#SMTLive today!

I just tweeted your business, but nobody was home

Walk into any establishment today and you’ll inevitably run smack dab into a sign that says “Follow us on Twitter.” Generally it’s communicated on everything, and proudly indicates “Yes, we have checked that box off on our marketing tactic list.” Unfortunately many of these Twitter accounts are unmanned or only exist to tweet the latest sale, special or company news. What a shame.

Case in point—over the course of the past few weeks, I’ve had lunch at a very good local establishment. Each time, I’ve checked in on foursquare and subsequently tweeted how good the food was. In fact, during the second visit, one of my followers tweeted me to see how my lunch was. “Fantastic,” I responded, including the restaurant’s twitter handle in the reply.


So, two visits, half a dozen tweets about the great food, and a direct recommendation to someone on Twitter. The establishment’s response?

Nada. Zilch. Zip.

What an opportunity lost. A simple, “Thx, glad you liked it,” response would’ve elicited another tweet from me telling them I’d be back. Fact is, had they simply retweeted my recommendation to another Twitter user it would have been better than any advertisement they could run. But, it's apparent no one is even listening. I look at it this way: would the management not respond to me if I praised them in the restaurant? Social media is just a matter of behaving the same way online as you do in your offline business establishment. Simple stuff, but it still remains a mystery to many businesses.

Here's a suggestion: Don’t start a Twitter account as a business just to say you have one. This is actually a pretty common mistake. If you are on Twitter, you need to actively listen and participate. You’ll hear great things you can share with your follower list. And if you hear negative things, you’ll be able to proactively and positively respond and find out what you could do better next time.

Listen, then respond. It’s how conversations get started.


Join The Conversation

  • Mark Fairbanks's picture
    May 17 Posted 6 years ago Mark Fairbanks

    Thanks for the comment Rosie, glad you liked the article! And, that's the first time I've heard the word trawl used, me likey. :) You're point about either you either naturally do it, or you don't do it at all is exactly right. Just like some people, businesses are either "social" or their not. The unfortunate thing is when you find a business that is social offline, but hasn't gotten the experience down in their online touchpoints. But we can hope, can't we? :)


  • May 17 Posted 6 years ago Rosie Light (not verified)

    Hello Mark,

    Really enjoyed reading that article - simple, precise and soooo true!!

    In my capacity as Marketing Manager for a Tradesman's tax refund business, I trawl twitter/ Facebook etc, looking for would be potential clients (hmm that sounds sleazy!).

    Anyway, the trades are terrible at their social media... I should offer my services! They open an account, post a couple of promo tweets and then give up!

    It's very difficult to explain the social media concept to someone that doesn't "get it" and I have come to believe that you do it naturally or you, well, just don't do it at all.

    I see no point in following or trying to interact with "dead" accounts. I've tried, I've given them suggestions but if a tree falls in the forest, does it make a sound? ;o)

    Got to say, I am not a fan of auto tweets either.







  • Mark Fairbanks's picture
    May 13 Posted 6 years ago Mark Fairbanks

    Glad you liked the post Sneha. Love your point about getting onto it unprepared. I might have to use that. :)


  • Mark Fairbanks's picture
    May 13 Posted 6 years ago Mark Fairbanks

    Thanks for the comment Randy. You're right, as much as those of us who are immersed in the industry take a lot of things for granted, much of this is very new to the majority of people. Which means there's still a lot of work to be done. :)


  • Mark Fairbanks's picture
    May 13 Posted 6 years ago Mark Fairbanks

    Thanks for the comment Grace, glad you liked the post! You're absolutely right. The opportunity that is missed is extending the friendly experience of the restaurant into the online/social world. The two experiences have to match up, otherwise it starts to erode your brand.


  • May 13 Posted 6 years ago Sneha Kataria (not verified)

    Thanks for this article Mark,

    This is so common an occurance. While it's effects are an opportunity lost for positive responses, imagine how big a cost it is to the brand should there be unattended negative reviews! Being in the agency space for so long, I've always told clients that getting onto Social Media for Fad sakes, is a far smaller investment than getting onto it unprepared.


  • May 12 Posted 6 years ago Randy Pickard (not verified)

    Mark - Great point about the missed opportunity. However, my assumption is that many small businesses don't realize how easy it is to monitor their activity via free or premium tools. I feel sheepiish about it now, but I still recall when I was manually checking for tweets and thinking it was a bit burdensome. 

  • Mark Fairbanks's picture
    May 12 Posted 6 years ago Mark Fairbanks

    Thanks for the comment. You are absolutely correct. The time commitment is the biggest hurdle. We're used to automated marketing, and Twitter doesn't work that way. But if you can make the time commitment, it can transform your business. Just ask @ajbombers :)

  • May 12 Posted 6 years ago Grace Bosworth (not verified)

    What a great article!! Twitter is supposed to be interactive and people will certainly not continue to support your business if don't acknowledge them in any way.  I am not one of those people that follows a Twitter "set of rules": for example, I don't follow everyone who follows me, but there has to be common courtesy.  It is so simple to send a quick "Thank you!"            

    If the restaurant was really savvy they would send you out alerts, etc.. when they had specials or new menus or coupons.  You are certainly correct, social media cannot just be another check mark on your list of things done, it has to be used as the tool it is. 

    Grace Bosworth, President of Global2Local LLC


  • Mark Fairbanks's picture
    May 12 Posted 6 years ago Mark Fairbanks

    Thanks for the comment Pam! It's easy to see that the simple things we take for granted are not even being put in practice not only by small local businesses, but by large companies as well. Two things I think that are at play are that most companies still are in the age of automated marketing—you spend time creating an ad, buy some media, create a schedule, then go back to running your business. It's the same approach they take to social. And the questions we get are not only "help me make sense of this" but "make this easy for me." And the fact of the matter is, it's not easy. It takes constant work and engagement. In essence it's really simple, it just takes a commitment to do it, and that's why there's so often a breakdown. I'm going to go back to the establishment in a few weeks again and tweet about them, and see if they came across my post. :)


  • PamMoore's picture
    May 12 Posted 6 years ago PamMoore

    Mark - glad to see this post. I have seen this numerous times. If I had a free lunch for the number of times I have educated restaurant and business owners about the free promotion I and others are doing for them, well let's just say I'd have a lot of free lunches. Ha! It's amazing how even if I am the mayor of their location for weeks they haven't a clue. It's truly a whole new world to some of them so difficult for them to comprehend I think. 

    You've hit the nail on the head. I always tell our students and clients not to launch a social media platform like Twitter or Facebook if you don't have time to engage and communicate with the people who decide to visit. 

    Many businesses are still learning. It's becoming obvious how behind many restaurants and traditional businesses are. Many of them are skipping web 1.0 & having to move to web 2.0. I can't imagine, having been part of it all. However, I can feel for them. In the tight economy it's hard enough keeping biz afloat with or without Twitter for many. However, social media can be a benefit and drive incremental revenue if they invest the time to integrate it into their business. 

    Keep up the good work! 

  • May 12 Posted 6 years ago Creative Designer (not verified)

    Twitter is vital for brand awareness and outreach, so much flexibility. One medium for branding, finding clients, and connecting with people, customers or prospects.. Only issue is that its very time consuming, most business owners do not have the time for it.

  • Mark Fairbanks's picture
    May 12 Posted 6 years ago Mark Fairbanks

    Aaron, so true. I mean if you think about it all, it's pretty simple. Behave the same way online as you do offline. Say thank you, acknowledge compliments, talk to someone when they say hi. Simple. I think it comes down to the way traditional marketing has always been conducted. It's way easier to automate something—create an ad, buy time, run a schedule. It's a lot of work, but not nearly as much as having to basically be on 24/7. The thing is, the connection is so much stronger to your customers/clients/followers/users if you're willing to put in the hard work it takes and not rely on automation.

    Thanks for the comment!


  • Mark Fairbanks's picture
    May 12 Posted 6 years ago Mark Fairbanks

    You know it was frustrating Brad. Because you feel like you're actively involved in trying to tell their story and then they're not even paying attention. I know I'll go back to the restaurant, but I'm not sure that I'll pull out my phone and say something. Although, maybe I will—to see if they read my post. :) Thanks for the comment!

  • Mark Fairbanks's picture
    May 12 Posted 6 years ago Mark Fairbanks

    Thanks Lorraine. Oooh, I like it when I hear another blog post is coming on. Be sure to send me a link @MarkFairbanks :)



  • May 12 Posted 6 years ago Lorraine Cheney (not verified)

    What a great post - I love Twitter and the brand awareness and value it can bring to your business.  I teach all of my clients the importance of Twitter but most see it as a waste of time not a powerful networking tool.

    I feel a blog post and a link coming on.


  • May 12 Posted 6 years ago Brad Harmon (not verified)

    That had to be frustrating, Mark.  What a wasted opportunity for that restaurant.  I've found that very few small business owners know how to effectively monitor their social media accounts.  Some just set up the accounts and forget about them, but others, like in your story, actively promote their account offline but don't man it.  I'm sure they look at how their follower count is increasing and think they're using Twitter effectively. :(  

  • May 12 Posted 6 years ago Aaron Eden (not verified)

    I've been bugged by the same issue that I'm trying to solve the mysteries of social engagement as I perfect this intelligent semantic tool I'm developing.  A lot of Twitter users, especially those with thousands to millions of followers, have forgotten the basic rules of engagement - like how you interact with people for real.  It's more like manners or back to etiquette 101.  What's sad is that many think that they can automate human relationships on the Social Web that they forget the simplest things, like saying thanks if I mention your tweet... or replying to my question without spamming me with promotional links.  We've got a lot to learn, I guess...

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