To Tweet or Not to Tweet?

Apr 14, 2009

Small businesses and the value of social networking

LinkedIn, Facebook and now Twitter…It might seem like once you get one figured out, the rest of the internet society has moved on to a newer, more trendy site for social networking. These days, that site is Twitter. Twitter is a free micro-blogging service that allows you to post texts and follow the messages of others who use the service.

You might have heard about the controversy around NBA star Shaquile O’Neal “tweeting” during half-time of a game he was playing in, or how a congressman compromised his own safety by announcing he had landed in Iraq.

In addition to athletes and congressman, businesses are also using Twitter.

How can Twitter help your business?

Many companies are using the service as a platform for making timely announcements, whether it’s the soup of the day at a restaurant, a real estate firm announcing a new hot property on the market or a baseball team giving away tickets.

More than it’s topical applications, many smaller businesses are looking at Twitter and other social networking sites as a means to build relationships, get referrals and in the new tech-savvy world we live in, build up credibility.

Some actually see the platform as replacing the more traditional means of marketing because of how impersonal it can be, while critics think that the endless flow of meaningless information is going to reach a saturation point that consumers will begin to block out. While it might be nice to know what your favorite restaurant is serving for lunch, do you really need to know what your mechanic is eating for lunch?

While that is a fair question, small businesses can not only use social networks as a way to disseminate information, but as a means to collect information and study the habits of their consumers and the trends they are following. A daily focus group if you will.

It’s recommended that smaller businesses begin tracking the people you feel are the right target for you business, use your own photo rather than a company logo so that people can see who they’re connecting with and take the time to introduce yourself to people who are following you. In short, treat followers how you would treat them in person. They are essentially customers in the door already.

The lesson learned should be that if you are going to use Twitter or Facebook to build your business, take the time to do it right. Stay consistent. And realize that it’s just as easy to hurt a relationship with your customers as it is to build one.

Follow FleetCards USA on Twitter!