Why You Should Launch Your Small Business Into The Twitterverse

Twitter is the latest in the social networking sensations to hit the internet. Along with blogging, Facebook and Linkedin, Twitter is being touted as an essential marketing tool for businesses of any size. But many small business owners don’t understand what it is and what it can do for them. I explain what Twitter is and why you should consider launching your small business into the twitterverse.

What is twitter?

Twitter is a social networking and micro-blogging service. It sends short messages, and much like your text messages on your mobile phone, these short messages are limited in length. In twitter’s case these short messages are called tweets and are limited to 140 characters.

These tweets are publicly visible, that is anybody can read them, unless you limit your readership to your followers. The best way to think of twitter is to liken it to attending a global party and like any party, there are a thousand different conversations going on at any one time.

You scan the conversations (by doing a search or noting the trending conversations) and pick the people or topics you want to listen to and you decide to follow them (by selecting their profile and clicking on the follow button.)

You can choose to simply listen to the chatter or join in by sending a tweet. People can choose to respond to you by replying or mentioning you (by quoting your twitter username) and tweeting in response to you. Or you can take someone elses tweet and retweet it to your own followers.

The two enormously powerful elements of twitter are the ability to interact with others and growing your own network by hooking up with like-minded tweeps (people).

The first tweet was sent by Jack Dorsey (@Jack) on March 21st, 2006, which makes twitter a relative baby in the social media business, recently celebrating its fifth birthday, but don’t let age fool you.

Why your business should consider taking to the twitterverse

Twitter sends approximately a billion tweets a week or about 140 million tweets a day. There are over 20 million accounts and it is growing by about half a million accounts each week, each account representing an individual, a business, or an organisation of some kind. Somewhere amongst all those accounts are sure to be potential clients.

Your job is to find them, wow them, engage them and call them to action in 140 characters or less!

Unlike facebook, twitter does not have advertising on the site, but you are able to link to other websites, files, documents and photos. Your business is able to tweet announcements to garner interest and provide appropriate links to more detail if needed.

1. Communicate, engage and interact with your customer base

Not only does twitter allow you to share information and communicate quickly with your client base, it also allows you to engage and interact with your customers. The communications you receive from your client can be just as priceless as the messages you are able to send out when the insight is used as valuable input into business and product development processes.

2. Power-up your networking activities & grow your customer base faster

When trying to align marketing activities with your customer base it is not always obvious where those potential customers are going to be found, but when you are able to hook into one network and communicate effectively with that segment, those same people will help you locate like-minded people more effectively by retweeting your message to their followers, an effective “birds of a feather, flock together” networking scenario.

3. Extend your marketing reach for free

Twitter, like Facebook pages are free to use, which is fantastic news for small business owners, as it allows you to extend your marketing reach without taking a big slice out of your marketing budget. However, you need to be aware that you need to put in some time to develop an appropriate and effective strategy to make twitter work for you.

4. Keep abreast of issues and trends

Many small businesses fail simply because they cannot see industry and social issues, changes and trends until it is way too late for them to respond to them. Twitter is excellent at pinpointing trending issues and keeping you informed so you can prepare your business to meet the resulting challenges head on.

5. Gather Competitive Intelligence

Follow your competitors and find out what innovations, issues and developments are driving their business. This type of information can help you compete more effectively in the marketplace.

6. Twitter tools extend twitter functionality

There are many tools and applications available that allow you to do things such as tweet from your mobile phone (but beware the charges from your provider, some are free – some are not. It always pay to check) which allows you to tweet on the run anywhere you have mobile phone coverage.

You can also listen in to what people are saying about your business, schedule tweets, run polls and a myriad of other functions using a vast array of twitter apps. And the good news is more and more apps are being developed everyday to help you run your twitter-aligned business more efficiently.

As you can see there are some very powerful business reasons why your small business should embrace Twitter as a marketing tool. Don’t hesitate, prepare to launch your small business into the twitterverse!

Karen L. Paiyo is an Australian Small Business Counsellor, supporting and nurturing the spirit of entrepreneurship in the Asia Pacific Region. Karen empowers small business owners by transferring to them the skills and expertise needed to help them take their business ideas from creative concept to profitable reality, faster and with less risk.

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