If I wracked my brain hard enough, I could probably find hundreds of reasons why a small or medium-sized business owner should leverage Twitter as a marketing tool. Instead of getting on my social soapbox and boring you to tears, I figured I’d just outline 5 reasons why you should get up the nerve to start actively using Twitter:

1) Obtain Information Seamlessly

Twitter is an extremely effective search tool for researching any and all kinds of information. Consider Twitter as a sounding board for over 100 Million micro-journalists. Everyone has their own story, complete with details on certain topics, issues, trends, etc. By searching on or using a 3rd party program like TweetDeck, you can actually filter out the exact info you’re looking for. The same applies to your customers who are looking for deals, discounts or news from your business.

An example: If I wanted to find out if anyone had landed a sweet deal when signing up for Comcast in the Boston area (highly unlikely) I could search on Twitter for “Comcast Boston Deal.” With those 3 magical keywords, I may find someone who actually beat “The Man” and got HBO for only $5 a month. A boy can dream…

2) Re-enforce Your Brand

Your website and/or blog is only valuable if people know it exists. Maybe you have a respectable readership from pounding the pavement, or you’ve paid someone like me to help with your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and get to a high position on the search engines. With over 100 Million Active Users, Twitter can be a useful medium for promoting your products and services and establishing your brand. If you are an existing business you can use Twitter to bolster your brand image (or as we “know-it-alls” say build your Brand Equity.) On the other hand if you are a smaller business with limited brand awareness, then Twitter can be excellent for promoting and establishing your brand among a vast audience of receptive prospects.

3) Brilliant Marketing Opportunities

Twitter can be useful in promoting your products and services. Probably one of the most cost effective method to increase awareness about your products or services – the only real cost is your time. A business can inform customers about any new announcement or special offers in real-time, and with smartphones nearly exceeding the number of PCs and desktop computers, you’re bound to be able to reach your target audience. In addition, you can get a much better idea of your target market by following their conversations and interacting with them en masse.

4) Drive Traffic to Your Website

Congratulations on having a website. You’ve done it! You’re a made (wo)man! Oh, what’s that? Now you need people to visit it! Why not use Twitter? Website or blog owners commonly use Twitter to promote new content or articles. The key is posting quality information on Twitter and have an active profile… That way, you’ll also receive indirect traffic as users who like your contribution will tend to click on your Twitter profile and are likely to visit your website.

5) Network Without The Risk

You arrive at the hotel ballroom, armed with business cards and ready to network your arse off. That’s when he sees you: you know the guy. Overbleached white teeth, red power tie, overflowing plate of food in hand, and he’s coming right for you. There goes your chances, you’ll be spotted with the Putz of the Evening…

You can avoid all of this by networking on Twitter. Heck, do it in your PJs, as long as you don’t post photos of yourself. Twitter provides excellent opportunities to network with people of common interest. If you own a restaurant, you’ll want to find local foodies or people living in your community… Twitter can help. If you run a charity, you’ll want to find new evangelists for your cause and ultimately more donors… Twitter can help. With Twitter, it is possible to target a specific niche or audience by following others from your industry (i.e. following other restaurants or hair salons.) It can thus allow a business to build contacts within the industry (both potential strategic allies and customers.)

Jake Burns