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Have you dismissed Twitter as a valuable marketing tool because you own a brick-and-mortar business and serve only local clientele? It’s a reasonable conclusion, given that much of the hype surrounding Twitter is how it connects people from opposites sides of the globe. But let’s take a step back and examine what this powerful communication can do for the local small business owner.

Let’s say you own a small bakery in Nokomis, FL and the vast majority of your customers are people who stop by on their way to and from work. Why would it benefit your business to broadcast your message across the globe via Twitter? Facebook may seem like a more valuable marketing tool since it helps you build a network through established relationships. But if you’ve had a Facebook business page for awhile, you’ve probably noticed that the amount of new likes you are getting has slowed considerably, and that your page updates are not being seen as much as you would like. You may have begun to wonder how you can reach potential customers outside those established relationships — visitors to the area, for instance. This is where Twitter shines.

In terms of small business marketing, Twitter has two huge advantages over Facebook. First of all, Twitter doesn’t limit who sees what. If you tweet something, anyone can discover that tweet in his or her feed. Secondly, Twitter is completely searchable. This is an advantage in two ways: Potential customers can find you, and, even more importantly, you can find potential customers. And yes, this means you can search for them geographically.

So let’s take the example of our bakery in tiny Nokomis and look for potential customers. Assuming we already have our Twitter account set up, next we’ll go to, sign up with our Twitter account, and log in. We simply adjust the slider for the area we want to cover, enter the keyword “bakery,” and voil√†! We find everyone in that area who sent a tweet containing the word “bakery.” If it’s this easy to find people tweeting about bakeries in a small Florida town, imagine how easy it would be to find potential customers in a large urban area?

using Geochirip

Well, now that we found some potential customers, I’m sure you’re wondering how you add them to your network, or better yet, how you turn them into a real paying customer.

Our bakery’s first step would be to read through the latest tweets and see if someone is looking for a new bakery to try, or expressing that they are in the mood for some baked goods. To make a good impression and possibly gain a customer for life, we’d tweet them and offer them a free cookie for stopping in and giving us a try. If they take us up on the offer, they will be impressed by two things: We took the time to reach out to them on Twitter, and we offered them something for free. There is a very good chance that they will tweet about the positive experience, which we of course would retweet!

After searching for potential new customers, the next thing you will want to do is follow people on that list who look like they may follow you back. To learn more about this, read our blog post on following people on Twitter. Always keep in mind that Twitter is not Facebook: Following strangers and having them follow you back is what Twitter is all about.

So, are you ready to try Twitter “for locals only?”

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