My new article on some ideas on how to “Harness the Power of Twitter for Local Marketing” just pubbed this morning at Search Engine Land. In it, I describe how a number of small and large local businesses are using Twitter, and I provide a small handful of ideas as to how to do it.
Make no mistake, though – the basic foundation of marketing through Twitter is all about “audience engagement” or “community engagement”. Twitter is a communication medium, a micro-blogging platform, a community forum. Micro-communities and macro-communities are grouping up on it rapidly so that people with common interests can easily ask each other brief questions and get back quick answers. Also, people are using it to keep up-to-date with one another in something far closer to real-time as well.
From my perspective, the most effective business uses of Twitter are where companies are providing snippet information of direct interest to their communities, and responding to questions from their stakeholders and customers. Whole Foods and Marriott International are two of these companies which are demonstrating that they “get it”, and are providing compelling interaction through their Tweets.
For many locally-oriented businesses, Twitter is a really good opportunity to gather together a community of interested current and future customers. To do this, one must respect the time and patience of the audience — don’t waste people’s time by too much inane chatter. Also, to build an audience rapidly, consider giving away some really great rebates or freebies. For instance, my coworker Li Evans just “retweeted” (“forwarded”) this offer from Maggiano’s Restaurants to her list of followers this morning:
This sort of discount offer is highly compelling. I took the offer, began following Maggianos, and forwarded the offer to my list of Twitter followers as well. This sort of Twitter use is very powerful! Notice how it’s viral: it encourages people to distribute the offer out to their friends, who send it to their friends, who… you get the picture!
The Twitter phenomenon is growing very rapidly since the service launched only a couple of years back. Savvy marketers will learn how to leverage the potential, but only if they understand the basic foundation of community engagement.