This is a guest post by Janet Thaeler – social media specialist for OrangeSoda (Twitter @orangesoda) and helps small businesses with their local online marketing.
I came across this fascinating research about Twitter – did you know that 79% of Twitter accounts are not being used? They are effectively abandoned (or never used). The data doesn’t look great in this study from Barracuda Networks (pdf).
Still, Twitter can be a great tool for local businesses both to drive awareness and for SEO. Being actively involved, and connecting with others who are, can have a lot of impact. Why? Because these are the people who tend to share their opinions and who are influencers. They also tend to be bloggers or active on other social networks.
I’m a huge fan of using Twitter for local businesses – especially restaurants. Post pictures of people eating at your restaurant, of your special of the day, and of your dishes with tools like Twitpic. The same applies for bakeries or people who sell clothing or many different types of businesses.
It’s fairly easy to find out who is tweeting near you (esp. with Twitter’s new location feature or directories like Twellow) and follow them. Then start building a relationship by retweeting their tweets, responding to their questions, etc. Your tweets and images can show up in Google search results.
When burger chain Smashburger opened a new location in Draper, Utah they invited some locals who are active on Twitter to come try the food (I call it an ‘eat & tweet’). The group ate and tweeted about it, and in the process generated a lot of buzz. Their friends see what they’re doing and want to go check it out too.
Subway gave away gift cards to get a free sandwich and reached out to people in their local community.
Based on my own unscientific research, a lot of people who do use Twitter aren’t getting the most value from their account. I’m not the only one who thinks that. For one thing, fill out your bio. Put words people might use to find you in the listings. Assume they have never heard of you or your business because they probably haven’t.
Perhaps one of my favorite uses of Twitter is to ask questions and get opinions from your network. And if Twitter isn’t working for you (even after getting some coaching, taking a class, or educating yourself on how to optimize it), there’s always Facebook and LinkedIn.