Advertisers are always talking about how important social media is for local businesses. It offers a chance for businesses to connect and engage with their customers and to promote their products and services. But is all social media effective? How does Twitter stack up against Facebook when it comes to advertising for small, local businesses? In this edition of “Prospect Genius Reviews…,” we’ll find out.
Twitter was created in March 2006 as a social networking platform on which users can send 140-character messages, known as “tweets.” As of December 2014, it had more than 284 million active users worldwide, with the majority of users located in the U.S. In fact, New York City is the city with the most users in the world. The majority of users are also female and under the age of 35.
Twitter is lauded for connecting strangers worldwide and promoting countless social causes and trends. But is it useful on a smaller, more local scale? Can local businesses really leverage Twitter effectively for advertising purposes?
Simply put: Not really. Twitter is mostly a destination for following celebrities and comedians, commenting on current events, and tracking all of the latest “trending topics.” In a study from G/O Digital, only 11% of adults aged 18-29 reported turning to Twitter for research on local businesses. (For comparison, 68% turn to Facebook.)
In an attempt to compete with Facebook, Twitter recently started offering sponsored tweets. Like Facebook’s sponsored posts, sponsored tweets target a specific audience and appear right in their timelines. But according to a November 2013 Wall Street Journal article, many small business owners aren’t finding these ads particularly helpful because there’s no way to gauge their effectiveness. Other business owners even said that their ads were clicked on and retweeted, but that they saw no increase in their website traffic or sales.
On top of that, many small business owners simply aren’t acquainted with Twitter’s interface when they begin using it. It takes a lot of time to learn the Twitter lingo and to get used to the different writing style that naturally comes with a 140-character limit. And that’s before you can even start worrying about growing your Twitter following. According to the same WSJ article, “Analysts, advisers and Twitter executives themselves say that cultivating and reaching an audience on the short-message service can require more time and effort than many small-business owners feel they can afford.”
However, we should point out that, when managed by a savvy professional, Twitter can be helpful for local retailers and restaurants. As Chris Marentis of Marketing Land points out, these physical locations can be conducive to check-ins and geo-tagged posts. He says, “Local marketers can and should capitalize on this organic traffic by using Twitter as a vehicle to promote special offers, discounts, and product/menu updates that drive consumers to their locations and entice them to spend and spend more.”
Even with that advantage, though, restaurants and shops should remember that only 11% of their local clientele is actually using Twitter to find information about them. Business owners shouldn’t be pouring tons of time and energy into a platform that only delivers a tiny fraction of potential customers.
Local service providers, on the other hand, don’t have much to gain from Twitter at all. Twitter can supplement their presence on Facebook— and having a well-rounded social media presence is certainly a positive— but it isn’t essential.
When you compare how many people are using Twitter versus Facebook for local search, and you consider that Twitter’s audience is one-fifth the size of Facebook’s, it just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for small businesses to spend their limited resources advertising on Twitter. That’s why Prospect Genius reviews Twitter for local businesses as a relatively ineffective advertising tool. When it comes to social media, advertising on Facebook is a much more efficient way to spend your company’s time and money.
Next time on “Prospect Genius Reviews…,” we’ll look at GoAnimate, a tool that allows anyone to create their own online videos.