Now that Twitter has unveiled TwitterLocal - an Adobe Air application through which one can perform location-aware Twitter searches (for instance, you could follow anyone tweeting in the Los Angeles area, provided they have opted in to allow their location to be known) - it could open social media possibilities for retail banks. Perhaps a bank could see who was searching for ATMs in a particular neighborhood and use that data to install a new machine there. Or upon seeing that hundreds of Twitterers have recently purchased homes in an area, a bank might schedule a seminar on home equity loans. The opportunities seem endless.Twitter can identify a user's location by using his or her mobile device's GPS data, if the user authorizes it. Otherwise, the microblog service determines location by noting a Twitterer's Internet protocol address or the city the person listed when they signed up.
The overall number of Twitter users rose to about 75 million in December 2009, according to RJMetrics, a business analytics firm in Camden, N.J., and about 6.2 million new users join the service each month.
Banks are already using Twitter for marketing and customer service purposes. ING Direct has been holding "Tweetups" for its Twitter followers - live meetings where they get free food and can chat with bank executives. Fifteen banks, including Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Chase and Citi, currently participate on BankTwitter, a stream of bank-related Tweets that seems to be a mixture of customer complaints followed by bank customer service reps' responses and marketing messages from the banks. Bank of America's CSR Twitter stream, http://twitter.com/BofA_help, has received praise for being more responsive than phone-based reps.