Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Small business: Tweet it out

WASHINGTON (8/19/09)--If you're a small business owner, you now can get the word out about your business by embracing the same tool job seekers use to connect with potential employers.

Twitter is a free social networking and micro-blogging service that allows you to drive your brand and communicate with customers in ways you may never have imagined (The Washington Post Aug. 12). Twitter has been around since 2006, but only in the past year have businesses--from Dell to mom and pop--jumped on board.

One small business owner opened a mobile food cart in San Francisco, and among his friends in line he noticed a stranger. How had he found the location? Twitter. The young entrepreneur signed up for a Twitter account and now lets his more than 5,400 followers know the location of his mobile cart, as well as the flavors of the day (The New York Times July 22).

Today, small businesses outnumber the big ones like Dell, Starbucks and Comcast on Twitter. It's more useful for small businesses that typically get more than half of their customers through word of mouth. Here's why:

No ad budget? Twitter is free. For many small businesses, it's the sole means of advertising.

No time to set up and maintain a website? Twitter is far easier to set up and update.

Your workspace doesn't include a computer? You can tweet from your smart phone.

Your customers aren't on Twitter? Small-town business owners use Twitter's services to stay connected and get useful business information on taxes, marketing, and start-up tips.

There's a wealth of information on the Internet for effective twittering. Type "small business" + "twitter" + "tips" in your browser to get started. It takes about three to six months to get a good-sized following.

For more information, read "Keep Passwords Strong, Secret and Safe" in Home & Family Finance Resource Center.

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