For small businesses with little to no marketing budget and also highly dependent on word-of-mouth marking, Twitter can help grow their sales and attract new customers.
So, what is Twitter? Twitter is a text messaging service that allows users to distribute information in real time to a network of individuals who subscribe to receive these "tweets," as these messages are known. Whether Twitter is a good idea for businesses in your district depends on who their target customer is and whether social media is an effective medium to reach those individuals. Sharing information with customers on daily specials/sales or even the moving location of your sidewalk cart (as one street vendor interviewed in a recent article in the NY Times does) can clearly be an effective way to spread the word about your district businesses and district activities in general. However, you need to beware. Not every business or business district is well suited for Twitter, as Steve Straus, a columnist for USA Today notes. A local dry cleaner, for instance, is unlikely to develop a large Twitter following and probably unlikely to have much to contribute in the form of tweets. This means that districts that have a highly concentrated group of convenience retail may also not be the best fit for a Twitter program. But a district with specialty shops and interesting events, or a local cafe ready to share information on a daily sandwich or coffee special, or even book readings or live music, may be a better fit. When the target customer is media savvy and interested...the opportunity may be ripe to take a chance at using this growing form of social media.
"Twitter for Small Businesses: Reconsidered", USA Today
"Mom-and Pop Operators Turn to Social Media", New York Times