You Should be Looking for Small Businesses on Twitter
- 16 Comments
- December 7th, 2008
I am surprised — amazed even — at how quickly businesses of all sizes are jumping on board Twitter.com. The uptake has accelerated in the past 6 months.
Twitter has been around for 2 years, but I believe interest by businesses has grown much faster in Twitter than it did in blogs, MySpace, Facebook or any other social media I can think of during the same amount of time.
If you are not using Twitter in your small business outreach, it’s time you explore it and get involved. There are a lot of entrepreneurs and small business owners/staff using Twitter. It’s actually suitable for any size business to reach small businesses because:
- It’s cheap (free).
- It’s easy (you’re posting one-sentence messages – it doesn’t get much easier).
- It’s where an increasing amount of the online conversation is taking place today (if you want to reach out to small businesses, here is where you can find some of them).
What the heck is Twitter?
Twitter.com is a social site, meaning a site where lots of people congregate and participate. With Twitter you use your mobile phone, a computer or handheld device to post short updates. In my Inc Technology column earlier this year this is how I described Twitter:
Twitter is a kind of public instant messenger stream. You go online or on your mobile device and send text messages (“tweets”) of up to 140 characters — or about one sentence long. Your tweets can be read by others, and you can sign up to follow the messages others write so that you can read theirs.
Often the messages are incredibly mundane. “Just landed at San Francisco airport.” “Body can’t seem to adjust to the time change.” “Reading e-mails –147 in my inbox.”
Some messages are so trivial that at first you’ll be shaking your head. How could extremely intelligent people — the early adopters of technology — waste their time on such banalities, you wonder?
But stick around long enough on Twitter and you, too, will get sucked in.
Mixed in among the short updates from friends, colleagues, acquaintances, or people you’d like to get to know, you start to notice patterns. You start picking up small clues about their personalities, about their priorities, and about events in their lives. It’s a mosaic, a backdrop that helps you understand how they tick. You become more engaged in them and in their work precisely because you learn some details of their personal existence. You start to care more about them on a personal level. Thus, you care more about their work and become a more engaged member of their community.
How do I learn more about Twitter?
If you’d like to know more about Twitter, here are some resources for newbies:
Twitter for Small Businesses: How and Why to Use It (This is the short video for beginners that I commissioned from video guru Jim Kukral. For those who already use Twitter it probably does not cover new ground. However, for new players trying to get a sense of what Twitter is, start with this video.)
Do you Converse or Broadcast? How to Build (or Kill) Relationships on Twitter (My take: This is a good primer on making it personal — something businesses need to do if you are going to develop a following so that you can reach small businesses. Remember: all business is ultimately personal. No one wants to read a steady stream of announcements consisting of nothing more than the latest blog post or the latest offer you’re pitching.)
How Your Company Can Build A Community on Twitter (My take: About 75% is helpful advice. Some of this post is impractical for busy business people, however. For instance, most of us can’t be monitoring Twitter all day long. And I disagree with the idea that you shouldn’t use autofollow — I actually recommend it, because if you don’t keep up on your follows and don’t follow people back, many will feel snubbed by you. Just don’t send canned messages to people containing a link to your latest ebook as an autofollow — that does feel incredibly cheesy and mercenary.)
A List of Social Media Marketing Examples (My take: Peter Kim started a great discussion when he listed examples of companies using social media. Then readers weighed in and the list keeps growing — a perfect example of crowdsourcing. This list is mainly large corporations, and includes much more than Twitter usage, but it’s a must-read list to get ideas.)
List of Fortune 100 on Twitter (My take: this post written in September, before the October stock market meltdown, lists the companies in the Fortune 100 and their corresponding Twitter names. I think a few more have since joined Twitter. But I agree with the author that some of the most inventive ways of using Twitter come from companies smaller than Fortune 100 size.)
Twitter Brand Index on Fluent Simplicity (My take: this is the biggest, most complete list of Twitter feeds by businesses and organizations that I can find. In a word: awesome.)
But to really understand Twitter, you must try it and experience. Please follow me and I will be sure to follow you back and make you feel welcome in Twitterdom: @smallbiztrends.