5 Steps to Launch Twitter for Your Pet Sitting Business

This is a guest post by Maggie Marton of http://www.ohmydogblog.com.

Twitter is projected to expand to over 18 million users this year. Businesses are getting savvy about leveraging Twitter to connect with their customers, expand their reach, and provide customer service. So should you use Twitter to grow your pet sitting business?

Let’s start with the basics: What is Twitter?
Twitter is a microblogging tool. Each update, or “tweet,” contains a maximum of 140 characters. Tweets can include status updates, links, and images. Through Twitter, you can follow other people, and people can find and follow your Twitter feed. You can also share, or “retweet,” content that you find on other Twitter pages, and your followers can retweet your content.

What can Twitter do for your business?
Like Facebook or LinkedIn, Twitter connects you to potential clients. Your business objective for using any social media tool is to convert online connections into real-life clients. Twitter enables that conversion to occur better than other social media tools because the format encourages active, real-time conversations.

Lindsay Stordahl owns a dog running and pet sitting business called Run That Mutt in Fargo, North Dakota. In addition to Facebook and her blog (http://www.thatmutt.com), Stordahl utilizes Twitter to promote her business. Her current following is over 2,500 strong. She offers this philosophy on her Twitter usage, “A goal of mine is to always use Twitter to genuinely interact with others, not to blab on and on about myself or to spam people about my business.”

So you’ve decided to tweet. What now?
Get your Twitter account up and running in 5 easy steps:

1. Create an account. Though you can use your business name, consider using your own name. Recent research has shown that Twitter users are more likely to follow a person than a company.
2. Refine your profile. Fill out your bio, location, site or blog link, and upload a photo. Potential clients can locate you based on your location or keywords in your bio.
3. Start tweeting! Set a goal for how many times a day you want to tweet. Test different types of tweets to see what responses you get. If you get stuck, try answering the following: What are you working on? What are your goals for today? Is there a question you can throw out for your followers to answer? It’s important to note that you’ll gain a higher-quality following if you tweet valuable content than if you overtly promote your business.
4. Find people to follow. To grow your local business, use the search bar to find people in your town. Search for terms like “pet sitter” or “dog walker” to find people who are actively looking for your services. “I look for other dog trainers, dog blogs, and pet sitters,” Stordahl said. “What I’ve found, though, is that the numbers aren’t important. It’s more about building relationships with individuals. I would rather gain two or three dedicated readers or “followers” than get 1,000 mindless clicks to my web site.”
5. Engage. According to Stordahl, “Twitter should be about learning more about your customers, answering their questions and getting their feedback. It should not be strictly self promotion.” Start a discussion. Reply to someone in your area who mentions their pet. Retweet an interesting link or comment. Leverage Twitter to create relationships that can translate to clients.

Advanced Twitter tips: Once you’ve mastered tweeting and retweeting, test out some of Twitter’s other features. The right-side toolbar offers several more advanced options.
Utilize the Direct Message option to send targeted clients a personalized message.
Try assembling a list of your favorite followers. Or search out other lists that you’d like to follow.
Use hashtags to join in on trending topics (two to try: #pettiptuesday and #woofwednesday).

How have you used Twitter to network with other pets sitters or local pet lovers? Tell us your story by leaving a comment.