A few weeks ago, I got followed on Twitter by the Hilton Hotel in my hometown of Pleasanton, CA. My guess was that they were following anyone who looked like a business in the area with the intent of promoting their networking events.I wondered if the connection came with bar privileges but soon forgot about it. A few minutes later though, I got a follow notice from a local Italian restaurant. And that was quickly followed by two local wineries and a car dealer. I started to get curious.
I poked around on the profiles of these new followers and saw that each was connected to several local businesses and organizations. I kept an eye on their status updates over the next few weeks and noticed a pattern: some were tweeting regularly, typically about a promotion like this:
There were very few replies to these tweets. This made sense, as these businesses were mostly other businesses broadcasting. Few ever asked for any input from their followers.
But out of Tweakness I sensed opportunity… Followers of the more popular Pleasanton business Twitter profiles broke down more or less like this:
- 1/3 – Local businesses or people associated with the business
- 1/3 – People or businesses in the area but not in Pleasanton
- 1/3 – Your typical “I’ll follow anything with a pulse” profiles
If I wanted to get more customers in the Pleasanton area the local followers would be a great list to target, but how to best get their attention?
Get yourself known locally on Twitter
Your first reaction might be to follow every Twitter profile in Pleasanton, but I don’t think that would be the way to go. It would take too much time and you would end up with a cluttered tweetstream. Sometimes the less direct route is the best path to your goal.
Twitter is all about conversations right? And in most social media, be it online or off, the conversations are dominated by the vocal few and observed by the silent majority. So the trick to getting noticed on Twitter is to become one of the local loudmouths, without making a nuisance of yourself of course.
Start conversations with the local business Twitter profiles that have the most followers. Since almost no one is interacting with them, there’s a good chance they will respond to any tweet addressed to them. In fact they will probably be excited by your messages because they have been tweeting for months and may not have much to show for it other than a couple of retweets for the “Scottish Gathering and Games“.
It’s important that your interactions adhere to standard acceptable social media behavior—you know the routine: actually have a conversation, don’t blatantly self-promote, be nice, helpful, interesting, etc. Remember, you are not spamming here; you are just trying to increase your visibility as an interesting, helpful, and most of all, local, business person. If you can’t think of much to say, then a simple retweet is always an easy way to get started. I find asking questions about whatever it is they are tweeting works well too.
(It’s true: There really is a lot of kilt action going on here in Pleasanton.)
By participating in regular conversations and getting the other person to respond to you, your profile will start to show up in the tweetstreams of the other local followers and they will start to get to know you. If your Twitter name is branded to describe your business or service (like “Local SEO Guide” or better yet “Pleasanton SEO Guide,”) these followers might even start to wonder about your business and investigate your profile/website. And if you show up in their tweetstream as they are thinking about using a service like yours you might find yourself on the receiving end of a potential customer inquiry, as has happened to me already several times.
The Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce touts membership in the organization as a way members can “leverage their Chamber membership to raise their company profiles, grow revenue and develop business relationships.” Social media platforms like Twitter offer you the same opportunity. While it will take a long while before a majority of local businesses are using these services on a regular basis, at the moment Twitter appears to be the place to find some of the most entrepreneurial and well-connected people in your area.
A couple of hours spent rubbing elbows in the Twitter Chamber of Commerce might be just as beneficial as heading to your local chamber’s monthly mixer—plus the cocktails will probably be stronger and the dues a bit more reasonable.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.