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Twitter Helping Local Business Opportunities
engine




msg:3915956
 7:24 pm on May 18, 2009 (gmt 0)

Twitter Helping Local Business Opportunities [adage.com]
Naked Pizza, a New Orleans healthful-pizza shop that's hoping to go national -- Mark Cuban is a backer -- has been marketing itself via the microblogging service. And recently it has started to track Twitter-spurred sales at the register. In a test run April 23, an exclusive-to-Twitter promotion brought in 15% of the day's business.

"Every phone call was tracked, every order was measured by where it came from, and it told us very quickly that Twitter is useful," said Jeff Leach, the restaurant's co-founder. "Sure, there's the brand marketing and getting-to-know-you stuff. ... But we wanted to know: Can it make the cash register ring?"


 

bill




msg:3916183
 4:07 am on May 19, 2009 (gmt 0)

Thanks for sharing that engine. Some good practical examples in there. That's a good one to pass along to the locals who don't see the value in adopting Twitter.

2clean




msg:3916315
 9:34 am on May 19, 2009 (gmt 0)

Yup, Twitter can some real possible benefits. Although 5 months ago I would have laughed at the thought. I stand corrected.

filbiz




msg:3916324
 10:01 am on May 19, 2009 (gmt 0)

I still don't know if having thousands of followers on twitter will have a corresponding traffic to my website. I've seen some twitter profile with thousands of followers but when I looked at the alexa rank of his website, it still sucks.

inbound




msg:3916389
 11:52 am on May 19, 2009 (gmt 0)

Although I've still to experiment with twitter, as one of many people who concentrate on other traffic generation techniques, this example is a good one and may spur people on to try twitter when they thought it was not for them.

I do however get the impression that it won't work for everyone, as not every business has something exciting to say on a regular basis to get people to follow them or create any buzz. Let's think about a local service provider, if that service is a poupular service that many local companies offer (and that company does a good, reliable job but not outstanding in any way) how are they (given the local business owner is possibly not very creative in terms of marketing) going to come up with anything apart from discounted twitter specials? How much interest can you create in a local business that isn't cutting edge in any way?

So the question is, how do you market an unremarkable local business using twitter?

goodroi




msg:3916437
 1:50 pm on May 19, 2009 (gmt 0)

I will respectfully disagree with twitter helping local business. It may have a few isolated cases of success. Overall twitter is not a good investment for the average local business. If you have a fanatical customer base then go reap the rewards of twitter. If you are an average, plain boring local business (dry cleaner, locksmith, fruit stand) then you are still better off focusing on yellow page listings and local directories IMHO.

Based on my experience Twitter is most similar to email marketing.

Twitter follower counts are generally inflated just like many email lists. Having 10,000 followers is not the same as having 10,000 humans reading your message.

Twitter action rates are low just like email conversion. Even if you have 10,000 humans reading your message, it does not translate to 10,000 conversions.

Like email marketing you need to keep your twitter content fresh and interesting. If you want a good audience you need to keep them happy. This involves a decent bit of work to keep for twitter stream filled.

It takes time and energy to recruit followers and post messages on twitter. Most local businesses could probably spend their time and energy on more productive projects.

netmeg




msg:3916447
 2:01 pm on May 19, 2009 (gmt 0)

That's the same issue that a business is going to have with *any* marketing effort. If they can figure out a way to make themselves remarkable or at least notable, or in *some* way stand out from their competitors - or pay someone to do it for them - they're always going to struggle.

Hmm, what would I try on twitter if I were running a local small business?

First of all, I'd probably use search or the twitter grader to find other twitter users in my immediate area, and follow them. Some percentage of them will follow me back right away, because they recognize the name of my business (take out a twitter name that coincides with your business!); I for one always follow back the various Ann Arbor and Michigan based companies that follow me, particularly if I recognize them.

I like the idea of discounted twitter specials, so I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss that. But even if you don't want to discount pricing, you can use it to inform people about new items or services, or talk about how you go the extra mile for your customers. If the only thing in the world you have going for you is that you're located on the corner of Fourth and Main and there are no other businesses like yours within ten miles, then you can remind people of *that*.

If you're in a business or service where pictures of your work make a difference, you can upload pictures to twitpic and have them instantly go out to your followers. "We just finished this landscaping job - check it out!" and so on.

You can use twitter's amazing search capabilities to search for keywords and locations specific to your business, so if you see someone complaining that mice are taking over their crawl space, you can send them a quick tweet saying you offer pest control services in their area.

You can spend half an hour or an hour every few days actually engaging in conversations with local people, not necessarily related to your business, so they get to know something about you - and if a need for your business ever comes up, they think - Hey, I know a guy who does that! You'll have an immediate competitive edge, because they will feel they know you.

Similarly, if you have some kind of expertise in something where it won't cost you too much to occasionally toss out a little free advice, or words of wisdom (best practices for unclogging the kitchen sink, or how to treat a lawn for dandelions when there are pets in the home, etc) you can do that - that will get you retweeted, and if you give out just enough to get them to call you for more information, you can sell them then. Moreover, tweets seem to hang around forever, so if anyone else comes along and does a search, you may show up there too.

And that's just off the top of my head. If I sat down and thought about it for an hour, I could probably come up with at least ten pages worth.

Obviously you have to be careful not to overwhelm people with sales messages all the time

You don't have to spend every minute of every day there. But start with ten or fifteen minutes a day and build, and you could very easily build an incremental income stream with pretty much NO outlay other than time.

[edited by: netmeg at 2:05 pm (utc) on May 19, 2009]

celerityfm




msg:3916449
 2:05 pm on May 19, 2009 (gmt 0)

I still don't know if having thousands of followers on twitter will have a corresponding traffic to my website. I've seen some twitter profile with thousands of followers but when I looked at the alexa rank of his website, it still sucks.

Ahh- therein lies the problem- Alexa rank is computed over a three month period. Twitter delivers burst traffic- ie, you post that interesting link, that compelling offer, that great idea - and you get a flood of users coming in for THAT MOMENT. Then the flood subsides. Alexa doesn't record that kind of stuff, it doesn't help show the value of burst traffic. As to having lots of followers, it's definitely valuable to have lots ENGAGED, RELEVANT followers - that's one of the ways to make burst traffic happen :)

triggerfinger




msg:3916480
 2:41 pm on May 19, 2009 (gmt 0)

I think it is a case of Twitter and Mark Cuban affecting the sales - certainly the hype. IMHO local businesses need to do three simple/cost effective things on Twitter. 1. Own the brand 2. Monitor the sentiment and the competition 3. Build a following over time.

farmboy




msg:3916502
 3:09 pm on May 19, 2009 (gmt 0)

It takes time and energy to recruit followers and post messages on twitter. Most local businesses could probably spend their time and energy on more productive projects.

I had the same thoughts. The title of the article is "Twitter Proves Its Worth as a Killer App for Local Businesses" and a quote from the pizza guy is "..and it told us very quickly that Twitter is useful". My jury is still out on the value of using Twitter in this manner, but I didn't see anything in the article that convinced me this is a "Killer App".

As for it being useful, walking the streets of a city and knocking on every door to tell people about your business, for example, would be useful, but how can you put a value on that usefulness without knowing the opportunity costs?

Is there any reliable data on numbers of users at any particular time of day in areas other than "hip" urban environments and college campus areas? And what about demographics?

FarmBoy

2clean




msg:3916503
 3:09 pm on May 19, 2009 (gmt 0)

A single answer there is not.

"(dry cleaner, locksmith, fruit stand) then you are still better off focusing on yellow page listings and local directories IMHO."

Well let's see now. It cost nothing to add twitter to a website, it's pretty easy to use (compared to facebook). Those that know how to use it will add themselves. Those that don't won't. You could Twitter users when their dry-cleaning is ready and then run a monitor to pickup the mention of your receipt.

Fruit-Stand. You've got stuff you can't sell tomorrow. Twitter all the people in the neighbourhood that they can get fresh fruit at discount. NOW.

And all this costs you diddly.

What you really want is TWITTER HUB. People that have everyone in the neighbourhood and you as a business pay for a distribution.

BYE.

Silvery




msg:3916516
 3:33 pm on May 19, 2009 (gmt 0)

goodroi: Greg Sterling states in that article that Twitter is good for local businesses *because* it's like email marketing which also can be very effective for local.

Just as 2clean mentions, it's very, very easy to use. For the value compared to the return in customer referrals, it can be extremely good ROI. Only takes seconds to craft a Tweet and shoot it out. Seconds!

I've been tracking quite a number of coffee shops and tea shops via Twitter, and quite a number of them appear to attract more repeat customer visits via Twitter.

nealrodriguez




msg:3916520
 3:34 pm on May 19, 2009 (gmt 0)

I still don't know if having thousands of followers on twitter will have a corresponding traffic to my website. I've seen some twitter profile with thousands of followers but when I looked at the alexa rank of his website, it still sucks.

followers that twit about your vertical or, in this case, in close proximity to your establishment are crucial to your success.

For Mr. Leach, who is targeting people within a three-mile radius of his store, that's key

just having a large arbitrary following wont do much; moreover, i have seen results produced by twitter's use through small increases in targeted traffic, rather than unfocused server crippling traffic with high bounce rates.

netmeg




msg:3916565
 4:23 pm on May 19, 2009 (gmt 0)

It's a glass half empty/half full type viewpoint. Fortunately, it's all voluntary. If you don't believe Twitter will help your business, you don't have to use it, and that means more room for me and my clients.

But don't be surprised if some of your competitors start showing up.

(heh, funny how some of the objections I've seen to Twitter are almost word for word the same objections I used to see from businesses about the Internet)

farmboy




msg:3916571
 4:33 pm on May 19, 2009 (gmt 0)

You could Twitter users when their dry-cleaning is ready and then run a monitor to pickup the mention of your receipt.

...And all this costs you diddly.

Time is money. To do the above, you have to assign someone the task of asking customers for their Twitter information, keeping a record of that somehow, someone to notify hundreds of individual customers daily that the dry-cleaning is ready, someone to monitor for and respond to follow-up questions from customers, etc.

Now, I'm not saying it wouldn't be worth the resources - for some businesses it probably will be. But let's not pretend it's all return with no resources expended.

FarmBoy

engine




msg:3916593
 5:00 pm on May 19, 2009 (gmt 0)

Like any new 'thing' it needs to prove itself before everyone 'gets it.'

I'm not suggesting it's the Holy Grail that will set alight the sales for a local business. However, as webmasters and web marketers, we have to look at these as possibilities. Those that are early adopters have a head start of the nay-sayers. If it all goes pear shaped, at least adopters can say they tried.

Put your thinking caps on and look at the parallels, look at the other local possibilities, and look at how it might be integrated into your next plan. If you can't yet see the possibilities, no problem, but do keep looking.

bwnbwn




msg:3916751
 8:48 pm on May 19, 2009 (gmt 0)

Being a small business owner/internet sales I will try a twitter.

My plan is to post my twitter account in the store and online to let folks know we plan on twittering a smoothie special and or products discount and see what happens.

I will advertise the twitter name for at least a month and then do a tweet and see what happens.

I can add a discount code in the tweet for internet sales as well as store sales and have a solid number to report on.

It will as well be intresting to see how many followers I can pick upas right now I have a grand total of 3.

incrediBILL




msg:3916871
 1:00 am on May 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

I think the business prospects on Twitter are great and I've dabbled a little and the instant response rate is very cool, but it's the same instant response rate I got from blogs, but I think I'm reaching two different groups of people with an overlapping subset.

However, the only thing slowing down a wider adoption of Twitter and success in marketing on Twitter is Twitter itself, if they can't make it faster and more stable it's doomed.

A week ago it got so bad I kinda gave up as my frustration level with Twitter's failures hit an all time high.

Still using it, but not nearly as much, too frail at this point to build a solid business marketing plan around it until they get the bugs out.

inbound




msg:3916876
 1:28 am on May 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

too frail at this point to build a solid business marketing plan around it until they get the bugs out.

Maybe that's where the potential tie up with Google comes in... if you need an almost instant answer to scaling issues then Google are a pretty good bet - they have so much harware and talent that they can chuck lots of machines at most application bottlenecks until they can sort the weak areas and any bugs (but a sub-optimal database design for a, suddenly, very popular application can end up being non-scalable beyond a point - I wonder if that has hit Twitter).

incrediBILL




msg:3916879
 1:44 am on May 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

they have so much harware and talent that they can chuck lots of machines at most application bottlenecks until they can sort the weak areas and any bugs

That's true assuming the core of Twitter is built on a sound foundation in the first place.

Sometimes you just have to start over :)

trinorthlighting




msg:3916906
 3:31 am on May 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

I can just see twitter months from now, full of advertisers and people who are confused about how to use twitter.

anallawalla




msg:3916909
 3:50 am on May 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

Twitter works for a baker whose customers will down tools and rush to buy freshly baked bread when they get a tweet, or a grocer who gets some rare fruit once in a blue moon. This is cheaper than an SMS.

It can work for many products or services where demand outstrips supply.

JS_Harris




msg:3917020
 8:50 am on May 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

I wouldn't follow a Pizza shop on Twitter, a personality would have to make a convincing pitch on Twitter for me to buy one on a whim (like a 15% discount) so I'm curious as to cost vs reward. For this to be effective when the novelty wears off... how much will it cost to retain a twitter personality ?

BradleyT




msg:3917287
 5:56 pm on May 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

There was an article I read last week that talked about roving food carts using twitter to update the "lunch crowd" on A) where they were located and B) what specials they had for the day.

I can see it being useful for those type of micro-niches. Local coffee shops that get in limited-time/quantity exotic blends, organic food growers, bars that get a batch of a seasonal brew, etc...

Although really most of that could be done via RSS too.

JS_Harris




msg:3917486
 1:28 am on May 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

Bradley, I hadn't thought of that, since i'm often out and about and love some of the food cart foods (don't tell my wife) I'd actually sign up for a Twitter update for a roving cart or two... just to know where they are. If they swing by my way I very well might visit them too.

The cart, via GPS and a map service, could easily set up an RSS feed that pings an auto-tweet service whenever it moves or at the start of the day or whatever. That seems like a lot of hassle but honestly i'm not about to bookmark a website for every place I want an update for, and i'm not going to follow every restaurant out there...

I believe an ad network recently announced plans to call people with special offers if the phone detected they were in the vicinity of said store, i think Twitter needs to get in on that asap.

bill




msg:3918294
 5:23 am on May 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

Although really most of that could be done via RSS too.

Twitter is becoming the new RSS to a certain degree. It's certainly more limited than RSS, but it's a great way to provide updated information in a similar manner. There's nothing to install and user uptake is quite rapid these days.

Twitter's search allows for local searches within a defined radius, so it's perfect for this sort of notification. That can't readily be accomplished with RSS.

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