Are your business’s tweets getting lost in an endless Twitter stream? As most small businesses know all too well, just because you have a Twitter account doesn’t mean anyone will actually follow you or re-tweet what you post. It takes work to build an engaged following that cares about what you post and interacts with your business. By being an active part of the Twitter community and sharing the right mix of content and commentary, you can #1. Make the most of your 140 characters. Nailing the right mix of content and commentary takes time, not to mention balancing serious business news with more light-hearted posts. Sure, you can’t post cat videos all day, but suffice it to say that if your entire Twitter stream looks like a RSS feed for your website’s blog, then you’re missing the point. Niche-related jokes, interesting trivia, and links to how-to videos and infographics will also boost user engagement. Track what other businesses in your industry are saying, especially major industry players. Don’t be afraid to re-tweet what they share and add your own commentary. Be sure to mention them in your tweet – chances are good they’ll mention you back, getting your business’s name out in front of their followers. #2. Don’t go it alone. As a small business owner, you’ve got enough on your plate. If social media management is dragging down your productivity, it may be time to outsource your social media campaigns to a social media management company. Whether it’s a platform like Hootsuite or Sprout Social for easy post scheduling or LyfeMarketing for comprehensive social media management and analytics reporting, the right company will handle the day-to-day management so you can focus on the bigger picture: growing your business. #3. Be part of the conversation. Twitter is all about engagement. Putting your Twitter account on autopilot with scheduled tweets is one way to keep the social media interaction flowing, but it also means you’ll miss out on opportunities to build genuine conversation. If you schedule a tweet in the morning, check back hourly to monitor reaction to your tweet. If other users are tweeting at you in response or posting questions, you want to respond as quickly as possible. #4. Follow the 80/20 rule. If you’re not careful, your Twitter feed can end up looking like an endless promotional stream for your business. Instead, aim for genuine interaction with your followers at least 80 percent of the time by tweeting messages that are authentic and true to your business’s voice. Keep the content varied by mixing in behind-the-scenes photos/videos with helpful tips, featured industry news, client/customer spotlights, and community/industry spotlights. Once you’ve established a genuine rapport with your followers, you can start mixing in the occasional promotional tweet, like an announcement about a new product launch or service discount. But limit promotional tweets to no more than 20 percent of the time. If you tweet five days a week, for example, then that’s one promotional tweet once per week. #5. Monitor your mentions. Don’t assume that all users who are commenting on your business are tweeting at you or even using your business’s name as a hashtag. Twitter users could still mention your business’s name in their tweets. Mention and SumAll are both a real-time “listening tool” for creating alerts, similar to Google Alerts, whenever your business’s name is mentioned on Twitter. While the basic plans for both tools are free, you’re limited to the number of alerts you can receive. Depending on your business’s needs, a paid plan with additional analytics tracking services may be a better fit. #6. Know what’s trending. The right hashtags make it easier for your brand to be discovered by leads and track conversations about specific topics. Let’s say your business just published a big white paper on consumer trends for your industry and one of those trends is simultaneously getting a lot of attention on Twitter. Using the right hashtag to tap into this attention will bring new eyes to your content. But how can you keep up with what’s trending right now? Head over to Hashtagify to discover the best hashtags for your target audience. For additional hashtag shortcuts, check out HashAtIt.com, a hashtag search engine that works for Twitter as well as Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. #7. Include a clear call to action in all direct response tweets. A direct response tweet is one with a clear path to immediate action. For example, you’re launching a new product and offering a special discount or 30-day trial offer. If you want customers or clients to take immediate action, rather than simply join in a conversation, the call to action you choose is key. Twitter is a real-time network; use this to your advantage by only making the offer available during a specific time period and creating a sense of urgency. Follow up with a clear call to action, such as “download the new white paper today” or “sign up for your free trial offer by 6pm EST today” followed by a link to do so. #8. Avoid client service mis-tweets. It’s inevitable that at some point, one or more upset clients will tweet at your business about their frustrations with a service or product. While these clients may not expect an instant solution, they do expect prompt acknowledgement of their problem or concerns. Stay on top of your client service by being responsive and considerate, and then offer to take the conversation offline with a personal follow-up call. Even if you disagree with a client’s complaint or concern, resist the urge to fire off a critical tweet. It takes just seconds to type out your message but weeks or months to clean up a PR mess. And once a hastily written tweet is out in the Twittersphere, you cannot simply hit the delete button and pretend it never happened. Think before you tweet! Images: “Johor, Malaysia – Jun 17, 2014: Twitter logo on computer screen, Twitter is a popular free social networking website in the world, Jun 17, 2014 in Johor, Malaysia./Shutterstock.com“ ____________________________________________________________________________________ Tweak Your Biz is a thought leader global publication and online business community. Today, it is part of the Small Biz Trends stable of websites and receives over 300,000 unique views per month. Would you like to write for us? An outstanding title can increase tweets, Facebook Likes, and visitor traffic by 50% or more. 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