SMB Tech: How to Successfully Use Twitter in Retail

Kim Mays
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Global Study Finds Social Media Drives Content Discovery with Millennials

Although most small to midsize businesses (SMBs) have made inroads with social media, many still have not used the 140-character social tool to their advantage. It seems obvious that Twitter may not be the perfect vehicle for every SMBs’ message to its customers. But for those with an online retail store, Twitter can give sales a huge boost.

According to a recent Twitter survey of users who follow SMBs, 60 percent say that they purchased from an SMB because of Tweets they read on Twitter. Another 43 percent said that they “plan to purchase regularly from an SMB they follow” on the social medium, and another 43 percent say they would purchase at least once. And these followers are loyal: 66 percent have followed SMBs for more than 6 months and 56 percent have never unfollowed the SMBs.

These Twitter followers say that the reasons they choose to follow SMBs are to learn about upcoming products and services (40 percent) and to show support of local businesses they frequent (39 percent). What SMB wouldn’t want to have access to such a loyal following of customers and potential customers for almost free? Even better, 76 percent have sent Tweets directly to an SMB, and 90 percent of the ones who received a reply felt “positive brand sentiment.”

Business leaders at the recent ICON14 in Phoenix, the Infusionsoft customer conference for small businesses and companies that serve them, gave 11 tips for success. The first tip, from Laurie McCabe, an SMB Group partner, made a statement that further supports the Twitter survey’s findings:

“Know where your customers are hanging out online. You don’t have to be everywhere. Be where your customers are… and communicate with them there.”

For many companies, that “where” may just be Twitter. The third tip from the conference was from Melinda Emerson, author of the entrepreneurial book “Succeed as Your Own Boss.” Emerson suggests SMBs use Twitter for more than reaching out to customers:

“Twitter is the best thing that ever happened to small business owners. You can listen to your competitors or customers, and they don’t even know you’re listening.”

Use Twitter to see what your competitors are doing and if it’s successful, try it yourself. Are they Tweeting about a sale? Do they Tweet information about the industry? Maybe they share customer feedback. The Twitter survey found that the most common reason that a consumer sends a Tweet to an SMB is to share a positive experience. Turn that around and share it with the world. Twitter users love having their thoughts retweeted. And if it’s something they felt important enough to tell your business, it’s likely going to be just as interesting to other followers. As I discussed in a previous post, telling a good story can go a long way in creating buzz for your business.

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