November is National Entrepreneurship Month, and in today’s socially distanced world, recent surveys indicate social media is even more important to small business success.
UNC Charlotte Belk College of Business researcher Nima Y. Jalali, an assistant professor of marketing, studies social media. He recently co-wrote an article based on his research on composing tweets to increase retweets, and he points out Twitter is made to increase brand awareness.
In the following Q&A, Jalali offers additional social media tips.
Why should entrepreneurs use social media?
Social media provides many advantages to entrepreneurs, being free or minimal in cost compared to other channels and a potential of generating earned media or even going viral are the most important ones to mention. Other advantages include listening to consumers, testing product ideas similar to a focus group and the opportunity of interacting with consumers in a one-to-one manner.
What channels do you recommend?
It mostly depends on where the consumers are and the overall strategy of the company, sometimes a smaller community would be easier to reach and engage with, so it is not always about size of the channel but how the channel helps a company to reach their objectives.
Your research found that everyday Twitter users scan and don't really read. How can you use this to your advantage?
The approach we suggest is to identify the topics that resonate with the brand’s audience, then craft the tweets in a way that the topics can be spotted easily either through multiple words that signal the topic to the audience or recognizable hashtags, and most importantly place them early on a tweet. We also found that the tweets shouldn’t be too long.
Based on your research, are there any words you should be using in your tweets and why?
There is no single word that works all the time, but one thing we found in the research is that the phrase “Retweet If …” is a powerful way of getting people to retweet brand messages, perhaps because of what comes after this phrase and what the topic of the tweet is, but the power of this phrase suggests a general pattern, that is using words that signal call to action in a tweet, so brands should come up with the best call to action phrases that work for them.
What sales-related tweets are most likely to be retweeted and why?
We found that promotional words such as sale or free that signal sales-related tweets, when used at the beginning of a tweet will generate more retweets.
What is the no. 1 mistake startups make on social media?
Treating social media the way an individual does, casual and without a plan. Social media for business purposes is very different from personal use, and startups should have a clear strategy when using social media. It needs extensive planning and coordination, and it must be done consistently over time.