Following on from my first post, this article is the second of a saga that will help you grow the Social Media Presence of your Online Shop. This new post will teach you first how to use Twitter to increase the brand awareness of your new business, and secondly, how to position your E-commerce brand as an expert in your niche.

With 271 million monthly active users and 500 million Tweets sent per day, Twitter is now the 2nd most popular Social Network worldwide (just behind Facebook). Its influence cannot be neglected by marketers and business owners anymore. Moreover, for young Online Shops, it becomes both a matter of growth and survival to understand the potential benefits of this platform and to make the best of it.

So why Twitter? What Return(s) On Investment can you expect for your Online-Shop?

In the first article of this saga we discovered the story of Maria and her new Online Shop selling high-tech cooking tools. We noticed that like most small business owners, Maria was particularly concerned about being noticed by the masses. Furthermore, she needed help on how to communicate the value proposition of her business. Well, the great news is: Twitter is an amazing tool to achieve both! Indeed, if you work on it the right way here is what you can expect from this channel:

Drastically increase the brand awareness of your Online Shop:

From my experience, Twitter seems to be the fastest growing Social Media channel for companies. Indeed, in a first campaign of 100 days Maria could, for example, aim to target building a 1000-2000 (relevant) follower base for her Online Shop – with the best part being that it can be done for free!

Be an expert in your niche and establish a first contact with potential customers:

Twitter is an amazing tool to convey the mission and vision of your Online Shop. It is also a very beneficial means of ‘pushing’ your brand to the screens of prospective customers (by following them). Moreover, it will enable your business to deliver extra value (beyond your products/services) in the form of expertise that you can share with an audience of current and potential customers.

How to achieve great results in terms of account growth and value?

1) Build your Twitter Brand

First, it is absolutely necessary to create your Twitter account ASAP. Even before the official launch of your Online Shop if possible. Indeed, building a strong Social Media presence is a long process and there are no real shortcuts. The only trick is hard and focused work. So start ASAP,  but ensure you’ve followed the 5 steps described in my previous post before you do.

Choose the logo of your company as a profile picture, design an eye-catching and corporate coloured background (you can also add your ‘company motto’ on the right side). Don’t forget to write a powerful biography reflecting what your Online Shop sells and what makes it special. Also, avoid including hashtags in the text of your bio for readability reasons.

Lastly, please only put your logo and corporate information online after you’ve thought about it carefully. Don’t put rough drafts live on Twitter. You start building your online brand on day 1 and consistency is key.

2) Define a strategic Follow Policy

Start by following 50 to 100 famous authors, experts, professionals and influencers dealing with the few topics you’ve chosen to address online and ‘list’ them from the beginning. They will act both as a great source of information and as a point of trust for potential followers. As a general rule in the online world: the more you associate with high value people, the more you will be regarded as a serious and interesting brand. This is purely based on the concept of ‘social proof’ which occurs not only offline but also in the online world.

Then, follow people sharing the interests and the values of your company and make sure they are likely to follow you back. Check their ‘following-followers’ ratio (a 50-50 ratio or close to that being a great indicator of likeliness to be followed back). So if you want to grow your Twitter account fast, there is no secret: follow as many ‘tweeps’ (people on Twitter) on a daily basis as possible and hope they will follow you back.

However, always keep in mind your online reputation when you follow, so don’t associate with anybody who can harm your brand identity and lower your value. Remember that quantity is good but quality of relationships is better. Don’t rush, recognition and brand awareness will come soon!

3) Establish your Follow-back & Unfollow Policies

Follow-back all the valuable ‘tweeps’ who just followed you. It is important because if you don’t these people could very soon choose to unfollow you. Yes, virtual revenge exist on Twitter and they generally don’t like any disrespecting of Twitter courtesy rules such as following-back. However, Don’t follow-back ‘tweeps’ you shouldn’t associate with for the sake of your online slots brand. As a general rule, if after having looked at someone’s profile you aren’t 100% sure about or if you should follow-back, then don’t.

It is also very important to unfollow people who are not following you back after a couple of days. A great tool to do that quickly is Tweepi. I know it can sound odd, but the goal here is to keep your ‘following-follower’ ratio close to 50-50 (more on this in the next paragraph). Also, try to unfollow all the people who just unfollowed you. You can do this with

An exception here though: don’t unfollow famous people and influencers and keep them listed. It is very normal that they won’t follow you back at the beginning. Just like in the offline world, you need to demonstrate value before hoping to align with influential people and become part of their social circle.

4) Keep your ‘following-followers’ ratio close to 50-50

Always keep your personal ‘following-followers’ ratio between 60-40 and 50-50. To do that simply respect the follow and unfollow policies described above. Your natural instinct would probably be to follow as many ‘tweeps’ as possible whatever the increase of people actually following you. However, having only a few followers while following a lot of tweeps will have a negative psychological impact on people scanning your profile. Typically it communicates that you are desperately trying to accumulate random followers and this can be regarded as spamy.

5) Tweet according to your strategy

Concerning the tweets you post, here again the golden rule is quality over quantity! Choose your tweets carefully and respect the strategy you developed before. Only tweet about the 3 to 5 topics you are willing to demonstrate expertise in (focus, focus, focus..!). A good number of daily tweets is between 3 to 10. If less, you will be unnoticed. If more, you will be seen as spamy.

Try to post various tweet formats: a quote, an article, a picture and an infographic for example. And repeat this sequence. It makes your account more attractive to follow than if you were only to tweet articles, for instance. To check the engagement generated by your tweets and find out what works best for your brand you can use Twitonomy.

And finally, tweet during your peak times: a great free tool to help you find out when most of your followers are online during the day is Tweriod. Use it to determine when your tweets are most likely to be seen and shared. It is good to publish great tweets, but it’s useless if they aren’t seen by anybody…

6) Use strategic and tested hashtags

To optimize the reach of your tweets and to set your online voice, it is of key importance to use consistent and relevant hashtags for your company. Reflect on 5 to 10 hashtags that will best describe the topics and industry you are dealing with on Twitter. Think about them as keywords helping understand who you are, what you do and which kind of content you provide. In most cases, I would say that if the hashtags you use are highly related or even similar to the keywords you chose for your website, such as Adwords campaigns etc, it is a good sign. Moreover, don’t forget to test them to see whether or not the chosen hashtags have a substantial audience. The quickest way to do that is to use the free plugin called Ritetag.

7) Retweet

It is really interesting to retweet the content of others on a regular basis. A ratio of 1 retweet for 3 tweets of yours is good. It shows that you are able to create your own content but also that you care about the work of others. And finally, it directly adds value for potential followers as they notice that if they follow you they might become one of the ‘tweeps’ you retweeted. Don’t hesitate to retweet Twitter influencers as your brand will benefit from associating with them. You can also retweet people who just retweeted you. You should certainly be able to find at least something interesting on their timeline that you can share! Bare in mind to return the favour – these days online courtesy is just as important as offline courtesy.

8) Treat your followers like people

My last recommendation is to always remember that behind every Twitter account there is a human being. Use direct messages as much as possible as indeed, some of your followers are on Twitter to converse with you. So, treat your followers like people and enjoy using the greatest benefit Twitter allows your brand to offer: interaction.

To conclude, If you respect this policy and always keep in mind being courteous and ‘human’, your account is very likely to grow quickly which will directly increase the brand awareness of your Online Shop. Twitter is probably the best Social Media channel to have a first good contact with prospective customers and to demonstrate a certain degree of expertise within your industry. There are of course many other business possibilities this platform has to offer, such as using it as paid promotion tool, a benchmarking monitor or a content gathering tool…and may even become an E-commerce platform soon too. So my last piece of advice would be to keep updated and never stop learning the power of this fantastic channel.

Please note that bonusbox is not affiliated to any of the tools referenced in this article. They are just recommendations. It doesn’t mean they are necessarily the best or the only ones available on the market. Feel free to compare different tools to determine what works best for your business.

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