I used to live in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, aka one of the most ‘trendy’, ‘hipster’ places you can live in NYC. Just nine years ago, it was not a place I would spend time in. I told my friend that took me there for the first time nine years ago that I would never go back. I was furious he would even take me to such a dangerous, rundown place just to grab drinks. Little did I know that he saw the potential of Williamsburg even before developers did. Now Williamsburg is one of the most gentrified communities in the country, and I am its resident. Williamsburg is now so trendy that its small businesses have seemed to focus in on the trendiest platform for the younger generations; Instagram → and ONLY on that platform. I had to ask a bartender if the handle on their on-point hipster chalkboard was their Twitter handle because I could not find it. He responded that it was their IG handle. So, I asked him to confirm if the handle I found on Twitter was correct. He shrugged, and then the hostess came over and said she believed the one I found was correct but that they did not focus on Twitter. To make the story even more interesting to me, they had an on-staff social media person whose only function was to grow their Instagram account → that’s literally all.
I hope I am not the only social media pro out there completely perplexed by this common Williamsburg set-up. As I go from store-to-store in my quaint neighborhood when I visit, I notice that this Instagram-only approach is the hot new trend. Pretty much every small store, restaurant, bar (you name it) has their IG account somewhere on a chalkboard, and that’s it.
While I appreciate the trendiness and refreshed approach of an Instagram-first strategy, I am dumbfounded by the Instagram-only approach. WTF, people?! Are you doing so well in business that you really believe you are reaching everyone that comes to your business via Instagram?
What I find even more startling is that the business owners don’t even know their own Twitter handles. How is that even possible?
Here are my five reasons small businesses need to rethink their Instagram-only approach and give some love to Twitter:
Twitter Isn’t Going Away
No matter what your political views are, Trump and the coronavirus brought Twitter back to the forefront. Now that the President is constantly sending important updates via Twitter, more eyes are searching the Twitter streams and becoming familiar with the platform. People are also hungry to find the latest news on #COVID19. I have family members that are suddenly super into Twitter just because it’s had such an uptick in the news. Now mostly tweets are being quoted in news articles and being used as official statements. This revived use of Twitter assures us all that it is not leaving us anytime soon.
You can organically target on Twitter like you can with no other platform. You can easily search for conversations around your business, and enter third-party conversations that are discussing your industry. I wrote about a great way a baker in Middleton, WI targeted me on Twitter and in the process formed a relationship with a new customer: 3 Tips For Small Businesses To Gain New Customers On Social Media.
Twitter is conversation-friendly. It’s by far one of the easiest platforms to hop into a conversation and share your point of view. You have an opportunity every day to join a conversation and tell people all about your business– for free! Find people that are already talking about services your company offers and tell them how your business can help them. Add value to existing conversations, and watch your customer base grow.
Speaking of being ‘trendy’… Twitter is a great resource for discovering what is trending in the world. By thoughtfully tapping into one of the trends, you can provide your small business with a world stage. You also can add these trends to your real-world small business. I’ve seen businesses add trendy hashtags, where applicable, to their outdoor signs or tags on certain clothing.
Many people do not think of ‘inspiration’ when they think of Twitter. They think of news-first, and then rely on Pinterest and/or Instagram for their inspiration for the day. However, Twitter can actually be a great inspirational resource that is mixed with educational, actionable insights. When you search your industry, no matter how small your business is, you will most likely find inspirational articles and tidbits that will help you improve your business in innumerable ways.
These are just a few reasons why you should be on Twitter if you own a small business. While Instagram will attract a certain crowd, I am sure you could also use some other crowds to support your small business. It’s cool to be on-trend, but it’s better not to abandon best practices and proven methods.
– Marji J. Sherman