Category: Marketing

Get Them Talking

In the business world, few things are more important than growing sales. You’re either growing or dying, and most companies would strive for growth. If you are struggling to maintain your market share or to grow it, there are strategies that you can use which can help. You don’t have to just sit back and wait for the market to swallow you up.

Word of Mouth

In any industry, word-of-mouth advertising is the most powerful form of promotion that you can enjoy. People trust their friends and family members a lot more than they trust any business. This means that anything people say about your business is going to be a lot more powerful than what you could say. This means that it’s your job to get people talking about your company any way you can.

Attracting New Customers

One of your primary jobs as a business owner should be to figure out ways to attract new customers. If you don’t yet have a professional image or brand, now would be a good time to implement one. Getting a fresh logo, some new signage, and other professional-looking touches can make a big difference. Don’t try to look like a “mom and pop” operation, but strive to look like a reputable company.

Paying attention to the smaller details is a great way to show current and potential customers a more genuine side. Some of these details include hosting free events, giveaways, simple refreshments, and other services that provide comfort and entertainment. For example, 1800 Vending provides options for establishments to set up in the lobby for their customers to enjoy. Local venues are great for hosting large events around the same area.

Online Marketing

Regardless of whether you are conducting business online only or if you have a traditional storefront, you need some kind of Web presence. It’s important to have a website in today’s market. Once you are online, try using online marketing methods to get new customers. Using pay-per-click advertising can be a great way to get people to come to your site. If your site is designed in such a way that it elicits a response, it could really drive business for you. It is probably a good idea to hire a professional web designer and a copywriter to create your site and copy for you. This way, it will look great, and get people to buy.

Handling Your Customers

Once you have customers, it is critical that you take care of them. You need to do your best to provide exceptional customer service to everyone that you do business with. If you can make your customers happy, they’ll be much more inclined to tell their friends about you. When you can start getting referral business, then you’ll be doing well. Referrals don’t cost anything, and they are typically much easier to sell than any other type of customer.

Whatever it takes, it’s up to you to make your customers happy. Even if it takes a little more time to get the job done, it will be well worth it in the long run.

About the author: Becky W. is a freelance writer that loves to write about business. In her spare time she loves to try new dishes in the kitchen and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

 

5 Tips For Using Twitter For Customer Service

Twitter is about more than just gaining a huge following. It’s also a great way to engage with your customers and turn them into satisfied advocates of your brand with less effort and in less time than traditional customer services.

Having finally realized that Twitter is a cluster of customer complaints, questions, and concerns, more and more companies are jumping on the bandwagon every day. For most organizations, the trick is understanding how to use Twitter in the most effective and efficient methods for their particular customers.

The following are several tips to help you successfully handle customer service issues.

1. Track your brand

First, to use your business’s Twitter account for customer service purposes, identify the Twitter users in need of your help. These customers may not be following you or even talking directly to you, so you’ll need to check out more than just the regular feed. Track the conversation around your brand by creating a few saved searches for words and phrases customers are likely to use on Twitter when talking about you.

Simply search for your company or product name using the box at the top of your Twitter page to create a saved search. Once the search results are up, click on the Save this search button to easily repeat this search later.

2. Respond with haste

Look through your saved searches twice a day for customers who are upset or in need of help. Make sure the tweets are recent to avoid contacting customers after they have already solved the problem and avoid upsetting them again.

Once you’ve identified a customer who needs your help, send them a quick reply offering information or assistance. If it’s possible to solve the problem over Twitter, then feel free to do so.

An @Reply will make it easy for customers to see what you’re doing and you can send an @Reply to anyone. If the customer seems especially upset or if their problem is in any way sensitive, try to move the conversation to direct messages, as quickly as possible. The goal is to provide help faster than users can receive it from the traditional channels.

3. Be honest

It’s not uncommon for companies to embarrass themselves on Twitter by attempting to turn a bad customer experience into an opportunity for free public relations. The truth is this is far more likely to backfire on you than it is to help build your company’s image.

Remember that Twitter was modeled on conversations, so try to talk with customers instead of at them. The reputation you’ll gain from helping customers and being honest with them is the best PR you can buy on social networks.

4. Separate accounts

Use a separate Twitter account than the one you use for the primary business profile for the purposes of customer service. Keep in mind that most issues can be isolated to individual problems and don’t affect the majority of your customers. Don’t clutter your main Twitter timeline with individual customer service tweets.

Try using social media management tools to organize your Twitter customer service account. Monitor keywords, including your brand and business name, and reply only to tweets where customer service support would be helpful or appropriate.

When the conversation extends beyond individual problems, it may be better handled by another department. Create a process so that all types of issues are handled appropriately and in a timely manner.

5. Offline conversation

Twitter is best used for simple customer service questions. Furthermore, many customer service questions and answers are very personal in nature. Identify which types of questions, issues, and concerns should be taken offline immediately and create appropriately worded responses that your Twitter team can use when this occurs.

You can take conversations offline through direct messages, email, or telephone. When a person needs to be directed to a different employee or department, make sure a process is in place to hand off these types of inquiries, so they don’t fall through the cracks.

Make sure you benchmark companies to see how they use Twitter for customer service. There is so much you can learn simply from listening and watching.

 
About the Author: Yo Noguchi is an experienced freelancer, guest blogger, and frequent contributor to a blog hosted by Benchmark Email, one of the world’s global provider of email marketing services.

 

 

5 Ways To Use QR Code On Your Business Brochures

QR codes were an ingenious invention, and they allow businesses to attract attention in a compelling manner. Used correctly, QR codes can increase the effectiveness of marketing material. In addition, they can be used in a number of different ways. Here are some tips on using QR codes in a business brochure.

Technical specifications

One of the most challenging aspects of designing a business brochure is deciding where to place technical specifications. Some believe that all specifications should be displayed prominently, but others prefer to leave certain information out to leave more room for other material. QR codes are a great way to direct readers toward a website that displays technical specifications in full. This can allow businesses to focus on the most important technical information and leave more space for promotional content.

Sales prices

Businesses sometimes have trouble deciding how much pricing information to place in their catalogue printing. In addition, pricing information often requires a number of disclaimers, which can detract from the look of the business brochure. By using QR codes to point users toward a website with all information, business can free up valuable space that would otherwise be spent explaining the nuances of detailed pricing models and other information.

Ask for content information

Those who read business brochures often have a number of questions, but it can be hard to find appropriate information through a traditional website. An effective technique is using a QR code is to point users toward a page with contact information and a field for questions. This allows businesses to make contact with customers instantly and receive email addresses. Early contact is crucial for landing deals as readers often forget about what they read. Further, it will demonstrate a willingness to answer questions.

Point readers toward an app

Custom apps are a great way to engage current and potential customers, but these apps often take a considerable investment to advertise properly. By using a section of a business brochure to point users toward the app, it may be possible to increase interest. There are a number of different ways to engage users through apps, but getting them to download it is often the most difficult step. Instead of spending money on expensive advertising campaigns, it will likely be far more effective to simply show links through QR codes wherever possible.

The novelty factor of QR codes is still high, so many will try out codes they see just to try out the QR programme. If they are led to an information page or shown compelling information, the likelihood attracting purchases increases significantly. QR codes are not just a fad, and they will remain an important part of business for the foreseeable future. By using them in a creative manner, businesses can use them to attract more attention in their brochures.


How to Use Photo Sharing Apps to Increase Your Online Presence

One of the most important things for a small business owner to do is to build an online presence. Social media has become the latest buzzword for getting your business out there, but there are things you can do within social media to maximize your results. Photo sharing is one way to stand out from the crowd.

Let’s examine some of the ways you can use photo sharing apps to build your brand.

 

Service Reviews

Customer reviews are extremely important in today’s business climate.  Customers are more apt to purchase from a business that comes recommended to them than for any other reason. An easy way to get reviews is to ask customers for feedback immediately after you have a business interaction.

Health service providers, such as a dentist or chiropractor, can keep a camera in the office where the patient checks out. Take a picture of the customer and have them jot down a few words about their service. You can post the photo and comments on Instagram and connect it to your Facebook page so that other potential clients will see it.

 

Restaurant Experiences

Restaurant owners can give people an incentive for posting photos of their dining experience on Twitter. For example, offer a free dessert to people who take a photo of the table and attach a hashtag with the name of the establishment.  Not only will their Twitter followers see the photo, but people searching for the hashtag will see it too.

 

Build Followers

You want to get as many people to follow your business on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. so that you can build a relationship with them. For example, if you own a local pub, you can have your bartender take a photo of patrons watching the game at a Monday Night Football event. Then when the photo shows up in people’s feeds, they may be inspired to com join the crowd, when they may not have been planning to previously.

Link Your Social Media Accounts

You are probably already spending a certain amount of time maintaining your Facebook Business Page and Twitter account. You may wonder how you will squeeze in maintaining a photo sharing app on top of that.

Luckily, you won’t need any extra time, as long as you link your accounts together so that every time you take a photo it goes straight to Instagram. You can also set it up so that all Instagram updates automatically show up on your social media sites.

Promote

Sponsor a contest and ask for photo submissions with your specific hashtag. That’s a great way to ensure many people will hear about your business because hashtags are searchable. The more photos you generate the better. If you don’t want to run a contest, you can do a promotion asking people for to provide a caption based on a photo related to your niche.

 

Finding creative ways to use photo sharing apps can be the difference between being successful and extremely successful. Do you use Instagram or another photo sharing app for your business? Have you found any unique uses for the app?

 

 About the Author: Submitted by Kole McRae for Web Design Toronto

 

5 Tips For Promoting Your Blog with Social Media

With a staggering number of blogs out there right now (and with that number growing each day), readers have millions of options available. Therefore, attracting an audience can be a challenge. A blogger’s first step is to try to make his site stand out. But all the creativity and IT-know-how in the world won’t ensure a loyal following. Therefore, a savvy blogger must use all available resources to generate interest.

One great way to get the word out is to engage in social media. The beauty of the internet is that sometimes very little promotional effort can have tremendous results. Take Facebook, for example. Once you set up a Facebook page, and after a few of your target readers “like” something you post, sometimes there is a viral effect. Friends of friends get the message, and before you know it, you might have swarms of readers eager to check out your latest blog entries.

The following tips will help you take advantage of various social networking sites in order to promote your blog.

Find a Niche

The big names in social media (think Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn) are obvious go-to sites to generate interest in your blog. While those sites have a great deal of mass appeal, other smaller social networking sites cater to a more specific audience. For example, the site Last.fm allows users to discuss and share information and ideas about music. Therefore, if your blog has any sort of musical focus, joining that site would be a logical step. Similarly, BlackPlanet is a social networking site designed specifically for an African-American audience. If you aren’t already aware of a niche site that matches your blog’s content and focus, do a little research to find out what’s available.

Develop an Appealing Online Persona

Bloggers should strategically create the content for their social networking profiles in order to attract readers to their sites. Merely signing up for Facebook, for example, isn’t enough. Instead, you have to entice your audience by providing them with interesting information about yourself and what you have to say. Consider the profile of your typical reader, including that person’s interests and tastes, and make sure your content would appeal to that person. In addition, the appearance of your online presence is sometimes as important as the quality of your content. Therefore, select high quality photos and artwork in developing your profiles. In short, the image you portray through social media should convey to potential readers why they should visit your blog.

Keep It Captivating, but also Consistent

Maintaining a presence on a multitude of social networking sites can be a good strategy for maximizing your exposure and generating traffic for your blog. However, you should take great care to ensure your online persona is consistent throughout all social media so it doesn’t appear that you are pandering to your audience. For example, you shouldn’t create a faux persona on a niche social media site just to increase your readership. If readers catch on that your online image lacks consistency, you’ll lose credibility. If you lose credibility, you’ll likely lose readers as well. To optimize consistency, consider using a device like HootSuite to help manage multiple social media profiles.

Update Often

If you want to attract readers through social media, you must commit to providing continuous updates and fresh content. Posting your most recent blog entries is a great way to generate interest. If your objective is to promote your blog, you’re probably better off avoiding social media altogether rather than maintaining a profile that appears incomplete or out of date.

Celebrate the Interconnectedness of the Internet

The more connections you make online, the wider your audience will become. Therefore, when possible, provide links to your blog on all your social networking profiles. In addition, provide links to your social networking profiles on your blog. Any opportunity to connect to a potential reader is a wonderful gift, and you should take advantage of it. As followers show interest in your status updates, they may repost your information, potentially leading to new connections for you – and potentially new readers for your blog.

Regardless of the tone or focus of your blog, social media is a great way to attract readers who might not have found you otherwise.

About the Author: As a key member of the team at Extra Space Storage, Tim Eyre helps customers care for their cherished belongings that must be put in storage. Tim regularly visits his facilities including a Las Vegas storage units facility.

Networking for Success: How to Expand Your Business Network

Meeting others and building a strong business network is an essential part of owning a business, and you might think that you know how to do things correctly on your own. However, a lot of people do not know how to expand their business networks properly, and these individuals are typically missing out on a lot of business and a lot of connections. Instead of simply following the same tired advice that every business owner follows, consider looking at things in a different light in order to network in a more successful manner. By implementing these tips, you can succeed even more in the business world.

 

Pay Attention to Who You Meet

If you are like a lot of professionals, you probably go to a lot of conventions, meetings and events in an effort to expand your business network and meet other professionals. Although it is surely a good thing to network with others in this manner, it is important to make sure that you are using this type of networking in the proper manner.

Instead of simply introducing yourself and exchanging business cards when you meet others, you should make an effort to get to know each person that you meet. Having a few close business connections can be far more beneficial than having lots of business connections who barely know who you are, so put forth an effort to get to know everyone that you meet. By doing so, you will be more memorable, and you are sure to benefit more from your connections.

Build Mutually Beneficial Business Relationships

There are certainly people out there who help others just for the sheer pleasure of doing so, but you should also remember that a lot of people are concerned about themselves. People often only do so many favours before wanting something in return, and you might have a difficult time benefiting from business relationships if you can’t bring anything to the table.

Therefore, you should consider working on mutually beneficial business relationships. For instance, you should consider striking a deal with someone from a similar business so that you can send business in each others’ direction. By putting forth an effort to help others, you can help to benefit from things that others can do for you and your business as well.

Use LinkedIn

Although there is certainly a lot to be said about face-to-face networking, there are also a lot of benefits of online networking. There are countless ways to network with other business-related professionals online, but LinkedIn offers a free, convenient and highly effective way of networking with others.

Consider joining this free site and creating a profile for yourself and your business. Make sure to talk about your strengths, and connect with as many people as you can. You might be surprised by all of the people that you can meet by using LinkedIn as a networking platform, and you can slowly build business relationships that can benefit you in the long run.

Written by Shelley S: Shelley teaches financial planning courses in an institute in Sydney. She encourages every small business owners to study financial planning for knowledge as well as growing their business networks. Shelley knows very well how professional learning can add great value to anyone’s career.

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/omniaoffices/6856564792/

A Guide to Using Your Competitors for Your Profit


 

In order to improve and streamline their business, any business owner needs to check up on their competitors. Fortunately, with the advent of the Internet, it has become easier to check up on the competition. One can learn best practices while ignoring or improving on the bad ones. Throughout all of this though, remember that it is vital to not steal web content from a competitor, as this can cause legal and SEO problems. Without further ado, here are five ways to use your competition for (more) profit.

Reviews

One way to really understand your competition is to check web reviews of what’s out there. Review sites are crucial – reviews are direct communication from real customers. Be sure to look for what their customers don’t like. What’s not working? What are they doing wrong? Then find out what they’re doing right, but remember that reviews tend to slant to the negative, as satisfied customers rarely hit review sites to complain. 

Advertisements

Check out the advertisements. They can be Google Ads, television ads, or direct mail fliers. The purpose of looking at advertisements is to get an idea on how the competition pulls in new customers. Established businesses will have strong advertising campaigns in place. It take years for a business to perfect their advertising campaigns, and anyone who can study their competition can save years of tweaking their own campaigns.

Visit

Visit the store, whether the store is a brick and mortar or e-commerce store. Take a note pad and pen to take notes about layout, pricing and any other information. The best way to check up on the competition is to act like the customer, taking note of what works and what does not. Go through the whole motion, spend some money and buy the product. This can help gauge how well the competition provides their product and how communicative they are.

Social Media

Check out the competition on Social Media. Any serious business needs a Facebook account – if you don’t have one already, then it is crucial to get one now, in order to check up on the competition. See how often the competition posts updates, and how their users interact with the business not only on Facebook, but also Tumblr, Pinterest & Twitter. Remember, Social Media is a powerful way to drive long term traffic to any business.

Keep in mind that it is crucial to research only the best performing companies – ones that have been around for years. Doing so will save you months of anguish. Anyone who researches their competition needs to organize their ideas and thoughts, and execute what works for them.

 

About the Author: Beverly Hughes writes about e-commerce, finance & more at www.carinsurance.org.

 

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Mobile Website vs. Mobile App

It may sound a bit trite business, entertainment sphere s and the world of entertainment services have turned out to be mobile nowadays, but it is a fact that can hardly be denied. Currently, it will not be enough to order, develop and maintain your company’s website. It is important to cover all Internet users, and most of them are mobile today.
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Two possible ways to do it are available: a website mobile version and a corporate mobile app. Let’s have a look at pros and cons of both variants.

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Mobile website version

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Up-to-date sites are mostly portals, with a great amount of heavy graphics, java-scripts and other “make-it-more-attractive” components. Nevertheless, it is not actually reasonable to use such elements on mobile gadgets such as smartphones and tablets taking into account their productivity levels, battery life, speed of the Internet connection. And there arose a necessity to develop some alternative, mobile, version of the site especially for mobile devices, the version that should be lighter in code and graphics. Mobile variant should work on any device, irrespectively the mobile OS it has. That’s what makes a mobile website to be a more versatile way out.

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But no matter how good a mobile website can be, it has several drawbacks you, a future owner of a mobile website, should know about:

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1) Mobile sites are slower in comparison with mobile applications. Besides, their universality is relative as they work differently on different browsers, and the web-masters should know it.

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2) The range of possibilities is a bit limited, especially if to compare them with those that are provided by mobile app development.

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Mobile app development

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What is a mobile application? It is a mobile software product developed for some particular mobile platform, such as Android, iOS, Windows Mobile and Blackberry. The application can perform all possible functions of a website such as information and service sharing or on-line consulting, but it also may function in cooperation with other apps for example for mail services or bank accounts management, what expands its possibilities up to almost-unlimited ones.

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If to think of potential cons of native mobile applications, we can single out 2 of them:

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1) The app development cost. To develop a really quality up-to-date mobile app isn’t low-price. But it may be a rather good investment.

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2) The app is usually developed for a specific platform. Of course, there is cross-platform and hybrid app development, but it is a topic for another post. So to cover the majority of potential mobile clients you will have to order apps developed for different mobile OS systems.

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So, which variant is the best solution for you and your business? If you are an owner of a medium-size business, the best solution will be a development of mobile site as it is a perfect compromise of the costs and results you will get, but if you have a rather big business you’d better consider making an app.

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About the Author: This post is written by Kate Merzlova, a tech writer from Intellectsoft, a mobile application development company with the best reputation in the IT world. To stay in touch, follows us on Twitter @Intellectsoft

 

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5 Steps for Online Marketing and Lead Generation


Converting solid leads into sales, and potentially profit, is what business is all about. The exciting part of lead generation and business development in today’s world is that all marketing efforts have gone digital. Consumers are online and businesses should be too. Good marketing strategies begin online and stay online. The process of converting potential dollars earned can be done by following these steps.

Step 1) Know and understand your target market

No, this isn’t a joke. Yes, this is the first step for your online marketing plan. Why? So many businesses try to operate without honing in on the actual demographic group that will purchase their service or product. So, know who your true audience is.

Step 2) Get a message and let it be heard

How are you going to round up your target market and make them focus on your brand? Or better yet, how are you getting these people to be your online brand advocates to help drive more potential customers to you. Put your message on your social sites. Create inviting content and blast it to your existing email lists. Offer your opt-ins freebies to stay attached to your brand. Ask them to forward your message to their friends. Ask all of your fans and followers to check out new information on your website. Your social networking sites and email lists will grow with little effort on your end. In addition, the traffic to your website will help you with step #3.

Step 3) Get the missing piece of the puzzle

Invest in lead generation software that allows you to determine the highest priority leads based on their behavior when visiting your website. This intelligent information will allow you to develop your business by touching the strongest leads first, therefore not wasting time on less potential.

Step 4) Contact your leads in more than one way

Send your highest leads personal, text-based emails so they can reply directly to you. Offer them incentive. Call them. That’s right, pick up the phone and speak with them. People like people so don’t be afraid. Let your best contacts know that you cherish their advocacy by announcing it on social sites or giving them a gift. The more you talk to them and about them, the more they will advocate for you, bringing you more potential leads.

Step 5) Convert to sales

This process really happens on its own. Your potential customers will make a purchasing decision based on how well you did steps 1-4.

Step 5) Rinse and repeat. Do all these steps over and over again. Change your messaging, offer new information, drive more traffic, convert more leads, make more money. And that’s what it’s all about.

About the author: Jessie Vyvyan, co-founder and creative director for Proven Platinum, LLC. She has an attitude of gratitude while bringing businesses proven online marketing solutions.

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Twitter Made Easy: 5 Tweet Templates You Can Use Today (and Every Day)

In theory, Twitter should be an easy-breezy place for small businesses like yours to find new customers.

You type up a few tiny tweets every day. Over time, your follower count grows, and some of your followers convert into customers.

In practice?

Who said writing “just” 140 characters is easy? As anyone who’s spent time crafting a text message on their cell phone knows, short doesn’t mean simple.

What do you write about? How do you say it? What if people read it wrong?

And there’s even more stress on top of what to Tweet. When you get a spurt of energy for Twitter and you tweet consistently for a few days in a row, not much happens. Sure, you get a few more followers. But the growth seems tiny compared to the time you put in.

Why you Fail on Twitter

The problem is twofold:

  1. Not knowing what to tweet.
  2. Tweeting in fits and starts, so your follower growth is slow (or even negative).

The solution to #2 is to tweet everyday. At least five times a day is ideal.

But then you run into the barrier of #1.

Let’s kill two birds with one stone.

The answer? Tweet templates.

Twitter is not Free Advertising

Before I give you the templates, I want to give you a top Twitter tip. Twitter is not free advertising. It’s not a place to broadcast your marketing messages.

Rather, Twitter is a place to talk with your customers and potential customers. You get to know them, they get to know you.

It’s like a 24/7 networking party.

The aim of your Tweets is to show that you’re trustworthy, interesting and helpful.

That’s all.

Remember that, and the followers (and customers) will flow in.

Use Twitter as a shouting platform, and you’ll be ignored.

Tweet Templates

Here are five simple Tweet templates you can use every day to share on Twitter.

You can adapt them to suit your business and what you like to Tweet about.

Also, rewrite the templates in your own words to keep things interesting.

1. Here’s how to… “How to” tweets are fantastic for building an engaged audience. You’re best to tweet links related to your niche.

An interior designer might share an interesting article on choosing a paint color.

A hair salon could share pictures of popular hairstyles at a recent fashion show.

2. Today we’ve been… Sharing news of what you’ve been up to in your business gives customers an inside look, which they love.

It’s also a chance to show-off your products and services without sounding salesy.

(Tip: always share positive news, not gripes about annoying customers!)

3. Exclusive on Twitter – get a free … in store with this coupon code Use this one sparingly, when you need a big injection of followers, or when you want to boost business.

For example, if business is slow on Wednesdays, you could share a social media coupon code customers can use in store, but only on Wednesdays.

Promotions can go viral on Twitter, so have an action plan ready in case you get a rush of new customers.

4. Take a look at this fascinating news story about… News stories are good to share. Only share stories relevant to your customers, and offer your take on the story in the Tweet.

(Tip: Check out trending hashtags in the sidebar on Twitter. If there’s one that’s a good fit with your niche, send out a tweet that includes the hashtag.)

5. RT @username … Retweets show you’re an engaged Twitter user who understands the ins and outs of Twitter. If people see you regularly retweet others, they’re more likely to follow you.

What’s more, retweet potential customers or clients is a great way to get their attention.

Your Tweets

What are the tweet templates you use most often? Do you use any that are different to the ones outlined in this blog post?

About the Author: David Masters helps small businesses buzz up their social media marketing at Social Caffeine. Come on over and join the party.

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