Sales is all about relationships: Having a conversation, understanding a need and providing a solution. As a public forum, Twitter is a great place to listen, reply and reward.

“Small businesses need to be active on Twitter because their customers are on Twitter,” says Bernard Perrine, CEO and co-founder of Twitter marketing company HipLogiq.

Admittedly, the challenge is getting started and finding easy-to-use tools that not only leverage your existing pool of followers, but also expand your reach to find new customers. Following are some tips and tricks to help small businesses drive business on Twitter.
1.    Build your community. The information you post for potential customers needs to represent your business and what you have to offer. Here is a helpful checklist:
•    Follow like-minded handles. Once you’ve signed up for your free account at and chosen a business-focused username, build your community by following other companies or individuals that are related to your business or industry.
•    Create a complete profile. Upload a quality image, like your business’s logo, and complete your bio with details about your business. This lets people know who you are and what type of Tweets to expect from your business.
•    Integrate your website and other business information. Complete your profile by uploading a header image, adding the location of your business, and adding the Web address to your home page or blog.

QUICK TIP: More than 60 percent of social networkers are more likely to use a local business if the business has information available on a social networking site, according to Neustar.

2.    Engage your audience. The entire focus of Twitter is to create a following that is interested in what you have to say and will share it with their followers. Here are some ways to do that:
•    Embrace two-way communication. Rather than only relying on mass-market ads, take a proactive approach by engaging with nearby customers in real time. Consider using a Twitter marketing software application like SocialCentiv, which makes it easy for your small business to find and communicate with nearby customers.
•    Participate in trending conversations and provide quality, related content. Take a look at the right side of your new Twitter profile to see which topics are trending in your area and participate in these conversations. When you see an appropriate opportunity to jump into a trending topic discussion, by all means, do so.
•    Listen to help find new customers. Businesses should always know what people are saying about them across their social media channels and review sites. Listening leads to engagement, and engagement leads to better service, improved products and new customers.

“There are many software packages out there to help track social conversations using key words and phrases,” says Perrine. “With HipLogiq’s user-friendly app, SocialCentiv, small business owners can do more than simply listen. SocialCentiv searches for relevant conversations in real time, then helps small business owners reply to these conversations with an offer and collect contact information for future outreach.”

QUICK TIP: Tweets with images attached receive 150 percent more retweets than those without images, according to Buffer.

3.    Drive your sales. Companies can – and should – be using Twitter to boost their bottom lines. It’s as simple as listen, reply and reward.
•    Find out exactly what they want. In the age of social media, people aren’t shy about voicing their wants or needs. Just do a simple Twitter search for “need food,” and you’ll find thousands of people letting the world know they’re hungry. This eliminates the guessing game when it comes to determining intent versus behavior.
•    Reach out with a targeted offer. Once you’ve found someone looking for your product or service, reach out to the follower with a personalized offer to visit your business. The intent to buy is already there, and all you have to do is fulfill their needs.
•    Make it hard for them to say no. By extending a compelling offer to a consumer for what they want when they want it, it’s hard for them to say no. Personally targeting potential customers maximizes intent-based marketing and helps your business discover customers who have expressed real intent.

QUICK TIP: Intent-based marketing efforts tend to have higher returns because a business is reaching out right when a consumer has expressed a need. As an example, intent marketing software averages a 34 percent conversion rate, compared to a 3-4 percent return from direct mail campaigns.