What Twitter Search Can Mean for Businesses

For One, It's A Gateway to Potential Customers

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While many still struggle to find a purpose for using Twitter, and Twitter ceases to generate revenue for itself (though it’s coming sooner or later), the social network continues to take the world by storm. Naturally there are plenty of opportunities there or businesses to capitalize on.

Are you finding Twitter effective for business?
Tell WPN readers.

Before we get into that though, let’s look at some research and statistics regarding Twitter. Let’s get a feeling for just what we’re dealing with this popular communication tool.

The Twitter Explosion

New data from comScore indicates that Twitter approached 10 million users in February. That’s a growth of over 700% from February 2008. On top of that, worldwide visitors climbed over 5 million more. Just in the US, visitors climbed over 1000% in a year’s time.

comScore Twitter Growth

Are you surprised by this growth? Comment.

The Twitter Audience

The two largest age demographics on Twitter are the 45-54 crowd, and the 25-34 crowd. Interestingly, the youngsters (12-17) are the smallest demographic as comScore notes, referencing info from Alexei Oreskovic of Reuters.

comScore Twitter Demographics

Are you taking demographics into account in your Twitter efforts? Comment.

Trending Topics on TwitterWhat are Twitterers Searching for Though?

Well, it’s mostly the usual kind of queries you would expect to find on other search engines. Entertainment searches dominate. No surprise there. Hitwise looks at top searches for the week ending March 21.

A nice convenient way to see what people are interested in right now, however, is to simply look at the right column of your Twitter home page and look at the "Trending Topics" section. That will pretty much lay it out there for you.

You can take that list for what it’s worth and do with it what you will. The big draw to using Twitter search and trends is that it is real-time, and you can get involved with what people are talking about at the moment. This makes engaging with potential customers on topics that are interesting to them that much easier. 

What kinds of topics do you search for on Twitter?

Leveraging Twitter Search for Business

That brings us to just what kind of things you can do with Twitter search to gain not just more followers, but potentially leads, clients, and customers. A recent BusinessWeek article has some inspiring examples of ways businesses are already utilizing the feature.

One in particular looks at Wistia.com CEO Chris Savage searching for the phrase "private video sharing," a phrase that caters to what his business offers, and finding a tweet from someone that read "A teacher requested a private ‘video sharing’ web site so that specialists can observe student behavior – can anyone refer one?"

Savage then asked if that person was still looking for that, and he was met with a reply that said, "YES! It’s the first request for one – thought I’d hit up my tweets before [I] go digging." You can imagine where it can go from there.

There has been a lot of wishful thinking and a lot of rumors about Google eventually acquiring Twitter, which could potentially see Twitter search integrated right into Google results pages. I wouldn’t worry about that too much unless one or both of these companies comes out and says they are actually getting a deal done, but there are ways you can integrate the two.

Those still struggling to "get" Twitter and those that are new to the service altogether might also find BusinessWeek’s Twitter Glossary useful too for understanding the lingo required to be "with it."

Have you ever found a customer on Twitter? Share.

It’s Obviously Not Just About Search

There are a lot more ways business can use Twitter to their advantage. I have discussed specific examples in the past of things both large and small brands are doing. If you can find a new way to make Twitter work for you, that’s great. It continues to happen frequently, but that’s easier said than done. There are plenty of things already being done by others that you can learn from if you look around and find them.

There are still many unanswered questions about the best ways to use Twitter for marketing. Not everyone agrees on the best practices. Mike McDonald of WebProNews had an interesting discussion about this with SageRock’s Sage Lewis that is definitely worth checking out:

Do you agree with Sage? Comment.

Spend some time on Twitter before you dismiss its potential. Spend some time using Twitter apps (like our own Twellow for example). Use the features Twitter gives you (search, Trends). Potential customers are all over the service. It’s all about  how you’re finding them and how you’re engaging with them.

What Twitter Search Can Mean for Businesses
Top Rated White Papers and Resources
  • http://www.healthyfat.com/ Gerda Endemann

    I’m a nutrition consultant, and my clients often tell me that they don’t know how to make the right choices in the grocery store. I’m planning on offering access via Twitter, so that they can ask questions as they arise, for example: “Which margarine is better for me, Earth Balance or Fleishman’s?”

    • Chris Crum

      That sounds like a great use of Twitter to me, provided there was always someone live and ready to answer questions.

  • http://www.mytampalife.com Denis Baldwin

    I user my RSS feed to update my mytampalife twitter every time I post. This allows my users to easily subscribe to my blog without having to visit it regularly to check for updates. This keeps people informed and I find I have many more visitors (and links to individual stories) because of it.

  • http://twitter.com/rhiebert88 R. Hiebert

    I am surprised by its growth because it gets too much negative press. This could be sour grapes. Occasionally I will use a site similar to alexa.com to show the graph that compares how its hits rank among popular sites.
    I use Twitter to engage an interaction in and about especially the automotive maintenance category. The two other home business ventures hopefully will come into the conversation. When a sale or new account occurs, I like to ask if Twitter was the source of the introduction to the product concerned.

  • http://www.adwebdesigns.com/portfolio.htm Bill Scott SEO Expert

    I like twitter and the apps for it.
    I have been replacing old school text chat with twitter and seeing good results. It can be used as a customer service tool. I have also added coupons through twitter and seeing results with that as well

    • Chris Crum

      Good thinking with the coupons. This is a hot trend right now. It’s really worth considering all the time, but in this economy, many people are actively looking for coupons and discounts all over the web.

  • http://www.bza.com Barbara Zaccone

    I actually saw a twitter post where the person was offering advertising opportunities on their twitter background. At first I thought how dumb is that, because obviously there is no click-through metric. But then again if they have built up such a huge following… who knows?

    • Chris Crum

      I wouldn’t totally rule out the idea. Some people have an incredible following on Twitter. It would be interesting to learn how many people look at individual Tweets frequently enough to see such ads though. I know I mostly just look at the stream, so I don’t often see individual backgrounds.

  • http://www.medlawplus.com joe

    Those twitter demographics blow me away. I assumed that only the under 30 crowd was heavily into twitter. Not. The #1 demographic in your chart is 45-54. Them old folks is twittering!

    p.s. I can cal them “old folks” because according to my driver’s license I fall within this demographic.

    • http://homebusinesshints.com Chuck Anthony

      Thanks for pointing this out, Joe. One should never underestimate the power of knowledge and wisdom which oftentimes is the result of trial and error over the course of time. I think now the mantra for Twitter (and for those businesses willing to give it a try) would be refinement.

  • Danny Bags

    I think this is a great idea of what a business can do with Twitter:


    Instead of posting marketing messages, this medical supply company puts interesting and fun health facts.

    • Risty Minunos


  • http://www.SusanGrisanti.com SusanGrisantiGuitarist

    I LOVE sending out short press releases about my upcoming music gigs on Twitter~ it’s a marvelous tool for announcing events ~ so I invented a new Twitter Word ‘Treality’ to define the world in Twitter Land LOL

  • http://twitter.com/kirkhamsebooks Sensei J. Richard Kirkham B.Sc.

    I never thought of look for direct customers. I’ve just been treating twitter like a forum and providing mostly info with a little advertising.

    My Twitter page is in my name so follow me!


  • http://niche-traffic-sale.blogspot.com/2009/03/exploring-twitter-search-function.html Niche

    I use the twitter search function a little different. Because I am in internet marketing, there is aneed to have up to date niche related news. The twitter search bar is a great way of finding out whats hot in whatever niche Iam interested in

    • Chris Crum
    • http://www.wholesalefishingsupplies.net Tony Lee

      The graph reflecting the age audience of Twitter caught me by surprise.

      I would have thought that the majority of users would have fallen into a much younger audience.

      Thanks for sharing!

    • http://www.all-travel-sites.com Adam

      I have received numerous links and have also given out links to people who have befriended me on Twitter. Occasionally I will use the search feature to find people to network with who are related a niche that I might be working in. For example, for my new travel directory, I might use the twitter search feature to find people who have tweeted about travel related phrases. I then ask them if they would like a free link on my travel directory. Numerous bloggers have responded by adding my directory to their blog rolls.

      Just one example of link building using Twitter.

    • http://www.TheVCF.com The Virtual Consulting Firm

      Good Article, Thank You, Chris! :)

      So that we are not all just “preaching to the choir” …

      How do we get this Message regarding the Business Benefits of Twitter out to Business Owners not already on Twitter and/or online yet?

      Thank you again, Chris for the Good Article! :) and Everyone Have a Great Day! :)

      • http://www.twitter.com/searchwiz Frank Okun

        At the time of this comment posting, http://www.twitter.com/searchwiz has 166 followers. I am seeing new followers everyday, and I believe, like Twitter itself, commenting on posts such as this one can also generate followers as long as there is an interest.
        www.SearchwizMarketing.com has also added the new Twitter feed which can be found in the settings section of the Twitter control panel.
        I suggest all websites that believe in this new traffic generating strategy also post the Twitter feed to their sites.

        • Chris Crum

          Not a bad point about using blogs and and Twitter to compliment each other. I wouldn’t just go around spamming blogs with you Twitter account though. I think the best way is to link your name (as you have done here).

      • Chris Crum

        I guess that was kind of my goal with this article as far as those who are already online but not on Twitter. I think if a business does not have an online presence, they’ve got bigger things to worry about than Twitter at this point.

    • http://www.patrickmcmurray.com Guest

      The social media explosion, what comes next?

    • http://www.homenotion.com Ms. Liz

      Twitter can definitely be used as a marketing tool but you have to have a method. Just tweeting about whatever, whenever with no purpose in mind won’t help you. You also can’t use it to push your products or make hard sales, that won’t work.

      Have a clear cut use for twitter, develop a schedule of when to use and why you are using it and you’ll see results.

    • http://www.bloginstallationservice.com Zulfikar

      Great insight on twitter. As an individual I am still trying to get my head around how to capitalise on twitter and the whole wb 2.0 growth.

      Your article has given the urge to look into it further that little boost it needed – thanks for sharing!

      I like the aproach of cwimedical as highlighted By Danny Bags (WPN reader)

    • enrique

      I am an struggleling entrepreneur looking for and creating opportunities and I hate to place this idea online, but if webpronews present it to twitter, please be honest and share some of the money if they buy the idea,,.

      Ok webpronews. Here it is, Twitter its much more IDEA specific than google. Twitter its much more keyword base and much more DIRECTED of what ONE IS looking for HEVE interest IN. So what twitter can do to make money is do mass linked twitts to specific groups OR DO mass linked advertising twitts period. TWITTER SHOULD do 25 cents microcharge for each click ON THE links OR LINK PLACED ON THE TWITTS.

      Meaning, if I am an small company, and I have $250 or $1000 of dollars for advertaising, I would place these moneys on a twitt account, and every time someone click on the link, a charge would be place on the account. However, the person who IS ADVERTISING should get the analicts and the records or who went to the link and iether GET the website or twitter link to follwo up and make a potential connections wit the persons who clicked on your advertising link. In fact, this idea could work for all social networks. TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK AND BE HONEST WEBPRONEWS.

    • http://redcubemarketing.com Gemma Went

      Really enjoyed reading this. I’m a relatively new adopter of Twitter and have seen the benefits really quickly. It really is all about having a clear strategy for your use of Twitter and sticking to this.

      Loving the demographics, that’s pretty impressive!

    • http://www.SalesOnlineWorld.com Dax Turner

      Twitter needs to get more reasonable in helping out the users. It should add more features on a regular basis. Twitter should make use of its large network and help out users to make the best out of twitter whatever they are involved with like learn, teach, get business, find partners, get latest updates and so on..

    • http://emoneymakingonline.com eMoneyMakingOnline

      nice article chris….this helps to understand the insights & power of twitter…thanks.

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