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This Week in Small Business — Social Media & What Customers Want

Last week, we took a look at some business news from across the web. It was a potpourri of stories, ranging from magic shops to trademarking your baby’s name. This week? We’re going to get a little more focused.

From Twitter ads to figuring out what your customers want before they know they want, these are our favorite small business stories from the past seven days.

Twitter Opens Up Self-Serve Ad Platform to 10,000 Small Businesses

Once maligned as yet another social media platform for the short attention span era, Twitter has ballooned into a near-necessity for countless small businesses. Recently, the micro-blogging platform announced a “self-serve” ad platform that will let small businesses bid on specific terms and advertise to specific users. An example? Say you owned a burger joint in Peoria. Your business could bid on phrases like “Where’s the best burger in Peoria?” or “Peoria hamburger” and target Twitter users who used those phrases. The program starting small now, but expect to hear more about it later this year.

Gamestop to J.C. Penney Shut Facebook Stores

On the flip side of the coin, big companies are shuttering their Facebook storefronts after disappointing sales on the world’s biggest social network. Why? It just didn’t seem like people were buying. As one analyst said: “There was a lot of anticipation that Facebook would turn into a new destination, a store, a place where people would shop. But it was like trying to sell stuff to people while they’re hanging out with their friends at the bar.”

Three Ways to Predict What Consumers Want Before They Know It 

Filled with anecdotes and insights for businesses of all sizes, this short Fast Company article was one of our favorites this week. By looking at three companies who innovated in, well, innovative ways, Scott Anthony shares a few tips that could just help your business find new customers, new opportunities, or maximize the ones in front of you today. It’s a good reminder to keep thinking creatively and to keep out of the ruts even the best businesses find themselves in from time to time.

How Companies Learn Your Secrets

You often hear that single males, age 18-45 are the key demographic for the advertising industry. For retailers? It’s new parents, and, even more specifically, mothers in their second trimester. In this piece, the New York times takes us into the world of statisticians, market research, and behavioral research. The thinking is: the more you understand your customers, the better able you are to give them what they want. Even if, as we learned in our previous piece, they aren’t quite sure what it is that they want in the first place.

The Coupon Comeback

My grandma buys the Sunday paper for two reasons and two reasons alone: the extra big crossword and the hundreds and hundreds of coupons. If she had a computer, I’m sure half her emails would be from Groupon. This article, which is really more of an infographic, shows the remarkable resurgence of the coupon and expels some common myths. Find out who uses coupons, the staggering amount Americans saved as a whole, and start thinking if your business could benefit from a few offers to your more frugal neighbors.

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