A Twittering tire dealer – you are kidding, right?

Feb. 28, 2012

Let’s be honest from the start. You do not care about Twitter. Despite all of those who promote the efficacy of “social media,” you sort of laugh at the idea of being Tweeted what someone did on their lunch hour. It is laughable, really.

Unless they were thinking about shopping for tires on their lunch hour. That might interest you. But, really, how often does that happen — and, who is going to endure 2,000 Tweets to see that one? Well, set that aside for a minute, because it might not be so laughable — or impossible — in a few minutes.

Let’s get back to our cynical reality: You don’t really care a thing about Twitter itself. That is, of course, unless it is a means to an end. And, that “end” is growing your business by whatever means possible.

You have heard how “every business needs to be on Twitter,” but you have just not ever quite seen how it could work for you. Business people who are not currently actively using Twitter fall into three categories:

1. They consider it a silly waste of time and have never given it any serious consideration.

2. They tried it and found it a silly waste of time and gave up on it.

3. Or they have an idea it might not be a silly waste of time, but are still trying to find time to learn how to do it effectively.

Surprise! It might not be a silly waste of time, after all.

I should tell you that I came from the “silly waste of time” camp, myself. But I have become a convert. Let me offer you a few examples of Twitter conversations I had previously considered “silly wastes of time.”

“I love Mexican food!”

“My bookkeeper is so far behind! It is driving me crazy.”

“The family is headed to Arizona next month. What’s there to do besides the Grand Canyon?”

“I need a new POS system and I am overwhelmed!”

“Response to our last direct mail piece was terrible!”

“Chrissie is looking at where to go to college. Thinking about State, but wants something smaller.”

“My tires are looking terrible! May not pass inspection.”

All of this “boring stuff” is personal small talk, randomly distributed to a broad range of people who may or, more likely, may not care one whit about what is being said.

But, if you are the owner of a Mexican restaurant, temp service, travel agency, retail electronics business, local ad agency or the admissions director of a small local college, such “small talk” would not be so boring, would it? And, that last comment about shopping for tires might get you to sit a little taller in your chair.

The fact is, you can search for these types of messages — even with geographic limitations — to find people in conversation about your specific area of interest. And, in modern Internet protocol, it is not considered rude to “butt into” a conversation at any time.


More about ‘small talk’

So many people scoff at Twitter as a lot of electronic “small talk.” That is as opposed to all those serious e-mails people pound out every day, of course. Or, the scholarly messages shared on Facebook. But, the fact is, Twitter is far more “normal” in human communication than either of those. Take, for example, a typical meeting of friends introducing someone new. The conversation might go something like this.

“Hey, Joe. Meet Pete.”

“Hey, Pete. Where do you live?”

“We live over in Pleasant Ridge, not far from the big mall.”

“Oh, Sally and I were over there last month. There was this great little Mexican restaurant. Amazing!”

“You must mean Pedro’s. Yeah, we love it there! Did you ever try their sopapillas? They are great!”

“No, we rarely have any room for dessert.”

Not exactly a serious discussion about the state of the world. But, Joe and Pete found some common ground on which to base further discussion. Without that, Joe and Pete meet and pass without connecting at all.

Small talk is how humans interact! It sounds very normal when it happens in the natural flow of life. Yet, it feels odd when you are doing it on the Internet. That is unless you understand that, by doing it using Twitter, you get the chance to inject yourself, your personality and your opinions into conversations with people whom you would never otherwise meet. It completely shifts the mind-set about marketing online.

Take the conversation between Joe and Pete a step further. Suppose you were walking by and overheard the conversation about Mexican food. Suppose further, you owned a Mexican restaurant of your own. It would not be totally unheard of to grab a couple of business cards and interject, “Hi, guys, I overheard you talking about one of my favorite subjects. If you are ever in the Kenwood area, drop in to see me. We might get you to start talking about us!”

Making “small talk” on Twitter is a very highly leveraged way to talk “normally” to thousands of people at one time. Furthermore, it allows you to instantly jump in on conversations relevant to your business!

Pricking up your ears

Spencer is an old dog we rescued from the shelter a few years ago. He likes to sleep on the hassock in front of my chair. He can be completely asleep and some small sound will make his ears pop up. He may not even open his eyes, but his ears are like radar.

Humans do that, too, even if they don’t know it. I lived most of my life in Greensboro, N.C. I live in Las Vegas now. With the tourists and conventioneers in town, every so often I will hear “North Carolina” or “Greensboro” or even another North Carolina city. Depending on the situation, of course, I will quite often stop and inject myself into the conversation by asking, “Who’s from North Carolina here?” It is a friendly, comfortable way of meeting strangers. Occasionally, these conversations extend themselves into friendships.

If people had been talking about Seattle, I could have heard them just the same, I just wouldn’t notice. And so it is with Twitter. Decide what you want to “hear” and go find new friends. They could become customers.

There is much to learn

There is not enough space in this article to teach you how all this works. But there are tons of resources online that will take care of that. The point of this article is to clarify why Twitter can be an important net in which you can catch lots of new customers. It is not all just a silly waste of time.

Amazing fact: You can actually hire “ears”

As I was preparing this article, I was doing a little research. It turns out there are actually services that will monitor traffic on Twitter and immediately respond on your behalf. They do this locally, regionally or nationally after gaining enough information about your business to pull it off.

One tire industry-specific source of such “ears” is Wayne Croswell of WECnology LLC ([email protected]), another Modern Tire Dealer contributing writer.

McManus is author of Entrepreneurial Insanity in the Tire Industry, a recently published book that challenges business owners to examine why they opened their businesses and if they are achieving the personal freedom that business ownership was supposed to deliver. It is available at www.EnSanityPress.com or from Amazon. You can write to McManus at [email protected] or read more at www.TheTireBusiness.biz.