Make The Most of Social Media: How Twitter’s future will be good for Small Business
For our guest blog this week we welcome back Nick Braithwaite. Nick is Marketing Manager for Find UK Accountant; allowing small businesses to search for accountancy.
Whilst these applications are often simple games or utilities, the growing popularity of social networks and the rapid uptake of mobile technology have helped some apps become household names. Farmville, for example, the domain of armchair farmers and their bovine friends, is a champion cash cow, commanding the attentions of over 80m people.
Of course, not everybody likes tending digital chickens, and the constant barrage of requests to play or use applications can be frustrating, especially if for example you are an accountant advertising accountancy services.
Facebook has taken steps to reduce the negative impact of applications by giving each game or quiz its own separate profile page, but anybody with a few hundred friends can still expect to be greeted with daily news about somebody’s escapades as a badly drawn mobster. Whilst Facebook certainly hasn’t lost many members to this ongoing plague of applications, the network’s impressive array of services can still be disorientating for inexperienced web users and therefore may not be the ideal medium for a small business user.
The decline of MySpace in the mid-noughties was widely attributed to its overloaded profiles, which could contain everything from flashing banners and music players, to poorly edited HTML code, making pages unusable. The current trend among emerging social networks is therefore, to strip away the fat, and make things simpler. The micro-blogging site, Twitter, is arguably the most popular of these new, more streamlined websites. Simplicity ultimately is going to be crucial in determining the success and uptake of a social media tool by business users, an accountant does not have much time to learn how something works, if you want proof try finding an accountant who is willing to take on new accounting software.
Twitter manifests itself as a simple message board, albeit one with 75m active members. The service revolves around the exchange of ideas, thoughts, and the fineries of everyday life in short 140-character ‘tweets.’ The website started out as an SMS-to-web service, with the less than original moniker, Status, before gaining its present branding in mid-2006. Since then, Twitter has become a favourite of small businesses, celebrities, and people who prefer to keep their relationship status private.
So how can a small business utilise twitter? Until recently, businesses on Twitter were offered precious little in the way of developer tools, and advertising was limited to what can be done with twenty words or so, but in April, the website announced plans to incorporate targeted advertisements. These ‘promoted tweets’ will appear when users search for a relevant topic, in much the same way as Google associates a search for ‘accountants’ with accounting practices offering their services. Twitter’s marketing plans are embryonic, however, and the company has yet to unveil its pricing scheme. It could potentially mean that a small business owner saying they are staying up late doing a VAT return on twitter receives an twitter advert suggesting an accountant or tax specialist in their area.
Twitter’s use of ‘hashtags’ is unique amongst social networks. A hashtag is any word,series of words, that is preceded by the hash (#) symbol – #elephant, #startup, or #happybirthday. Hashtags appear in user searches, allowing businesses to tailor their tweets to their target audience; or at least, to anybody who happens to be searching for information on a similar subject. So, for example, a search for #business will return all tweets that have been tagged #business.
Despite its relatively simple interface, Twitter is currently the eleventh most popular site on the internet, above Amazon, Google UK, and that crumbling social network, MySpace. Twitter’s owners are trying to turn the site into a more profitable creature, and so marketing opportunities for tweeting companies are expected to improve substantially over the coming months. So now is the time to start connecting with other businesses and consumers to promote your small business services on twitter.
Nick Braithwaite is the marketing manager for Find-UK-Accountant.co.uk for Accountancy services in the UK.
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