SMBs: What Content Should You Tweet?

To thrive in their communities, small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) need to build personal connections with their customers and prospects. Twitter is a great way to connect and drive business. It is essentially a free local, regional and internet listing that takes just a few minutes to set up. But once you have an account, the big question is: what should you tweet to produce the right kind of results?

First things first, think about what you want to achieve. Yes, you realize you need to be on Twitter because everyone tells you so, but do you have a defined expectation? For example, do you want to provide support to customers? Do you want to drive traffic to your website? Do you want people to buy something? Do you want your brand to be top-of-mind for whenever decisions are made? Once you have determined this, much of your content strategy will fall into place.

The most likely goal is that you want to sell products and services. However, you should keep in mind is that, instead of overtly trying to promote, on Twitter your initiative should be to help and engage. This will ultimately result in long-term relationships and sales.

Social Media TermsYou need followers to read your tweets and one of the best ways to acquire and engage them is by posting links to quality content. That means you have to know your audience to share the information that interests them. Relevance is how you become known as an authority and a resource. For example, if you are a fashion expert, you don’t want to retweet something about the latest automotive trends. Furthermore, your news should also be current, not from last week or last month, because someone else has probably already shared it.

Another important consideration is that there is a correlation between the amount of personality a Twitter brand has and the success it achieves. This is one of those forms of communication in which it is beneficial to relax and let some of your personality show. People who use Twitter read and post about a wide range of subjects, not just business concerns. But you should still remain professional.

Lastly, use #hashtags. When you do, your tweet will not only be seen by your followers, it will be included in a larger stream of tweets with that same hashtag, which exposes you to many potential new followers and leads.

To get some additional insight on Twitter content, I recently sat down with Pearl Cajoles, the Affinity Express copywriting operations manager. Her advice to SMBs is: “Don’t make your tweets about the numbers. Make them about people instead. You will gain followers and potential customers with meaningful, helpful and original tweets that are most likely to solicit responses or retweets.”

Here are some tips based on Pearl’s expert perspective (our clients provide social media services to their advertisers and we design the profile pages and can supply packages of custom tweets to get them started with Twitter).

  1. Run in the same circles. Follow experts, leaders and supporters of your industry. Retweet their tweets and chat with them through Twitter. When you make an effort to get to know them, they will most likely reciprocate and tell their followers about you!
  2. Provide helpful tips. If you or your company are experts in something or found ways to solve problems, share the wealth. You can also tweet to spread the word about tools, resources, ideas or advice you have received.
  3. Get people talking. One of the best ways to promote your business is through word of mouth. Ask your followers to talk about their good experiences with your business (or a trending topic) using your hashtag. Their followers will see it, too.
  4. Share your knowledge. Trivia is always fun. Promote your business with a fun fact relevant to your industry, community and followers that is likely to be shared.
  5. Tweet your thoughts. People love to talk about current events (locally and nationally). Do it on Twitter and many will most likely chime in. Are you subscribed to any blogs or RSS feeds related to your business? Then tweet out a piece of content you found interesting. Pick something non-controversial, of course. You don’t want to lose customers because of a tweet.
  6. Make Twitter work for you. Host promotions and contests through Twitter. You can ask people to reply to a message or follow a link to your website and post a comment. You might also ask people to retweet a message from you to qualify. Have an overstock of product? Give a discount to those who tweet using your hashtag. Want to bring in customers during the next holiday? You could tweet something like this: “Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with a free drink for everyone who wears green!”
  7. Lend a helping hand. People love supporting businesses that care. Are a portion of today’s sales going toward a local charity? Invite others to your special event through Twitter. And don’t be afraid ask others to retweet! People will jump at the chance to spread the word about something that strikes a chord with them and makes a difference.
  8. Share an interesting photo. Do you have a shot of your restaurant’s most popular pizza loaded with a heap of delectable toppings? Mouthwatering photos create cravings and cravings make people head to your restaurant! They will probably invite their friends too (and retweet or share on other social media outlets). Try using TwitPic to share photos, Instagram, the iPhone photo sharing service, and Tweetphoto, which is photo-sharing made simple.
  9. Tweet links. HubSpot just published a post yesterday that revealed highly followed accounts tweet more links. In fact, Twitter accounts that tweet between 60% and 80% links tend to get the most retweets.
  10. Don’t spam your followers! How many times have you deleted emails from a business advertising the same product over and over? Spammers get unfollowed. Instead, provide your followers with information that is useful and relevant. Chances are, they will retweet that information and, in doing so, share your twitter handle with their circle.
  11. Vary your tweets. Retweeting is great but, if that is all you are doing, your traffic is likely to fall off. You have to put yourself into your tweets and be authentic. Be sure to include your spin on whatever you send out.
  12. Tweet multiple times.  People aren’t monitoring Twitter all day long, so they may miss your tweets. There is no harm tweeting the same content a few times over the course of a day to get as many views as possible.
  13. Be yourself. Every business (and business owner) has its unique flair. If you own a small business, you probably have one-on-one dealings with your clients. Show your online followers the same personality visitors to your store experience. People support businesses that have owners they know and trust.

Use these content suggestions to post regularly so you can build a loyal following. It can take as little as 20 minutes per day. You should also track your success. Monitor mentions of your business name by using the Twitter Search tool. Analytics tools can help you gauge how much traffic your profile is generating.

This doesn’t guarantee Twitter will work for you. Kevin Casey advises that you spend 90% of your available time on things that benefit your business and take some time to learn new things that might pay off later, such as Twitter. “Once it begins bringing you benefits, spend as much time as you need to maximize benefits that are paying off for you. Anything that takes time can also be a waste of time, some of the time!”

Do you have any suggestions for small- to medium-sized businesses just getting started with Twitter? What content works especially well for your business? What content encourages you to follow someone on Twitter?

Sample Tweets Developed by Affinity Express for Pizza Restaurant


  • Siri on Gino's East PizzaCraving a slice of cheesy and meaty Gino’s East deep-dish pizza? Don’t just EAT. RETWEET!
  • The most delicious week of the year is here. Come join Gino’s East as we celebrate #PizzaWeek! #GinosEastPizza

About the Restaurant

  • Survey forms? Not at Gino’s—sign the wall! The tap, bar and tables are yours too. #GinosEastSignTheWall #VandalArt
  • Flying pizza? That is possible! We ship orders anywhere within the continental U.S. Learn how: #PizzaDelivery

Area Attractions

  • Where’s the best place to eat after an educational tour at the #FieldMuseum? Siri knows! (TwitPic)
  • Kids, tell mom to drop by Gino’s East after #SheddAquarium! (Distance to drive = 2 miles) #DeepDish #KidsZoneGinosEast


  • The Cubs winning the #WorldSeries may be a dream, but deep-dish pizza at #GinosEast is a reality. Stop by! We’re just 3.9 miles away.
  • Fun Fact: The Wrigley Field = Chicago Cubs. Gino’s East = Deep Dish Pizza. #ChicagoPride #ChicagoRepresent

About Kelly Glass
Kelly has been vice president of Marketing at Affinity Express for nine years now. She drives company strategy and all marketing activities.

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