A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, I wrote a column for USA TODAY that essentially told small businesses to ignore Twitter. Not a few people damned me for my ignorance. I learned that you tell people to ignore Twitter at your own peril.
In the years since, I have become enamored of Twitter, like many people have, and have my own fairly decent following. Similarly, my pals here at Concur have a robust Twitter presence, using it to communicate with customers, share company news, share other valuable content, interact, and generally use social media the way it is intended to be used.
But many, many small businesses do not. In fact, the most recent statistic I saw on this issue indicated that only about 10% of small businesses use Twitter as part of their marketing mix. And that’s too bad too because – and take it from a die-hard convert – Twitter is an incredible tool for small business.
Here’s why you should tweet:
Exposure: Where else can you build up a following of thousands of people who give you permission to contact them, and all it requires is time and no cash? Nowhere. Reason #1 why Twitter is great for small business is that you can gain exposure to folks who are specifically interested in who you are and what you do.
Brand building: Building a brand in the offline world is expensive and lengthy. You need to consistently repeat the same message in all advertising, signage, media, and so forth. But on Twitter, you can create a page that brands your business, tweet tweets that reinforce that brand, and follow people who seem likely to like that brand. Easy, cheap, and fast – what more could you ask?
Get more business: Morgan’s business dropped off precipitously when the recession began. After a period of panic, she turned to a tool she had never used before: Twitter. She used the search function to locate people in her industry and she befriended and got to know them. She engaged in online discussions. She met more people. That year, business climbed 34%.
Become a thought leader: If you are a service provider, it is no secret to you that people in your industry with the most name recognition tend to get the highest fees. Well, why not you? By tweeting tweets of value, by finding interesting and valuable content that you can share, by building your following, you begin to be known as a thought leader in your field. Do it again and again, and watch your reputation grow.
And that is just for starters. Yes Twitter takes time and there is a learning curve, but it is a curve that will often lead in a better new direction for many small businesses.