Twitter for Business?

As I left my house this morning I noticed a guy half way up a ladder against my neighbour’s house. They’ve been having a lot of work done lately and tradesmen have been coming and going for weeks.

The difference this morning was that Dave started a conversation by simply saying “Good morning, beautiful day”.

So what? you may say, the guy was just being polite. Well yes he was, but because of that interaction Dave is now cleaning my gutters and has earned himself an extra sale.

Don’t get me wrong, there was no hard sell, in fact Dave did not even mention it – I did. I have known that I needed to clear the guttering on my house for a while (well, about a year actually!), but it’s lodged far back in my mind and just seeing someone do it wouldn’t have made a difference. If Dave had not said hello I would have carried on with my cycle to work and not thought anymore of it.

As I peddled along the seafront, happy in the knowledge that my gutters were being cleared, I started thinking about Twitter and more specifically, the opportunity it presents to small and medium size businesses.

I feel an analogy coming on, bear with me!

Imagine a street that represents the people I follow on Twitter, each house representing an individual person. They’re my neighbours and I have different relationships with them all. Some are good friends, others I will stop and chat with in the street and some I share nothing more than a friendly smile. I’m interested in them – they are part of my community.

I will ask their advice on things, maybe they can recommend a decent builder.

One of the benefits of Twitter is that it enables you to ask a question – of your whole street – in one go.

 

Now imagine if there were also businesses along this street. As well as individuals I am also following companies that I have some level of interest in. Through Twitter I  know what they are up to and I’m aware of particular promotion they are running.

If I needed advice or wanted to buy particular goods or services I can go to them directly, and I can also ask my neighbours for input on pricing and quality of service.

Now back to Dave. In keeping with this analogy (are you still with me?) he has taken his Twitter involvement a step further by becoming part of a conversation. Engaging people on the street, not in an overtly salesy way, but by being human, being relevant and putting himself front of mind. The result of which was extra business for him.

Twitter is a unique opportunity for SMEs. Going back to the previous example, If I am a cake maker I can use Twitter to search for people talking about, or more specifically looking for, cake makers in real time! Powerful stuff.

Building on this, I think the real opportunity for SMEs is to actually engage with your market and become part of the real time conversation. By doing so you can humanise your business, extend your reach, gain valuable feedback and generate new business. Could you answer any of these questions?

If your business doesn’t have a presence on Twitter, it should. After all, Twitter could be the most important website since Google.

I’d be interested to hear your views

*Useful presentations on Twitter include this one and this one.

One response to Twitter for Business?

  1. I like this analogy – to me it’s push marketing done right; Dave initiated contact with you – but did so in a socially”normal” and minimalist (27 characters) way. I’m sure you weren’t thinking about your gutters until you saw Dave (although maybe your wife was – heh!)

    Of course Dave’s “tweet” was of a positive nature – it had to be to put you in a positive frame of mind – but this opens the debate between the person / brand identity on Twitter. One of the things I like about Twitter is that it feels personal – Dave the cleaner can casually say good morning to you – but can Dave the brand?

    In real life people aren’t happy all the time – If I read an individual stream that is up & happy & Nike ad- all the time – I instinctively don’t trust them (particularly if they’re a life coach) – but if I see that the Tweeter is going through life – has challenges etc, just like the rest of us – then I feel much better about them and will probably follow.

    The challenge for business is to get the conversation balance right. When Dave takes over all the gutter cleaning for Brighton does he train his staff to say good morning to everyone, does he wander the streets throwing out pleasant platitudes to everyone – even when it’s raining?

    It’ll be interesting to watch – I wish him success – he sounds like a nice guy!

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