There’s plenty of advice in the blogosphere and Twitterverse about building an audience on this microblogging platform, but many of the recommendations seem to be targeted to businesses with a large reach. How do you make Twitter work for you if you run a small, local business?
Maybe you don’t want to interact with potentially millions of users, but would rather focus on a few thousand in your geographic area. It can be done. Here, you’ll learn how to target your Twitter efforts to be locally relevant.
Build a Local Audience
The first thing you need to do for your tweets to matter at all is to build an audience that will see them. This can be accomplished several ways. First, let everyone know that you’re on Twitter. Tell your friends so they can spread the word. Put up signs and flyers in your store, restaurant or business. Put your Twitter account on your website, business cards and promotional materials.
It can take a while to build up an audience this way, though, so don’t be afraid to seek people out. Use Twitter’s advanced search function to target users in your area. Follow a handful of new people every day; avoid following too many because you’ll look like a spammer if you only have a few tweets yet have huge numbers of followers or people you’re following.
Check Out Your Competition
Do you know of a local business or direct competitor that does a great job on Twitter? Study their tweets to see what they’re doing right. Take note of how they communicate with their followers, retweet material from others and use pictures and curated content to garner attention for their business.
More importantly, figure out if there’s anything they’re doing poorly and do it better. If you both operate flooring businesses, for example, does your competition offer tips on getting stains out of rugs, refinishing hardwood floors or making carpet last longer? If not, do it! Learn from others, but remember to make your voice your own to stand out to your potential customers.
Partner With Noncompetitive Local Businesses
When doing business locally, you’ll find that you refer customers to other local businesses for the needs you can’t fulfill. A flooring business, as in our earlier example, will often have an Amish outlet store to refer their customers to when asked for furniture recommendations. Consider approaching these relevant noncompetitive businesses to discuss promoting each other’s services on Twitter. This is especially helpful if those businesses already have a large local audience because you’ll get instant exposure.
When collaborating with others, you’ll need to lay out some guidelines regarding times, days and frequencies the other businesses will be mentioned in your Twitter timeline. The tweets for your partners don’t have to be sales-like. Simply retweeting something funny or useful can go a long way in helping each other out.
The thing to remember when building a Twitter account with a local focus is that you must provide local, targeted content. Sharing local news, promoting events in your area or just connecting with local residents are all ways you can get personal with potential customers. Now get out there and start connecting!
About the Author: Adrienne is a social media marketer who regularly uses Twitter to connect with others and study the competition. Follow her at @adrienneerin.