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EcommerceBytes Insider, Number 4 - January 13, 2009 - ISSN      3 of 3

Eight Creative Ways to Market Your Ecommerce Business with Twitter

By Ina Steiner

January 13, 2009

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Twitter has fast become the hottest social media marketing tool on the web. It's a must have tool for every online retailer. With Twitter, you can build a relationship with your customers, promote your products and services, and find out what your customers/potential customers are thinking about and talking about. Companies such as Dell, Zappos, and Comcast use Twitter to communicate with their customers on a daily basis.

For small online sellers, having a Twitter presence is even more important! However, there are some key things you must know in order to market your online business effectively with Twitter. "Eight Creative Ways to Market Your Ecommerce Business with Twitter" will show you exactly how to get started using one of today's top marketing tools.

Twitter is a free social networking and micro-blogging tool that allows you to send short 140 character updates (known as Tweets) to people who are "following" you on Twitter. What's different about Twitter from many other Social Media Marketing tools is that it is fast, easy and effective to use! A perfect combination for busy online sellers.

Twitter is a great way to build credibility for your business, establish your brand, and share knowledge of your niche with interested followers. However the #1 secret to using Twitter marketing effectively is in understanding that Twitter is a place to give, not a place to get.

When you give of yourself on Twitter it builds relationships that can organically evolve into sales. Below are eight creative ways to use Twitter to market your online business. Keep in mind that each Tweet can only be 140 characters long.

1) Share a tip or a how-to about your niche. If you sell home decor products, Tweet out decorating tips or the latest color trends. Sell DVDs? Talk about the latest movies, the classics and your favorites. For example:

"Here's a great tip for getting the wrinkles out of your favorite holiday table cloth."
"Neutral colors inspired by stone and wood are all the rage for spring."
"Watched the Sound of Music again last night for the 37th time. I still love it."

For longer tips/articles, you can direct people to your blog and include the URL. (You need to preface the tip with a brief explanation and then use Tiny URL to shorten your blog URL). You can also point people to other people's blogs, if there is a piece of information that your readers might find interesting.

The short Tweet tips are the most powerful because people like those snack size bites of information. People can also do "sequential Tweets" (two Tweets in a row) in order to complete a thought.

2) Give people a window into the daily interactions with your customers and the products you sell. Make your content engaging an interesting.

"After a bidding frenzy of 27 bids, our gorgeous set of Waterford Flute Glasses are off to Kiltimagh, a village in West Ireland."
"We have one set of Waterford Clarenden Glasses left in stock." (In your Tweet, include a link to your eBay listing.)

3) Tweet about the customer you just helped. For example: "Just helped a brand-new grandma select the sweetest plush tiger from our Bonanzle Booth. "Check him out!" (Link to your booth.)

4) Tweet about your favorite tools and resources.

"Our new Flip Video camera is the BEST we've found for shooting product videos. So easy to use."
"Love the way TubeMogul distributes our product "how-to" videos out to multiple sites."

5) Tweet about new merchandise that's on its way. For example: "Just got off the phone with my favorite glove supplier! New buttery leather gloves arriving mid-December."

6) Take a product sourcing poll or a customer service survey.

"What eco-friendly product do you buy the most?"
"What's your best customer service experience ever?"

7) Advertise current sales, such as: "20% off all children's holiday dresses through Sunday!" (Include a link to your website).

8) Let people know when products available that are sold out in other venues: "The LiveScribe pen just sold out at Target and Amazon. We have four left in our eBay store!" (Link to your eBay store)

Top Twitter Tips

  • Focus on building a relationship with your followers over time, don't make your Tweets a sales pitch.

  • Tweet consistently but not constantly, and strike a balance a balance between transparency and professionalism. If you just came from the hot new Broadway play and loved it, that's an interesting Tweet. On the other hand, telling people every time you eat a meal will be of interest only to your closest friends and your nutritionist.

  • Respect your follower's time and make the MOST of each Tweet! People buy from those they know, like and trust. And Twitter is a great place to let your personality and your businesses' personality unfold.

  • Don't think of Twitter as a sequence of random stand-alone Tweets, think of it as a way to weave the story of your business, the value you offer and the products and services you carry to people all over the world.

  • When selecting your ID on Twitter, use the name you that you want to brand your business with across the web.

  • In order to make Twitter marketing work for you, you MUST follow everyone who is following you. You need to be able to receive the messages that your customers & followers send back to you!

  • Twitter is not a one way conversation; it's a dialog between the people you follow and those who are following you.

There's a whole new world waiting for you and your business on Twitter. Start using Twitter to market you online business today.

About the author:

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.

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