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3 Great Small Business Uses for Twitter

As a cool way to communicate and share information, Twitter almost seems like an old staple by now. In fact, it's hard to remember how we ever lived without it! As a tool for online marketing, however, things are still a little bit murky. Even Dell, a massive company with an extensive social media department and enormous resources, recently admitted that they essentially had to guess how much money they were (or weren’t) making from their Twitter activities.

Because that kind of confusion can make it hard for small business owners to know how, when, and how often to take advantage of Twitter, we would like to offer you three great ways to take advantage of the platform:

To share breaking news and announcements. Because tweets can travel so quickly, and be spread with a minimum of effort or input, it makes sense to share new developments through Twitter. In fact, Twitter can even be a faster way to spread the word than e-mail can, so make sure to make it is the backbone of your announcement strategy.

To answer common questions from customers and colleagues. Yes, there should be an FAQ section on your website, but if you seem to find yourself responding to the same issues over and over, why not turn it into a tweet? Not only will you get some exposure, but it could help your explanation to be indexed by search engines, too.

To announce sales and specials. This is probably the most popular use, and one you should definitely take advantage of. Notice that we put it last, however; constantly broadcasting offers to buy something is perhaps the quickest way to lose followers and turn happy customers into uninterested strangers. Twitter can be a great tool for promoting your business, but only if you have other things to say once in a while, too.

What is Your Online Marketing Video Missing?

If you aren't already marketing your company and its products to online videos, then stop and ask yourself why not. Not only is YouTube garnering more than 2 billion hits per day, effectively making it the world's second-largest search engine, but it's been a breakthrough marketing platform for all kinds of businesses all over the world.

Unfortunately, however, not all of the videos companies produce have the effect that was intended. More often than not, it's not because the message was off or are there wasn't any interest, but because the marketer was missing an essential element. Here are three things missing from a lot of small business online marketing videos:

Professional editing. Unless it's something wildly entertaining – like two cats boxing to the theme of a popular movie – most people aren't going to take the time to watch your video if it looks like it was shot on a camcorder in your garage. Don't skimp on the scripting and editing of your online marketing video; you’re only cutting back on the results you get.

A call to action. What is it you want people to do after they have seen your video on YouTube or elsewhere? Is it to buy a product, to request more information, or something else altogether? You have to decide this beforehand, and make the next step very clear to the viewer. Otherwise, all they're going to do is click on to the next video.

Your contact information. While this might seem like the same thing, it's actually important that you display any pertinent link of telephone number for at least 5 seconds at the end of your video clip. It should also be the last image that stays on the screen when the video is finished playing. It's a small point, but one that can boost your response rate significantly.