Your customers are Twits

Last year, I blogged about how local businesses could use Twitter to reach their customers. In that hypothetical example, a street vendor would let regulars know whether he was working or not.

A number of large companies, including Zappos, Comcast and jetBlue are already using Twitter to engage with their customers. As Twitter’s popularity grows, it will cease to be a tenable channel for customer service.

But for local businesses, it’ll be a great opportunity. Witness this exchange between Twitter developer Alex Payne and 21st Amendment Brewery.

Twitter exchange between Alex Payne and 21st Amendment brewery

Twitter exchange between Alex Payne and 21st Amendment brewery

Three of the big challenges in getting local business online are that it’s too expensive, too complicated and too hard to prove the return. A Twitter presence can address all three:

  • It’s free.
  • It’s easy. You don’t have to create a Web site to reach your customers. If you don’t have one, your Web presence can be your Twitter page. Not ideal, but better than nothing — at least it’ll get you into search engines. If you do have one, you can autoflow Twitter updates to your Web page making it easy to keep your Web presence fresh.
  • It’s easier to prove return on investment. Twitter can improve both the “R” and the “I”. You can see who’s following your business, showing return. Because there is no cost and the effort is lower, the investment is lower.

There are a number of ways businesses can use Twitter:

  • Specials of the day. “Soup of the day: tomato basil”
  • Special events. “Windsor Cooley book signing Friday night” “Closed for private party”
  • New products. “Transcontinental IPA on tap at the 21A”
  • Problems. “Closed due to broken water pipe”

The immediacy of Twitter also offers a way to do real-time inventory management. Have an especially slow night and food going to waste? Send out a tweet with a special discount.

More on: Twitter

About Rakesh Agrawal

Rakesh Agrawal is Senior Director of product at Amazon (Audible). Previously, he launched local and mobile products for Microsoft and AOL. He tweets at @rakeshlobster.
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