There is a very real possibility that you read the headline of this article and said, “What the heck is a ‘Twitter?’ ” – and that’s perfectly OK. Twitter is a social networking website that allows users to share real-time information and discover what’s happening now. Think of Twitter as a live newswire and information exchange. News is shared through a series of 140-character messages released to a news feed, and individuals can choose the people they want to see messages from by “following” them.

But Twitter isn’t just about news and information – you can also use the site to put your business message out into the world at no cost and with a minimal time commitment. Below are some common questions about using Twitter for small-business marketing – and their answers.

1. ‘Do you have an example of how I can use Twitter?’

I work for an independent insurance agency, and in an effort to grow my business, I enjoy learning more about small-business marketing. John Jantsch, author of the book “Duct Tape Marketing,” is a powerful resource for cutting-edge small-business marketing techniques; on Twitter, I can follow his feed and stay up-to-date on his latest ideas and blog posts directly from Twitter, instead of having to check his site each day. I get value out of Twitter because it saves me time, and Jantsch gets value out of Twitter because of increased traffic to his website. These people are either learning how to become customers or spreading his content to others who may become customers in the future.

2. ‘Why should I use Twitter to grow my business?’

That’s easy: In order to sell anything, you need to be where your customers are. I know that not everyone has given in to social media and the Internet, but millions of people have – and many of them are in your local market. You can either pretend as if that market segment doesn’t exist, or you can craft a social media marketing program of your own.

3. ‘How can I use Twitter to grow my business?’

Here are five ways you can use Twitter to grow your business without hiring a writer.

  1. Drip marketing blog posts and press releases. Drip marketing is a form of non-interruptive marketing where you consistently post and re-post any media material you produce. There are Twitter applications that can be installed on your blog or website, which will do this for you.
  2. Promote contests or giveaways. Use Twitter to promote contests or giveaways your agency may be implementing. Some agencies don’t even give away an actual item, but instead post a daily trivia question and broadcast the winner’s name and company. This spells advertising for you and the trivia winner.
  3. Highlight associations and customers. Twitter is an excellent tool for redistributing other organizations’ information. Taking the time to redistribute the event notices, achievements, and promotions of your clients, associations, and charitable organizations shows support and acts essentially as a recommendation or referral. You can do this by re-tweeting something they sent out, or taking the initiative to post about it yourself.
  4. Give to charity. Many agencies run promotions to drive donations for their fundraising efforts. Regardless of whether you believe philanthropy is a civic obligation or an essential marketing tool, it most certainly drives attention to your organization. Promoting links to charitable events and fundraisers on your Twitter feed is a great way to build a quality reputation.
  5. Connect directly with prospects. Depending on your industry, most businesses have a Twitter presence of some sort. By following prospects’ Twitter feed, you can stay in touch with what’s going within that organization, and later leverage this information during the prospecting and presentation process.

4. What do I do now?

The very first step is to create a Twitter presence. Signing up is straightforward and takes only a matter of minutes. You can fill out the Twitter profile with a link to your website, and information from your marketing materials. Once you have a presence, start connecting immediately. It may take time to grow your following, but understand that you are part of the conversation now – and that is half the battle.

Ryan Hanley is an account executive at Guilderland Agency Inc. and the author of the Albany Insurance Professional blog. You can connect with him through Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.


Advance to Day 8 of the Social Media Boot Camp
How to Promote Your Insurance Practice on Facebook
Catch up with past boot camp tutorials
Why Social Media for Insurance Agents — and Why Now?
Getting Started with LinkedIn
Getting Started with Twitter
Getting Started with Facebook
Choosing the Right Social Media Site for You
5 Ways for Agents to Build LinkedIn Connections