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It's time for small business owners to join the Twitter party

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The growth of Twitter has been exponential in recent years as businesses are able to interact with customers, share relevant news about their firms and industries and post deals offered by the company. The transparency of Twitter has attracted many business leaders to create an account and begin engaging their client base and interested consumers. Seeing the success of CEOs on Twitter should spark small business owners into joining the Twitterverse and building a personal following that can lead to higher levels of success for their firms.

While small business owners wear many hats, none are too busy that they can't send out 140 character messages and scan their timeline for relevant content that their following may find interesting. According to The Wall Street Journal, many business owners can't afford not to be on Twitter. While Twitter can certainly be an effective tool for small business owners, it's important to have cyberliability insurance in the event an account is hacked.

"People want CEOs who are real," Bill George, a management professor at Harvard Business School and avid tweeter, told the newspaper. "They want to know what you think. Can you think of a more cost-effective way of getting to your customers and employees?"

Think before you tweet
Many small business owners have to resist temptation to become engaged with everyone who @ mentions them or provide insights about their industry that aren't exactly proven. Interacting in negative conversations and sharing false information can hurt the reputation of a small business owner, which could, in turn, decrease the number of interested customers in his or her company's products and/or services, the newspaper stated.

"I don't want to be a press release," Mark Bertolini, CEO of healthcare company Aetna, who boasts roughly 3,000 followers. "You have to take some chances. You have to put yourself out there."

Learn to be a Twitter pro
Small business owners can't expect their Twitter following to grow overnight. It will take some time, and by learning how to tweet more effectively, small business owners can have a number of followers they can be proud of. An article for Dop Design provided some insights on how to become a good "tweeter."

•Follow the right people who have good insights on industry news.

•Be yourself - followers are able to see right through business owners who are fake.

•Respond to people and engage in conversations to let followers know their questions and complaints are not going unnoticed.

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