It's hard to over-emphasise the need for any business to have an active social media presence that is well curated, and supplied with engaging content on a regular basis. But it doesn't have to end there; there are many ways to leverage the power of social media for your business to both grow your business network as well as reach out to new customers and ultimatley generate new business leads.
One of those ways is by using the popular, yet often misunderstood social networks, Twitter and its numerous Twitter hours. Making the most of Twitter hours could help you reach more local businesses, and new generate business leads for your particular products and services..
We recently had the pleasure and privilege of talking to Rebecca Craven, the Yorkshire-based marketing guru heading up Rebecca Craven Marketing, who has kindly shared her tips and tricks for getting involved with Twitter hours and how they can be great for business leads.
Rebecca knows all about how to get the most out of Twitter for business and runs the extremely popular Twitter channel, Small Biz Hour (@smallbizhour), which runs every Tuesday 9-10 p.m.
Here, she kindly shares one of her post-smallbizhour Storify summarys. It shows a summary of the conversations shared between businesses over the course of the twitter hour.
Rebecca was also kind enough to answer a few of our questions to help anyone looking to start leveraging twitter to grow their business network.
Firstly, can you describe what a Twitter hour is?
These are particular time slots in the week where people with a similar interest to you, or from the same location, come together to network and grow their businesses. It’s a virtual meeting, where a group of people are sharing a conversation through the use of a hashtag.
What’s the most attractive thing about Twitter Hours?
I think they can be a great way to focus your time on Twitter: concentrate your efforts on these chats for a while and monitor the results. I believe they’ll help you learn new things and increase the profile of your business amongst relevant new contacts. Obviously there is a great bonus of being able to generate new business leads over time as you become more familiar amongst your new audience.
Where do you suggest beginners get started?
Find out if your town holds a Twitter hour and begin by observing: you do this by searching under the hashtag (such as #Yorkhour) and watching the stream of conversation. People who are tweeting using these hashtags are often not following each other: it’s a different way to see tweets and can really increase your knowledge of what’s going on with local businesses, locally in general, or in your industry. Try a few as they are all different. The host can make a big difference.
Once you feel ready to join in, introduce your business, include an image you've prepared (a great way to cheat with the word count if you include text!) and remember the hashtag. Reply to other people’s tweets, be sociable and helpful. Don't focus solely on generating leads and promoting your business; it’s not about selling, you need to keep a balance with being interesting too. Positioning your business as the experts in your field will yield results, but it takes time.
So the key is in the preparation?
Yes, ahead of the Twitter hour organise any links to your website, think what messages you want to promote this week, questions which might invite responses and get yourself ready with some images. Good photographs or graphics really help your tweet to stand out in a busy chat. It’s also important to give some time afterwards to reflecting on what worked. If you've activated your Twitter Analytics you’ll be able to see whether your tweets reached more people, just by being part of the conversation.
Tell us a bit more about the chat you host
I host a Twitter hour on Tuesday evenings at 9 p.m. It’s called #smallbizhour and is an opportunity for small business owners to meet together in the virtual world and share information. We have a weekly topic such as PR, using Facebook, podcasting, or productivity.
Afterwards I share the best tips on Storify, which is a really useful way to capture and ‘save’ tweets to look at later. Here’s an example of a recent Twitter chat we had: this one is about productivity.
Where can people find out more about Twitter hours and how to get noticed on Twitter?
If you're interested in learning more about how to get the most out of Twitter using business hours, or growing your network, then head over to Rebecca's marketing website and read up on more of her interesting and helpful articles.
Huge thank you to Rebecca for her insights into Twitter business hours for business networking and how to get involved.
Follow her on Twitter @BeckySee123 and see if you can spot her at various Twitter hours too!
Have a go at these chats and if you’re already a fan of Twitter hours for business networking, please share your favourites below.