Should your Small Business be on Twitter?

Insurance_Online_MarketingFor most small businesses, moving into various forms of online advertising is a step-by-step process. You need to be careful about over-extending yourself. Every different social venue is its own time sink, so smart businesses think hard about each new social venue they move into.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at Twitter and how useful it might be as a business tool. Will Twitter fit into your small business marketing plans? The answer is a definite “maybe.”

Let’s take a look at what Twitter has to offer!

What Twitter Can Do For Small Business Marketing Campaigns

Twitter boasts some of the most impressive statistics in social media, behind only Facebook. With over 500 Million users, Twitter has a huge active user base worldwide that shares 58 million Tweets a day – and growing.

Twitter is superb for video marketing campaigns. Every auto-shared Tweet promoting a YouTube video receives, on average, six new views. In fact, over 4 million people (and growing) are auto-sharing material. That means they’re doing all the work for you for distribution and promotion, if only you can get your videos in front of them.

Like most social media outlets, Twitter basically means free advertising when it’s utilized correctly. If you’re really on the ball, a clever tweet at an opportune moment can generate huge hype and potentially worldwide publicity – again, for effectively no money spent.

Twitter works best when being used in real-time. Tweet about events only shortly before they happen – like an hour – and leave all long term promotion to other outlets. Use Twitter to get instant feedback from users. Run contests, or find ways to have them interact directly with company personalities.

That said, there are some pretty significant issues to consider.

The Problems With Twitter As A Marketing Tool

Anecdotal evidence and common sense both say Twitter is great. Plus, there is some evidence suggesting high Twitter activity correlates to more successful SEO. However, the plain fact of the matter is, you are never going to sell anything on Twitter. It’s a second-level tool at best. It spreads messages, but it will never create significant revenue.

A few other issues include:

  • The short length. It’s hard to say much in <140 characters, unless you’re setting up some sort of in-person gathering.
  • It’s mostly used by the young: Only about 16% of adults report using Twitter regularly.
  • #Hashtags are easily hijacked: Twitter is very prone to “incidents” that end up reflecting poorly on a company. That said, even the most outrageous Twitter drama is forgotten six months later.
  • Few rural customers use it: Twitter just isn’t too useful outside of cities, so don’t bet on your rural customers having it.
  • The constant updating: A Twitter-active company is expected to be making several Tweets a day. Maintaining this alongside a Facebook account, while blogging, is often what pushes businesses towards hiring a social media director or online marketing firm.

In short, Twitter works great if you have customers who use Twitter regularly and you (or someone so empowered) can keep up clever, timely, and topical streams of Tweets during company events or interesting local matters. If you lack the resources necessary to really commit to it, or being “Johnny on the Spot” won’t help your image, it’s probably not worth the time investment.

Facebook and LinkedIn are better all-around small business marketing tools online. Twitter is for those with specific needs, or customers who fit into certain Twitter-friendly demographics.

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