Growing numbers of small and local businesses are discovering that a tweet can be a powerful tool for making your presence known among customers, prospects, your area and your industry. In particular, Twitter is great for helping amplify your marketing messages and grow your business. More and more of your customers are joining and using Twitter, so if you aren’t there you’re missing an opportunity to be part of the online conversation.

To use Twitter effectively, what you Tweet about – your “voice” – should reflect the online identity of your business. For example, you can tweet about the value your business brings by sharing links and photos with your followers and letting them see what happens behind the scenes. The more people who talk about your business on Twitter, the more followers – and customers – you will get. Here are 10 ideas for things to tweet about on a regular basis from Twitter for Small Business:

1) Offer Special Promotions

Create special promotions available exclusively to your Twitter followers. Some businesses tweet a special offer code or secret word that customers can mention to get a discount when they visit either in person or online.

2) Go Behind The Scenes

Tweet behind-the-scenes videos or photos that provide access to information your followers can’t get other ways. A bakery, for example, might tweet photos of how the breads and muffins are prepared.

3) Media Mentions

Whenever there’s positive news about you or your business, or perhaps your industry in general, that’s something to tweet about. Be sure to mention the media outlet where the story appeared, and include a link if possible.

4) Helpful Hints

Create an ongoing series of helpful tips related to your product or service that people would find interesting or surprising. A chef might tweet helpful kitchen tips or recipes. Or a clothing store might tweet ways to match current trends and vintage items. Establish a regular day for sending your tweet tips and people will start to look for them.

5) Spotlight on People

Look for ways to focus on the people who help create a positive customer experience at your business. You might, for example, include photos of them at work.

6) Tweet Offers and Incentives

One easy way to boost your audience is to offer a discount to anyone who re-tweets your offer – but only if you reach an established number of re-tweets (perhaps 5 or 10). Offer customers a reward of some kind if they mention your business – such as a free trial or extra service. (It’s also a good idea to include a link to the terms and conditions of your offer.) Some businesses ask customers to show them the tweet on their phones at checkout. Online sellers sometimes send the follower a discount code that can be tracked at checkout.

7) Try Some Q&A

Pose a question in your tweet and then answer it yourself with a link to your website or another location. For example, a car dealer might ask “What are the top 10 reasons that people buy a new car?” and then link to a blog post that provides the answers. Or a golf shop might ask “Is there an easy way to correct a slice?” and link to the answer.

8) Entertain and Inspire

People love to share positive tweets that entertain or inspire them in some way. The tweets that are passed along or “re-tweeted” the most usually contain links, photos or videos. Remember that when you tweet something interesting it has the potential to be shared among many prospective customers.

9) Tweet Photos

Experience shows that a descriptive tweet that includes a photo will not only get more clicks, it will inspire people to share it with others by re-tweeting it. Think of it as a caption and photo combination. The words in the tweet are the “setup” and the photo is the punch line.

10) Base Your Tweet on a Quote

Some businesses inspire customers by tweeting pertinent quotes from business, literature, history or pop culture. Try to choose quotes that your followers will find inspirational enough to pass along to their own followers.

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