Practical Ecommerce

Twitter for Ecommerce Merchants

Many retailers have discovered that Twitter is an effective way to communicate with their customers and prospects. A recent study for Twitter by Compete reported that Twitter users are more likely to buy online, versus the general public. They are also 1.4 times more likely to make an online purchase after seeing a tweet from a retailer, versus someone who visits a store and did not see a tweet.

If you invest time using Twitter as a communications tool, you may find some very high rewards. They do not necessarily come from direct promotions of your products. This article will examine that in more detail.

Why Do People Use Twitter?

Many people use Twitter as a means to share interesting things they read, see, and do. Other people see those tweets, and share them. As you tweet and follow people yourself that you find interesting, you will develop your own followers. Spend some time looking for topics that are interesting to you, and then follow people who post relevant content.

People create their own topical indexes around hashtags — a phrase preceded by a # sign. So, #ecommerce could be a topic that you could search on Twitter. Any tweets that include #ecommerce would appear on that search.

Retailers who sell shoes could mention, for example, a new Nike XX brand they have in stock and include #shoes to be seen by people searching on that topic. Or, they may create topic just for the Nike XX brand, such as #NikeXX.

When I ran my own online jewelry supply business, we developed about 2,000 Twitter followers. But I really did not understand Twitter’s value in communicating with customers. I simply tweeted about promotions and new items. The real value — which I missed — is utilized by one of my former competitors. She uses it to promote her customer’s finished jewelry, tweets about fashion trends, and actually uses Twitter to engage in public conversations with other jewelry designers. In doing so, many jewelry designers follow her because she provides interesting tips and ideas they could use. A percentage of them also become her customers.

Her Twitter name is @beadinpath and she has more than 9,000 followers. She tweets regularly about topics related to beads and jewelry, and life. It’s not idle chatter. Her followers regularly tweet back. She has developed a relationship beyond what you can establish with a newsletter. By exposing your own personality, you are also able to establish more of a relationship with your followers.

@BeadinPath tweets on jewelry-related topics, not just on product promotions.

@BeadinPath tweets on jewelry-related topics, not just on product promotions.

Once you have established that relationship, you can occasionally tweet promotional offers without irritating your followers. A good rule is to keep promotional offers to less than 20 percent of your tweets. Make sure 80 percent are topical or conversational. The more you invest in conversations on Twitter, the more followers you will attract. Once you can tweet promotions, you can benefit from the higher percentage of Twitter followers that actually buy things as a result of your Tweets.

What to Tweet?

Many merchants can’t think of things to tweet about. A good starting place is to tweet a link to articles you read and like. You can tweet this article by simply clicking on the Twitter icon at the top of this page. You could add a topical hashtag like #marketing. That will help get the message out that Twitter has value to online retailers, especially to other Twitter users who follow #marketing.

Twitter is similar in concept to Facebook. But Facebook posts are seen only by those on your Facebook friend list. Twitter is crawled by all the search engines and any Twitter user can see your tweets.

Invest some time in using Twitter. It will lead new prospects to your online store. They are more likely to buy than other visitors.

Dale Traxler

Dale Traxler

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