers are vitally important to every small business. Your ability monitor and track key metrics, costs, and revenues help determine how successful your business has been and will be in the future.
But in today’s social media environment, there is one metric that is grossly overemphasized: Number of Followers.
The baseline for many social media reports, business often use number of followers as a way to show progress. In a vacuum, this approach makes sense. But in the real world, this number matters the least.
This post will expose why your business should pay less attention on vanity metrics (numbers that don’t mean anything to your bottom line) like how many Twitter followers it has and more on listening for customers who need your product or service using Twitter Search.
A Very Good Place to Start
Let’s start at the beginning…
Twitter is a “micro-blogging” platform, which is to say users have the ability to publish short updates (140 characters long) about anything/everything they wish.
By default, all Twitter accounts (and updates) are public, meaning they are available for the entire world to see – and search.
It originally took Twitter 3 years, 2 months and 1 day for users to send a billion tweets. Today, one billion new tweets are sent every week.
What does this mean for your organization? With that type of volume, real-time intelligence on a variety of factors that impact your business becomes not only possible – but easy to achieve:
- Market research
- Competitive intelligence
- Brand sentiment
- Keyword monitoring
- Industry trends
In the past, it was very unlikely that people would tell their friends, family, or co-workers about every minor happening throughout their day. Yet the ability to share smaller, (seemingly) less important bits of information becomes easier and easier each day.
Let’s take a look at the evolution:
- People write letters by hand and mail them over long distances to share stories and information without the need of meeting in person.
- The introduction of the telephone enables people to speak to one another and exchange information in a one-on-one setting instantly.
- Email provides a direct 24-hour-a-day channel to a single recipient or group of people.
- Online chat is a blend of instant conversations (telephone) with the flexibility email (one-to-one or one-to-many).
- Twitter allows users to broadcast bits of information to the entire world, as well as interact with one another directly.
Finding Customers Online
Today, the opportunity to share even the smallest bit of information with the world is nearly frictionless, and from quantity comes quality. By listening properly, businesses have the opportunity to locate and interact with potential customers online more directly than ever before.
“Twitter Search is the most valuable tool ever created for small businesses. Yet few organizations know it exists, let alone how to use it.” Tweet This Quote
Will all one billion tweets this week be relevant to your business? Absolutely not. But when you learn to listen for the right things, you may gain a significant advantage on your competition.
Step One: Keyword Search
- Your Business Name – The simplest Twitter Search you can perform is a lookup of your brand. Find out what people are saying about you online; the results may surprise you
- Your Competition – Ever wonder what consumers think of your competition? Why not take a peak? Simply type their name into the search box to see if people have been tweeting to or with them.
- Brand Sentiment – Try adding a or after your company’s name on Twitter Search for a general sense of whether people are happy with your company or not. (NOTE: You can do the same for your competitors, too.)
- Product Names – Does your business sell a specific product or offer a unique service? Type it into the search form to find out if customers are asking about it online.
- New Business Opportunities – This is often where the rubber meets the pavement. Listening for new business on Twitter often means thinking like your customers and creating a list of phrases they might “say” (tweet) before making a purchasing decision.
NOTE: Our post on NateRiggs.com gives an in-depth overview on locating a steady stream of potential customers.
Step Two: Going Local
If your small business is restricted by location (meaning you are a franchise, you don’t ship your products, or your services are not available nationwide), narrowing your search on Twitter will be key as you listen for customers on Twitter.
Keep in mind, limiting your searches to a specific area will reduce the number of results that turn up each week/day/hour, but they will also be more targeted because they are people who need your service AND live in your area.
- Add “near:90210″ – Twitter users have the ability to add a location to their tweets using the latitude and longitude coordinates of their computer or smart phone. Adding the phrase “near:” followed by your zip code will limit your search results to those tweets from that geographic area. Give it a try HERE.
- near:”beverly hills” – The same tactic can be used
- near:90210 within:15mi – Adding the “within:” parameter allows you to expand your search to include tweets within a 10-, 20-, 50-mile radius of the zip code you entered.
Don’t want to drive more than an hour to a potential customer? Try using “within:60mi“.
The possibilities on Twitter Search are nearly endless, and the results are new literally every second. If your business is consistently sharing useful information with your online audience, your number of followers will grow.
But focusing solely on this metric will not lead to more sales for your business. Listening for keywords on Twitter helps you keep a pulse on your industry and competitors, and – most importantly – provides your business with direct access to the people who need your product or service the most.
Building keyword search into your online strategy can be overwhelming for some companies. That’s why we build it into our daily email. ChatterJet streamlines the process and delivers leads to your business each morning based on the keywords your customers are posting. Learn more about what is included in a ChatterJet subscription HERE.