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6 Ways Small Businesses Can Make the Most of Twitter

A smartphone with 4 message bubbles above it

Editor’s Note: I’m thrilled to introduce you to my favorite – and funny – social media expert, Grandma Mary. She’s here to share her favorite Twitter tips for small business owners just like you. –Pamela Wilson

brand marketing with Twitter is easy with tips from Grandma MaryGrandma Mary here.

Thanks Pamela, for letting me hijack the Big Brand System for the day. Because I’ve got a beef about all the information on how to use Twitter. A lot of it is directed towards large corporations and managing the “big brand” as you say. But what about the smaller businesses – how are they using Twitter?

We hear a lot about how Best Buy and Whole Foods and Comcast are using Twitter yada, yada, yada. And that’s nice for them – they have a team of tweeters. But how about the ones that don’t have their own Social Media department? Maybe that marketing department, accounting, and customer service is all one department and that’s you.

So how do you fit Twitter in?

You are busy. Here are some strategies to make sure you are managing your Twitter time and getting the most out of it.

1. Targeted searching

Make sure you are communicating and connecting with people who are tweeting about keywords in your niche. Use to look up keywords within tweets. Use the Advanced Search (the link right under the search box) to target an area if you are a local business. Or you can target exact phrases in the Advanced Search.

2. Targeted people search

Use to target new people to follow. Twellow is the “Yellow Pages” of Twitter and it is used to search people’s bios. About 50% will follow you back when you follow them. So if your ideal client is a mom in Cleveland, put those keywords in there and find anyone with a bio that has mom and Cleveland.  Use variations of the words also. You can also use the Twellowhood tab to drill down into cities and find all the tweeters in that city.

3. Schedule a few tweets

I know you are busy so it doesn’t hurt to pre-schedule a few tweets throughout the week when you won’t be able to tweet out information, links and helpful tips.

Don’t use it too often: you have to interact, people, that’s what Twitter is all about! But a little doesn’t hurt. You can use or (my favorite – does much more than schedule) to schedule tweets.

4. Tweet out specials, events and contests

A lot of restaurants and stores do a great business giving Twitter-only specials. @LindsaysDeli in Boulder is a small place, but they bring in a lot of customers with their tweets. Just make sure you are also interacting and talking with people once in awhile.

5. Give customers a behind-the-scenes peek

Use to share special moments at your place and let people get to know you. @ddpizza tweets out pictures of them making pizza, eating pizza and drivers delivering pizza – that’s fun!

6. Take a poll

Have a new product or service you are thinking about? Use or to get feedback and input on what might make it better. Not always scientific but it’s a place to start.

You may not have 1.7 million followers like Whole Foods, but you can still leverage Twitter to connect with new customers and current clients in a meaningful way. It’s going to take a little time to get ramped up, but Twitter doesn’t have to take all your time as a small business. And who knows, you start small and you go Big, baby!

brand marketing with Twitter is easy with this guide to growing your businessAbout the Author:

Grandma Mary is a Social Media Edutainer. Learning social media is wayyyy more fun with Grandma Mary. Need a step-by-step guide to Twitter? Check out her new book How to Use Twitter to Grow Your Business.

Pamela Wilson

Pamela Wilson is the Chief Marketing Officer at DCS. She’s the creator of the Offer Accelerator Program. Learn more about Pamela’s content marketing books, and read reviews of the tools used to run this site.
Pamela Wilson coaches people in midlife to build profitable online businesses
I’m Pamela Wilson

In 2010, at the age of 45, I started this site and grew it into a business that offers freedom, flexibility — and consistent revenue.

25 thoughts on “6 Ways Small Businesses Can Make the Most of Twitter”

  1. Those are super valuable tips, most of which I wasn’t aware of — and I actually thought I kinda already knew about most Twitter stuff. (Twellowhood? Who knew? Going there now!) Thank you for useful goodness.

    The one I don’t really get still is search. I’d love to hear an example of a search term and how that pays off in anything other than more people to follow — or is that the whole point of it? Sorry to be dense, Grandma!

    • Great question Sandy! One thing you can do in a search is find people who might be asking questions that you have expertise in and be helpful. For example, if you were an author, you could search on the phrase “what book” and someone might be asking what book should I read next. Or if you were a designer, you could search on “how do I” and a relevant design keyword like, logo or header or background. Maybe they are asking how do I get a pretty twitter background or something.

      Then you can reply and help them out and they might be curious enough to click over to your site. Just a few ideas – keep brainstorming!

  2. Very useful information. I have a question, though: Everybody says you have to talk with twitters, but how do you do that? Writing a twitter referencing @twittername very seldom leads to a response. Chances are they don’t even see the message.
    After all, the more folks you follow, the bigger the stream of messages becomes and I still don’t get how people follow all that, especially if you have little time.
    Direct messages, then? What are your thoughts on that?
    Thank you.

    • Very good question Rudolf! It really depends on who you are trying to tweet with. If you are trying to talk to Oprah, you can bet that she’s got a lot of people tweeting to her. Even some of the more popular bloggers will get 5-10 tweets/minute of people trying to talk to them. So they aren’t going to respond.

      I find that if I do the @twittername to most people I will get a conversation started. Or just Retweet something they have tweeted with a comment. DM’s don’t work as well because they are mostly spam and a lot of people don’t read them. Once you start interacting with people, put them in a list so that you can keep track of your “twitter friends” who actually respond back! Hope that helped – tweet me, I talk back!

  3. If you can at least get someone to follow you back, you can DM (direct message) them, which greatly increases your chances of getting a response. Also, in regards to the information overload, I highly recommend downloading TweetDeck (software for Twitter). It lets you filter out only the stuff from people you want to see, and puts it into different columns. So for example, I’ve got Marketing, Design and Other Stuff columns 🙂

  4. I’m using tweetdeck from Adobe, so organizing is no problem. Ok, so from what you say, I gather that using email or facebook for personal messages is far more effective. then twitter because if I were to send an email to Oprah, I wouldn’t get a response from her, but I certainly would get a response from someone in her organization, which is fine with me.
    That said, Twitter works wonderful for me as a message board. You herald your news, some people pick it up and follow up (or not) and that’s it.
    But other then that, I think twitter is a poor communication tool or I really do not get it, that is possible too. 🙂

  5. God knows I’ve tried … but I’ve never read an interesting tweet. I’ve tried search. I’ve found people who’s blogs and podcasts I love. I’ve tried complaining about bad service I’ve received from a company. No reply. I’ve made lists that focus only on things I’m intensely interested in.

    Nothing! Nada! Never a post that holds any information. For me Twitter is a content-free zone. The 140 character limit prevents Twitter from containing anything like compelling content.

    Your mileage may vary but mine’s been quite consistent.



    • Interesting Rob. You definitely don’t have much room to say anything on Twitter, that is true. But I think one good point of Twitter is that you have found blogs and podcasts you love. Maybe you wouldn’t have found them unless you were on Twitter!

  6. All I can say is WoW! I love this blog!! and Grandma Mary you are my new Grandma 🙂 I have been away from the Internet world for a while, I started developing websites by hand back around 1992. I am in the process of starting things up for myself and the social networking scene has been a little tough for me to get my head around, especially Twitter….Thank you for putting it out in such a nice format….and that program TweetDeck…didn’t know about it, just downloaded it and looks Awesome! If I am lucky and keep up with this blog site maybe I can turn myself into a bit of a web success someday 🙂

    • Brad: it’s good to see you here again! Grandma Mary is the bomb. I was honored to have her here for a visit.

      The best analogy I’ve heard about Twitter (and the one that finally helped me “get” it) is that it’s like your neighborhood bar. You pop in, overhear some interesting conversations and add your own two cents occasionally. Every once in a while, you grab someone and talk to them privately (direct message). It’s not a place you go to get in-depth news, but you can hear interesting snippets here and there.

      • Hi there Pamela! I am sorry I have been away for so long, glad I was able to make it back too…That is a great analogy and really clears it up, I can wrap my head around that one 🙂

  7. Hi Brad! Glad to meet ya! Tweetdeck is great – Hootsuite also does a nice job with organizing followers and has the scheduled tweets and statistics. Gotta have em! Good luck with your tweeting and looking forward to connecting with you on Twitter!

    • Thank you Grandma! Extremely happy I have the opportunity to meet you. I am on my way now to check out the other, and I will be looking you up on Twitter for sure…

  8. I always get a kick out of reading Grandma Mary’s advice. Yes, I get some pearls of wisdom too but the humor helps me consume sometimes overwhelming information.


  9. Hello Pamela — thanks so much for inviting Andrea (a.k.a. Grandma Mary) to take the seat of honor here today. Isn’t she a hoot?!

    I love her sense of humor and I’ll tell you a big fat secret. I recently won a social media brainstorming session with Grandma Mary and that old gal REALLY knows her stuff!! 🙂

    Grandma Mary — Your six pieces of advice for how to fit Twitter into your small business are absolutely right on the money. Like Pamela says, “You da bomb!”

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