“Better living through dessert™” is the Imagetrademarked philosophy of Curtis Kimball, better known to San Francisco as The Crème Brûlée Man. Kimball founded The Crème Brûlée cart in 2009 without a license, and with only a push cart and a single torch. What began as one of many jobs for Curtis Kimball has grown into a New York Times-featured business. Along the way, The Crème Brûlée Cart has gained north of 22,000 followers on Twitter alone within a span of three short years.

Traditionally, marketing has been dominated by the big players able to claim television or radio ad space. Small businesses would remain at the fringe of marketing efforts, unable to establish a presence in a game dominated by prestige, and eventually crowded out of the advertisement arena by the big sluggers. With the emergence of internet marketing and more recently, social media marketing, the playing field has been leveled; the smallest of businesses now have the tools and resources to wage a marketing war with major corporations.

The successes of Curtis Kimball point to Twitter as an effective marketing tool. However, because Twitter was designed with the individual in mind, businesses may quickly outgrow the features of the standard Twitter platform. Luckily, third-party applications, some acquired by Twitter itself after recognizing the immense potential of Twitter marketing, have made the fight a little easier for small businesses. Here are a few Twitter applications to get your small business moving:

HootSuite

  • Specific tool to effectively manage multiple social media networks
  • Platform for individuals to organize and develop social media
  • Browser-based dashboard that allows users to keep updated on their account
  • Helps individuals and organizations spread messages, monitor conversations/results

Tweeter Karma

  • Working on your ‘Following’ to ‘Followers’ ratio
  • Unfollow users who don’t follow you
  • Bulk follow and unfollow options
  • Sort users based on type like reciprocated or not

Nutshell Mail

  • Social network aggregation
  • Service that allows users to manage and interact with updates from social network services through a consolidated email digest
  • Mission is “keep users connected yet productive at the same time”
  • Increased interaction and user experience

Tweet Deck

  • Twitter run application working directly with Twitter API
  • User friendly, allows tweeters to send and receive tweets
  • Compatible with iPhone, Android, iPad, etc.
  • URL shortening allows for tweeting to be done on the fly
  • Faster and more efficient means to working directly with your social media account specifically


Sprout Social

  • Control your brand, build your brand equity and become competitive in the Twitter community
  • Gain the ability to engage with your customers
  • Detailed reporting of your turnover rate- effectiveness of outbound messages
  • Keyword, profile, and SEO search tools to help optimize your social media accounts and businesses


Twitter Feed

  • Simple and accessible tool that shows a configurable amount of Twitter updates which is based upon API
  • Feed your company blog to Twitter
  • Provides a great resource that can help you gain control over twitter updates
  • Great product to help you filter out your news feed whether it be hashtags, certain people
  • Can help you apply CSS stylesheets to the links you want, helping you to easily change the themes and styles


Twhirl

  • Provides a platform for you to manage all of your social media accounts
  • All of the apps and features that are available on Twitter are readily available through this platform
  • Allows you tweet easier, reply, and retweet tweets from your network
  • Great alternative to Twitter that allows you to keep on top of your social media


SocialOomph

  • Schedule Tweets ahead of time to coordinate future marketing campaigns
  • Keyword tracking
  • Extended profile to promote yourself in more than 140 characters
  • Built-in URL shortening and click-tracking
  • Save draft tweets and templates


Cotweet

  • Monitor and analyze conversations involving your brand across Twitter and Facebook
  • Used by Ford, Starbucks, Pepsi, Southwest Airlines


ManageFlitter

  • Filter thousands of accounts based on different criteria in seconds
  • Sort by accounts that you follow who don’t follow you back, are inactive, and much more
  • Search tool to find accounts relevant to your business
  • Twitter Analytics tool to track the success of viral marketing campaigns
  • PowerPost to analyze best time to post Tweets based on your account


TwitIQ

  • Automatic expansion of shortened URLs
  • Image and media previews
  • Manage multiple accounts
  • Customized Twitter feeds
  • Track URL clicks


Not only did The Crème Brûlée Cart gain over 12,000 followers in a year, but the success of Kimball’s Twitter marketing campaign can be quantified because it is the sole generator of revenue. Changing the location of his cart each day, Twitter becomes the only method for Kimball to get the word out to his customers of his daily whereabouts. In addition, each day’s special is announced via The Crème Brûlée Cart Twitter, with Kimball allowing the Twitter universe to make recommendations, building personal relationships with his customers.

By changing his location daily, Kimball provides a reason to be followed on Twitter. With an attentive audience he can then convey The Crème Brûlée Cart brand across to his customers. Social media marketing has given what began as Curtis Kimball’s small side job an opportunity to become a successful small business. In the age of information and social media, it does not take a large budget to broadcast your name. Instead, it takes only the efforts of a dedicated individual who recognizes the tools he has in his drawer. Third-party applications have made Twitter more than a platform for individuals to ramble away at the internet. The emergence of tools such as HootSuite, Sprout Social, and others aforementioned have made social media marketing an accessible one-man operation. As small business owners look to get themselves off the ground, look to Twitter marketing as a cost-effective and time-