Thursday, May 28, 2009

Minute for Marketing: Using Twitter to Promote Your Teaching Studio Locally

Minute for Marketing is a weekly series about advertising for the independent music studio. Click here for all Minute for Marketing posts.

I didn't see the appeal of Twitter at first. I mean, who really cares about hearing random updates from my boring day? But, I signed on recently and started exploring. Now, I'm on the bandwagon, too! I'm still very new to Twitter, so perhaps readers can add thoughts to this post. Feel free to jump in on the comments!

Twitter is a site where users post short, 140-character status updates. Like Facebook, you have a network of friends, but unlike Facebook, you don't have all those cutesy applications. You might be tempted to think that Twitter would only be useful if you were advertising to a huge online audience. But, Twitter can help to build name recognition and a reputation for your studio right in your own town. Tweets are an efficient form of marketing because they provide for easy exchange of information and links among locals in a more diffuse way than email can, and they have the potential of reaching a wide group of people in your community.

How to get started:

1. Read a good How-To guide like this one. Lurk on other's Twitter pages and get a feel for how it works.

2. Sign up for Twitter, link to your studio web page on your profile, and follow some people. (Like me!) In many cases, they'll follow you back. Don't be shy about following some high-profile types. Some might surprise you and follow back. It's important when you sign up to allow your tweets to be public. If you're tweeting even partially for marketing purposes, you need to be lurkable.

3. Find locals to follow. This turns out to be quite easy! Twitter's advanced search page will turn up tweets from people in your area when you search on your town's name. It's a bit time-consuming to wade through all of the inanity, but you'll find a few good people to follow. I turned up my local newspaper, and their followers are a great source of quality Tweeters. There are even local directories like LocalTweeps.

4. Give some thought to your tweets. Consider what sorts of information would be interesting and informative to potential clients. You might tweet about upcoming events for kids in your town, especially arts-related events. Tweet when a favorite local restaurant is offering a discount on kids meals. Tweet a congratulations to the local high school chorus when they earn a superior rating at festival. Link to local media articles online. Tweet about your own students' achievements. Tweet about giveaways and discounts from your studio. Tweet about your business, your blog, or professional concerns, but don't feel you have to keep all of your tweets business-related. Part of the appeal of Twitter is that it provides an opportunity to let yourself be seen as a human. If your tweets show you to be an interesting and genuine person, you're creating meaning for your business in the minds of potential clients. Keep it real, keep it positive, and keep it clean. Everything you tweet should reflect well on you. If you're blogging, be sure to tweet links to new blog posts. When locals discover your piano teaching blog, they have the chance to learn that much more about you.

Somebody's going to put this in the comments if I don't address it, so I'll include a mention of
Twitterhawk. It's a bot that searches for keywords ("piano," for instance) from people in your area so that you can reply to them with a canned pitch. There are some limitations in place that prevent it from degenerating into full-scale spam, but to me, it's still small-scale spam, and I think it's just a bad practice. I'd never break into someone's conversation at a neighboring table in a restaurant to pitch my studio just because I heard them mention piano.

The better way: follow local people. Get to know them and let them get to know you. Be a part of the local online community. Word will get around about your business without your having to spam people.

Hope to Twitter with you soon!

Minute for Marketing by Laura Lowe is licensed under a Creative-Commons-Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

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