Over the last two months most of the storefront businesses in Boulder (where I live) have joined and started participating in twitter. I was sure a vendor was going around and doing it for them, but after talking to many owners, it seems they have done it out of noticing other businesses doing it. These are all locally owned shops, fun to see them active and online.
It has been fun watching a local bookstore give out books, sushi restaurant tell bad jokes, a lingerie company talk to a women’s specific outdoor shop. Great to see a community jumping into the deep end.
Alright, you are on Twitter, but now what?
Talk to your customers. Set up a search for your business name (and variations) and keep track of it. Say hello, thanks for coming in, sorry we didn’t have that in stock or thanks for the suggestion. Do a search on Boulder every once in a while, follow those who are saying “in Boulder for the afternoon, what should I do?”
All Positive, All the Time. Tell the story. That is what you are doing. What is the story of your store? Don’t let the Camera tell your story, you do it. Had a big success? Let people know. Running a special? Let people know. Going through tough times? Let people know (stay positive about it). Hating on Red Wings is aok with most people in town. Boulder Baked does this well.
Be A Character. Be somebody (a person). Don’t be ‘thingy, the mascot for x company.’ Instead be “Mary, I own the freaking place and love my customers.” Sometimes it makes sense for your business account to be the main person in your business. Rick Levine does this well.
Talk To Other Stores. Pretty easy and fun! Ask the store down the street how they are doing, or heckle another company about what they just posted. Interact and have fun. The T-Bar does this well.
Ask Questions. Don’t know the answer? Ask. As much as you ask, answer.
The Not So Easy
Realize you don’t own your brand. Forget years of marketing that tell you to control the messaging by letting the customer be part of the brand. The customer just doesn’t take part in your brand, in many ways they own it, you are playing a role. Twitter is part of the new wave of marketing, where the best products and companies are rewarded with the most passionate customers.
Passionate > Passive. Do not get caught in the numbers game of “I have 400 followers!” It is cool. Celebrate it. But cooler? Having 35 people ask you questions in a week, or a customer tell you about a bad experience (when they do this, it is a simple ask, make things right, and then you have a passionate customer). Interaction is the name of the game. Think about ways to get passionate followers over passive. If you have 45000 followers as a Boulder based business, you look like a spammer, and people hate spammers.
Transparency Can Hurt. Your brand is now in the open. Your homepage is the common term people search for (The Kitchen Cafe would be “Kitchen Boulder” or “The Kitchen Boulder” and not your website. Recently I became very sick from said restaurant, and wrote a post that is on or close to the front page of most common search terms for this. When people don’t like your company (it happens) they might be vocal about it. Don’t fret, try to fix the problem and maintain the ‘all PR is good PR’ mentality. Many Twitterers have blogs, and with local content rising to the top, will be on your front page if they love or hate you.
Encourage Interaction. When you meet people that you know from Twitter (how cool) have fun. Don’t feel bad asking them to leave a Yelp review, tweet or blog post about your place. Generally you have more people in your store than reviews online,
Companies with a slant on storefront or support them on Twitter in Boulder: @downtownboulder @fullcycle, @thetbar, @bigredf, @thecupboulder, @hotelboulderado, @invironments, @englishretreads, @boulderbooks, @dishgourmet, @teeandcakes, @ricklevine, @bcbr, @theorganicdish, @boulderwalrus, @outdoordivas, @spudbros, @backpackermag, @hapasushi, @bimbamboo, @bigredf, @sensorielle, @4580, @snikiddy,@ten20boulder, @sidneyscoffee, @boulder_theater, @iloverags, @toporanch, @cefioreco, @etownhall, @boulderbaked, @rioboulder, @planetbluegrass, @lindsaysdeli, @leavenotrace, @boulderpolice, @boulderparking, and many more I am sure (leave them in the comments).
Any other tips for businesses in Boulder?