Similar to Twitter’s little blue bird, time flies. It was this time a year ago that I wrote my most successful post on State of Search – 10 ways to grow your twitter followers and 10 essential tools to do it I must admit, I was surprised at how well it was received, to this date it has received 39 comments, over 400 re-tweets, 20,000 page views and nearly 13,000 visitors via search engines.
Today I want to revisit the Twittersphere but look specifically at how small local businesses can utilise Twitter to grow their followers, but most importantly their business. One thing I have noticed about Twitter is that some people are too caught up in the numbers game and try to artificially increase their followers. Local businesses really benefit from interacting, engaging and developing relationships with users who are local, so quick fixes such the search queries below won’t help much.
The bible suggests “love thy neighbour” but first let me suggest you get to know them. Geo location tools such as the iPhone app Twinkle can be a very valuable way of learning about users based around in your area and what they tweet about. Do they like to RT local offers? If so, who likes to RT them? Do they wish there was more choice in the range of sandwiches at the local deli? If so, can you meet this demand? Twinkle allows you to search for fellow Twitterers near your exact location, as determined by the geo-location feature of your iPhone.
Chirp City is a similar tool that not only allows you to drill down to your exact location and see targeted tweets but to join conversations too. But as I mentioned, don’t smother them with love and attention, get to know them first.
Twitter can act as an additional way for you to conduct research on your competitors or local businesses. This can be a great way of identifying of what I name the ‘local town criers’. These are the local enthusiasts, the patriots of your community who actively talk about the area and it’s businesses. The tool who follows whom allows you to enter up to 5 users accounts, and then lists common followers and followees. Research your local competitors to find out who follows them and who they follow and this will give you a foundation for building up relevant and targeted followers. Finding patterns and clusters of people who follow similar businesses can lead to you identifying local town criers who are heavy retweeters of local news or offers.
Although I will never tell anyone not to aim for the stars you sometimes need to be realistic when aiming to get your business noticed. Yes you want coverage and reach, but charging in gung-ho tweeting any Tom, Dick or Harry asking to be retweeted won’t work. You are better off focusing on targeting local authority figures such as journalists who have an interest in the community and are continuously looking for worthy news pieces or content.
The tool Listorious is a great way of finding local journalists, editors or people who have a social influence. If this is not enough for you try Twellow which is the equivalent of the yellow pages but for Twitter.
Like Oliver, if you still want more why not try harnessing advanced search commands on Twitter and testing your keywords in conjunction with the template:
This will show tweets made by people in your local area who write columns or have an affiliation with press or publications. Success stems from testing so try using other combinations of keywords such as:
Everyone loves a bargain, whether they are offline or online. Reward your current twitter followers and encourage others to join by creating coupons/vouchers for your own network. The great thing is you can leverage your own existing network to share the deal too whilst you kick back and watch the queue form.
The tool Twtqpon offers 4 types of coupons:
• FREE Twitter coupon that anyone can claim
• SECRET coupons only available to Twitter users who have to RT to claim
• FOLLOWERS coupon where people must follow you to claim
• GROUP coupon allows you to offer a great deal IF a group commits to it. People have to tweet & follow to claim this coupon.
People respond to affection and attention. One way of ensuring you keep your current followers happy whilst also appealing to new users is to customise polls and ask your followers for feedback.
Let’s just say you own a sandwich shop, you can create polls from twtpoll or similar which include ratings on current sandwiches and include questions with multiple answers on what new fillings they would like to see made. This information is real time and actionable and once people know their feedback is appreciated and acted upon they will not only become more loyal but can act as evangelists.
Twitter is continuously growing and now has around 200 million user accounts across the world and although it has been around for a while it is still an evolving medium. New tools are created everyday so it is important to be aware of what is out there but most importantly how you can use it to your advantage. When trying to grow a local business your intentions should focus on your local market first, build the foundations and see if you can find ways engage with your local market.
*If you decide to go with any promotions for your local business around Surbiton, in particular food offers tweet me and let me know!