Can 140 characters change your business for the better? Twitter caught the world by storm, creating an environment where people shared short messages about themselves with the world and people started paying attention. What began as personal outbound messages quickly shifted to the business market. When businesses began using Twitter, the face of customer service and business marketing changed drastically. How can businesses benefit and grow, based on Twitter use?

Grab Attention
Twitter is a way to announce a message quickly and to a large group of people. By using #hashtags, a business can have their tweet appear in an aggregate stream of everyone that has used the same #hashtag and those that are searching for the #hashtag. What is a #hashtag? They are similar to a tag or optimized keyword. Just about any word or phrase that is associated with your business or the subject of your tweet can become a #hashtag. It is important to note that random #hashtag use is ineffective. Take a few moments to see what topics are trending in #hashtags streams, apply those to your business then attach them to your tweet. This is a great way to attract potential customers along with keeping an eye on your competitors.

Instant Feedback
Twitter is one of the fastest ways to see what your customers are saying about your business. Everyone is talking about what restaurant they just visited and what product they just purchased. By searching your @username and any phrases that are associated with your business, you can see what people are saying in real time. This opens the door to delivering top-notch customer service. If a customer is dissatisfied and says they had an awful meal, the twitter account for that restaurant can offer an immediate reply and extend a positive resolution to the disgruntled customer. Likewise, if a customer gives a glowing review, the business can reply a word of gratitude, showing the customer that their opinion is highly valued.

Stay Ahead Of The Curve
Even if your primary demographic does not use Twitter on a frequent basis, a business should not ignore Twitter as not being important. Your competition is on Twitter. The easiest way to see what your competition is doing and how they are engaging with their customers will help you stay at the top of your industry. When a business sees what their competitors are saying and what their competitor’s customers are saying, they will discover ways to improve their own business. They will also receive reinforcement for what they are doing correctly. If your top competitor has many disgruntled customers due to a price increase, you will see that raising your prices may not be the most effective way to cut costs. Additionally, if the competitions customers are repeatedly asking for a specific product, your business can be ahead of the curve and offer that product before your competitors.

Twitter is an effective tool to both market your business and to keep tabs on the competition. Businesses can quickly ease the frustration of disgruntled customers or offer appreciation to satisfied customers. Businesses can also keep an eye on the competition. No matter how your business uses Twitter, the information gained by paying attention will prove valuable.