FRANKENMUTH — In the five years since the first tweet was sent on the message system Twitter, businesses in the Great Lakes Bay Region have caught on to the service’s appeal. Today, they are using Twitter to market, engage customers and promote their products and services.
In early 2009, Twitter users had the chance to start following tweet updates from Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland in Frankenmuth. Lori Libka, communications assistant at Bronner’s, uses Twitter to interact with Frankenmuth visitors and to put Bronner’s on people’s radar.
“I kind of almost feel like the Frankenmuth greeter sometimes,” said Libka who has sent out nearly 6,000 Bronner’s tweets and gained more than 2,780 people who have signed up to follow Bronner’s tweets. They are known as followers.
“I try to catch people who say they are coming to Frankenmuth or Bronner’s and welcome them,” she said.
According to a blog post by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, Twitter users send more than 140 million tweets a day, which adds up to a billion tweets every eight days.
Bronner’s is one of many area businesses making the most of Twitter by sharing news, interesting links and other information, all within Twitter’s parameters of posting information in 140 characters or less.
By setting alerts for “Frankenmuth,” “Bronner’s” and “Christmas,” Libka can direct messages to the right people. Her “Christmas” feed recently led her to people who tweeted they haven’t taken their Christmas decorations down yet. After reading their tweets, Libka tweeted a link to a how-to-video on the proper way to store Christmas decorations.
“I tweet this video link quite often between New Year’s and Valentine’s Day, when people mention they’re taking or need to take down their decorations,” Libka said.
“It’s a good opportunity to provide useful content and introduce someone to Bronner’s.”
Companies such as Bay County-based Dow Corning Corp., Midland-based Dow Chemical Co., the Magic Bean Cafe in Saginaw Township and Buena Vista Township-based roofing manufacturer Duro-Last are using Twitter to market themselves.
Saginaw’s Wakeman Funeral Home began using Twitter in the fall of 2009, to let followers know about deaths, obituaries and funeral arrangements. Martin Funeral Home in Mount Morris, Vassar and Fairgrove also uses the social media site to announce deaths and visitation times.
Frankenmuth’s Bavarian Inn tweets about special events, recipes and deals, while Bay City-based Brooklyn Boyz Pizza often has Twitter contests for freebies and discounts at the restaurant.
Jennifer Thieme Kehres, marketing manager for Bridgeport Township-based Amigo Mobility International, manages Amigo’s Twitter account and focuses the mini-messages on mobility, health and inspiration.
For Amigo’s 1,013 followers, Kehres recently sent a link to a video of Amigo owner Ron Bachman rallying fifth- through eighth-grade students in Virginia against bullying.
“Twitter, for me, has made the world a smaller place,” Kehres said. “It allows us to connect with people who we normally wouldn’t have access to.”
Kehres said she has used Twitter to find guests to write on the Amigo blog, for harvesting questions and ideas for the company’s e-newsletter and to build relationships with other businesses.
“I can’t track if we’ve had sales from it, but I do know we’ve been able to network and get our brand out there,” she said. “Twitter is a good insight to a company.”