Twitter has only been around for six years, but its cultural legacy is already earmarked for history.
Twitter says its user base is not only huge, but high-level and diverse:
- 35 global heads of state use Twitter
- 99% of U.S. nonprofit groups are on Twitter
- 50 top-rated U.S. television shows reach out to viewers via Twitter
- 100% of major U.S. news outlets use Twitter to report on global events
Obviously, Twitter is having a huge impact on worldwide culture, but what about American small businesses? After all, reaching out to customers in instantaneous, real-time fashion is a high priority with small companies. Is Twitter up to the task?
So far, the answer is "Yes."
A new study by Intuit shows that nine million small businesses use social media (mostly Twitter and Facebook). Primarily, businesses do so because the technology is cheap. Intuit reports that 59% of small businesses spend less than $100 to reach out to customers via social media, and only 6% of small companies spent more than $5,000.
According to Intuit, here's how small companies use Twitter to connect to customers:
- Connecting with customers -- 28%
- Gain "visibility" -- 27%
- Self-promotion -- 26%
- Getting news out quickly -- 9%
- Staying ahead of the curve -- 6%
- Other -- 4%
Clearly, businesses are using Twitter to increase word of mouth, and to build consumer loyalty first, and then to leverage that loyalty by offering deals, discounts, and other promotions -- to "seal the deal" and get more customers to buy their products and services.
Those efforts by small businesses should only increase. Twitter expects to reach 250 million consumers within a year, and small companies know that to earn a profit, you need to go where the consumers hang out.
More and more, that "hangout" is Twitter, and entrepreneurs who ignore that fact may find themselves swimming upstream for years -- if they last that long.