How to use Twitter to make money for your small (or big) business

[Note: I remember when I used to say the word “blog” outside of the bubble of people who know what an RSS feed is and people would kind of giggle, just because the word “blog” sounds funny, no matter how many times you’ve heard it. I remember it because it was last Saturday. From having eight years of being one of the few people my non-geeky friends know who “blogs,” I’ve learned from previous experience not to voluntarily tell any offline people I use Twitter. Indeed, I try very hard never to even say the word “Twitter” in the real-world. “Do you really Twitter?” people will ask, dumbfounded. “Can you explain to me what it is?” To which I respond, “It’s, well, it’s. You know, I blogged an answer to that question once. Let me just send you the link.”

I once wrote that RSS was so hard to explain, I quit trying. Rather, I started explaining what you can do with an RSS feed. I came to the conclusion that you should never try to explain what any new technology or platform is, you should explain — better yet, demonstrate — what you can do with it.

So, in 2009, I’m going to write more posts that are about practical things any marketer can do with social media tools (which means blogging, photo-sharing, and other things some people collectively call Web 2.0 or “that stuff you do on the web”). These posts will also appear on a new blog at we’re launching January 5 — more about that in a few days.

This is my first shot at one of these. I’ll be using ScreenCasts in upcoming posts.]

How to use Twitter to make money for your small (or big) business


1. First. Relax and clear your mind of what you think Twitter is.

2. While in your relaxed, open-state-of-mind, think of Twitter solely as a way you can broadcast text message alerts to customers when you have a sale.

3. Set up a Twitter account with a name that’s modeled on other companies that I’m borrowing this idea from, say: DellOutlet, the Twitter account Dell uses to do what I’m suggesting

4. Promote to your customers that you now offer special “text-message sales alerts” they can only get by signing up for the alerts at that Twitter account web address.

5. About once a week, post an incredible (and I mean something they’ll brag to their friends about) savings on some item

Will it work? Here’s a quote from a recent article on that mentions how Dell uses Twitter:

Twitter has produced $1 million in revenue over the past year and a half through sale alerts. People who sign up to follow Dell on Twitter receive messages when discounted products are available the company’s Home Outlet Store.

Because I’m trying to keep this how-to post simple, I won’t even tell you about how customers can subscribe to your Twittered sales alerts lots of other ways like, say, via RSS. For now, just think of it as a way to send out a text-message blast to customers who really love to come to your store or website when they know they can purchase something on sale. (Sorry, this only works in countries where Twitter is available via text-message or SMS, as the techies call it.)

Sidenote: I discourage individuals who use Twitter as a personal forum for sharing random thoughts with friends about what they’re doing each moment of the day from trying to “monetize” it by participating in any of the schemes that are emerging that will pay them to insert an ad in their Twitter stream. However, when you say to customers, start following this specific username for the stated purpose of receiving alerts when there are real deals, that’s the opposite of spam. I guess that’s something we should call Twitter Bacn. Note to self: explain bacn in a 2009 post.

See also:

More Twitter How-to Posts

(Hat tip: