Why Twittering Is Essential For Small Business Success
At first glance, online social networks like Facebook and Twitter, are often dismissed as time-wasters and the dominion of those who have nothing better to do then tell the world that they are having a great time at their best friend’s belching contest. Follow the public twitter and it is like being at the New Years Eve celebration in Times Square….you’ll read everything from the latest football scores, to something unintelligible about “glue man, yo, you busted the tout” to very personal tweets about some girl in the early stages of her relationship who is telling her network of best friends she won’t be getting roses this year.
So. Beneath all that, is there a way a small business can join Twitter for the purpose of improving their own bottom line? Absolutely. If that same small business is willing to embrace the idea that their clients and potential customers represent relationships, and not just numbers.
Business is changing. When the internet first blossomed, it was the great equalizer. It still is. But putting up a site and optimizing it first to be found, and then to get conversion (turning visitors into customers) is becoming an increasingly difficult game for the small business owner to win. The shift is changing, and this is where the small business can shine, because a small business IS ALL ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS.
So today I want to talk about Twitter and point out how some different businesses are using Twitter, with their own style and way of communicating, to create their own authentic business voice.
First example that I like is @jenscloset. This is in the middle of the spectrum of my three examples. You can find her Twitter Profile at (http://twitter.com/jenscloset) Her bio: “Mom first..I sell vintage, Pyrex, Noritake, milk glass, kitschy cute things, and more..still trying to think of more clever info for this bio..in less than 160.” She sells great little vintage finds through a service called Etsy. She has like 3000 + followers and tweets her day – sometimes notifying her followers of what she’s just posted, sometimes posting her carpooling duties. It’s perfect! Here’s someone you can relate to, feel comfortable with, trust, and certainly won’t hesitate buying a great little vintage find (many under $10) for just that perfect gift. I have my eye on this Blue Ridge plate…
Second, comes another Twitterer, @thistinyhouse (http://twitter.com/thistinyhouse). Bio: “Preparing for full time living in a tiny trailer.” She tweets interesting links, sprinkled with a few personal notes, for followers interested in living in smaller spaces. This fits at the left end of our spectrum. A more personal Twitter, she links to her blog which then sells advertising space. So far that’s the only ‘commercial’ interest, but because it’s there, she is an example. She’s interesting, posts great information, and as a fellow Facebook user she’s set up a group and invited me to join to follow discussions. I in turn tell others in my network, and it’s like the old shampoo commercial, and so on, and so on. It’s not about creating immediate business, it’s about establishing relationships that may or may not lead to business, but when they do will already have some trust and credibility established.
Then for the other end of the spectrum, straight business, there is @shannonpedder (http://twitter.com/shannonpedder). Bio: “I’m in the promotional products industry- all of the fun things you can brand with your logo. I also help people go green and live in a safer environment!” I found her through a different network – a sustainable “green” group in LinkedIn (like Facebook for business) where she’d posted her @address. She doesn’t post anything personal and sticks to business. Interested in her bio and interests, I followed, she noted my following, introduced herself and since we’re planning a rollout party in July with giveaways, I asked about her products and she sent back a link to these perfect keychains with an almost exact replica of our “rocket duck”. She has a certain future sale, even thought we never met in person and probably spent five minutes of our time sending tweets back and forth. Her tweets are concise, few and to the point – this is what she has, take a look. The fact that she bothered to look up our site and make a suggestion adds to what I expect to be a simple, easy and professional transaction when we are ready to buy.
Using Twitter is easy, but to use it successfully as a small business I would recommend:
- ensure you want to establish and maintain relationships
- be authentic
- be consistent, reliable and friendly – don’t take anything personally
- listen before you speak
- and while numbers can be seductive, remember the opportunity is in establishing quality relationships and providing quality tweets for your followers, whatever your message
Social networking online has come of age because the tools now exist that can mirror the way we network on the plane of the physical. Only they are more efficient and easier to manage. Especially for the small business, because most of them are free. And for those with nonexistent budgets, it doesn’t get better than that.
Once again, the playing field is leveled.