We’re always talking about how Twitter can help small businesses, so I thought I’d give a couple of concrete examples. Sometimes it’s easier to understand when you see social media in action like this, although I still stand by my usual advice that the quickest and best way to understand is to enroll yourself and start using it.

Iydea is a small vegetarian restaurant in Brighton, whose Twitter feed can be seen here. Take a look at some of their recent tweets:

  • Thought I’d let you know about our Minestrone soup, given the weather is so grey today!
  • Our lovely laptop users, just want to let you know the power sockets on your side of the bar are *not* working. We’ll get them fixed ASAP 🙂
  • NEW Spicy Lentil Stuffed Potato also, NEW Leek & Stilton Stuffed Potatoes… the hot food is arriving from the kitchen… nom nom nom!

As you can see, it’s a great mix of marketing and informing: managing expectations about broken laptop plugs, but also introducing the new dishes and perhaps whipping up an appetite amongst their loyal followers.

However, the feed has not been updated since April, which also reminds us of an important truth: engagement in social media does take ongoing time and commitment. If it’s to bring proper benefits, it needs to be looked at like any other regular business task, and resources dedicated to it. Since time is the one thing so many businesses can’t spare, it pays to look at outsourcing to a company such as us. Contact us – we’d be delighted to talk to you.

A Twitter feed that is still going strong is that of the independent cinema, the Duke of Yorks. It takes a certain effort of will to remember to check print media such as their monthly programmes or the local paper: in fact, you first have to decide to watch a film before you’d think to find out what was on. But by integrating into Twitter, which users are checking regularly in the course of a normal day anyway, the Duke of Yorks must be gaining a lot more impulse custom. Also in the mix is the chance to engage thoroughly with their customer base. Here are some sample tweets. The first two are in reply to specific users, the last a general tweet:

  • All morning shows on Wednesdays are for parents and babies only. Apologies it isn’t clearer on the website
  • Enjoy your film – maybe have some coffee beforehand
  • The fear of rain will hopefully bring customers in today…Synecdoche and Cheri playing

Notice how the first tweet has picked up on what was presumably a complaint in a recent customer’s Twitter feed, and shown concern. It’s an easy way both to monitor customer feedback, and make things right. And wouldn’t you feel special if your cinema took the time to tell you they hoped you enjoyed your film?

Many local businesses are experimenting with Twitter and finding remarkable benefits. If you have employees who are in front of computers or behind counters for long stretches of the day, it could be an ideal add-on to their job description: equally, if your workforce is out and about, you can feed into the Twitter stream via mobile phones. You’d be surprised, too, what your loyal customers would find interesting to hear about. It doesn’t all have to be marketing – sometimes the human face of your business adds a whole new dimension.