Due to the real-time nature of Twitter, the key to effectively leveraging it is to provide frequent updates. Aim for at least one per day. You may also consider one in the morning, one at lunch and one in the evening. Think about what makes sense for your business and your customers. And don't get overwhelmed, here are some ideas to make this simple.
In Rich Nadworny's recent post at Digital Strategy, he recommends companies utilize their employees (not just the marketing team) to listen to the conversations happening, and respond accordingly. This is great advice, and fortunately for retailers, you can leverage your customers too!
Once you've signed up for an account on Twitter, added some basic info to your profile, and began following people and other retailers in order to listen and understand the rhythms of the conversations, here are a few ideas on how retailers (clothing stores, coffee shops, food stores, laundromats, dry cleaners, etc.) can leverage Twitter to encourage repeat sales, increase loyalty, expand awareness and grow their customer base.
1. First, Listen to Your Customers.
Ask your customers if they are on Twitter and then follow them (don't worry, it's ok - that's what Twitter is meant for.) Similar to how you've collected email addresses in the past, you could put a registration sheet by the register and ask people to write down their Twitter profile names. Or you could put a sign by the register announcing your Twitter profile name and asking; "Do you tweet? Follow us on Twitter for news, sales announcements and events."
Before actually posting to your Twitter profile, it's important to listen first, so that you get a feel for what people are talking about, how they feel about things, and so that you're not coming in "from left field." After listening for a while, the next step is to actually post tweets of your own...
2. Announce New Products, Menu Specials, Sales, Events
After you've signed up, began following a few people and listened to the conversations, the next step is to actually begin posting tweets of your own. One way retailers can provide valuable, relevant content is to provide new product announcements. Think about the customer; think seasonality. Think time of day. CityMarket, my favorite natural foods co-op in Burlington, Vermont, does this well. Follow them https://twitter.com/CityMarket
Here's a list of many retailers (mostly large national chains) that are already on Twitter.
3. Be Creative: Add Tweets to Your Menu Pricing
This doesn't have to break the bank. For example, how about adding a menu item like "Cranberry Sauce: 1 Tweet"
Again, due to the real-time nature of Twitter, the key to having a strong presence is by being part of the conversation on a regular basis (at least daily). By providing incentives to your customers to tweet about you, you'll be enlisting the help of a team of loyal customers, which you'll need.
4. Spark Conversations and Create a Customer Community
To make this easy, you could post a question each day on Twitter, and then ask customers to post their reply via Twitter. For example, coffee shops could use their Twitter profile to spark conversations among customers by asking "What are you reading today?" or "What's on your iPod today?"
Encourage customers to reply @yourprofilename or use YourStoreName #hashtags.
5. Finding/Hiring New Employees
Finding qualified employees can be difficult, and by posting job openings on Twitter, you can leverage the power of your customer base to quickly spread the word for you - even if they haven't been to your physical location.
6. Lost and Found
Most local retailers have lost and founds, so why not use Twitter to help your customers re-connect with their items? For example post a tweet like "Found: Briefcase @Espresso77. Free muffins for local retweets."
Recommended Further Reading:
Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh's Beginner's Guide and Tutorial to Using Twitter
If you're a local business owner, be sure to check out Pat Kitano's excellent Slideshare presentation "The Local Business Owner's Guide to Twitter", where he shares excellent examples for a range of local business owners like massage therapists, attornies, and restaurants.
What do you think?
Ian, we're aligned in our thinking that Twitter is destined to become a significant local advertising platform. I'll be adding your tips to our follow-on guides on local social media marketing. We should be collaborating on bringing the message of "community media" to all those local merchants who can benefit from it. Later today I'll be posting commentary on community media at https://mediatransparent.com
Thanks for stopping by Pat.
As indicated above, readers of this post can really benefit from your Slideshare presentations (see link in main post above) as well as your blog Transparent Media. You really nail social media in a way that's relevant to local business owners (in actionable ways!)
I'm also checking out FriendFeed and it's real-time search capabilities based on your recent post, and I look forward to your commentary on community media.
Thanks for again for stopping by and commenting! I need to find out how to get Blogger to allow hyperlinks within comments. Or switch to WordPress!
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