Twitter For Service-Based Businesses

Twitter for Service-Based Businesses - #TwitterSmarter chat with Maiko Sakai - July 30, 2020

Ever thought that the majority of Twitter users only join so they can follow celebrity news or large corporations? However, unknown to the masses, is a Twitter world full of service-based businesses that engage in flaming conversations, sharing knowledge, and helping grow each other’s business.

So how do you become part of the winning team if you’re a service business? We invited business development strategist Maiko Sakai, to help us understand how service-based business can get the most out of Twitter. Here’s a summary of our chat.

Guest: Maiko Sakai
Topic: Twitter For Service-Based Businesses
Format: Eight questions directed at the guest. Everyone’s welcome to share.

Q1: What’s the biggest mistake service businesses make on Twitter?

One of the common mistakes our guest pointed out is using too many, clichéd stock photos. Although it’s hard to say what’s cliché and what’s not about stock photos, a good rule of thumb is to make sure your photos don’t reflect our society’s common stereotypes. Try and show the more realistic, human side of your business.

Unlike the case with a product-based business, service businesses sell a larger idea—not just a tangible item. That’s why it’s important to focus on the big picture of how you can improve the life of your customer in the long term, rather than only the sale.

A way to do that, as our guest explained, is to make your content showcase you and your values. This means you highlight your staff members, your customers, and everything that happens behind the scenes that your potential customers won’t see right away. This way, you’re inviting them into your business’ culture and giving them an insight into what you stand for.

Another common mistake a lot of service businesses do, as Jignesh told us, is to look at Twitter as a sales platform. A constant sales pitch will get you no where on Twitter. That just shows you’re using it as a one-way channel, rather than it being mutually conversational.

Q2: What type of content should service business owners focus on?

It’s easy to look at Twitter and assume that people know you and want to engage with you. However, in reality, unless you’re a global brand or a popular name amongst a niche, a lot of Twitter users won’t be aware of you and your work. And that’s why your primary goal with content should be to tell your audience who you are and what you have to offer.

A great way to tell people what you offer is to engage in existing conversations. Join a Twitter chat, for instance. Interact as you would with a friend and genuinely share thoughts and ideas.

When you actively participate in conversations, you’ll also come across potential sales opportunities. Don’t ignore them; but at the same time, don’t jump down your audience’s throats either—metaphorically speaking.

At the end of the day, though, as our guest said, it’s all about prioritizing your customers. What do they want that you can help with? That’s what your content should be about.

Eddie followed up on what Maiko said about sharing helpful content. He suggested constantly sharing useful content so that you become the go-to resource for a specific topic. That way, you establish yourself as a subject expert. This in turn can help you promote and sell your services.

Q3: Can you expect direct ROI like sales from Twitter?

While most of our community was doubtful, our guest mentioned that it’s not impossible. Sure, you can get direct sales from Twitter.

However, it’s not the best idea to rely on it, or even expect it. It’s much safer for you to approach Twitter as an audience and awareness building platform and consider any direct returns you may get as a bonus benefit.

Sabrina explained it well: Since Twitter is such a conversation-driven platform, you can use it to develop relationships with your audience and create a community. The more you engage, the more popular you become among your niche. This, in turn, can help people recall you and your brand, helping close sales.

Q4: What are some underrated features service businesses should leverage?

Maiko’s top recommendations are the mute option in Twitter and Lists. (Although, mute is pretty handy for everyone, not just service businesses :p) Depending on your industry and the kind of services you offer, you might also find Topics quite helpful.

Another feature that’s seldom used properly is hashtags. Though most of us often use hashtags that define our target audience, few people search using those exact hashtags. What you can do, instead, is use a bit more broad hashtags that refer to larger, everyday concepts such as #TIL (Today I Learned), #AskingForAFriend, and #FF (Follow Friday).

And of course, one of the most valued, but at the same time demanding functionality of Twitter is chats. Regardless of your industry and region, there’s a chat for everything—go have a look, and participate in chats. It’s the best way to build a lasting community. You can even think about creating your own.

As Kathy reminded us, Twitter’s default analytics is also a powerful feature. It can help you assess your performance, complete with details about your most active followers and effective content.

Q5: Are there any Twitter features that service business owners should avoid?

Advertisements, according to Maiko, aren’t too effective if you’re not a giant, global brand. For smaller businesses, and especially for ones that are service-based, Twitter ads can be expensive and a resource sink.

While on the topic of ads, our guest also mentioned that sometimes brands tend to tag other bigger brands hoping to increase traction. That doesn’t help, though. Instead, you just might annoy the bigger brand which could end up negatively for you. Be wary of unnecessary tags and hashtags.

Laura made an interesting point about not overusing Direct Messages. This doesn’t mean service businesses should avoid DMs altogether, but it’s more about being cautious. Twitter, after all, is about making genuine connections. So instead of jumping on a DM right away, consider engaging with a potential customer on an existing conversation first.

Q6: What are some “non-content” activities service business owners focus on?

One of the most important things you can do other than posting original content is responding to your customers’ concerns quickly. Twitter is notorious for being a quick-response platform. Watch out for direct and indirect mentions and reply as soon as you can.

Another crucial activity is to share other people’s content. However, instead of just retweeting it, quote retweet with your opinion. This adds your personality to the tweet and helps you even support causes you care about.

And of course, everyone likes to show others that they’re knowledgeable. Give your audience a chance showcase their insight. Ask questions!

A great place to ask questions is Twitter chats. Just come to #TwitterSmarter and you’ll see it in action. Mary from Draseum said the same thing—just by discussing a favorite topic, you make connections, grow conversations, and establish friendships.

Q7: What are some service businesses that are doing a great job on Twitter?

Maiko recommended a bunch of great brands. Fun fact: all of them are #TwitterSmarter folks. That’s saying something, huh? 😉

Go check them out!

And when you do check them out, notice how supportive they are of everyone in their community. And when it comes to promoting what they offer, they’re clear about it, too. After all, they’re running a business, and they don’t shy away from promoting it.

Madalyn also told us about UPS and FedEx—a couple other service-based companies that offer great support. Of course, when it comes to Twitter, rapid response time is essential.

Q8: What’s your advice for service business owners looking to establish themselves on Twitter?

If you’re a personal brand, don’t try to satisfy everyone. Focus on who you are and what you offer. To stand out from the crowd, you have to be your own unique self.

If you’re a service business, don’t bother telling people what you do. Instead, focus on what you can do for them. It sounds like an insignificant distinction, but it’s not. For example, “I write website copy” is telling people what I do. However, “I can make people buy your service just by reading your website,” is telling people what I can do for them—it prioritizes their benefit and not mine.

And of course, nothing beats the basics: listening. As Alexis said, make sure you listen to your customers, target audience, and community. Engage with them, and be transparent about yourself and your values.

Well, folks. That’s all from me this week. Thanks so much for reading through. For more great insights from our chat with Maiko, take a look at this Twitter Moment that Joana put together. If you’ve got some time to spare on Thursday, join us at 1pm ET for the next #TwitterSmarter chat. We’d love to see you there!

Oh, and Happy #5YearsOfTwitterSmarter!

About me, Narmadhaa:

I write all things—technical and marketing copy to fill the pocket; haiku and short stories to fill the soul. A social media enthusiast, I’m a member of the #TwitterSmarter chat crew, and always happy to take on writing gigs.

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