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Twitter for Business – Some Great Ideas


Like a lot of people, I’ve been thinking about business applications for social media like Facebook and Twitter.  This is technology that is easy and cheap, but few people really are grasping how to use it to any great benefit.  To I’m going to discuss how I think Twitter should be used for business and then show a few examples that are working in the real world.  Finally, I’m going to present a strategy for small businesses just like yours.

Earlier I discussed an idea for using Twitter in the mortgage business.  However, there are applications for any business that deals directly with customers and it doesn’t matter what kind of business it is.  My “aha!” moment came the last time I went to get a hair cut.  I go to a small, specialty shop that tends to change locations.  It is one of the most low tech businesses I’ve ever seen and advertises solely by word of mouth.  They never advertise and there are always people in the shop.  I’ve been going for 15 years after one of the owners told me about it.

This last time they moved, they sent out a text message with the new address.  I kept the text, so when I went again, I knew where to go.  That got me to thinking about Twitter.  Wouldn’t that be a great platform for a busy, small business owner to advertise?  They could send out a short message from a mobile phone advertising a sale, a surplus or even an appointment opening.

The trouble with this is you have to build your subscriber base for it to have the impact I envision.  Take a look at the Utah Jazz offer at the top of this page.  I got that in my email three days ago, the afternoon before the game.  They were giving away tickets to the game if you followed them on Twitter.  Talk about a great promotion!  I’ve been saying recently that email marketing is dead and smart marketers will be converting their email lists subscribers to Twitter and Facebook.  This is how you do it!

You don’t have to give away the farm to be successful either.  Thursday night’s game was the pre-season opener and the stadium was half empty as it was.  How about a car dealer giving away a free oil change with a test drive.  Now they can ping their customer for repair service and a new car.  A restaurant could give away a dessert or a drink.  A barber shop could give away a free haircut.  I also believe a promotion like that would create tremendous word of mouth advertising for the offer, but the offer should be specific and timebound.  The Jazz promotion was for Thursday only between 12 pm – 3 pm.  It was very specific – sign up to follow the Jazz on Twitter – and timebound – Thursday from noon to three.

So how are real businesses using Twitter?  Consider the story of Naked Pizza in New Orleans.  They are trying to bring a health aspect to delivery and carryout pizza.  They also have financial backing from a huge technology maven – Mark Cuban.  So when he told them in April to start Twittering, they tweeted

So what is the ROI for Naked Pizza using twitter?  Well the companies first twitter only promotion on April 23 resulted in 15% of total sales, with 90% of those being NEW CUSTOMERS!  On May 29 twitter set a store sales record with the bulk of the traffic coming directly from twitter.  How much?  68.60% of the total sales came from customers who stated “I’m calling from twitter”!

Naked Pizza is doing three things every business should do to continue their success:

1.  Converting – They are changing their current communications medium to Twitter.  In this case it’s the telephone, but it could be email, Yellow Pages and so forth.  Their billboard now shows their Twitter address instead of the phone number.

2.  Leveraging – They are leveraging walk in traffic to become Twitter traffic.  Naked Pizza has created a kiosk where customers can sign up in the store.  Don’t forget mobile phones as an easy way to get Twitter subscribers.

3.  Tracking – They have made it easy to track Twitter customers in the store.  If you run a Twitter only promotion, the only way your customer will no about it is through your medium or word of mouth.  Either way is good!  Run a different promotion for your Facebook business page and ask all your customers how they found you.

Utah top blogger nominee Janet Thaeler has the story of our second example.  She recently pointed out that Bath & Body Works (LTD) is printing its Facebook business page on its receipts and asking customers to sign up.  Good idea!  The company currently has nearly 70,000 Facebook fans that are ready and willing to hear Bath & Body Works message.  Think of the savings in print and to the environment!  The community appears to be thriving with great feedback from members and frequent updates by the company.

I know some of you are probably thinking, “What about us?  What can a real small business do with Twitter.  We’re not an NBA franchise or a publicly traded company or backed by billionaires!  How do we use Twitter for business?”

You use it in exactly the same way.  Let me tell you about my friend Jerri.  She operates a nail salon in Denver, CO and we’ve been talking about her web marketing very casually for a few months now.  She’s got her nail website and what looks to be a good location inside a salon, but I know if she’s asking me about web marketing, what’s she’s currently doing isn’t enough.

Jerri’s business is a very people oriented business.  You have to like the person if you’re going to sit for 30 minutes to an hour in front of them to get your nails done.  Fortunately, Jerri is a people person and I know she does a fantastic job.  There’s a lot of things that can be done with her website, but there’s more that can be done away from it.

While I see a lot of SEO opportunities for her site, the change I would make first is her title.  Up at the top right-hand corner, it simply says Jerri Ferguson – Nail Tech.  Boring!  If you know Jerri, you’ll know she’s anything but boring!  Why not Nail Diva, or Nail Stylist or Nail Fashionista?  She needs something more exciting to match her personality.

For Jerri, a Facebook business page and Twitter are an easy match.  She’s already on Facebook and posts these really funny and pithy quotes throughout the day.  I would follow her on Twitter just for that!  By creating a Facebook business page, she can separate what she shares with clients and friends.  Her friends will still see her business posts, but her customers won’t see her friend’s posts.  Tie that business page to Twitter and I think we’ve got a winning combination.

What should be the Twitter content?

For Jerri, it’s pretty easy.  If she gets a new color in, tweet it.  I see a picture of her toenails on her Facebook page –

pink cheetah

She simply said, “Rockin the Pink Cheetah Minx!!!” and got five comments from her friends…all positive.  At less than 140 characters, that’s a tweet.  An appointment doesn’t show up?  That’s a tweet.  “Last minute cancel, reply to get squeezed in.”  Slow day?  “Next 5 people to reply, I’m buying xxxx.”  There’s a Subway and Quizno’s nearby, so there’s no shortage of places to fulfill whatever offer is made.

I happen to know Jerri already has two Twitter accounts, but she’s not using them.  The Facebook business page is the missing link to completing this small business marketing puzzle.  The business page will hold links, photos, videos…just about anything you can dream up a regular website can, plus it’s highly searchable through Facebook and Google.

By following the three steps I mentioned earlier, a small business like Jerri’s can use Twitter for a fantastic return on investment.  So can yours if you:

Convert – Use your existing communication methods to get Twitter followers and Facebook fans.

Leverage – Tell existing customers inside your business to follow or fan you.  If you can allow them to do it in the business, that’s even better.  If not, give them a reminder.

Track – Put a plan in place to internally measure followers, fans and sales.


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