Is Twitter Still Relevant To Small Businesses?

by Christoph Puetz

Back in 2009 when the big hype broke out about Twitter I was full on board and got my own Twitter account. I started reading about Twitter in the media and all it came down to for me was “Who the heck would be interested in finding out what I had for dinner?”. I am not a super-social person with hundreds of friends (I’d rather have a small circle of close, like-minded friends) and I am very careful with not flooding the world with messages of stuff that would not make sense or provide value.

Fast forward to the end of 2010 and my perspective about Twitter has changed a little bit. For one I am reading more and I am seeing more about Twitter that gets me at least a little bit excited about Twitter. I still do not see Twitter changing the world for me in my personal life, but from a business perspective I have a different opinion .

For one in a recent interview with Danny Sullivan (SEO Legend) Google, Bing, and other search engines pretty much admitted that they use signals from Twitter, Facebook, and other social websites to determine the importance of a link and content on the Internet. So, as an example a Twitter account of a celebrity with lots of tweets and lots of followers carries a higher value compared to a Twitter account of John Doe from Little Rock, Arkansas who follows his local bowling alley on Twitter for coupons and deals, but never posted any other message than “hello” when he signed up with Twitter. So, from an search engine optimization perspective having a Twitter account can be very beneficial driving traffic and increase rankings.

In addition Twitter can drive significant amounts of traffic to a website or can be used to start communication between a business and a consumer. Comcast as an example has a Twitter account (comcastcares) that is closely monitored by assigned Comcast employees to pick up on situations that could negatively affect the Comcast brand name. For Comcast this is an additional avenue to interact with customers and to fix situations that might get out of hand in one way or the other. This is a perfect addition to other customer service channels Comcast has and it provides value to the customer.

Another great way for businesses to use the power of Twitter is to provide “buying” value to followers. However, it is important to put a lot of emphasis on “value” here. When using a Twitter account for this purpose it is critical to avoid being marked as SPAMMER. A good example for this usage on Twitter would be to distribute coupon codes via Twitter and to only limit the distribution to Twitter. This forces people to start following the business account on Twitter to be able to get access to those coupon codes. The larger the number of followers the more powerful this Twitter account will be.

Conclusion: While I still don’t see a need for a personal Twitter account because my life is just not exciting enough, for businesses using it as a tool that really makes sense, Twitter can turn out to be very useful. SEO, marketing, and other terms come to mind. However, when using Twitter for business it is important to have a solid plan and a strategy behind it and not to jump back and forth with a different strategy. If executed properly, using Twitter can drive traffic to a website as well as into a physical store location.

Christoph Puetz is the owner of the Web Hosting Resource Kit — a website providing content about cheap web hosting and web hosting reviews.