One of the most frequently asked questions I get as someone in the social media industry is “how the heck do I use Twitter?” For any business that has a brick and mortar location and does not sell online, there are very effective (and easy!) ways to use this online tool to benefit your business and increase foot traffic, but it isn't always obvious where to find them or how to use. For local businesses (retailers, restaurants, salons, etc) the goal is to increase exposure and foot traffic. You need to get in front of potential customers that can physically come into your location and buy. Sometimes using social media can be challenging for these types of businesses because you might be promoting to people across the country or world. So your first step is seeing if there is anyone in your area using Twitter.
The good news is you can easily find these people. One way is to simply search for your city name within the search bar on Twellow.com. I’d suggest searching just your city and also city with state. I live in San Diego and you’ll see in the example below, there are 9,453 Twitter users that have listed San Diego as their location on their profile. If I owned a local business in San Diego then Twitter would be a good place for me to network because there are thousands of users. If your town doesn’t come up with any users or there’s only a few, Twitter might not be the best place for you to spend your time/money managing, especially if you don’t sell online.
From the Twellow platform you can follow people within your area. By following other users they’ll most likely follow you back because they may have autofollow turned on (where they automatically follow anyone who follows them) or they may get a notification any time they receive a new follower. Some users will go to their new follow’s profile and decide if they want to follow back. Make sure you have quality content and not 100% promotion so people do in fact follow you back).
Another great tool to find local Tweeps is called just that, Local Tweeps. I like this tool because you can also search by zip code as well as city and state. However I don’t like that it doesn't list the number of people within that location like Twellow does from the search screen. There is a way to view it by clicking on the State tab and it will list number of users within each major city. I noticed that the numbers were much lower than Twellow so just know there is most likely more Twitter users in your area than what Local Tweeps displays.
Finally, I'd suggest search for your city/town name from the Twitter search bar in the top right corner of Twitter or from search.twitter.com. These search results will display anytime your city/town has been mentioned in a post so you won't necessarily see only local Twitter users. You will most likely find an official Twitter page for the area (ex: San Diego's official Twitter page). These are great profiles to go to and see who their followers/following are, which is another way to find local Tweeps.
There are several sites out there like Twitaholic.com, Twitneighbor.com, and WeFollow.com but I personally use the ones I listed above and like them the best from a usability standpoint. They also produce more results than other sites because some only list the top 100 influential. These users are people you should align yourself with for several reasons, but that's another topic! Now start finding local Tweeps in your area and start following them. You'll want to participate in the local conversation by RTing these people and using local hashtags, but we'll talk more about that in the near future.