How and Why To Use Twitter For Small Businesses

As a small business owner, at first, I didn’t get Twitter. Of course, this was way back in the beginning when it was new. Being the forward-thinking marketer that I am, I tried it and found that I didn’t like it. It felt forced to me. It felt like it was a waste of my time. On top of those reasons, I also felt that I didn’t need to “be connected socially” with “Twitter people”.

Boy, was I wrong. And I’m very glad today that I wised-up and reversed my thoughts and embraced Twitter as a valuable tool for my business.

What is Twitter? According to the Wikipedia

Twitter is a free social networking and micro-blogging service that allows its users to send and read other users’ updates (otherwise known as tweets), which are text-based posts of up to 140 characters in length.

For you, the small business owner, Twitter is an amazing tool that can expand your reach to customers and potential customers. It can allow you to stay in touch and connect with thousands and thousands of people instantly. It can help drive your brand and communicate with customers in a way that you’ve never been able to before. And so much more.

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Jim Kukral Jim Kukral is a professional speaker, blogger and Web business consultant who has helped small businesses and large companies like Fedex, Sherwin Williams, Ernst & Young and Progressive Auto Insurance understand how find success on the Web. His latest book is "Internet Marketing for Business Answers."

80 Reactions
  1. Great explanation of the service for non-users. It would be interesting to elaborate a little more on how small businesses can use it (e.g. setting up RSS feeds for keywords through twitter search). The examples of Whole Foods, Comcast, and Zappos were great, but are there any small business examples you could provide? Any great success stories?

  2. Hi Jim,
    Great job, and welcome!
    Joel Libava

  3. Hi Chad, yes, you’re right, we could have done much more. But we wanted to keep the screencast under 10 minutes for several reasons. Perhaps Anita will ask me to do another one with your thoughts in mind! 🙂

  4. Thanks, Jim! I’ll be looking forward to more posts. 🙂

  5. Chad, Jim, I think another video, for advanced use of Twitter, would be great. We’ll put that on the list for the future. Anita

  6. Great video for a starter piece. A clear cut and easy beginner guide. I agree with the above points that the next step should be an advanced guide. I myself have the basics mastered but need guidance with the next steps. Look forward to seeing more!

  7. Love the video and welcome to the site, Jim! I agree with others, take it a step further now for the next one. You can do a series . . .

  8. I too up to now is not using Twitter. I did not realize that yet as a help for my business. ANyway, this is a very good starer guide. Kudos for this video, Jim!

  9. Thank you for creating a Twitter lesson that someon even 40+ years old can understand.

  10. I am in the restaurant/catering business and I don’t feel that Whole Foods, Comcast, and Zappos qualify as small business or small business trends…they are all big business.

    I also don’t see how twitter can help a small cafe or restaurant. Every few minutes count in a busy work day and twittering seems to be another time waster when you already have a website/blog to supplement or accent your existing business.

    I appreciate the video, but wish it was more on target for Small Business Trends site and focus.

    What kind of small business do you have? AND why are you glad you wised up to twitter…a little more specific would be good AND is it really feasible for all small businesses?

  11. Hi tyronebecookin,

    Thanks for your feedback on the video — much appreciated. We’ll likely do a follow-up video that gets at your points.

    Meanwhile let me offer a few quick suggestions:

    For a restaurant business, consider that if you have a blog, something like Twitter can “amplify” and “expand” the reach of your blog and therefore, your online presence. You must already think it’s important to be online and found there or you wouldn’t have mentioned a blog. Here are some things you can do with a few minutes a day on Twitter:

    – Broadcast your blog posts out over Twitter to entice people to your blog
    – Mention new menu items or other innovations
    – Publicize events you may be holding, such as wine tastings
    – Communicate weekly or daily specials

    How you do you develop and grow a following on Twitter? Here’s one way: You can also pretty easily display your Twitter updates on your blog or website, and in that way alert people that you are using Twitter as another communications channel and woo them to follow your Twitter updates. Also, publish your Twitter name on your menu and other items in your establishment.

    You will be top of mind with followers who see your Twitter messages regularly. The next time they want to go out to eat, they are more likely to think of YOUR brand, than a competitor’s. In a way, Twitter can be like free brand advertising.


  12. Alright, I’ll bite…and wait for the next video.

  13. Hi tyronebecookin-

    I’m an admitted long time Twitter user and fan of the service, but I wanted to share an example of what restaurants here in Asheville, NC are doing with the service in terms of business development and customer retention. Basically, they use Twitter as Anita laid out above but have also started doing innovative things such as taking menu requests from locals as well as letting people know the queue for tables on busy weekend nights (this is a tourist town, so that’s very important when it comes to loyal local customers who want a meal from their fav place but don’t want to wait in line 3 hours!).

    The local high-end beer store here is also on Twitter and announces special meetups or when new shipments of sought after specialty crafts arrive. That’s pretty nifty from my customer perspective.

    Not to mention, my wife works in the medical field and her clinic is considering sending out tweets for wait times so that impatient patients (like myself) can know what to expect. There have been other clinics and hospitals doing this across the country and its starting to catch on.

    The beauty of Twitter is real time and immediacy. You can’t get that type of interaction with loyal, new or prospective customers from a TV or radio commercial anymore!

    btw, Good job, Jim!


  14. I agree with you Caroline. Jim presented in a very understandable manner. I’m wondering Jim, how do you do this video?

  15. If you’re looking for a great small business example, check out Richard Merritt – He does handmade wood fountain pens that are to die for and uses Twitter to communicate with customers in all kinds of ways. A little marketing, a little customer service and a lot of behind the scenes on the making of pens.

  16. Rose, thank you. I did the video in Camtasia on a PC. Screencasting is easy once you learn all the tricks and settings and especially the output.

  17. I am still trying to get Twitter… 😉 I think I will use it a bit more in the future when I start my new series of podcasting interviews. At the moment, I am following 65 Twitter users and I have 139 followers.

  18. Jim — Excellent! I’ll be sending folks over here to smallbiztrends for Twitter 101.

  19. You really should put a digg submit button, I was going to give you a digg for making such an informative video!

  20. Just read a great piece at NYT —
    worth a look if you’re looking for more evidence of how Twitter is blossoming and actually being used.

  21. Hey Sam Harrelson, I’m in Asheville too!

    I was just wanting to learn more about Twitter and see if it could help with my cleaning business consulting service. This was very helpful and I guess I should start Tweeting.

    I remember thinking that ’43 things’ was going to be huge and it fizzled, not that it is not useful or fun as it is. Tweeter just seemed like another over hyped 2.0 site.

    Thanks again for the video!

  22. This is good- unfortunately there’s not much uptake in Asia still- but whatever little there is, I’ve tried to document in a post that highlights twitter business usage in Asia here:

  23. Thanks for the Tweeter Lesson on how to use Twitter.

    Easy to understand and great presentation, Jim.

    Now I know where to send my followers, on how to use Tweeter.

    Ed 🙂


    It’s taken me 3 months of scratching my head to finally begin to figure Twitter out. Got to give all the thanks to The Twitter Revolution as it provided all the insights I needed to put the pieces together. Talk about opening up a whole new world!

  25. Read up! Jim’s done a fine job of explaining why Twitter is worth using. There are many trains leaving the station, which one will you get on?

  26. Thanks Jim,
    Just found you and I’m going to give it a shot. We are a small local business. Would be great if we could develop an expanded local following!

  27. l, seemingly the entire universe of social media sites and resources. Check it out. Very impressive. Simple, fast.

  28. thanks for the information and Twitter video, a great help for getting traffic.

  29. Thanks for writing this post about Twitter. I was always uncertain about using Twitter for business & genuine audiences.

  30. Great article and information. Valuable information for our members who currently aren’t using social media outlets.
    Thank You- Kirk

  31. Great primer for small business owners, Jim. With the exception of a few cosmetic changes all of the information in this video is still applicable and good advice. The story of how Comcast conquered Twitter is a great one, and a testament to how savvy business people can use new technologies in a way never done before.

  32. Very informative! I never really “got” how big social networking is and is becoming. Good info.

  33. Social media is a huge part of business marketing. Knowing how to use Twitter can help expand your business to a whole new audience!