Even Small Businesses can Find Value in Twitter

When it comes to social media, there is no better medium for MOST small businesses than Twitter. Another way to say this is that the majority of businesses or organizations can find great value in Twitter and even those that aren’t ideal for Twitter will still find enough value to make it worth the time to invest in building followers.

This is not true with every social media platform.  There are some businesses that don’t get much value out of Instagram or Pinterest.  Most of our web sites don’t have videos or podcasts and just can’t leverage YouTube effectively.   There are some news sites that thrive on Reddit and StumbleUpon.   And I’ve noticed some technology businesses that have bigger Google+ following than they have with Twitter or Facebook.

Twitter Can Really Help Any Type of Business

A lot of people come to me and say that they just don’t think Twitter can really help. It’s for entertainers or big brands.  I can’t agree.

At some point I’ll get stumped, but I’ve yet to run into a business that couldn’t at least get a solid, targeted local following on Twitter.  Sure, if you run a really obscure businesses you won’t get millions of followers, but most obscure businesses don’t need incredible quantities of followers to benefit.  They just need the right followers.

Take a local small town lawn mowing service.  This is not the most exciting topic, has a limited area and probably wouldn’t find many followers right?  Well, this type of business still can build thousands of followers and benefit from Twitter.   Here is how I’d approach the process of building this type of account:


  1. Create a Twitter Account.
  2. Fill out the Profile, Put Really Nice Pictures and Include a Logo if Possible.  Maximize Your Twitter Profile
  3. Create a nice Header.  Here is some Good Info.
  4. Start Following all your friends and any current clients you can find on twitter.
  5. Mention sales, discounts or something attractive to offer new followers (free aeration).
  6. Identify Potential Followers.
twitter header design
Example Creative Twitter Header and Profile

This last part is where the fun work starts.  You have to put your thinking cap on. You have to find other twitter accounts that are related to your businesses either directly or indirectly.  Then the goal is to get them to follow you back.   Examples:

  1. Find other lawn mowing companies in your area and follow their followers.
  2. Look up small engine shops in your area and follow their followers.
  3. There is a gardening club in the nice part of town filled with hundreds of followers. The vast majority of these people live in a wealthy subdivision, own homes and tend to hire mowing companies. Follow the followers of this gardening club.
  4. If you know what you are doing you can even look at followers of Home Depot or Lowes then follow the people that are in your area.  This requires the use of external software tools.

As you are following these people, some will immediately follow you back and check you out. Others need more time to scope you out and certainly many just won’t engage at all.  Here are some things you also want to do to help you get more followers.

  1. Make sure you remain active. If you go a week without following someone, you aren’t going ot impress new people you follow that end up following you back.
  2. Post a good tweet right before you start following people. A sale or discount never hurts.
  3. Engage with anyone in any manner you can. Reply to their tweet, make a comment, ask a question.
  4. At least retweet and favorite tweets of active accounts and anyone that rewteets or favorites your stuff.

After awhile you have to go through the list of people you follow and clean out the ones that just didn’t follow you and won’t engage.  That’s part of the process.  Someone might look like a good potential follow then you just don’t see activity.  It’s time to move on.

Managing a Growing Twitter Account

Twitter limits you to the number of people you can follow in a day, but when getting started its better to just go slow.  Quality is important here.   Generally you want to limit your followers to a number that allows you to scan people.     When first starting out you will be following a lot more people than you follow. This is common and no issue  just a short term.  I try not to go over 4 to 1 ratio when starting.  If I have 100 followers, then I’ll limit to following 400.  Then I’ll review these and weed out inactive accounts and then follow more people.  Here is an interesting article on Twitter Ratios worth considering.

Ultimately, as your account grows,  you have to create Twitter lists which allows you to segment the people you follow and only view Tweets from accounts that you want to see.  This is how I can follow thousands of people but still pay attention to power users.  These are accounts that I know are very active, have big followings, engaged with my account and tend to share/mention/rewteet.  I segment out  search engines, social media, online marketing, power users. If I notice an account that I follow is showing up in my lists, then I add that account to my list.  I remain much more active with these users.

This is really the basics of growing a Twitter account but there is no reason why a small lawn mowing shop can’t have thousands of followers.  To get there faster you need to learn how to manage the account using a variety of tools and techniques or you can always get outside help.

A Big Twitter Presence is a Big Positive

The benefits can be surprising.  Not only can you get a direct customer, but people are also using social media to get recommendations and research companies.  When lawn mowing service A has 76 followers and you 3,887 followers, guess which one looks better?  When you are consulting business with 1598 followers and your competitor has 16,984 followers, guess which one looks more established?   Yes, your twitter presence matters and people look at your presence and compare you to your peers to determine if you are a legitimate business.

twitter growth by quarter

Twitter is here to say.  It’s growing fast but still in its infancy.  It’s not to late to hop on the Twitter train.  Even if you aren’t a major brand it, you can benefit.  People use it every day and your twitter presence is something you can build and hold onto for the long term.  Each follower has value.  My business partner,  Dave Haas often reminds me that social media produces Exponential Reach as opposed to Linear Reach.   One follower is not just a single entity.  Your single  follower has potential to share something about you.  Then that can be seen by their followers. In return those followers have the option to retweet, reshare, favorite, follow you or add you to a a list.  Maybe a mowing service won’t produce a nationwide viral post but if you’ve ever seen the video of the kid’s father mowing over his videos.


2 thoughts on “Even Small Businesses can Find Value in Twitter

  1. Rob, this is a great article, a like your approach about educating small business owners about the power of Twitter, I agrees it is in its infancy when compared to other social media channels.

    • Thanks Thomas. I honestly overlooked Twitter at first then after using it for awhile I felt it only had limited value. After working with really good social media marketers, I learned how to actually use Twitter and help clients use Twitter to get a positive ROI.

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