Mom and Pop’s Using Twitter – How Can You Tap in?

by Brian Blum on July 23, 2009

An article in The New York Times about Twitter got us thinking. The piece by Claire Cain Miller discusses how small businesses are increasingly using Twitter as their main form of advertising. It cites a man in San Francisco who opened a pushcart selling crème brulee. 5,400 people are now following him to find out where his roaming restaurant will be on any given day and what’s the flavor of the month.

In another example, a sushi restaurant that tweets about what fish is the freshest that day, is receiving up to five new customers a night.

We’ve always thought of Twitter as a kind of bi-polar entity, attracting individuals who insist on informing everyone when their plane is delayed and big brands like Moonfruit who give away computers to generate buzz.

But if the mom and pops are finding Twitter their best form of advertising, how can publishers who want to attract those hyper-local customers utilize the medium?

Here’s an idea: offer to link a small business’s tweets into your larger classified sales channel. For example, could a Twittering business cross post automatically to their own followers as well as a newspaper’s followers? That of course would require some infrastructure to generate tweets from listings, but we’re seeing that already with many of the large job boards jumping on the Twitter bandwagon.

Or could offering to broadcast classifieds via a publisher’s larger Twitter stream be a possible upsell opportunity for a newspaper? Even if it’s free, it might be a way to lure back customers who have left their local outlet to join a large Internet classifieds pure play.

There are undoubtedly many models to consider here. The critical point to consider is that if the mom and pop’s are migrating to Twitter, you need to be there too.

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