Twitter: Tapping Your Local Online Social Community
Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Yelp, LinkedIn, gah! Where do we start? How do we manage all these social networks and deliver our message? For that matter, why do we even have to use social media?
If you are using the internet for advertising, then your intent should be to drive potential clients to your site through search results. Google and Bing have put emphasis on social media sharing of links to your site. Somebody must first share a link to your site (perhaps the company blog or a landing page for a special). This happens through Twitter or Facebook.
For my company, Twitter seemed to be the best way that we could build a community and interact. Interact? You bet. This is SOCIAL media. You need to be engaging and interacting with your clients rather than just blasting links to your specials. Simply blasting rarely causes interactions. You need to be sharing as well as interacting. How do you do this?
First, you must choose a person in your company to manage the Twitter account. The person can be office staff , owner, manager, or even a technician. Whoever you choose, they must engage the local social network and become part of the online community.
Where do you start finding this community? One of the simplest ways to find local tweeters is the advanced search function on Twitter. You can use keywords and search within a certain radius of your area. You can also include questions or moods. The advanced search feature is quite handy. I started with ‘run’ and ‘running’ as I am an avid runner. This tapped me into the local running community on Twitter. I also dove into the friend list of my website architect. He had around 100 local friends on Twitter. Thus, the accounts that I was following started to grow.
Some people will immediately return the follow. However, you’ll find that people can be hesitant. This is where engagement must occur. You can’t be afraid to respond to comments, questions, or thoughts of those you follow. Think of Twitter as an open conversation. You’re welcome to join. Just don’t be pushy with the sale.
As your Twitter followers grow, you’ll want to be sharing. This should include general comments, links to blogs (mostly your blog that you update weekly), news article links, and retweets of others. Don’t be afraid to share photos from recent installations and service calls. I loved to share dirty filters and coils as a reminder to schedule preventative maintenance. Rooftop service calls are great for a quick snapshot of the community skyline. Not many people get to see your city from a roof.
I also like to use the advanced search feature to find people that have questions about their HVAC systems. Using the radius search, use keywords such as ‘air conditioner,’ ‘hvac,’ furnace,’ or ‘heater.’ If they have a question or seem to be looking for service, give an open reply with an offer of assistance. I would never recommend “We can help. Give us a call.” That is too pushy for Twitter. Try asking if the repair has been complete. Let them ask for assistance. Radius searches should be checked twice daily. They are a great source for free leads.
As you are searching for keywords, you also need to be searching for mentions of your company. Direct mentions using your Twitter handle (@robbenefiel), will generate an email to your account. However, you also need to be searching for your company name. You should do this on Twitter as well as utilizing the Google search alerts. It’s important to be listening to what consumers have to say.
What if they say ugly things? Well, did you do an ugly job? Ask them how you can help. Be prepared to do so. I see large organizations that kick serious competition rear in this department. @tmobile and @att are great at responding to social media. Both will respond in less than an hour and oft en faster! Other brands aren’t quite so good. @garmin is horrible at responding to tweets. You’re lucky to get an answer in two days. If people are complaining on social media, they’re likely already frustrated with another aspect of the company. So be prepared to offer solutions or direct them to the person that can help.
You’re not going to immediately be a Twitter superstar. Building a community takes time. Remember that each tweet and each blog post is an investment like a 401k. The small investments pay big dividends over time.
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