In the real world, where do you prefer to go to get your coffee the place you know the workers and they remember you, they know you like 2 sugars and cream in your coffee. They may even remember the time you usually come in, and that day when you're late, they speed up. Compare this to going to a place where the kids look through you and seem uninterested. You're rushed in and rushed out without a second glance.
It doesn't matter if they are mom and pops or chains stores the big difference is that personal touch. How can you give that personal touch online? You need to be personal and available online, reach out and get to know those possible customers. Let me clarify, Twitter probably won't lead to many direct sales, but it can get views and make connections. Why should you care? No one can buy if they don't know you exist and those connections is basically like smiling at the customer, going the extra mile.
Now how to go about using Twitter, if you haven't set up an account- do it now, user names can be changed without losing followers but any links to the old user name will no longer work. Try getting your store's name or something close, that tip goes across the board- try to use the same user name everywhere if possible, so if someone search for it, they'll find it and you'll be recognized on different sites. It takes less five minutes to set up.
Before you start following anyone, enter about 10 tweets, avoid any item links in those. Now how to get followers- very quick and very easy is one thread on Artfire started by MV Social Roster .
She has been great at updating it and there are probably even more through the thread. Just follow people. Don't try to follow 2000 people day one, pick a few that seem interesting, who you want to know. You can search Twitter for interests. I'd suggest following Artfire and ArtfireCoupons (you can send a reply to them with a your coupon and they will tweet to everyone who follows them). One tip, if someone is following 2000 people, they probably aren't going to see your tweets. Add your name to that Artfire roster, to any list you can.
Now about actually using Twitter, follow people you find interesting, follow people who follow you, you may want to follow a few celebrities, but to get followers to keep following, you need to give them something to read. Tweet about yourself, your day, tweet interesting links- always say what they are, try not to spam, tweet an item here and there- be sure to add what it is, not just that Artfire autotweets. It's a two way street, read other people's tweets and reply to some. Use @user to reply. If you start with @user no one but you and @user and your followers will see it. If you want to reply and still have other see it, add a word or two before the @user so everyone will see it.
Letting people know you follow their tweets, makes them feel good, like the owner who remembers your order. You are starting to connect. If you have a blog, tweet every new blog post, now a bigger audience than your blog followers know about it. It takes some time to build up a real following, feel free to unfollow anyone you want, if they spam you, post ads, or are just annoying, no notice goes out to them. Make it enjoyable, think of it like being at a cocktail party, you are going to get out of the way of the loud, annoying bore and you'll drift to those you like.
Just take 10 minutes out of your day, look at a the newest tweets, add a tweet or two, reply, retweet someone else's tweet if it is really interesting- yes they'll see that. You only have to reveal what you want - you don't need to add your address or name. Only Twitter sees you email, although nothing online is totally anonymous, you have to share a little about yourself to get people interested in you and then your business.