In what seems like a never-ending quest to stay on top of ecommerce trends, small business and ecommerce site owners are adding social media campaigns, such as Twitter, to existing marketing plans. One thing you should be aware of -- once you start tweeting to customers youll find that using Twitter can be time consuming.
The good news is that there are many free and low-cost tools available to help you better manage your Twitter marketing tasks. Even better is that most Twitter tools are Web-based and very easy to use.
The three Twitter tools picked for this round-up are best-suited to help a small business ecommerce site owner stay on-task with Twitter marking efforts. These Twitter tools will cut down on your Twitter time investment by automating the tweeting process or by providing features that help integrate Twitter into the marketing tasks you already do.
Create a Promotional Coupon with TwtQpon
Small business ecommerce sites will find the Twitter coupon generator, TwtQpon, useful for promoting Web store deals on Twitter. You can also create special reward coupons for your own loyal Twitter followers.
When you visit the TwtQpon site, click on the "Create a Coupon" button and enter the following information in the Web form:
- Your Twitter account name
- The coupon title
- The coupon details (in 140 characters or less)
- Upload a 700 x 300 pixel image
- Specify a coupon code (if blank the coupon will show no code required on it)
- Add a redirect URL (your promotion landing page or ecommerce site URL)
- The expiration date of the coupon
This information is all you need to create your free Twitter coupon. Your Twitter followers will see a Tweet, which is the text you enter in TwtQpon Web form. Customers who click the link are directed to the image-enabled version of the coupon page (on TwtQpon.com) and are then redirected to the URL you specified when they click to redeem. What we like about this Twitter tool is that you can create and publish your Twitter coupon in seconds.
You do have an upgrade option to add personal branding, which is shown on the image-enabled version hosted at TwtQpon.com. The website doesnt specify a fixed price for the upgrade but suggests you enter a price at check-out based on what you think the upgrade is worth. On its website TwtQpon says that the branding service is a way of supporting hosting and development costs.
Schedule Tweets with FutureTweets
FutureTweets by SolidFlux is another useful tool for busy small business ecommerce sites. If you often forget to update your Twitter status or you have difficulties working in regular tweet time this is a good tool to use.
The Web-based service lets you schedule a number of tweets and specify the time you want the tweets to be published on Twitter. You could pick one or two days a week to add multiple tweets that you set to publish at different times. The scheduling aspect will not be noticed by your followers and it will appear as if you Tweet on a more regular basis.
To use FutureTweets you need to give permission for the application to access your Twitter account. Once the connection between Twitter and FutureTweets has been made, you'll find yourself looking at a very simple form on the FutureTweets website.
All you need to do is type in your Twitter message and then select a publish date. You can enter the publish date manually in the form field (e.g. 2010-09-14 15:25) or you can choose the date on a calendar button and select the time by dragging the hands on the clock widget beside the message box on the form.
After scheduling your Tweets youll see a list of all scheduled tweets you have written with a star noting the ones that have been published. From this single Web page you can also edit or delete any Tweet you set using the tool.
What we liked best about FutureTweets is that it offers a simple interface with everything you need on one page so you can go in and schedule future tweets quickly.
HootSuite Social Media Dashboard
HootSuite is a social application that you can use to manage a number of social media tasks in an efficient way from one Web-based interface. The service supports a number of social platforms in addition to Twitter -- like Facebook, WordPress and others.
HootSuite offers several tools that will help small business ecommerce site owners to better manage their Twitter and social media marketing tactics. Some of the tools let you schedule updates across one or more social media sites, and you can also collaborate and manage multiple social accounts that are spread amongst your marketing team.
Small business ecommerce site owners will also like two of the more business-focused tools in HootSuite. The first is the Monitor Mentions tool. This is used to track and gather mentions of your company or brand across multiple social sites. Another business tool in HootSuite is used to review statistics and reports on individual status messages tweets you publish.
HootSuite is a more professional Twitter tool with a focus on the needs of a business user. We like that it offers multiple tools for multiple social media sites in a single Web-based interface.
HootSuite offers a free ad-supported version that lets you monitor and post to five social networks, use 2 RSS feeds, and caps your statistics history to the first 30-days of use. The full unlimited version with all features and one team member for collaboration is $5.99 per month. Additional team members can be added for $10 per month per person.
More Twitter Tips
Looking to get a better handle on integrating Twitter into your small business marketing plan? Try these Twitter tips and guides for small business ecommerce sites:
- How to Twitter for E-commerce Success
- Twitter Tips to Boost Small Business Marketing
- Webopedia's Twitter Dictionary
- Free Twitter Tools to Tweak Your Tweets
- CheapTweet Gives Twittering Retailers more Exposure
Vangie Beal is a veteran online seller and frequent contributor to ECommerce-Guide.com. She is also managing editor of Webopedia.com. You can tweet with her online @AuroraGG.
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