Twitter can be an extremely valuable tool to reach current and future customers for small businesses. Whether you’re focus is B2B, or you’re looking for consumers, Twitter can be a great way to talk to your target audience and find new customers. Here at Lendio, we’re always looking for ways to help out small business owners, so we’ve compiled this guide for small business owners that are looking to use twitter to reach new people. Let’s begin. Step 1: Identify Your Niche Start searching on twitter for other people in your space. If you’re a restaurant, look for similar restaurants and follow them. Look for other businesses in your area and follow them. Try and see what they’re doing, and where they’re successful. Follow 50 accounts that are similar to you. Look at the hashtags and keywords they use. Think about what your target audience would want to know about. Think about your marketing, and what your company is all about. Step 2: Find Some Hashtags Once you’ve done some initial research, find some hashtags you can use. Write down 15 potential keywords, and search twitter for them. See how relevant they are. Once you’ve narrowed it down to five, plug them into Hashtagify.me. Hashtagify.me is a valuable tool allowing you to find related keywords, and see how popular those keywords are. Take some of these new keywords, so you have about 20 keywords/hashtags you can use. Step 3: Sign Up For Buffer Buffer is a free tool that allows you to set a schedule for your tweets, facebook posts, and google+ accounts. I primarily use it for twitter. This tool allows you to say, for example, that you want tweets to go out at 11:45, 2:30, 4:30 and 7:00. Then, you add a bunch of tweets, and it will send out the top tweet out of your buffer at the scheduled time. The free account caps at 10 posts per account, but the 10$ a month option caps at 100. This is a great time-saver, allowing you to add in a bunch of content in one sitting, and letting it flow out over a week. You can sign up for buffer here. Step 4: Post Often When you get on twitter and you look at your feed, you’re looking at the most recent tweets, taken from all the people you follow. So if you saw 5 messages right in a row by one person, it would seem a little spammy. Make sure you schedule your messages at least 15 minutes apart. Buffer has a free tool to analyze when the best time for you to post is. When you post, make sure you use those hashtags we found in step 3. Make sure you use clear images (see Step 5), calls to action, and don’t forget to include links to your blog’s articles. If you’re a locally based business, try adding your town’s name as a hashtag. Post at least five times a day. As long as they’re spread out, this will get you a lot of followers. Also, it’s okay to reuse tweets. Because of Twitter’s format, people don’t mind when you repost your earlier tweets. Feel free to put successful tweets back into circulation. Buffer actually has a rebuffer tool, just for that reason. Step 5: Use Images According to Hubspot, having an image in your tweet will increase your clickthrough rate by 18%. If you use buffer, you can install a chrome extension that will allow you to click on any image to buffer that page with the image attached. Use images that call attention and watch as more people interact with your tweet. Step 6: Tweet Other People’s Articles Instead of just making your tweet all about you, make sure you spread the love around. Tweeting other people’s stuff shows that you have more than just your interests in mind, and it can also lead to some great relationship building. Make sure you tag the person who wrote the article, and you’re likely to get retweeted, getting your brand in front of even more people. Step 7: Post Real Thoughts Make sure to post a tweet that’s a real relevant thought at least once a day. For example, I’ll make a comment on the stock market news, or something big happening in financial technology. That way your followers will know there’s a real person behind the twitter account, and that you’re not just scheduling posts far in the future. Step 8: Follow At Least 10 People In Your Niche Every Day Following people is a great way to get them to notice you and follow you back. A great way to find people to follow you is look at your competitors, or a similar account in your space, and follow people from their follower list. These people have already shown they’re interested in your space, and they’re more likely to read your tweets. Be warned though, aggressive following and unfollowing can get you banned quickly. It’s best not to go over 50 follows a day. Occasionally, you may need to unfollow people that are not following you. ManageFlitter and FollowerWonk are two paid tools that allow you to filter through your followers and unfollow those who don't follow you back. Step 9: Follow Back A lot of people will unfollow you if you don’t follow them, using tools like the ones above. My rule of thumb is I’ll follow back anyone with a face, or anyone I believe could be a valuable contact. After a while, you’ll start to get an idea of who’s going to be spammy, and who’s a real person you can connect with. Remember, people find you through your connections, so they will see who certain people are following, and who’s following those people. Step 10: Advertise Your Profile Make sure people know your twitter handle. Put it on your business cards, your website, and anywhere else you can think of. If you write for any publications, put your twitter profile in your bio. Put it in your email handle. The more people that follow you, the more likely you are to get a customer from twitter. Step 11: Make Lists After you start following back, you’ll start to notice that your feed is getting a little out of control. One way to manage your feed is by creating lists. I have a list I call “People I Have Met In Real Life.” Every morning, I look at these people and try to connect with them, whether it’s a favorite, a retweet, or a reply. This also allows me to see what they’re up to, which is what twitter was originally all about. Step 12: Analyze Both Twitter and Buffer have valuable tools you can use to analyze the effectiveness of your tweets. Take note of what times are most effective and what hashtags are helping your tweets the most. Repost tweets that perform well. Step 13: Follow Us A great way to get more followers is to provide a call-to-action at the end of any articles you write, asking people to follow you. So that’s what we’re doing! You can follow us at @lendio and me personally at @eriklarson77. If you have any other tips and tricks that have worked for you, comment below!