Many small businesses simply don’t use Twitter. Some of them don’t understand it; no one can know everything and small businesses tend to be the type of operation where people wear a lot of hats. The “social marketing expert” hat isn’t always found in every business.
Others DO understand it, and they have rational reasons for not Twittering. They say “we have fifteen important clients, and I talk to every one of them on the phone every other day.” Others have extremely limited time and money to devote to marketing, and they prioritize proven approaches that work – they just aren’t going to experiment with their limited resources.
I think there are, only two good unique reasons for a small business to use Twitter. (There are lots of good reasons that AREN’T unique – things you can do every bit as well with a different tool –) If these reasons apply to your business and to your customer base, then you should be using Twitter. If not, then you shouldn’t feel obliged to add yet another Social Media Task to your daily load.
1. Twitter is an extremely cheap, extremely steady way to build a brand identity. Branding is hard for small business! We don’t have the budget to drop $10 million on an ad agency and say “make us known for X”. Yet branding is the easiest way to have a unique identifier and to stand out from your competition. A consistent, persistent, relevant stream of tweets that emphasize and coordinate with your desired brand identity (and a Twitter page that follows the same approach) will develop that brand consciousness in your customer base very organically and very effectively. It will cost you time – but it won’t cost you money. Plus, even big companies can’t drop that $10 million ad budget every day – but you can sure as heck tweet every day.
2. Twitter allows an almost personal connection with each of your customers – whether there are 10 or 10,000 – if you have the right customers. Because you can directly message individual customers, as well as sending tweets to the entire base, you can create a much more intimate connection – IF your customer base is a heavily Twitter-ized population! If you’re selling electric wheelchairs to senior citizens, let’s be realistic – right now you are not going to be making a lot of conversions off your Twitter feed. But if you have a highly networked, mobile-using, Twitter-reading customer base, then it is fast and easy to stay in contact with them in an extremely flexible way.