Businesses Can Use Twitter to Build a Community

Covent Garden Market London, Ontario

340 million tweets per day, over a billion tweets sent every three days and over 140 million active users. These are just a few of the stats that show Twitter is one of the powerful social media networks available.

I’ve always believed Twitter is a great way for businesses to build a community – a community of their target audience, but also be part of the community where they live. I decided to test this theory of being part of a community.

I live in London, Ontario and often meet clients and associates at cafes and restaurants. So I asked: #ldnont (Twitter’s hashtag for London, Ontario) when meeting with a client or business associate which coffee shops/restaurants do you go to? London Ontario (I repeated London Ontario even though I used the hashtag as I wanted to reach as many people as possible). For those who are not aware, it is best to write London, Ontario. If you just wrote London, it is often presumed you mean London, England.

I received one retweet. Which is fantastic. This means my question is being reposted to another group of people. With proper Twitter etiquette, I thanked them for the retweet on my quest to find a new place to meet clients.

What’s exciting is that I received five answers within minutes of my tweet: – Kantina Cafe & RestaurantYou Made It Cafe Organic WorksBlack Walnut Bakery CafeChelsea’s (Restaurant inside Ramada Inn)

These were restaurants I have never tried before and three I had no idea existed.

Not only did I receive recommendations, I also chatted with these people on Twitter too. I found out a bit more about them, why they recommended the restaurant and if there is a menu item that is so delicious I must order.

For example, I learned the Organic Works has plenty of parking and big tables for meeting with clients. The YMI Cafe has free WIFI and is an unemployment skills program for youth who face barriers due to homelessness, unemployment and lack of education. All proceeds go to support youth programs. This information is vital to know when selecting a place to conduct business.

If you want to be part of the community where you live, why not try Twitter? It’s free, all tweets are 140 characters or less – equivalent to 1-2 short sentences, it’s quick and it’s real-time.

I would love to hear what you think of Twitter. Do you think this form of social media is good or just a bunch of birds tweeting at one another?

By the way, I was able to try the Black Walnut Cafe. I have to say, the recommendation was spot on. The food is all homemade and words cannot describe how delicious my food was. I cannot wait to try the other restaurants.

2012 Community Customers Social Media
  • Written by: socialdragon

    Hi Lynn, thanks for commenting. I think Twitter is probably the one social media that is confusing to people and people quickly dismiss it. I’m sure you will find good places to eat…little gems you’ve never heard of before.

  • Written by: Lynn Ruby

    Hi Jennifer – hey great idea!

    As for Twitter, about a year ago I couldn’t stand it! Sounded like a bunch of nonsense to me. Now I love it. It IS a great way to build a community. You simply have to be strategic about it rather than haphazard and go about finding your community instead of tweeting into thin air.

    And I am going to do exactly what you did regarding restaurants in the local area. I’m always struggling to find great new places to meet that aren’t the same old same old. Thanks!

  • Written by: socialdragon

    Kathy, like all social media, Twitter isn’t for all businesses. I’m a firm believer if your customers don’t use it, why should you spend all your time and effort into doing something when your customer isn’t going to read it anyways. Twitter is a great way to build relationships with other local businesses. For example, You can comment and retweet their information. Not only do you build relationships within the community, but they are happy to have the interaction and the retweets. They will retweet your info too. I’ve been to a few events and people recognize me because they remember my profile picture from my tweets. The Olympic Twitter group you were involved in sounds like it was fun. I hope Roger Ebert enjoyed tweeting too.

  • Written by: Kathy Smith

    I’m still undecided. I’ve found the best way to engage with colleagues or clients is through email, phone and personal visits/networking. My potential customers are local and they’re not frequent Tweeters so it’s hit and miss for me. Then again, I’m not looking to for a long reach and a lot of connections and customers. Most of my clients/colleagues are people in my existing networks. So far, the time I’ve invested in learning to use Twitter has been interesting but my business is still one on one strategic engagement. I did spend a great evening watching the opening ceremonies of the Olympics with a very interesting Twitter group that included a lot of media folks and Roger Ebert. He’s hilarious. We ran our own behind the scenes commentary and it was a lot of fun. Twitter is good for chatting with media types because they’re frequent users. So – for media relations/connections, I would give it two thumbs up.

  • Written by: socialdragon

    Thanks Yvonne for commenting. I agree there is really a lot you can do with Twitter. I find clients are uncomfortable with Twitter or find it is a waste of time as they won’t take the time to understand how to build a following and, of course, it doesn’t happen overnight…but it does happen!

  • Written by: Yvonne A Jones

    Thanks for sharing your practical experience with the power of Twitter, Jennifer. I happen to really like Twitter but many of my clients and prospects find it either intimidating or view it as a waste of time.

    What you did can be taken way beyond that, but you got the ball rolling in building a relationship with the persons who responded to you.

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