Twitter for Small Businesses: Location, Location, Location

October 21, 2010 § Leave a comment

Twitter is opening up for small businesses.

Recently promoted Twitter CEO Dick Costolo says the company “would offer a self-serve tool for local businesses to buy TwitterTwitter ads, and is working on ways to deliver those ads based on location,” starting next year, according to NYT.

Twitter is testing water for advertising after gaining a huge fanbase. With its popularity exploding to 160 million users, from three million, in the last two years, Twitter is marching toward ad industry. (Using Costolo’s words, they need to move forward a lot faster.

By analyzing IP address, and various location information the users voluntarily share and involuntarily give away (such as the restaurant and store someone follows), Twitter’s to-be-launched self-service advertising allows small businesses to target a specific group of audience. Such move enables Twitter to expand its advertising business exponentially, apart from the lavishly-squandered-ad-campaign from Corporate America.

The buzzword today for social network and e-commerce is “LOCATION”. A wave of startups surges up, cashing in on the location business, allowing users to check in, either for tips and coupons or just to share to their whereabouts with friends. Shopkick, Foursquare, Gowalla and Stickybits are among the group. Sensing the radar, Facebook established check-in services on August 18th.

Apparently, retailers want to track customers down to their heels, and in some cases (Shopkick) not GPS specific, but store specific. Although Twitter does not have any plans for check-in services, though I would argue it’s a great idea, it already has an inherent edge in location-based advertising — its audience group.

For mobile services, people don’t always use location-based apps on the go, unless they are bored, searching for tips/fun stuff to do, or having desperate needs to share with friends where they are. But people check their Twitter accounts all the time, and thus Twitter has a better shot at reaching customers on the go.

Facebook may have the same advantage. However, neither of them show ads on their app (at least I haven’t seen any). How to fit a decent-sized display ad into a tiny smartphone screen is a major concern. So far as this problem remain unsolved, I’d say Twitter has better chance to win, if their ads can fit into 140 characters in the form of Promoted Tweets, a platform allowing businesses to “insert themselves into the Twitter stream in order to rise above the noise“. For Promoted Tweets, only one ad will be displayed at a time.

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