Why Twitter Works for Small Businesses

In this four-part series, Social Media Consultant Alison Cummings and Marketing Technology Consultant Phil Gerbyshak talk about social media opportunities for small businesses.

Part 1: “Must-have” Qualities to Look for When Hiring a Social Media Consultant
Part 2: Why Social Media Challenges Small Business Owners and Consultants
Part 3: Why Twitter Works for Small Businesses
Part 4: How to Partner Social Media With Offline Marketing Strategy

The People, Inspiration and Stories Behind #TwitterWorks

Alison Cummings: I want to talk about #TwitterWorks, the book you co-authored with Joe Sorge of AJ Bombers and Scott Baitinger of Streetza Pizza. How did it come about?

#TwitterWorks is chock full of engaging, convincing success stories, proving case studies don’t have to dry and boring.

Phil Gerbyshak: About a year and a half ago, I heard of this restaurant called AJ Bombers. Joe had a hamburger for his avatar on Twitter. I saw he had 1,500 or 1,800 followers. And I’m thinking, “Why are people following this hamburger?”

I started paying attention and seeing how he was interacting with his customers. I continued to watch how he behaved on Twitter and was impressed. He was very conversational for a hamburger, and a really nice guy.

We got talking, and I found out that Joe is very, very educated in traditional marketing, traditional restaurant management, and really had a great system for caring for his customers and for doing things in the kitchen. And he seemed to carry that forward on Twitter.

So I was like, “That’s interesting … maybe we could write a case study about that, about Joe.”And then I thought, “He does a lot of stuff right … maybe I could write a whole book about that.”

And then Joe said, “You need to meet Scott Baitinger.” Scott is the man behind the pizza avatar on Streetza Pizza.

Together, we started hashing out ideas and telling each other stories, and thinking, “Okay, well we’ve seen other restaurants in town that haven’t done it right. And we certainly don’t want to feature them and make them feel bad for not doing things right. We want to focus on the good things that can be done with Twitter.”

So we captured some stories and decided that we should write the book and, hopefully, help other people overcome their fears of using Twitter.

If you’re not using Twitter, as a restaurant, you’re missing out on a opportunity to engage with your customers at the point of their experience. A lot of times, if your food is really awesome, they’re going to take a picture, and they’re going to upload that to Facebook or Twitter. And they’re going to share that with people. – Phil Gerbyshak

Alison: Yes, these are case studies, but you make them so fun. You tell the story and you provide graphics that illustrate the creativity that went into these campaigns. It’s really a nice read. It’s entertaining.

Phil: Well thank you. That’s the goal, right? It’s not just work. We could say “Twitter is work,” and that would probably sell, too. But really, Twitter works, but you have to make it fun. And that was really the goal of the book, so I’m glad that came out.

People complain and compliment in real time now. – Phil Gerbyshak

Alison: Yes, and another restaurant or another small business can take that … It’s really a play book. You provide the kind of instruction that takes people through it all. You provide a glossary, a how-to, the 30-minute Twitter plan, so you really do put it right out there.

In a way, there’s no excuse for someone in that situation to say it’s hard or they don’t understand it, because you really make a clear case.

Phil: That was definitely the goal so glad that was achieved.

Is Twitter for Everyone?

Alison:Do you think there are different profiles of restaurants, and that maybe it’s not as appropriate for one type to be on Twitter as another?

AJ Bombers Twitter avatar

Why are people following this hamburger? AJ Bombers, a small business Twitter success story.

Phil: I can’t think of any. Because restaurants have customers, and many of these customers use Twitter, that it’s absolutely appropriate. And the more that they use Twitter, the more they’ll get out of it.

They can partner Twitter with Foursquare. Joe actually wrote a followup book called #FoursquareWorks that’s really good. I would definitely encourage any restaurant to get there, if nothing else than to capture how many people are actually using social media that come into your restaurant.

You don’t necessarily have to sign people up like Joe does at his restaurants in order to make it work. You can be a lot more passive and just see, “Are people checking in? What times of day are they checking in?”

And certainly the percentage of customers is relatively small yet using that. But as mobile grows even larger … We’re seeing just astronomical growth in mobile devices between smartphones and iPadstablet PCs and Android-powered devices,  iPhones and BlackBerries – all these devices that can interact. People complain and compliment in real time now.

So if you’re not using Twitter, as a restaurant, you’re missing out on a opportunity to engage with your customers at the point of their experience. A lot of times, if your food is really awesome, they’re going to take a picture, and they’re going to upload that to Facebook or Twitter. And they’re going to share that with people.

So if you’re not doing that, as a restaurant, I think you’re really missing out on a golden opportunity.

Next in the Social Media for Small Businesses Series: Part 4

Phil Gerbyshak and I close the series with a discussion on How to Partner Social Media With Offline Marketing Strategy.

About Alison Cummings

Business Writing, Copywriting, Content Marketing.
Communications + Marketing + Technical Expertise.