Who would have thought that a small online start-up like Twitter originally set up as a communication channel among individuals would be a worldwide phenomenon? A hybrid between a social networking site and a micro-blogging forum, Twitter has become part of the daily routine of many netizens. Dubbed as “SMS of the web world” or “a message with cc to the world”, Twitter is widely accepted and popular among individuals, celebrities, corporates honchos and SMBs.
With its text-based posts of 140 characters called ‘Tweets’, Twitter has found its application in business too. With Twitter apps now available on smartphones such as Blackberry and iPhone, Twitter has become a handy tool for individuals to post latest updates about their businesses. In fact, many companies consider Twitter to be a powerful business promotional tool. It encourages the use of micro-blogging and interactions between corporate houses and individuals through a web-based tutorial called ‘Twitter 101’ for the benefit of its business users.
At present, Twitter is being used by big brands including the following:
- Computer giant Dell creates a number of Twitter profiles for each of the deals it offers on a regular basis. For instance, Dell Outlet, a profile of Dell, posts the most recent refurbished Dell computer offers. It has even reported $9 m1 of its 2009 sales coming directly through the combined usage of Twitter and Facebook.
- Similarly, Starbucks, a Seattle-based coffee and coffeehouse chain posts new offers and provides an opportunity for threaded discussions with its Twitter followers.
- captiand Comcast offer Twitter-based customer service.
- Through Twitter, companies can get closer to their customers by interacting with them directly. Southwest Airlines engages in informal discussions with its customers on Twitter. In the same way, Whole Foods Markets takes opinions and recommendations from its customers via Twitter.
Twitter provides equal opportunities to both small and big players in the industry. Recent estimates in the Wiki page of Twitter indicated that 17% of small businesses in the United Kingdom were using Twitter, primarily, to attract new customers. Being free and accessible, even SMBs can use Twitter to post updates and gain mileage on the web and curtail their advertising and PR overheads.
Companies that cannot advertise in a big way can post their latest updates on Twitter. For instance, CPA firms can only advertise within the narrow confines of specified standards. Now, they have the option to create a Twitter profile for their business. Some companies use Twitter as an extension of their corporate blogs.
The dynamics of tweets are important for a business. In most cases, companies have a profile page where followers can tweet and ‘retweet’. Some companies use Twitter as a platform for their employees to tweet. Companies can use search tools including search.twitter.com or desktop applications like TweetDeck to keep track of tweets about their products, services and industry trends.
Twitter is fast becoming the preferred extended business marketing tool for both SMBs and corporates. Here are some pointers on tweeting effectively for business success:
Create brand awareness: According to a tech reporter for BBC News, Twitter has nearly 200 million users. This makes Twitter a great platform for reaching out to potential customers. You can spread awareness about your business through tweets for free.
Communicate with customers: Communicate information about lucrative offers, profitable deals and promotional steps to potential customers. The launch of a new product or service can be announced worldwide through the company’s Twitter account. Use Twitter to conduct customer polls that evoke enthusiasm about the brand, and record the users’ likes and dislikes.
Add links: Once you have captivated the reader, adding a link to your website will encourage them to click. Make sure that you use the URL shrinking service, as Twitter allows just 140 characters.
Improve customer service: The feedback you receive from your followers on Twitter will help you understand customer sentiments and expectations. This data can be used to improve the level of your customer service, as is the case with Dell and Starbucks.
Build your network: We need not emphasize the importance of networking. Start by building a core interactive group and gradually expand it. Search for active “interaction buddies” and like-minded people on Twitter who will promote your brand among their followers.
Meaningful content: The main objective of tweeting is to get responses to your tweet – through more tweets. To do so, you have to write meaningful content that is sure to attract followers.
Tweeting about the accomplishments of the business is an easy way out to promote your business. However, excessive self-promotional tweets are unpopular among users. To get positive results for the success of your business, you need to use Twitter diligently. Do not underestimate the power of a 140-character text.