Twitter – the insider tricks!

twitter for virtual assistantsOkay – so in this post we have a vision of Twitter as a High Street with lots of shoppers and traders buzzing… And you as a VA are one of those traders.  So how do you solve the most common problems?  Are you getting enough footfall traffic through your store? Are the people browsing or buying? How many hours are you working and what do you get in return? 

These are the same problems whether you have a physical store or are trading online.  And that is my first secret: Twitter isn’t a “magic wand” to solve your marketing problems – if you have these problems offline, you’ll still have them online because your message isn’t appealing to your target market.

So how do you ensure that the time you spend on Twitter actually pays its way?  Firstly, we need to make sure we’re tracking the results properly:

  • Install Google Analytics on your website to track traffic http://www.google.com/analytics/
  • Use unique www.bit.ly.com links in your Tweets to track how many clicks each link gets

The easiest way of tracking your results is to see if you are getting more traffic from Twitter.  To do this, click on “Traffic Sources/All Traffic” and it will show you how many visits you are getting from Twitter/Facebook etc.  Do this each week/each month – you can even set up an email alert to send you updates.

If you are promoting a specific page on your site – e.g. a special offer – you can track who has clicked on that link by converting it using www.bit.ly.com.

  • Check who is following you – and block them!

If they are not your target market, they’ll be skewing your results by clicking on links and through to your website.  You don’t want to be targeting people who are not going to buy from you – block those who you don’t want to track your tweets.  They’ll still be able to see your tweets if they view your timeline, but your Tweets won’t appear in their feed.  So unless they are really, really interested in what you are doing, they are less likely to click on the links and skew the results.

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A prime example of this: Let’s say you post: “Click here to see our latest offers: www.va.com/offers and you have 45 other VAs following you… They all click on the link in order to see what you are up to, but have no intention of purchasing from you.  You might think your campaign has been a huge success, but that your website isn’t converting visitors and spend hours agonising over changing the website and wondering why people haven’t bought…  Whereas in reality you just aren’t getting the right kind of traffic.

Follow @societyofvas for latest UK virtual assistant news!

  • Use tools like Hootsuite to manage your time

A VA I know reasonably well boasts that she “gets all my business from Twitter” – except when you factor in the amount of time she has to spend on Twitter in order to convert those leads and the amount she earns for that work, her rate is somewhere around 3p an hour!

There is no doubt that it’s possible to convert leads into real business by building a relationship slowly with them over time.  However there is an easier way – and as I’m a lazy mare, I tend to go for the low hanging fruit rather than the ones at the top of the tree.

What you want to do is create tweets that capture your target market with interesting links, keywords they might be searching for and demonstrating that you are an expert in your field.  These can all be done automatically, in advance, using something like Hootsuite or Social Oomph.

That is not to say that you can wholly automate the process – you’ll still need to respond at least once per day to personal messages, thank people for RTs and mentions, actively follow and interact with your targets.  But anyone spending more than 20 mins a day on Twitter is doing it wrong, IMHO.

Although it’s possible to use automation to automatically follow back new followers or welcome them with a generic message, I’d encourage you to use the time you’ve saved automating the everyday stuff to research your new followers.  It cuts down on the amount of spammers who are on your account and the amount you have to read each day.  But it’ll also flag any people that you really want to connect with and perhaps send a direct message to.

  • Keep your “stock” tweets in a spreadsheet
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Here’s another lazy mare marketing tip: keep your standard tweets in a spreadsheet.  Not only can you upload them in bulk, which saves oodles of time, but you can also just copy and slightly tweak them to create new tweets to post.  For clients, we sit down at the beginning of each month, review what has worked well in the previous month, discuss what we want to promote this month, and then write the tweets for the month ahead.

Think seasonal – are there any special dates this month which you might want to mention?  Pre-written tweets can be recycled for next month or even next year, so it’s worth creating an extra column in your spreadsheet detailing the topic of the tweet so that if you need to find ones relating to “Christmas” or “Promoting XYZ services” they are easy to find and tweak.

Some clients will want just one tweet a day – particularly if their industry is quite specialised, you don’t want to be posting 10 times a day, with no one else saying anything!   Other industries are more competitive, and so will have other people clogging up the Twitterverse with their own tweets, so you’ll want to post more often.    Pick the frequency of your tweets and write them accordingly.

  • Post at different times of day or night

If you have a clear view of your target market, you’ll know when they are likely to be online and using social media.  Mumpreneurs might do it after the school run, business users might only be online during the day, others might be using it at lunchtime or after hours.   Vary the times when you are posting in order to capture as many people as possible.

  • Use #tags and keywords
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We can’t stress this enough – this is how Twitter really works for businesses.  You get to barge in on people’s conversations!  Look at the # tags that your competitors are using, think about the language which your target market uses, search for your subject matter on Twitter and see what others are saying.

Good one to follow is #journorequest used by journalists to find case studies or people to interview.  For VA news track: #virtualassistant, #VAtips, #VA365.

  • Promote your Twitter username

This seems obvious, but if you want people to follow what you are saying on Twitter, you need to tell them you are on there.  As a minimum you should list your twitter link on the contacts page of your website, on your email signature, and on any business forums you are a member of.

Follow and interact with people who you would like to follow you.  Use something like www.friendorfollow.com to see who your competitors are following and who follows them back.

  • Be interesting

Again, another obvious tip here.  But if you are merely going onto Twitter and stating the obvious or flogging your wares, no one will want to listen to you and you’ll be standing on the Twitter street corner talking to yourself!

Create interesting content:  find funny pictures, create blog posts, link to news stories, ask questions, post about recent events or seasonal observations.  Would you want to read your Twitter stream?

Some tweets to get you started: https://www.societyofvirtualassistants.co.uk/2011/04/17/global-va-week-the-tweets-have-landed/

Some time ago we put together a list of Tweets for virtual assistants to use in their own businesses – some of them won’t be relevant to your business, or perhaps you want to re-phrase them to suit your personal style.  But these should give you some ideas about what you could cover and how to create pre-scheduled tweets.

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