How SMEs use Twitter

Avoid the fail whale by targeting SMEs correctly

Avoid the fail whale by targeting SMEs correctly

Could the real SME please stand up? We waded into the depths of poorly-targeted SME Marketing on Twitter to find where the real opportunities lie. Here’s what we found, by @Niamhlechou of TopLine Communications

Twitter is busier than Times Square on New Year’s Eve… and most of it is junk.

In the last 30 days we found over 63,000 Tweets relating to SMEs in the UK. That’s 2,100 Tweets per day. Twitter accounts for a huge chunk of the social media traffic relating to small businesses and, crucially, small business owners.

But if the Entrepreneurship and Small Business section of and the world’s junk mail had a baby, that baby would be representative of the majority of Tweets that target SMEs on Twitter.

So why bother with Twitter? The truth is that the real SME audience is out there.

SMEs use Twitter to do the following:

1)    Customer service

SMEs have taken a leaf from the book of big business and use Twitter to connect with their customers directly. Feedback, compliments and complaints can give SMEs insight into how their customers feel about products and services. It also presents SMEs with the chance to show off when customers show them love, or the opportunity to publicly bring dissatisfied customers back on board and demonstrate that they care.

K.D Davis and Sons is a green grocer that offers fresh fruit delivery services in South Yorkshire. It uses Twitter to talk to customers directly, help with enquiries and address problems.

We wouldn’t advise sidling into a tense Twitter conversation regarding a problem, but keeping track of common issues that your target SMEs have with customers is great intelligence. Understanding the day-to-day pressures on one SME in the market will keep your marketing strategy in check and you’re less likely to miss a trick when you begin the campaign.

2)    To spy on competitors

If you don’t enjoy a bit of a Nosey Parker while meandering through the garden of social media, then I’d say you’re kidding yourself.

Primrose Bakery is the leader in London’s cutthroat cupcake market and one of a select few to make bank on the cupcake craze of 2006 – it now has two stores, two cookbooks and an App (which disappointingly is not for same-day cupcake delivery, but for recipes – we checked). The bakery’s overwhelming success is something that many try to emulate, and many of its 7,500 followers are cupcake purveyors themselves. If you’re having trouble cracking a specific market with your products and services, the Follower list of the industry big wigs is a great place to start.

3)    To ask questions

Business owners throw their questions to the Twittersphere and fish for answers that will inform some of their biggest decisions. Questions about tax deadlines, local suppliers and funding are the most common, but they are often questions relating to day-to-day operation.

On the 5th of February, Coles of Kings Lynn, a fishmonger in Norfolk, asked if anyone knew how to fix a pressure washer – and had no replies. If your company sells pressure washers, handyman services, spare parts, or even chemical cleaning products, you probably know a thing or two on the subject and could have helped.

To target SMEs like Coles of Kings Lynn keep an eye out for hashtags and mentions of your subjects of expertise. You’ll be in a much better position to approach an SME with your products if you already have its ear.

4)    Networking

Twitter is a popular space for small business owners to mingle and keep tabs on the key players in their industries.

The Little House of Art, an art gallery and B&B in Glastonbury, uses Twitter to stay connected with customers, artists and suppliers in its area and further afield.

If you’re marketing to SMEs in a particular industry, chances are that there is already a thriving online community for you to join. The Following list of existing customers is a great resource for finding opinion leaders, your competitors and new business leads.


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2 Responses to “How SMEs use Twitter”

  1. February 25, 2013 at 14:02 #

    Great insight! Another great way we use it is to listen to customer feedback to discover the needs of our target audience so we can effectively improve and market our new or existing products. It is also helpful in preventing or responding appropriately to any crises that arise.

  2. February 26, 2013 at 10:49 #

    Thanks for commenting! Having a good social media policy that feeds back into the overall business strategy is very important. What we were aiming for here to to explain how businesses can target SMEs on Twitter, so to do that we explained why the SMEs are there in the first place and then how to approach them. Are SMEs part of your target audience?

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