I've never been a Twitter booster. For all the hype, I could never really figure out the amazing value that people claim it offers. I guess my heart will always be in blogging; but I've recently concluded that local businesses can realize outstanding value through Twitter, if they play their cards right.

(from Flickr user NevilleHobson)

Now, all kinds of businesses have dabbled in the social media world, from start-ups to decades-old small businesses to Fortune 500 companies. But from my experience, it's the local businesses that are best positioned to take advantage of Twitter.

Why? Because when a customer interacts with someone from a local business on Twitter, they can go into that store or cafe or restaurant and a digital interaction instantly turns into an interpersonal interaction. This type of thing simply doesn't happen when huge corporations engage in social media - it can't. It's a matter of practically. If the person running the Twitter account is at the corporate headquarters, they won't be able to interact with customers in any other city. If the company is big enough, they might simply have too many customers in the headquarters city to ever interact meaningfully with them.

Nevertheless, I say that local businesses can capture value on Twitter if they play their cards right, because I've seen many that are simply missing opportunities.

My biggest pet peeve arises when I'm chatting with a local business on Twitter, and I have literally no idea who the person is typing on the other end. It's like I'm talking to the Great Wizard of Oz - the mysterious man behind the curtain. That's why I suggest that all businesses, large or small, should disclose, in their bio, the personal handle(s) of whoever is running the company Twitter account.

I think @SouthwestAir offers a perfect example of what I mean:
Bio: The LUV Airline! Airplanes can't type so @ChristiDay and @Brandy_King are piloting the Twitterverse!
And here is another example, from the interactive agency @Razorfish:
Bio: Global agency; this account managed mostly by @davidjdeal, @heathergately @crys4pr & @eunmac
The reason this is so critical for local businesses is because, when I go into a store or a cafe or a restaurant, I want to know whether the person I've been chatting with online is there. I don't really want to awkwardly ask which of the several employees may be the mysterious man behind the curtain. And if I end up buying something from the very person who I've been chatting with before I walked into the business, that's a huge missed opportunity from them to take that customer relationship to the next level.


    Such a great post. I'm going to send this to all of Savvy Avenue to make sure we continue to do things right in our various markets! Thanks so much. - Stacy