A survey has found 60% of online shoppers have purchased a product from an SME because of its Twitter presence, with some small business owners saying the medium is entirely responsible for boosting sales.
While Twitter has long been touted as a revolutionary way to communicate with consumers, small businesses are now looking at the social network as a sales tool, according to the survey conducted by Twitter and Aussie tech startup Bigcommerce.
The results also showed 3 in 4 shoppers felt better about an SME after following and reading the company’s tweets, and 90% of followers who got a reply from an SME had positive brand sentiment.
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Retailers in sports and recreation, as well as those in jewellery and accessories, had a higher than average return on investment per follower, at 21:1 and 53:1 respectively.
The research surveyed 1000 Twitter users who used the platform at least once a month and followed at least one SME, and 100 SME merchants across the world who have at least 1000 followers.
Myrtleford Butter Factory founder Naomi Ingleton told SmartCompany her online food retail business is using Twitter as its main tool to covert website sales. Her company, which produces artisan butter products, is based in Myrtleford, in Victoria’s north east.
Ingleton says as a small, regional family business that is not stocked in major supermarkets, Myrtleford Butter Factory doesn’t have the advantage of being able to easily get its products in front of consumers.
“Because we are based in regional Victoria and we’re three-and-a-half hours away from a major city, it’s really important for us to be able to speak directly to our customers via Twitter and form a relationship with them,” says Ingleton.
“The relationships we create via social media, we can then convert into sales.”
Ingleton says she will direct product inquiries via Twitter to her website, which will often directly result in a sale. She also says Twitter allows the company to retain customers after they have formed a personal connection with the brand.
“It’s not just the company that they’re following, it’s me,” she says.
Ingleton says small businesses are uniquely positioned to take advantage of the personal nature of Twitter.
“A big company might have a social media manager, but not have the same personal contact. Making it personal is a big thing for us,” she says.
Ingleton says one of the most important aspects of using Twitter as a sales tool is to be vigilant about responding to tweets. She also says in order to boost conversions she tries not to push a sale on Twitter at all, focusing instead on creating authentic relationship with her customers.
“It’s more about communicating than pushing,” she says.
“As small business owners, we’re in the enviable position of being personally involved with the business, so we can treat customers how we like to be treated. At the end of the day, it’s about brand loyalty, not pushing a sale.”