Small businesses that use Twitter save on marketing and recruitment costs. A substantial amount has been saved by firms who use Twitter instead of traditional marketing methods, an impressive cost reduction from the small business perspective. (“UK Small Businesses Flock to Twitter,” News Desk, smallbizpod.co.uk, 17 March 2009) Small businesses often have little, if any, advertising budget. Having a Twitter account is much cheaper than maintaining a web page or an email distribution list. For smaller enterprises, the immediate intimacy of tweets suit their business philosophy and approach better than impersonal, sweeping advertising campaigns.
Spread the word
A Crème Brulee cart operating in San Francisco grew by word of mouth via Twitter and within a few months the proprietor had quit his day job to keep up with demand. (“Mom-and-Pop Operators Turn to Social Media,” Claire Cain Miller, New York Times, 23 July 2009) Such a success story illustrates that direct marketing, especially the word of mouth kind of Twitter, is a powerful tool for small businesses looking to expand their customer base. Business owners can also tweet about discounts or new, just-in products, reeling in new customers and enticing regular ones.
Twitter is useful for small businesses wanting to keep management system information in touch with suppliers. The micro blogging tool allows small businesses to connect to other small companies, promoting a sense of community that goes beyond traditional geographical borders. An antique store in Texas connects with customers in New Jersey and orders supplies from out of town – all transactions were made through Twitter-based relationships. (“Mom-and-Pop Operators Turn to Social Media”) Twitter enables businesses to increase the range of contacts, whether with suppliers, potential customers or support services like accounting and consulting firms.
Small businesses rarely conduct market surveys as these are too expensive and time consuming for the average small to medium enterprise. But what about grass root surveys? Twitter allows the small business to monitor what people are saying about their business and their products. You can ask for active feedback and criticism, respond to questions and deal with any disgruntled tweets through Twitter. Listening to what’s happening on the ground can also help small businesses decide on a strategic direction.
Keep your enemies closer
Competition is fierce for the small to medium enterprise. Twitter lets small businesses monitor their competition. What new initiatives are on the horizon and what can you do to keep ahead? If your competitors are not on Twitter, you can search for tweets that mention them so you can see what others are saying about them. Competitive intelligence is a good reason for small businesses to use Twitter and stay a step ahead of the crowd.
Being able to build a presence can make or break a small business. How do you differentiate your shop or enterprise from everyone else’s? Twitter allows a dash of creativity, humor and humanity in marketing your business. Tweets are personable and twitter accounts can be as funny or outstanding as you want them to be – the better for your customers to remember you by. A car dealer in Albany, New York, has the attention grabbing twitter profile “iamhuge”, a silly and memorable profile name that fits in with the business’s general marketing pitch and attracts curious customers to his website.
Twitter is not just for the big guys. Small businesses are signing up for Twitter accounts in droves. There are a lot of benefits of using Twitter to the small business, including cutting marketing costs and keeping tabs on competitors.