If you run a small business and aren't using Twitter, I have to ask, why not? It seems that just about everyone else on the planet with access to the web or a cell phone is.
Twitter seems to be following the same pattern that blogs did. First a few, and just for personal use – (please!) Then a lot more and an expansion of uses. And then a belated awakening by businesses that something is happening over there and it might be worth getting in on it.
Remember Letterman's reverse lists? Well this is one of those, listing the reasons you'll want to get twittering from least to most important. Something is happening over there at Twitter and it's well worth getting in on.
Your small business should be using Twitter because:
7) Everyone else is doing it.
The guy who runs the convenience store down the street. The landscape architect. The shoe store owner. And lots of big companies, such as Dell, HP, AT&T and Microsoft. Having your business on Twitter is hot.
6) Twitter is good optics.
Using Twitter is evidence that your small business is participating in this whole social media thing and obviously a "with-it" kind of outfit that people might be interested in doing business with. It's just not enough to have a website anymore.
5) Twitter is a fast way to get the message out.
Assuming your potential and existing customers are on Twitter, you can instantly let them know your news, whether it's an announcement or a new product, a special deal, or an upcoming event they may be interested in.
4) Twitter will help you stay on top of your industry and/or market segment.
Twitter lets you hear what other people are saying. Using http://searchtwitter.com Twitter Search you can find out what people are saying about a particular topic, enabling you to keep your ear to the ground about your company and the competition.
3) Twitter will help you refine your brand.
By participating in Twitter (that is, using it to communicate with others, rather than just spamming product announcements) you can present and develop the kind of image that attracts your potential customers, and refine your brand. (Remember; communication is a two-way thing.)
2) Twitter is a great networking tool.
Being on Twitter will give you opportunities to meet and talk to oodles of people, some of whom you would never get the chance to talk to otherwise. And some of those people might be the very business contacts you've been seeking, people you want to start projects with, source product from or even hire.
1) And the most important reason your small business should use Twitter – because Twitter lets you engage your customers.
Posting information about your products and/or services is the obvious use. But Twitter also gives you another channel for listening to and finding out about your customers – what they like or dislike about your company, how they feel about your brand, what suggestions they have for improvement, what their favourite products are and why... all kinds of nuggets that you can use to make your business more successful.
So there you have it. In a nutshell, Twitter can provide your small business with another channel to inform and engage your current and potential customers – and every opportunity to do that is worth exploring.
You will want to make sure, though, that you're following the Twitter promotion rules for small businesses. If you don't use Twitter properly, you can end up being seen as a spammer and damaging your small business' reputation.