Twitter: Swiss Army Knife for Business

by on July 28, 2010

in Social Media Marketing

Twitter is Like a Swiss Army Knife for Small Business

Small business people often look at Twitter as a complete waste of time, but I think that if they looked more closely they would find an effective tool that is often too easily dismissed. Yes there’s a lot of crap, but if it was easy then everyone would be doing it and there would be little value in using it. Many businesses are finding value in the use of Twitter and you can too.

There’s no doubt that Twitter can be a powerful and useful tool to market a business, but it requires a basic understanding of social media and some creativity. While I’m not going to cover social media basics here, I’ll touch on different ways small businesses can productively use Twitter.

A Caveat About Twitter

In short, Twitter is not for everyone and may not be appropriate for your business. In my opinion, everyone should at least experiment with Twitter to determine whether it can be useful to them. That said, case studies should be used carefully; every application is different and the results shouldn’t be taken to predict performance. Lastly, the 17 Million active Twitter users are a relative drop in the bucket, but that 5.5% offers valuable insight into the remaining American consumers.

The Many Uses of Twitter

For small businesses, the productive uses of Twitter are limited only by one’s imagination and it doesn’t take much to find a simple list on what can be done with this micro-blogging tool. However, I’ll dispense with looking at all the possibilities and focus on five that are most likely to be productive.

Connect With People – I’m not going to subject you to my rant about the true value of social media, but Twitter offers the opportunity to connect with real people with similar interests. This can be customers, prospects, competitors and others.

Build Your Brand – For both companies and individuals in a knowledge-based industry, thought leaders tend to have an edge on their competition. Regular tweets can present company employees as thought leaders and give the company a competitive advantage.

Drive Website Traffic – Twitter has increasingly become a significant source of website traffic that is at least aware and interested in the topic being discussed. It doesn’t hurt that it’s likely that Twitter links improve Search Engine Optimization either.

Market Research – Twitter can act as a real-time market research tool for a wide range of business. (Note: I always look at a tool thinking about how a small local business migh use it, like a dry cleaner) A quick Twitter search like: shirt stain can offer some helpful insight to a small dry cleaner in what specials to feature or questions customers may have.

Increase Profits – Whether a business connects with a buyer, solves a customer’s problem or builds its stature within the industry, it all boils down to increasing profit. Can every tweet be tied to ROI? No. But after consistently using Twitter for a reasonable amount of time, every company should be able to gauge whether its use is warranted.

Resourcefulness is the Key

It’s important to remember that Twitter is only a tool. I liken it to a Swiss Army Knife: regardless of the bells and whistles, to be truly useful it must be understood and the user must be resourceful. While it may take some time to understand how Twitter can be productively used, small businesses are resourceful by nature so I think that Twitter is the Swiss Army Knife for small business.

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