Using Twitter to Grow Your Dealership

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What Twitter is, and how you can use it to grow your business

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Unless you've been living under a rock, you most likely have heard of Twitter.

(Even members of congress were "busted" tweeting during President Obama's recent national address: http://tinyurl.com/dc394j)

Twitter is a "microblogging" tool (and now a technical infrastructure) that lets people post short (140 character) tweets to the Web.

Twitter is a weird FrankenTech that exists somewhere in the spaces between RSS, chat, e-mail (albeit public e-mail), blogs, and forums.

Understand some of the tools and technique of the Twitter "language." First, a "tweet" is a Twitter post.

Once you post your "tweet" to the Twittersphere, users that are "following" you will be updated with the pearl of wisdom you just posted.

I admit, at first I didn't "get" Twitter. It seemed like a pointless social-media distraction. I'm rapidly and drastically changing my mind.

The best way to really understand Twitter is to sign up for it and start playing with it. Go to twitter.com and create a twitter account.

Make sure you take the time to create a customized and branded profile. Include a link to your e-commerce or dealership website.

(Be warned going in, Twitter hiccups a lot. Just Google "Twitter is down." It happens so much, it's almost become an endearing quality.)

Check out Twitter's help site, help.twitter.com, to really understand all that you can do with it.

Posting and managing followers can be an excellent task for your community relationship manager!

Publicize your dealership's Twitter ID and encourage people who visit your shop or your site to sign up for Twitter and follow you.

Put your Twitter ID on your printed receipts and business cards. Add a "Follow Us" link to your website and when e-mail marketing.

You will see the @ symbol in tweets. This is a way for referencing or replying to another Twitter user. Mine is @radicalpower

Another symbol you will see is #. It's an unofficial trick that people use to tag or categorize post content. Ex.: #ecommerce

Another convention you will see is RT or ReTweet. When you read something really interesting that you want others to see, you RT it.

Here's how it looks in a tweet: RT @radicalpower "I'm writing a great article for #Dealernews on how dealers can use #twitter."

Twitter has really become more of a technical infrastructure. To get the most out of it you'll want to use some of the Twitter clients.

Two of the most widely used and recommended Twitter clients are www.twhirl.org and www.tweetdeck.com. Try them out for yourself.

There are some cool applications that tap into Twitter so people can analyze the real-time twit-stream to see what the world is thinking.

Check out Twist (twist.flaptor.com) to track trends or keywords and Twitscoop (www.twitscoop.com) to see what terms are waxing or waning.

There's even an easy-to-use image tool: twitpic (twitpic.com) lets you post pictures through Twitter.

Because you only have 140 characters, it's hard to enter long urls when you want to direct people to a certain site or page.

The solution is to use a URL-shortening service. Tinyurl.com is the most popular but there are hundreds more See: tinyurl.com/yp8cba

A user-generated directory has popped at wefollow.com. You simply tweet to @wefollow with 3 different categories to get listed.

So the question you may be asking is, how can I use this to make more money in my shop?

On the e-commerce side, you can tweet to your followers when you add new, cool products to your website. That will drive traffic & sales.

You can also run RT-based contests. Tell people that if they re-tweet a product detail page or blog post they have a chance to win a prize.

Follow this link http://tinyurl.com/cg8euq for a Google search on "re-tweet contests" to see some ideas of what others are doing.

You can publicize Web discounts or in-store specials that are good with a code that you tweet. This gives people motivation to follow you.

Build a social media ecosystem with Twitter that points people to your blog posts, and a blog link pointing people to your Twitter ID.

When people follow or RT you, thank them via a Direct Message or publicly via an @reply. Don't forget to follow them back.

Make sure that you do frequent searches on Twitter for your company name to keep track of what people say about you.

I hope you found this series of tweets on Twitter informative and I invite you to follow me on twitter @radicalpower

TIPS

Twitter's informal nature gives users the green light to nix punctuation and use abbreviations heavily, due to its limited character space. Here are some other points to consider to help you get started.

1. Don't be too pushy from a sales standpoint. You're using Twitter to build relationships, so be personal and genuine.

2. Use a personal account to get familiar with it before you use it for business.

3. Pick a Twitter username/ID that is catchy and matches your brand.

4. Use Twitter regularly to maintain interest.

5. Make sure you customize your profile to support your brand.

6. Entice people to follow you by having Twitter-only deals.

7. Use your website analytics package to measure traffic from Twitter so you can gauge its effectiveness.

8. Publicize your Twitter ID everywhere: On posters, flyers, business cards, e-mails, forum signatures, etc.

9. Make sure you follow the OEM's, racers and other companies and personalities that matter for your business and your customers.

10. Post links to products and categories on your site to help build traffic.

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