I’ve been following Twitter success stories as much as possible this year, and it’s been eye-opening to see all the different ways businesses are using Twitter to promote their products and services. The following is a collection of just some of the unique ways businesses have used Twitter in 2009. No doubt there’ll be many more to talk about in 2010!
1.) New Product/Service Alerts
Albion’s Oven has more than 1,600 followers at the moment.
2.) Create Buzz
Word spread and when the restaurant finally opened in April, it was packed. The restaurant told local media that “at least half were there because of Twitter.”
3.) Blow Your Customers’ Minds
Via Andy Sernovitz, listen to the amazing thing P.F. Chang’s did for a customer who was tweeting from inside one of its restaurants. Watch this video – it’s barely a minute long.
How cool is that?!?
4.) Tell Followers Where They Can Find You
Curtis Kimball, owner of a crème brûlée cart in San Francisco, uses Twitter to alert followers where his cart will be and sometimes includes special flavors he’ll be offering. He’s gained thousands of followers this year.
Twitter has become a major marketing tool for food trucks all over the country. But the idea applies to any business; if you’re going to have a booth at a local trade show or community event, tell people about it. Give people a reason to come see you when you’re out and about in town.
5.) Establish Authority / Promote Blog & Article Content
Many small business owners are using Twitter to promote their services and expertise as much as anything else. Dr. Cynthia Bailey, a dermatologist in Sebastopol, California (and a client of mine), uses Twitter to point her followers to blog posts she’s written about skin care and related topics.
As I’ve cautioned Dr. Bailey, be careful not to overdo this. Constant self-promotion is a quick way to lose followers … and to keep people from following you in the first place.
6.) Promote Special Offers/Discounts
Woodhouse Spa in Ohio offers a special deal every Tuesday just for its Twitter followers. It’s a great way to make your followers feel special, and gives them a reason to tell friends to follow you, too.
New Orleans-based Naked Pizza is one of the poster children for using Twitter in this way. In an AdAge article, co-founder Jeff Leach said that a Twitter-only pizza discount brought in 15% of the day’s total business. You may also remember me blogging months ago about Luna Park Restaurant in San Francisco doing the same thing; and many, many businesses are using Twitter this way, too.
7.) Promote Special Events
8.) Educate Customers About What You Do
On August 31, with the patient’s permission, St. Luke’s Hospital in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, used Twitter to live-tweet the surgical procedure of a 70-year-old woman. A hospital spokesperson said the live-tweeting was educational for its followers and also helped the woman’s family (its customers) and friends stay informed during the procedure.
Now that’s an extreme example, but the point is this: Are there things you can tweet about other than your products or services? Chances are pretty good that your followers may want to learn about what you do and how you do it. A few “in our office” or “behind the scenes” tweets every now and then may help people learn more about your business, and increase their interest in what you do.
9.) Spread Positive Endorsements
Berry Chill, a Chicago-based yogurt shop, consistently retweets the positive messages posted by its customers on Twitter. In doing so, they’re spreading positive word-of-mouth and reinforcing a strong brand association. Over the summer, they did the same when a few celebrities were in town for a golf tournament and were caught on camera enjoying Berry Chill’s yogurt.
10.) Customer Service
Similarly to Berry Chill, Umi, a sushi restaurant in San Francisco, uses Twitter to reply to guests who talk about the restaurant on Twitter. It’s a nice outreach effort and an easy way to show gratitude to your customers.
This list could go on and on. Twitter’s simplicity and immediacy makes it possible for all kinds of businesses to find new customers, serve them, and keep them happy. And since there are rumors that Twitter may launch formal business tools and services in 2010, chances are good that the opportunities will only increase in the future.
Your turn: What creative uses of Twitter did I miss? Tell us about them in the comments.