As more and more users “flock” to Twitter, small businesses must find a way to use these channels to reach their target markets. Twitter is absolutely  exploding with users. As a savvy business, you can focus your efforts and concentrate on creating interactions that will help turn the social media noise into traffic which converts. It can often seem daunting to cut through the clutter; however with these 10 tips, you’ll be well on your way to social media marketing success.

1. Geo-Target. You want to connect with people who are in your area, especially if you are a brick and mortar operation. Targeting your tweets to a specific location ensures that you are only interacting with viable leads.

2. Keyword Target. If location is not important, you’ll minimally want to narrow down the “Twittersphere” by niche. There are hundreds of thousands of tweets going out every minute, so cutting through the clutter has to be a top priority. Perform searches based on keywords, and reply to relevant tweets. If you can phrase your interaction as a question, all the better. You’ll have a much higher response rate when you are asking someone to respond.  An example is an antiques website finding someone tweeting about an auction they recently attended.  “I saw you tweeted about an auction, what did you purchase?”

This sort of pro-active interaction is a perfect way to start a conversation with a potential customer. The person who attended an auction will likely reply, and it can be taken to the next level. “Phil’s Auction house is great, if you like oil paintings I just put a few on my website you might find interesting.”

3. Be Real. When you’re having conversation with potential customers, you want to be real. Spam is one surefire way to turn people off to you. As in the example in #2, you want to start a conversation with qualified leads, and grow the conversation organically. You don’t need 500 people a day to respond to you, having 5 or 10 qualified leads will add much more to your bottom line.

4. Always be there. As a SME owner you are expected to wear a lot of hats, so when your social media hat comes off for a little while, you don’t want to leave your followers with nothing, so schedule up some helpful tweets for your followers to read while you’re busy doing other things.

5. Give others credit. One big mistake often seen on Twitter is tweeting out loads of unattributed feeds.  If you know of a blog you think your followers will be interested in, mark it as  RT @the blog owner’s Twitter account. This will help your followers know what is your personal content, and also shows up on the blog feed owner’s account as an “@ mention” which increases their chance of returning the favor to you, increasing your own traffic.

6. Track your Progress. Tools like Klout or PeerIndex are great ways to track your influence and make sure that you are moving in the right direction.

7. CRM is key. Twitter is a great way to handle many customer requests, especially if you can do it as close to real time as possible. Set up searches for keywords related to your brand, and put in the time daily to handle requests and escalate them through appropriate channels when necessary. A happy customer is a repeat customer.

8. Use lists. You can create Twitter lists for different groups of people. For SMEs this is a great way to curate the massive amounts of information that will come through your home timeline on a regular basis.

9. Don’t be afraid to unfollow. You don’t have time to read about 10% off on Viagra. Generally, if someone isn’t following you back, there’s not a whole lot of point of following them (the exceptions are larger companies or celebrities you may follow). Remember, if they aren’t following you they aren’t seeing anything you say, so the relationship is very one-sided.

10. Monitor your competitors. Set up searches for your competitors. If you don’t mind publicly following them you can add them to a Twitter list, but you may prefer to just set up searches privately. You need to know what your closest competitors are doing at all times, and Twitter is so real-time that you can be in the know almost as quickly as they launch something!