Meanwhile, some small brands don't boast massive followings, but nonetheless say that Twitter is a marketing lifeline -- quick, targeted and (best of all) free. Russell Whitmore runs a small vintage jewelry shop in Brooklyn, N.Y., called Erie Basin. He uses Twitter to notify his 640 followers (if that number seems small, consider that diamond-giant Zales has only 471 followers) about the new estate pieces he gets in.
"I tend to tweet things that I personally like or find interesting," Whitmore says. The feeling that a ring or brooch has been personally selected or chosen adds to the appeal of the tweet. Whitmore's linkbacks bring followers to his blog, where they'll find item photos that he puts a great deal of effort into. "If you post a link to a picture of something pretty, it's likely that people will retweet the image," Whitmore says. "So you end up getting a following from other people's followers."
But does any of this really generate hard revenue for a brand? Some say yes; others not quite. "We definitely have sales directly from Twitter," Whitmore says. "Several times, Twitter users have messaged me asking to buy a specific item." Ditto for Someecards -- which generates revenues from advertising, not the sale of cards. "I am 100 percent convinced that we have won pitches for ad business that we wouldn't have gotten without our Twitter following," Mitchell says.
Then there's Root, a small-batch, craft liqueur made by Philadelphia-based Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. Root has only 400 Twitter followers, but they're all "fans of the brand," according to Web strategist Michael Feldman. "We don't approach [tweeting] from a marketing or advertising perspective," he says. "It's not necessarily a numbers game for us. It's more important to have a small, active following than a large, passive one."