Twitter for Local Business

Twitter, the 140 character micro-blogging site, is known for its short conversations, massive content generation and user’s rants about almost everything. It is also a place for people to network and meet like-minded people. And hence, it has also become a source for generating leads for businesses. In this post, we look at the why and hows of local businesses using twitter for lead generation, sales, marketing and customer support.

Why twitter for local businesses:

Huge user base: Twitter in India has over 16 million twitter users and that number is growing daily. My personal experience on twitter leads me to believe that a vast majority of the twitter users are urban middle class and have high disposable incomes. They are the audience that the brand should primarily reach out to, as most twitter users are influencers in their circles. I reached this conclusion by assuming that as early adopters [through joining twitter] they are more open to trying and exploring new things and would pass their opinions and experiences [both positive or negative] on to their offline circle.

Location based search: Twitter is the only social network that allows location based search, something that other networks and traditional media largely miss out on. By searching for relevant keywords or bio’s in the “local area” or “target area” the brand can optimize their conversion rates.

A simple e.g. would be: A car service station in Mumbai can search for “car service” near “Mumbai” and interact with users only from Mumbai. Some spillover is bound to happen but the hit and miss ratio is not that bad.

Results for Car Service near mumbai
Results for Car Service near mumbai

Keyword based search: As shown in the above screenshot, twitter allows a keyword based search. This simply means that twitter will search all tweets containing the words, “car service”. Keywords can vary from brand to brand. They will possibly revolve around the following:

Doolally Beer

  • Brand name/Sub brand names
  • Brand Characteristics: A 3G provider can search for keywords like fast internet, slow speeds etc.
  • Needs that brand/service satisfies: For e.g. a restaurant can search for keywords – hungry, breakfast, lunch, dinner date etc., or a spa can look for keywords like make over, haircut, tired, massage etc.
  • Competitor’s brand name/service
  • Founders/ CEO/ Senior management names
  • Second circle of products: For e.g. a restaurant offers a menu of food, with different dishes. So the keywords can be pizza, pasta, Italian food etc. Similarly a Cinema hall should not search just for words like “movie” or “picture” but also names of the movies out currently, like “Rockstar”, “RA.ONE” etc.

Bio based search: With the help of certain tools, twitter bios can be searched. How can this help a local brand? If you are a local boutique selling designer products, a bio search for the word “Fashion” should help. Similarly restaurants can look for words like “foodie”  and local electronics store can look for “gadgets.

High Relevancy: Unlike Facebook pages or traditional media,where we don’t know who is reading our message, twitter is highly targeted. A facebook page update might not be relevant to all the users,but a twitter mention has high relevancy. It is so because of the following reasons:

The tweet is responded to on the basis of a keyword search. If we search for “car service” and respond to that tweet, as a car servicing brand, the chances of our communication being read and consumed are high.

Sometimes people ask certain questions on twitter for which they need relevant and precise answers. If the question is related to our service then our response is not considered intrusive and unwelcomed but is rather consumed.


My tweet looking for a specific cake provider
My tweet looking for a specific cake provider
Response from @Choc_Le
Response from @Choc_Le

Similarly, if the person we are interacting with is our target audience, like in case of an electronic store interacting with a gadget lover, the interaction will create much more immediate value than a single facebook update to the masses.

Real time: Twitter is real time. Real time tweets means people have a specific need at a specific point of time, which could possibly be fulfilled by your brand. The relevancy factor reaches its peak here. Like in the screenshot below, a restaurant in Bandra has huge scope to interact and maybe convert these users into walk ins.

Cost effective: The business owner can do all of the above himself by just using a smart phone. Or the sales manager/branch manager/business manager can also be trained to search and interact with relevant audience. If you have the budget, you can also use the services of a social media agency to help you plan your campaign and generate leads for your business. Such an agency would be much more cost effective than traditional media if one were to consider the conversion ratio.

How to use twitter to generate sales/ footfalls:

Now that we are convinced on why we should be using twitter for our local business, let us actually get to see how it can be done on a day to day basis.

Create a twitter account:Needless to say, you need to create a twitter account for your brand and fill in the appropriate details. Putting in the website info and/or your phone number is highly advisable.

Come up with a keyword list: You have already seen how apt keywords can be used to reach out to relevant users.

Start searching: You can use tools like Twitter search to search for keywords and Twitter advanced search to search for tweets based on location. You can use LocaFollow and Followerwonk to search for twitter bios.

Start interacting: Once you find a relevant tweet, respond to it as soon as you can. Unless the user is asking for a link or a number please don’t tweet it upfront. It might be considered as spam. If the tweet is a little generic start interacting with the user as you would interact with them offline. Over a thread of conversation, you can share your product/service details.

Respond Immediately: A perfect example would be the following screenshot.

No, this doesn’t mean you need to be hooked on to your laptop and twitter all the time. A smart phone should do the work. People don’t expect you to respond immediately to the tweets. Responding within 24 hours is a decent turnaround time.

Integrate offline activities:You cannot promise one thing on twitter and deliver another offline. If you have promised a 15 % discount to a consumer, make sure it is communicated to the branch head or delivery guy. You can also have special offers for just twitter users. For e.g.: providing the user with free wifi at a restaurant if the user is a brand evangelist or an influencer.

Tweetups: Partner with users to host tweetups. A perfect example for this is the Hotel Sea Princess and Turning30 tweetup where the movie and the hotel were promoted at the same time.

Twitter for customer support: Use twitter for customer support by searching for relevant keywords and responding to direct mentions of the brand.

Some good local brands that use Twitter very effectively:

  1. Doolally
  2. Hotel Sea Princess
  3. Gostana
  4. BlueFrog
  5. Cafe Casa Mia
  6. The Bombay Store
  7. The Egg Factory
  8. Inkfruit
  9. Kyra Bangalore
  10. South Indies
  11. Pringoo
  12. 24 Hours Loot
  13. SeriousNightOut 

If you are a local brand using twitter or if you know of any local business using twitter please comment below, I will add it to this list.