We often hear local business owners say they aren’t using Twitter because they have no interest in tweeting. But by taking that tack they might be shooting themselves in the foot by missing out on some important business benefits of Twitter even for those who don’t actively tweet.
When it comes to using Twitter for business, it isn’t just about tweeting. That might seem odd to anyone who hasn’t explored the Twitter universe. But Twitter also has much to offer the non-tweeters among us — and that’s a lot of local businesses. Sure, you’ll still need to set up a Twitter account and learn how to use it. You will want to build a great Twitter profile for your business and include a link to your website. If an occasional tweet won’t kill you, that would be nice too. But that’s not too much to ask in return for the free marketing, PR tools and benefits you’ll get in return.
Here are ShopTalk’s Top 5 Twitter benefits for local businesspeople who don’t plan to actively tweet:
- Be a fantastic Follower. One of the great unheralded benefits of using Twitter is the ability to check the pulse of what’s happening in your area of business, profession or industry by “Following” other businesses or individuals on Twitter. Following thought leaders in your industry, as well as specific groups, topics, brands and even your competitors can give you an edge and provide fresh ideas for marketing and growing your business. You can easily find appropriate people or businesses to follow by using the “Who to Follow” feature available on your Twitter toolbar. (Also see our article Who to Follow on Twitter.)
- Monitor your own name, business or brand. Even if you aren’t an active tweeter, you’ll still want to know if someone tweets something about you, your business or your products and services. Use the free Twitter Search function to search your business name or related terms. This is also helpful to search for, monitor and track what’s being said about certain products, brands or your competitors. You can also use it to check news and trends in your industry or profession. And you’ll certainly want to know if a customer has expressed concern about your business in any way via Twitter.
- Make your business profile visible on Twitter. A brief business profile on Twitter will benefit your business regardless of your tweeting prowess. One valuable part is the link you include. Instead of putting in your main business website URL (as most local businesses tend to do), consider creating a special landing page on your site just for people who find you on Twitter. Use it to quickly introduce these visitors to your business and generate a lead.
- Treat Twitter as a prospecting tool. Free search and monitoring tools available on Twitter have uses above and beyond finding a person, company or topic. You can also use them to plug into conversations taking place around specific issues or common customer problems and needs, and to see what kinds of questions people are asking about the types of products and services you offer. When you locate people who might benefit from what you sell (because of a comment they’ve made or question they’ve asked), you can look for ways to connect with them. Of course the best way is via Twitter; but depending on what information they have in their profile, you might be able to find a website, blog or other way to get in touch.
- Tap Twitter for a public relations bonus. Reporters, bloggers and other media folks tend to be highly active on Twitter. Finding them and following what they are doing and saying is a great way to gather details that can help you pitch your own stories to them via other channels. Our favorite is MuckRack. Also keep an eye out for story topics that reporters and editors are working on for which you or your business might be a helpful resource.