Caffe Italiano is one of a growing number of businesses using free micro-blogging service Twitter to connect with customers.
It joined Twitter about a month ago after a client suggested it use the service to market its music evenings and cooking classes, says director Massimo Giurioli.
About 600 Twitter users have signed up to follow it since and more than 1000 people have visited its Twitter page.
Caffe Italiano, which operates four restaurant-cafes in central Wellington, joined Twitter to connect with a new audience, Mr Giurioli says.
"Everyone uses the web, but I believe people who use Twitter are more continuously connected. The internet is a part of their life.
"I get up in the morning and have a cup of coffee that's part of my Italian culture. With these people the first thing they do is check their email, Twitter and Facebook."
The business benefits are hard to measure but the service does boost exposure, he says.
"We're offering a coffee special on Twitter and last week we sold more than we did in the previous three weeks."
Twitter's immediacy is also a plus, he says.
"It's an impulse, it's an immediate emotion. You're at the right place at the right time and so you say, `let's go down and have a cup of coffee and cake'. At the same time, it keeps your name in people's minds."
The business recently uploaded a video of one of its cooking classes to YouTube and promoted it on Twitter.
"Within a couple of hours we had more than 100 people watching it."
Businesses that ignore the marketing potential of technology could be left behind, Mr Giurioli says.
"I believe every business should always look at how they do things and reinvent themselves, and if Twitter is the fad of the moment, let's give it a go."
Marlborough vineyard St Clair Family Estate is using the Twitter grapevine to tell wine enthusiasts about new releases and tastings, says spokesman Mark Shaw.
"If there's a wine maker doing a public tasting in Sydney we'll let people know. We also promote our awards to followers and distributors."
The winery searches Twitter for "tweets" containing its name and "retweets" those comments.
"We've got five people in the business using the one account, including winemakers, someone in marketing and we're trying to get the viticulture guys on board. We're a family-branded and run winery and we want to really push the family side of this. We want to make it as personable as possible."
St Clair has been on Twitter for about three months and has about 180 followers, 80 of whom joined up to enter a competition for a free bottle of wine.
The winery's Twitter account links to its website and there has been an increase in traffic to the site since it joined Twitter, Mr Shaw says.
"It's also good for our distributors around the world to see we're winning awards and for other distributors to see that."
St Clair "tweets" between three and five times a day.
Hurricane Jeans manager Damian Braddock says the clothing store has begun using Twitter to advertise competitions and new stock.
"We've had a few customers say they've had great service in our shop on Twitter and we put that on our Twitter page.
"When anyone says they've come to Hurricane Jeans and had a bad experience I can see that as well and pass it on to staff."
The store has 30 followers so far. "It's cheap advertising, you're not having to go out and fork out heaps of money, especially at the moment when everything is so much tougher.
"You're silly not to jump on the bandwagon, even though it might only last for another six months."
Twitter is a free micro-blogging service that lets users post messages or "tweets" of no more than 140 characters. Members can follow other users to receive their updates and control who their tweets are sent to.
You can send tweets by texting from your mobile phone or through the Twitter website on your PC or mobile phone.
Texts to Twitter cost the same as normal text messages. In New Zealand, the text service is available only to Vodafone and Telecom mobile customers.
At the moment, Twitter doesn't make any money. Its investors provide funds in exchange for partial ownership and a cut of future revenue.
Twitter is the third-most popular social networking site in the world, according to United States web traffic analysis service Compete.com.
- The Dominion Post