Why to use Twitter as a business marketing tool

Why to use Twitter as a business marketing tool

Use a new tools in the market as a key strategy? – you must be mad!

TwitterIn a changing economy, it might seem wrong to experiment with mediums such as Twitter for marketing and customer outreach. After all, the more well-established Facebook has a documented 800 million active users, while estimates place Twitter (which twitter doesn’t disclose such figures) at around 5 million users.
** update Dec 2011 – Facebook is now 800+ active users and Twitter is 100M active users

But while Twitter’s user base might seem small, the return on engagement from Twitter fans is substantial, Most Twitter users are hyper-connected, They are influencer’s and really want to share opinions with others. Many of them keep blogs. They are very different than the mainstream Facebook users.

For most companies, the decision to use Twitter will depend on the type of products or services that they offer.

Gathering Twitter wisdom from social media analysts and companies that have enjoyed success via Twitter, we’ve rounded up the key steps your company must take before it can enjoy a viable Twitter presence. In most cases, companies that started Twittering with clear objectives – or at least listened closely to the Twitter user base after they got started and adapted their strategy accordingly – have reaped the greatest benefits and (more importantly) helped their customers in the process.

 

Listen and Learn About Twitter – to use twitter as a business tool

Before you can identify the main objective for your organization’s use of Twitter, you first must understand the Twitter community and what they think of your company.

Get some search tools and start listening to the Twitter community before you do anything else and above all else listen to what they’re saying about your company and your industry.

Before you go out and set up a business based system you would be advised to set up a personal Twitter account to see what makes this community tick.

Establish Your Twitter Objectives and Metrics for Success for using twitter as a marketing tool

Like any effective marketing strategy, you need to establish what goals you hope to accomplish by being on Twitter.

The expectations you set should be two-fold. The first goal: internally justify your efforts to your company. Twitter remains a nascent technology, and in a tough economic time, you need to make a good case as to why someone should be dedicating his or her time to it, in addition to traditional marketing and customer service channels such as e-mail, web advertising (through Google) or even Facebook.

In general, companies that just push marketing deals or links to corporate press releases won’t gain much traction, experts warn.

Twitter users said, ‘we want a conversation with you, not faceless marketing.’

To build a good presence on Twitter, most companies must be responsive to questions regarding their service.

In some cases, the decision to travel the pure marketing route can be fine – as long as you’re up front about it to Twitter users,

 

Set Up Your Company’s Twitter Profile

The first step for your company’s Twitter profile will be selecting a user name. As is the case when you search for available Web URLs, your company name may already be taken by another user, either as a hoax account or because the person blogs about or follows the company closely.

In general, the more personal a company’s Twitter account appears, the better. Traditional mediums such as corporate websites, advertisements and promotions typically lack the sort of human feeling that Twitter users crave.

Twitter is not a forum to throw up press releases, your tweets should be real people who are real representatives of your company

All Twitter profiles have a field for a URL. While it might be tempting to insert your company’s homepage, this might not be a good use of the space, some recommend having a link to a custom page on your website that explains why you’re on Twitter and what you hope to accomplish by being there.

Users say businesses need to be conversational on Twitter, and you should be seen to provide value add.

Mind Your Twitter Etiquette

You should learn the rules of Twitter etiquette for individuals who use the service. Many of the same principles apply for company profiles, with a few notable exceptions.

One main difference is over the issue of following people.

  • On your individual Twitter account, you should only follow people who bring you value personally.
  • On a company profile, the rules change. Once people decide to follow a company’s Twitter updates, companies should generally follow them back. It shows you’re listening.

One proponent of twitter as a marketing tool said “It makes sense to follow people back in most cases, If someone walks into your store, you wouldn’t ignore them. You’d go and greet them and ask how they are.”

Ideally, it’s better to tweet publicly and avoid direct messages unless it’s absolutely necessary. Most problems or questions that people tweet about will be common, and the group can benefit from knowing the answer.

Finally, be prepared to make mistakes. The Twitter community is temperamental, but passionate. They may evangelize your product if you respond to their criticisms thoughtfully and in a way geared toward helping them. Since every message must be 140 characters or less, it’s easy to create misunderstandings. You must clarify your thoughts when necessary.

If you make a mistake, the important thing is to acknowledge it and say what you really meant, after all that’s what you’d do if you were talking to someone in person.”

Keep it balanced – business & human (“real”)

To be really effective keep your tweets not to the 140 character limit but to under 120 – this allows followers to ReTweet messages they feel are of value. You should aim for your messages to be ‘of interest’ and retweetable rather than direct sales.  Remember that while this may well be a business based twitter account – it is a human supplying data – so ensure something of the individual posting is there too – keep it human.

If all you do is sent business data then many will get bored and unfollow – keep them interested. Personally I aim for the 60-10-30 balance -

  • 60% value adding
  • 10% direct push sales
  • 30% personal

Never just push links – you will get followers but the wont click & retweet often)

Twitter takes time, Twitter is not understood by many – but the proof is in the pudding – it is a well connected channel to market that works – it is very low cost – but to do well involved a significant time commitment (certainly at the planning stage).

based on an article originally written by

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About Mike Morrison

Mike Morrison is a consultant and change agent specialising in developing skills in senior people to increase organizational performance.
Mike is also founder & director of RapidBI, an organizational effectiveness consultancy.

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