Get Ready to Twitter
 

Dear Colleagues:

Twitter is all the rage! But, does broadcasting what you had for lunch help your business?

In this issue of Marketing Coach we explore ways that companies are successfully using Twitter, provide information about how to get started on Twitter, and share resources so you may monitor best practices for using this quirky tool.

What are YOU doing now?

All the best, Ivy

 
 

Twitter: Are You Serious?

 
 

What is Twitter?
Twitter is a micro-blogging platform that has taken the social media world by storm. Anyone can join and broadcast their latest projects, ideas, experiences or even what they had for lunch - to the world.

Twitter posts are called tweets and sending out a post is known as tweeting. You can sign up to receive or follow other people's tweets. People who sign up to receive your tweets are known as your followers.

Why Twitter?
Organizations and individuals use Twitter for two primary reasons. First, Twitter is a fast, portable application. More like a quick glance at the thermometer as opposed to looking up the three day forecast on the Weather Channel. Second, it can be used to build relationships with people who are outside of your more established circles. For example, you can tweet with a journalist, athlete or musician who will likely never return a phone call or email.

The variety of uses for Twitter is extensive and growing fast. Some popular communications uses thus far include: introduce your followers to updates about your products and services; refer them to information posted on your website; comment on timely news topics relevant to your business, and more. All this is to inform, drive traffic to your website, build a fan base of potential customers, or address misunderstandings about your company. Companies on Twitter today include: Sprint, Starbucks, Telligent, TJ Maxx, Tyson Foods, Virgin America, Wachovia, Walmart, Whole Foods, and Zappos, to name a few. For a complete list, go to www.twitterwire.com.

How to Use Twitter for Business
1) Talking - Twitter is a great way to get the word out quickly beyond the normal press release or other formal communication cycle. For example, last fall JetBlue put more than 300 flights and six vacation packages up for auction -- and the airline announced the news on Twitter.

2) Active Listening - Twitter can act as a 24/7"help desk" to address customer concerns and point them in the right direction before they become unhappy customers. One company leading in this area is Comcast. Using the name "Comcast Cares," Frank Eliason has become the most famous customer care manager in the country by providing Internet access and customer support concerns in real-time.

3) Researching - Twitter is loaded with market intelligence for your business. With an estimated 3 million current users who are voraciously talking about what makes them happy and what makes them angry - your products and your market segment are likely being discussed.

 
 

Welcome to Twitter: Getting Started

 
 

Here's a useful guide for getting started and deciding if Twitter is right for you.

Step one - sign up for an account
Go to Twitter.com and select a user name and password.  The best practice for marketing professionals is to use your real name or combine the name of your company with your title.  Some real-life examples:  BestBuyCMOiContactCorp,CarMaxChris.

Step two - download some useful tools
The basic version of Twitter is utilitarian and lacks flexibility.  However, the open-source nature of the tool has resulted in some useful add-on applications that make Twitter feeds easier to read and organize.

  • We like TwitterBerry, a mobile client for posting updates to Twitter from your Blackberry.  It works over the data network, so you don't need to use SMS.
  • Another useful tool is Tweetdeck, a high tech Twitter client that enables you to organize your Twitter feeds into separate columns: work, family and friends, for example.  Being able to stay organized will become important as you follow more people and the volume of incoming Tweets start to pile up. You can also use your Tweetdeck dashboard to monitor updates on your Facebook page.

Step three - find some people to follow
Twitterholic is a good tool to use for finding interesting people to follow.  This website ranks in the top 100 twitterers in terms of how many people follow them.  The idea is that popular people have the most interesting things to say on Twitter, though not necessarily always the reality.

Once you get past BarackObama, you'll find people like Digg's Kevin Rose, ubiquitous tech podcaster Leo Laporte and CNN's Rick Sanchez all near the top of the list. Additional stats like location, website and number of posts will guide you to the people in which you may have an interest. Or, use the search tool on Twitter to find people who share your interests.

Step four - start tweeting, slowly
Once you start following people, you can join the Twitter conversation.  An easy way to do this is to simply reply to someone else's tweet.  Everyone that follows you will see the reply and the Twitter community at large will be able find it.

We recommend that you start slowly to get the hang of the unwritten rules of Twitter etiquette.  For example, minimize the number of direct messages to people who you don't know very well.  Like emails, "DMs" place an implied burden on the other person to reply.

Once you get a feel for how other people use Twitter and what you like and don't like, you'll be ready to start Tweeting on your own.

 
 

Clean Up Web Trash Talk; Protect Your Online Reputation

 
 

Twitter is a good barometer for real-time feedback on companies and brands.  To find out what people are saying about your firm, use Twitter Search.  Type in the name of your brand or company and see real time results highlighted in the context of the comment.

Type in [name of a bottled ice tea] and see comments like (note - spelling is optional on Twitter):

    judiii: Lunch: sandwich with tomatoes, american cheese and lettuce; [tea name]

    Catiahhhhh: since when is a bottle of [tea] 4:75. *** rip off!

    trendhunter: Political Teadavertising - [tea] Promotes Refresheverything.com 

You can even set up an RSS feed to send the search results to your feed reader or email.

Twit Scoop is an analytical tool that grinds through the thousands of tweets per second to determine what's hot and returns the results in a "tag cloud" where the most popular terms are displayed in larger fonts.

Type in a search term and you'll see a time series chart for a 6 hour, 1 day or 3 day period.  If you see a spike in tweets that mention your brand or company, you can scroll down to the specific time and get a feel for what was driving the conversation.

Happy Tweeting!

Links:

  • Twitterberry http://www.orangatame.com/products/twitterberry/ 
  • Twitterholic http://twitterholic.com/
  • Twitter Search http://search.twitter.com/
  • TwitScoop http://www.twitscoop.com/
 
 
 
©2009 Ivy Cohen Corporate Communications, Inc.