Twitter is a social media platform that gives small businesses an incredible opportunity to engage with our customers and build our brands. But just tweeting out a bunch of sporadic comments and links won't get us very far.
To be truly effective on Twitter, we small business owners have to listen to the online conversation about our brand, monitor the results of our tweeting efforts, and tweak our tweets as necessary.
Luckily, there are six awesome tools that'll help you do just that.
Backtweets is a simple way to search for links to your website or content on Twitter. In seconds, a Backtweets link search will show you who's talking about and linking to your brand and content.
While the Backtweets free account only offers the link search, the Pro account allows you to receive e-mail notification when someone tweets a link to your website and provides statistics on the reach (how many unique people see it) and impressions (the total of how many times a tweet is seen) of your tweets. You can even connect Backtweets to your Google Analytics account to see how your tweets translate to traffic to your website.
Backtweets is free. A Pro account costs $100 per month.
2. Twitter Search
On Twitter, there is an endless stream of news and information flowing every second of every day. Twitter Search keeps you from drowning in tweets by helping you search and filter Twitter in real time.
Much like Google, Twitter Search lets you perform highly advanced searches using advanced search operators to narrow and refine your search results. Get specific with Twitter Search simply by entering the words or phrases, people, places, dates and even attitudes that you'd like to watch for on Twitter.
Twitter Search is free.
Monitter is a search tool that allows you to monitor a set of keywords on Twitter. Just type them in, hit "add column" and watch the real-time results stream in front of you in no time flat.
Want to search more than one keyword? No problem. Monniter will create a clean, multi-column view for you. You can even narrow your search to a particular geographic location if you want to see what's going on in a certain part of the world, which is perfect for business owners who want to focus on local customers.
Monitter is free.
Twilert is a free Web app that sends you regular e-mail updates of tweets containing your brand, product, service, or keyword. Like Google Alerts, but for Twitter.
Just set up searches for the keywords that you want to monitor and Twilert will e-mail them to you in a daily digest at the time you choose. There are even advanced search options for specific words, language, Twitter account, location, and attitude.
Twilert is free and you can use your Google or Twitter account to register.
5. Sprout Social
The mac daddy of Twitter monitoring, Sprout Social allows you to manage and grow your social presence efficiently and effectively, across multiple channels, helping you turn social media connections into loyal customers.
And Twitter isn't the only thing you can keep track of with Sprout Social. The Web application also integrates with Facebook Fan Pages, LinkedIn, Foursquare, Gowalla and other networks where your customers are hanging out and checking in.
In addition to communication tools, Sprout Social offers contact management, competitive insight, lead generation, reporting, analytics, and more—all in a package that's intuitive and easy to use.
Sprout Social offers a free 30-day trial and then monthly plans start at just $9 for small and online business owners and $49 for brick and mortar business owners who want to track a local customer base.
Tweetbeep keeps track of conversations that mention you, your products or your company and sends you hourly updates by e-mail. You can even keep track of who is sharing links to your website or blog, even if they use a URL shortener like bit.ly or tinyurl.com.
Choose from a free Tweetbeep account or upgrade to their premium account for $20 per month.
Heather Allard is a mother of three kids, Hope, Grace & Brendan—and one big dog, The Dude. She’s also the founder of TheMogulMom.com, a website for moms who run a business, raise a family and rock both. You can find her on Twitter at @heathALL.