4 Twitter Tips for Small Businesses

Small businesses can take advantage of Twitter’s low cost, time-management and search optimization benefits to improve customer satisfaction


How Small Businesses Can Benefit from Twitter
On July 2012, Bloomberg Businessweek interviewed me for an article about the performance of a Twitter advertising program for small businesses. While the general consensus was that Twitter advertising is still too new for most small businesses to gauge its value, this doesn’t mean that small businesses should give up on using the platform.

I believe four reasons exist for small businesses to consider using Twitter and offer these tips to help you get started.

1. Claim your name on Twitter or someone else will.
In September 2011, Twitter indicated that it had more than 100 million active users. Therefore, it is a platform that you cannot ignore. It’s important that at the very least you secure your name. Cybersquatters have taken a hold of several names and you shouldn’t let yours be added to that list. While Nike was able to get @Nike back, Ikea has yet to claim @Ikea. Every Internet backlink is a precious asset, so you shouldn’t give up on this one. Notice that even though the @Ikea account has no tweets, it has accumulated more than 1,500 followers. Don’t let somebody else benefit from your name’s hard-earned goodwill. This same strategy applies to all other social media platforms.

2. Twitter fits your busy schedule.
Unlike a blog or website, you can share content very quickly. Even better, your content is expected to fit within 140 characters. This is particularly beneficial for business people with busy schedules. A perfect example is the Kogi BBQ Korean Taco Truck, which has taken the L.A. foodie scene by storm since its 2008 launch. Twitter is such an essential part of this business’s strategy that it is the second result on Google for a search for “kogi bbq”.

However, do take into account where your audience is. If your target audience uses another social media channel (e.g., Facebook), be ready to make the move to that network. Even if that means that you need to spend some additional time, your customers will appreciate that you take their needs and preferences into consideration.

3. Twitter allows you to cost cuts on promotion.
An important point that I made in the Businesweek article is that business owners should test how effective their ads are by putting coupons or codewords in the tweets and offering discounts to customers who mention them. Here in Hawaii, the Big City Dinner employs this strategy.

Through the smart use of Twitter, Big City Diner can cut costs in traditional marketing channels and still make its discounts available to the public. By tying a specific password that customers need to use, the business can evaluate the return of time spent on Twitter marketing.

For this strategy to fully work, you will need to invest time in developing an easy-to-use system to keep track of customer redemptions of the password. Make sure to get the buy-in of your team by getting their feedback in how to seamlessly incorporate this task into their daily routine. Only by keeping an accurate track record, you will be able to evaluate whether Twitter saves you marketing costs.


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