How to Create a Twitter Community for a Local Shop

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Why Twitter?

With roughly 70 million users in the US alone, Twitter is an increasingly attractive platform for local businesses to connect with potential customers. The Twitterverse is filled with active, engaged members who enjoy tweeting about whatever is on their mind – a joke, a serious dilemma, politics, you name it. The users share stories, pictures, and videos, and interact with one another by retweeting, liking, @mentioning and messaging one another. The 140 character limit does not impede the messages; the limit actually seems to make it more effective. Of course, you always have Twitter threads (a chain of tweets) when the story just can’t be told in 140 characters. These tweets usually start out with the word “Thread” or they’re simply numbered.

Savvy business owners realize this is a social media platform worth investing in. The platform allows local businesses to engage with local customers on a direct and personal manner, albeit in the cybersphere. It is free to set up a business account, and advertising on the platform is extremely affordable and cost – effective. For a complete guide to Twitter advertising click here: Twitter Ads For Your Business – Better Promote Your Business‎.

OK, so you’ve decided to set up a Twitter account for your local shop, now where to begin? In setting up your account, choose a username wisely. Use your logo as your profile picture, and use a Twitter cover photo that reflects your business and website for brand consistency. Be sure to set up a short but effective synopsis of your business. One last thing before you’re ready to go. Set up an autoresponder when people follow you and give them an incentive to come to your shop. For example, if you own a local bookstore, we’ll call it Brenna’s Books, set your response to read, “Thank you for following Brenna’s Books! As a show of appreciation, please enjoy this coupon for 10% off your next purchase. Have friends that love to read? Share the love and let them know about this deal!”

Once you’ve set up your account, the next thing you need to do is to create a community for your local shop. A strong local community of followers will give you a voice that will be heard. Now how are you going to establish this local Twitter community? Let’s walk through the steps…

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Start Out With a Bang

Let the community know you’re there! The quickest and easiest approach to this is to run a geo-targeted ad aimed at users in your area who match your target market. You can further target these locals by age, gender, income, interests, etc. Twitter will show you how many impressions and engagements you’re expected to see within your set parameters. You can lower and raise the budget to compare which ad spend is best for your business. You can always refer to above Twitter Ads link for help.

To maximize engagement with your ad (the goal of this initial ad is to get as many local followers as possible), try offering the user something that makes them want to follow you. You can say something like, “Follow our page for local discounts, events and book news” or something similar that would resonate with your audience. Including a video is an incredible way to get more attention. Twitter users love videos. Create a video introducing your local shop to the community, and make it personal and inviting. If the actual owner of the shop can be the spokesperson, that’s even better. Your Twitter community wants to know who you are and why they should be interested in your shop. Here’s your chance to tell them why. A great idea for your video is to also use text along the bottom as the person speaks or hold up signs for people to read. A lot of users watch videos without sound, so this little trick overcomes that challenge and gets your message across.

Who To Follow

A good strategy is to follow local Chamber of Commerce after you’ve become a member. Most chambers have Twitter accounts, so be sure to follow them and engage. Next, check out who your Chamber of Commerce is following. Most likely it’ll be the majority of local business members. Go through their list and follow other business members.  It’s not only important to be friendly with your customers, it’s also extremely important to be friendly with fellow business owners. Following local community groups is also a great idea. Does your community hold a lot of festivals? If so, follow the festival accounts to keep up on local events and engage further (See our previous blog article about 10 ways to make local businesses aware about your agency for further details).

You should also follow local media outlets – radio stations, newspapers, bloggers, and influencers. Establishing an online relationship with these outlets not only gives you more insight into the happenings in your area but also increases the chances that you’ll get more media exposure.

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What to Tweet About

Remember to always tweet quality content. Your followers do not want to be bothered reading tweets that are of no interest to them. Let’s say again your local shop is Brenna’s Books: What do you think your followers will want to read about? Tweet about new book releases, author reading events (be sure to invite members of your community and the local media), and book reviews. These types of posts should be of interest to your local readers. You can also offer discounts and coupons – You can run an ad or simply just tweet out deals for your locals. Make it fun and catchy and try to do it on a regular basis. Everybody likes a good deal! Maybe call your special #twofortuesday and offer buy-one-get-one deals on your paperback books. Also remember – using hashtags, such as #twofortuesday, in your tweets is a necessity, and gets your tweet more exposure.

If you want even more exposure, you always have the option to promote your tweets through the Twitter Ads program. Using the same method mentioned above, geo-target your ads for maximum exposure and engagement.

Be Involved and Drive Engagement

This is essential! Reply to every message, retweet, and mention; ignoring your community is a terrible misstep that must be avoided. If someone tweets a question at you, be sure to respond directly and establish a personal connection. If someone retweets one of your posts, send a @mention or directly reply to them thanking them for the support. Your community needs to know there’s a person behind the screen, so be as responsive and personable as possible.

A fun thing to tweet about is asking your community for an opinion. Everyone has an opinion and usually likes to share it, especially on Twitter. So let’s say we’re still Brenna’s Books – a good question to tweet out could be “Who is your favorite author?” Everyone who reads has a favorite author. As the community begins to respond to your question, engage them further with follow-up questions like “Which is your favorite book?”. Creating conversations is a phenomenal way to grow connections, exposure for your local shop and brand loyalty. Questions that are relevant to your audience are also good tweets to promote through Twitter Ads if your budget allows.

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Host an Event

Who doesn’t love a good “Tweetup”, a meeting of Twitter users? I can’t think of a better way to get to know your community than by hosting a Tweetup event at your shop. Create the event and invite not only potential customers but also other local business owners and members of the community. For instance, @mention it to the Chamber and encourage them to join you and spread the word. Chambers of Commerce are created to help local businesses thrive and they can be your best asset. At your Tweetup, offer free drinks and snacks to keep it friendly and inviting. You can also live tweet from the event to gain more exposure. Be sure to take photos and videos capturing the event and use them to further market your local business. In doing so, thank all for attending and encourage your audience to @mention those in the photos. Also very important – encourage retweeting at all times.

Let’s Get the Community Started

Now you have all the tools to create a Twitter community for your local shop. Of course, every local business is different so use the above guidelines and tips in a manner that best suits your shop and your target audience. The most important thing to take away from this article is to be interesting, engaged, and responsive. This will be your key to success on Twitter. Now go get your new customers!

As always, feedback is more than welcome. 🙂 What is your experience building a community on Twitter?

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