Christopher Uzzi Highlights New Harvard Marketing Study, Offers Twitter Tips for Small Businesses

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According to a new study from Harvard, some tweets function more effectively as marketing tools than others—and advertising consultant Christopher Uzzi says these findings offer important lessons to small businesses.

Social media has become such a pervasive form of marketing, it is almost easy to take it for granted. Small business owners typically know that Facebook, Twitter, and even Google+ can serve as powerful forms of advertising, yet they sometimes struggle to determine the best strategy for implementing social media. The need for strategy is profound, however, something made clear by a new Harvard study. According to the report, Twitter can, indeed, serve as a powerful marketing tool, yet some forms of Tweets are better than others. According to marketing professional Christopher Uzzi, these findings have major implications for small business owners.

In fact, Christopher Uzzi says the report breaks down some of the most common myths about social marketing. For example, the study finds that about one in three Twitter users truly pay attention to “promotional” tweets that offer information about products and services. “Many small business owners think that promoting their products in Twitter is going to scare off potential clients, but this could not be further from the truth,” notes Uzzi. “In fact, the average Twitter user follows businesses precisely in order to gain information about their products. They want up to date information about what the company offers.”

Christopher Uzzi, who runs a small online marketing consultancy in Asheville, North Carolina, says the study does leave some room for more conversational Tweets. Indeed, the Harvard report finds that tweets posing questions or offering “random thoughts” generally earn complete reads from followers, which means they can be useful in keeping those followers engaged. “Mixing in some more interactive or engaging tweets certainly does not hurt,” Uzzi confirms. “If it’s all business all the time, you’ll be less likely to attract followers who are maybe on the fence about your products and services.”

The most surprising finding of the Harvard study is that some tweets can actually do more harm than good. The primary culprits are tweets characterized as being “overly personal.” According to Uzzi, though, this should not come as a big surprise. “When a Twitter user chooses to follow a business, it is because they are interested in the business. That does not mean they are interested in the day-to-day going on of the business owner,” he explains.

Of course, Christopher Uzzi says that there is a need to personalize tweets every now and then, and walking the line between the personal and the promotional is a balancing act that might require the services of a professional marketing consultant. The bottom line, however, is that small business owners should form a real, on-paper strategy for their tweeting. “Getting on Facebook and Twitter is absolutely something a small business owner should do,” he concludes. “However, it would be folly to start using social media without truly thinking it through, smartly and strategically.”


Christopher Uzzi is an independent marketing consultant who lives and works in the Asheville, NC area. He specializes in implementing integrative social marketing strategies for small businesses. He has worked with companies from throughout the North Carolina region, as well as in Tennessee and Virginia.

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Michael McGarety
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