Twitter: Do Businesses really “get” it?

An article in today’s Indianapolis Business Journal  features the faces behind 6 local successful Indianapolis business Twitter  accounts. and an explanation of their strategy.  Although the advice is good, I found it striking that only one of the 6 is an actual retail business ( West Coast Tacos), one is a retail service business ( AAA) and all the others are some sort of service that would already have a loyal following ( Pacers, ButlerU, Indianapolis Symphony, IU Health).   They did give the well known example of  the Brewhouse franchise, but the lack of other consumer brick and mortar businesses makes me wonder if the local businesses “get” Twitter yet.
It is a relatively easy leap for non-profits and educational facilities to move to the conversation of Twitter where they can engage existing supporters and followers.Having a history of being dependent on donations means that they are already used to a deeper level of engagement with supporters to succeed. With a follower count of just over 2700, I have to wonder what percentage of those followers are new growth for the Indianapolis Symphony and how many are previous supporters who merely extended their interest to Twitter as well.  Yes, if you do Twitter badly, you will lose followers, so maintaining them shows that @indy_symphony is doing good things- but what in their strategy shows consumer facing businesses used to a “flyer advertising” mentality how to switch and be successful on Twitter?
I think interesting things are starting to happen on Twitter here in the Midwest, but there is still a lot of room for growth, and a need for people to give support, education and information. Anyone know of other really successful Midwest Businesses on Twitter who might provide role models for other businesses just getting started?

7 thoughts on “Twitter: Do Businesses really “get” it?

  1. The following convo started on Facebook, but since that is not public, I wanted to share it. Michael gave me permission to cut and paste here.

  2. Michael Bollman: Does Irsay doing his giveaways fit in here some where too? He's certainly built a following by giving away trips, tickets, and cash, but is he building the Colts brand at all or just feeding people's greed?about an hour ago · LikeMichael Bollman: Brewhouse and WCT both do great jobs of making their experiences more "exciting" for me, waiting to find out if WCT is gonna be close to me for lunch, etc. I also like what IndyIndians is doing, they do "tweet your seat" for in game interaction. I was at a game last weekend where a friend and I had a "conversation" on Twitter with indyindians. It was fun. It's not my reason for going but it adds to the experience that's for sure.

  3. Nan Braun: @‎Michael Bollman I think the Irsay giveaways are building HIS brand- not the colts ( note you did not say the Colts Giveaways) I think both Brewhouse and WCT do a great job. I love your Indiana story.. that should have been in this article. But where is the info from IBJ that is good for non-food retail businesses wanting to get started? I think they limited themselves in this article, rather than balancing it better across the six for strategies.about an hour ago · LikeNan Braun ‎@Michael Bollman the indians story is great engagement– i would have fun with that… but does not work for a crafts business or a hardware store or a jewelry store or a music store or a photographer or…… all of which I think could beneift from a good twitter strategyabout an hour ago · Like

  4. Michael Bollman: I'm not sure how a "brick and mortar" retailer does use Twitter honestly, other than as a news feed of specials and other goings on, how do you engage customers? A local nursery is using their FB page to promote weekly specials and events, they also answer customer posted questions, but I'm not sure where Twitter would be any different. You are right about Irsay, he is building his brand, not the Colts, and I'm not sure why he needs to work on his brand. In the end though, I think a business needs to answer the question, "What is Twitter for?" first. For an individual it's "What I'm doing right now, etc." For a business, I'm not sure I know what it is…

  5. Oiy. I wish we were having this convo on the blog, so I could share.. good discussion p;-) I think for a business it should be about building brand. A business should be aiming to fall in either that "expert" or "thought leader" quadrant- if they are the go to source to answer your questions and enlighten you in a hobby/interest oon twitter already– where will you shop when you need supplies/materials, etc?? Stop thinking of it as an advertising media for specials and bonuses ( follow me here and ge the special discount code)– that is one shot loyalty. Build a relationship with me and like the bartender who can introduce me to new drinks I will love foever, i will be a loyal customer.

  6. I agree, putting an expert out there is a great way to use it. But how do you establish the expert brand, you probably have to be known as the expert already in your locale, then establish that you're on Twitter, and also in all of this be in a field where people are already using Twitter.When I look at people like @MyCarDoc, I see a non-traditional business using social media as a great way to promote their business. But he's non-traditional to start, a mobile auto repair shop, people who might use him might be non-traditional anyway. But how does the florist down the street use the same medium to generate business? Maybe by tweeting about which flowers are in season or appropriate for certain occasions (i.e. Tulips mean love, whereas Roses are more for romance, but white tulips specifically mean death in certain cultures). But ultimately, I wonder if the tulip buying public is going to find their local florist to find that information on Twitter. Wouldn't Google supply that information more quickly? In a hobby sense maybe this works better, gardening for example. If you are in to square foot gardening, you can become the go to guy/girl in your area for when to start seeds, seedlings, etc, and then when to plant them. But how does that generate money? I love to community aspect of Twitter, I feel like most of my followers are friends/acquaintances that I can go to for advice or just to vent about things. I know certain people know about certain things more than others and direct my @ replies to them. Living in this area though, I'm seeing far less businesses get involved with Twitter and other social media as a means to build out their reach, more the a novelty of "Hey check out our facebook page! We have specials listed there weekly." Maybe that's just local to here. Ultimately though, each business has to define Twitter for their business and then see the way that it extends their reach to clients, both current and perspective ones. Something I think is hard to do in businesses that aren't necessarily technologically connected to start with, or are simply just and old fashioned business that consumers wouldn't think to look to Twitter to find.

  7. You two should do a podcast together, about geek stuff and gardening.

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