Occasionally, the San Francisco-based small business, which organizes cooking parties and team-building events, also offers a discount code exclusive to its followers, giving them anywhere from $10 off to 50 percent off the ticket price for its individual cooking classes.
Each time it does, it sees a surge in the number of followers, currently at more than 1,400. On days with promotions, it adds new followers three times faster than on normal days.
“We consider the offer a success because it’s not as much about selling discounted tickets as it is building customer loyalty,” says Crissy Gershey, Parties That Cook’s director of marketing and business development.
It’s just one of the ways that small businesses like Parties That Cook, which also operates in Seattle and Chicago, are using social media tools to build their business, particularly to establish a rapport with customers.
“For sure Twitter is a customer relationship management or loyalty platform that small and mid-sized businesses can use to communicate with their customers,” says Greg Sterling, principal of Sterling Market Intelligence, a consulting and research firm that examines the Internet’s influence on consumers and shopping.
Offering a discount through Twitter is as easy as tweeting a special code that customers can apply when they make their purchase.
They can also use Twitter applications such as TwtQpon, which helps small businesses create a coupon to which that they can direct customers through Twitter.
A few words of advice from social media-savvy small businesses: Don’t send a constant barrage of offers via Twitter since it’ll be seen as spam. Instead, coupons and discounts should be mixed in as part of the ongoing conversation with customers. For the die-hard, businesses can also create a separate Twitter channel dedicated to discounts for customers who are always looking for good deals.