|Why should you use Twitter?|
|One of Twitter’s key benefits is that it gives you the chance to communicate casually with customers on their terms, creating friendly relationships along the way—tough for corporations to do in most other mediums. |
Think of it. For years companies have relied on symbols (logos, text, pictures) to represent them. General Electric, IBM, Westinghouse--Brands with easily identifiable logos, the mere sight of which called up an image in our mind. Today we have Nike, VW, and McDonald's. I'm sure you can remember an early Ronald McDonald or perhaps the Norelco Santa buzzing over the snowdrifts at Christmas time. But for all of the power and success that came from Madison Avenue it was a passive one-way conversation with the customer.
Logos and advertisements were created as ambassadors of a corporation, to introduce the brand and product or service to people unfamiliar with it. Logos and advertisements traveled where a company's sales staff couldn't - the buyer's home or office or with them to far away places. There was no engaging the customer, no risk, and no accountability. There was a timelag and buffer between the company and the customer and as a result, corporations took on mythic identities. The word corporation became a label for something untouchable, with deep pockets, and power.
The landscape has shifted. Reliance on passive forms of communication including TV & radio advertisements, print media, and even websites has drastically diminished. They are still useful but they are not effective enough to stand on their own. At PubCon Las Vegas this year the mantra was Mobile & Local. Reach out to your customers where they are. Don't just wait for the customer to come to you - that's reactive. Today, it's about finding customers where they gather to talk about what they like, where they engage each other in conversations - that's proactive. This is the reason Twitter is so darn useful - it allows us to actively engage people wherever they are.
I've heard/read the naysayers doubts about Twitter's usefullness. In my opinion, about half of them are afraid of Twitter and the other half can't think outside what they know. The fear comes from Twitter's immediacy. There is no hiding, no lag time, no buffer. When someone has a gripe, they can let it be known in an instant and within seconds their friends, strangers and other customers can comment or spread the original tweet. In a very few minutes a bad reputation could be built around the globe. As a company, the thought of such immediate engagement is teffifying. How to control the conversation, minimize damage, and wipe the blemish away? It's unlikely a company would find themselves in this situation - except for maybe BP. And I think it's the wrong way to think about Twitter.
It is precisely because Twitter is immediate, uncensored, and efficient at communicating a thought that it is necessary for companies to participate because just as a tweet that casts doubt or ill-will about a company can travel, so too can one that carries praise and compliment. It is precisely because whatever we write is immediately subjected to scrutiny by thousands of people, judged for it's value, and brings reaction that can earn a company faithful, even fanatic, customers. It is only a risk to companies that have something to hide. Honesty, humility, and a willingness to improve easily outweigh mistakes over time. It's not the incident itself that people will remember. It's what a company did or didn't do. It is an unexpected gesture of good will, willingness to share, genuineness, that earn solid reputations and respect.
I've noticed that some people using Twitter seem to forget (especially those new to Twitter) a basic rule we use every day: be yourself. Of course a company is many people and the obvious question is how can a company practice "be yourself?" The answer is, it can't. But it can select competent people it trusts to represent it's interests that share similar interests with it's customers.
Twitter isn't a sales tool. It's an information gathering, community building, word of mouth sales force, your worst critic, and your fiercest champion. Twitter is a conduit for the many different faces and personalities that share the same planet. Using Twitter you implicitly agree to expose your thoughts and engage with other people. I think Twitter is a phenomenal tool and we are only beginning to understand it's potential.
I completely agree. I doubt that the originators had any clue of how fast it would take off, or all the uses people and companies have already created. Then there's all the third party apps that contribute to the Twitter ecology.
I have clients who use Twitter very actively for CRM, others who listen for their brand discussion (or even general market discussion) just for research; some clients learn new keywords from they way their users Tweet about things.
Then there's the personal and professional side - just staying in touch with friends, and meeting new people online who share an interest. It's great for breaking information in SEO and SMM.
Our local weatherman tweets some good stuff, informative and entertaining; there is a business called TwitZip that aggregates local news for every zip code everyday. I stay in touch with my home town and places where friends and relatives live.
Twitter is not just "outside the box", I'd say it demolished the box and we're just beginning to explore a whole new world.
>> listen for the their brand discussion.
The funny thing is how easy it is to do!
The personal professional sides are blending. I've always had a hard time keeping them separate. Just because I leave the office and go home doesn't mean I stop thinking about work. Unless you run multiple identities, professional and personal are blended together in a single Tweet stream.
I agree Ted, re: smashed the box. I think we're way down low on the knowledge curve of these new media outlets and the next few years will be extremely exciting.
|>> listen for the their brand discussion. |
The funny thing is how easy it is to do!
Sometimes, yes, but it does depend strongly on both the brand name and on how much accuracy and detail are needed. There's lot's of ambiguity and false volume for some brand names if they use generic words. "Discount Tire" certainly has a challenge if they want to isolate their brand discussion.
You can still get something from the data you retrieve for ambiguous brand names, but it also can be very distorted. Plus, automated tools that attempt "sentiment analysis" are usually whacked out. Machines don't understand sarcasm or metaphor very well, or even implied context. Tweets like "my [product] is a dog" are hard to assign sentiment, even though a human gets it right away.
There is, however, a ton of promise in this rapidly growing space. And the time to start playing is now - while it's still young. The energy of the whole affair reminds me of SEO in the mid-nineties.
i think when it comes to small businesses, it's really not about the "WHY" , but rather about the "HOW" - a) "HOW" to use it effectively without letting it become a time sink b) "HOW" to benchmark the engagement RoI
OMZen, the answer has to come from a hard look at your market space/target market and your resources.
Your target market/audience is first. Are they mobile users or old guys with fishing waders on? Where do the live online or do they? What do they talk about online? What are their hobbies, political leanings, etc... It's about understanding them as people and what motivates them.
Your resources are the hard facts - how much time, who is available, and what do they say? I think it's easier to limit what they don't say, identify what their role is clearly - and don't say sales. Are they customer support (not much better) or are they company spokespeople that have a strong interest in the same things as your target audience? It's really comes down to understanding the people that use your product or service and expressing and sharing affinity with them.
Then use someone (start with one) from your company that speaks their language, has knowledge and an engaging personality. Set some guidelines around time investment but let them have a Twitter stream up on screen so they can follow the conversations. I have it open almost the entire day but I only interact when I see something of value or I really want to add something to a conversation. Be willing to let it go on for weeks if not months. Inserting yourself into an online community and building up creds takes time. Especially if you're learning the lingo and feeling your way into the SM space.
BTW - I believe I'm scheduled to speak at PubCon Austin in the spring on designing a social media strategy if you're interested. I'll give more details and hope to provide some real world examples.
|a strong interest in the same things as your target audience |
That "s" is important. Social media "campaigns" that are only about pushing a company message rather than connecting on a human level are pretty much self-limiting.
Thanks @lorax ! - I'm using twitter differently for different sites. For one of the sites, my goal is to get links. So, I have my prospects shortlisted, a private list for them ;)
For other site, my goal is just brand exposure, so I have private list of people with large number of followers in my vertical.
In the past, I have used Yahoo pipes to pull RSS of different twitter advanced searches and tie them together. (Yahoo pipes, btw, is severely underutilized by webmasters. )
Currently, I am using professional software to follow, unfollow, tweet, capture and retweet targeted conversation and investing 30-60 minutes / day.
The traffic is good, but doesn't bite - like the digg traffic. I get MUCH better conversions via craigslist! Bottomline: IMHO, twitter is great for CRM but not so great for new clients acquisition, at least not for me
I stopped considering Twitter a social network some time ago.
For me it is a NEWS CHANEL. I choose the curators. And I create thematic lists.
|Bottomline: IMHO, twitter is great for CRM but not so great for new clients acquisition, at least not for me |
For me it is about causes and interests. Not brands. Get you brand close to causes that are of interest to your clients and potential clients.
Twitter is not feeded with crap.. the automated postings.. the automated followers.. who care for them now? Has some one got any good benefit of doing marketing in twitter! Anyone?
Yes but I'm still working out ways to get more accurate information on the conversions.
With a mix of bitly and google analytics advanced segments .....