We see Twitter positioning itself as a local advertising platform: it’s simple to use, requires little time commitment to Tweet, and free. Here’s a guide for local merchants on how to use Twitter to reach their local audience:
1) How different local merchants should use Twitter
2) How to build a local Twitter consumer community around you
3) How to survey for business opportunities
4) How to make your Twitter campaign more efficient
Walk in / appointment based services: Barbers, beauticians, spas, nail salons, auto maintenance / lube,
Tweet schedule openings for the day. Offer daily special and coupons.
Articles: Putting Twitter’s world to use
Medical / health services: Optometrists, dentists, chiropractors, doctors
Create a professional profile befitting your standing in the community. Discuss the tools and trends of your practice. Demystify.
Professional services: Accountants, attorneys, financial planners
The problem with arcane professions like the law and accounting is the “boring” factor. Twitter should be used to connect with the community for branding purposes. Become a “business calendar”; accountants can broadcast changes in tax codes and alert important filing dates.
Transaction based services: Real estate, mortgages, travel agencies, recruiters
Transaction based service providers suffer from a spammy reputation because it’s easy to incessantly tweet out home listings, job posts or travel deals. The focus should be on providing information and data relevant and interesting to, say a prospective home buyer, by talking about communities or market conditions. Interacting like a “real” person is paramount to establishing a welcome identity as a hub, not a spammer, in the community.
Arts and entertainment services: Night clubs, events organizers, symphonies
Tweet schedule of events and shows, offer quizzes, advertise discounted tickets, create contests – give away two free tickets to a local follower
(note: arts groups should design great backgrounds!)
Articles: Cultural groups tap social networking
Hospitality: Restaurants, hotels, taco trucks, street food vendors
Tweet the day’s lunch menu @ 11am, and dinner menu @ 1 pm, 4pm. Link to recipes. Offer coupon code.
Advertise your deals of the day, weekend sales, etc. Your Twitter feed’s timeline chronicles what your store offers so consumers will use this as a consumer and comparison shopping resource. Consumers may use Twitter to ask questions in lieu of a phone call because it’s more efficient. Be sure to intersperse deals tweets with interesting links. @ABC_Carpet twitpics its rugs!
Twitter marketing no-no: Abandoning a Twitter feed at @bestbuybayarea
2) How to Build a Local Follower Base:
- Follow the followers of other local Twitter feeds in your city.
- Contests: Offer two free tickets to concert or lunch in a weekly drawing to a local follower. The locals will follow you.
- Quizzes: Post picture of city landmark, or quiz about interesting local facts.
- Give to the community: Support other local Twitterers by retweeting their local interest stories and events.
- Provide links to interesting articles related to your business, market conditions or city. For example, link to reviews of cameras if you’re a camera shop.
- Position your Twitter account as your online point of contact by adding your feed info to business cards and storefront signs. Twitter names are much easier to remember than phone #s. Article: Twitter to replace 800 #s as point of corporate contact.
- Tweet using hashtags at a Breaking News site for your city, and request placement of your feed into the City site.
- Personalize: Of course, make sure you’re not tweeting about business all the time or it may come across as spammy. It’s best to create two accounts – a business account like @yoshisjazz that sticks to the subject, and a personal account to have conversations that reveal your personality.
3) Surveying for Business Opportunities
- Monitor Twitter search terms for your business. Many Twitterers ask for help to their follower base. If you’re a tax accountant in Chicago, monitor the search terms “Chicago tax accountant” by creating an RSS feed at Search.Twitter.com and tracking it in your RSS reader.
- Use the hashtag conventions #ihave and #yourcity occasionally (add them to a tweet once per week or so) to alert others who monitor this hashtag convention for services or goods you provide.
- Register your Twitter feed at Jobaba, the social marketplace for local services. More of these localized service sites will appear.
4) Twitter Efficiency Tools
- Use a Twitter scheduling application like Hootsuite or Tweetlater to schedule your tweets for the week. Especially useful for restaurants that know their menu offering for the week.
- For larger companies or stores, use a collaborative Twitter application like CoTweet so your Twitter account can be monitored and updated by multiple employees. Example: @ocreggie has five monitors.