Because of this fundamental shift in how Twitter is used, internet marketers are flocking to the service and promoting their products, their services, and most importantly (to them) themselves. Twitter has become a bot-filled, automated marketing machine. With a flood of self-promoting, easy-money-making, do-no-work-and-sit-at-home marketing "gurus" out there hocking "the next big thing", how are legitimate businesses supposed to differentiate themselves and properly promote their brand online? Even more to the point: How are local businesses supposed to cut through the clutter?
There's nothing inherently wrong with automation. In fact, I'm a big supporter of automating monotonous, time-consuming tasks that could be better performed by a computer. After all, I am a programmer. However, these bot-using, spam-creating, shameless internet marketers are a stain on Twitter's potential.
So, in trying to find a balance between legitimate marketing and revolting spam, the question becomes: "How does one take advantage of Twitter's opportunities without getting lost in the clutter?"
It's more obvious than you might think: Go Local.
As Twitter has grown in popularity, users have focused on its global reach. Most people who use Twitter want everyone to know everything about what they have to say. More followers, more friends, more people, more voices... more more more. In reality, the real gold mine is in focused & local marketing.
This is the X-marks-the-spot-treasure for local businesses, civic organizations, and non-profits. For any group that has a local interest, Twitter can become an essential part of any marketing plan.
Do you own a neighborhood deli? Use Twitter to find local people talking about where to go for lunch and tell them about your specials.
A bar or restaurant? Connect with people who want to go out on a weekend night and offer them coupons.
How about the local skating rink? Establish a rapport with locally-based skaters, hockey players, roller derby enthusiasts, etc. and entice them to join a team or attend a public session.
The trick is to find people interested in your business or industry, then connect with them to build your customer base. All on a local level. As a local business owner, you wouldn't waste marketing dollars on a TV ad halfway across the country. You're interested in the people of your community. And guess what - they're interested in you, too. All you have to do is open a line of dialogue to pull them in.
The shift from a global to a local mindset in Twitter marketing is in its infancy. However, a company that has realized the importance of this opportunity is Tweetmatix.
Full disclosure: I have worked as a consultant with Tweetmatix since its inception.
Tweetmatix is a company focused on making Twitter a local resource for small business -- and I have to say, they do it simply and elegantly. Realizing that most people still find Twitter to be a confusing and/or unknown service, Tweetmatix has successfully allowed a straightforward interface to act as an intuitive gateway to the behind-the-scenes power that Twitter has to offer.
It is not a simple-minded, autofollowing service like the many websites which have sprung up across the internet. Rather, Tweetmatix is completely focused on quality connections instead of a high quantity of followers that the other services promote.
The icing on the cake: Tweetmatix does it locally. Something I've yet to see any other service focus upon.
It's the difference between a scalpel and a spoon -- or to put it in marketing terms: This is the difference between running an ad in every newspaper across the country vs. adding a flyer to the neighborhood association welcoming basket. The reach is smaller and more focused. The fact is: People who are too far away from your business will never become your customer anyway, why waste the time and effort? You'll only dilute your message.
When you decide to market your business or group on Twitter, your goal should be to build quality connections to potential customers and maintain brand loyalty within that group. A smaller group who is willing to spend money with you is infinitely more valuable than an enormous group of worldwide followers who will never spend a penny on your products.
I'm excited for this shift towards local Twitter marketing. Actually -- more to the point -- I'm excited to see the shift away from spam-based marketing. I really believe in the power of Twitter; I just don't want to see that value go down the toilet as Twitter users pull away from the service on account of spam. Quality over quantity will help all legitimate marketing interests thrive well into the future.