Oct 2010 22

Should my business be using Twitter?

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Posted October 22, 2010 by |  

We are often asked by our clients whether they should be using Twitter as part of their online marketing strategy.

In case you haven’t heard of Twitter, it is a free social networking and “micro blogging” service that allows users to post short messages of up to 140 characters in length, which are read by followers via automated feeds.

The rise of Twitter has been remarkable. Since it’s creation in 2008, Twitter now has well in excess of 100 million users worldwide.

Generally speaking, most people hear about Twitter through entertainment news stories as it has become commonplace for celebrities to post announcements about their careers and (often tawdry) personal lives via the service. But aside from this sensationalist stuff, and the relentless drone of ordinary people telling the world what they had for breakfast, many smart businesses are achieving terrific success using Twitter as a marketing communications tool.

There are numerous examples of creative uses of Twitter from large companies such Amazon offering exclusive, time sensitive deals through to local stores like Humphry Slocombe who are a 14 seat ice cream shop based in San Francisco with over 300,000 followers eager to read about the special ice cream flavor offered each day.

So, back to the original question – should my business user Twitter?

Well, to answer that question you first need to ask yourself two others.

Firstly, is your target customer likely to be using Twitter?

Although it is easy to get caught up in the hullabaloo about Twitter’s incredible growth, we must still remember that it is tiny when compared to mass media such as television and radio; and very small when compared to the three Internet giants - Facebook, You Tube and Google. Nielsen Stats from earlier this year revealed that a quarter of online Australians have read “tweets” in the previous year, 14 percent “followed” companies or organizations via Twitter and 13 percent posted their own tweets.  Users tend to be younger (more than 60% under 34 years old), web-savvy, early adopter types – with a relatively even male / female split. 

As the platform matures we are likely to see the usage demographic shift in the same way as has occurred with Facebook – for example as the early and late majority discover the platform the age demographic is likely to spread more evenly.

The second question is – what will you say?

In Twitter, being relevant and remarkable rules the roost. The ability for users to decide whom they wish to follow means that any excessive promotion or blatant non value-add marketing will quickly meet with a sharp drop in followers. Time bound specials with a Twitter-exclusive feel tend to work well, as do direct engagement and two way conversations with passionate patrons (see Humphry Slocombe above).

Another usage angle to consider is customer service. It is commonplace on Twitter for the good, bad and ugly issues of customer service and customer satisfaction to be broadcast for all to see.

Many businesses these days do some form of “reputation management” which in the case of Twitter means monitoring mentions of your business or products and acting quickly and appropriately when an issue arises.

A quick and dirty way to see what is being said is to type in some relavent phrases into Twitter’s search feature and see what is returned in the results.

So, in summary the definitive answer is of course “it depends”. If your customers are on Twitter now or are likely to be in the near future then its probably time for you to think about how you might engage them and where the Twitter channel sits within your overall marketing strategy.

 
 

Last modified by Nathan Curtis on Feb 6, 01:55 AM | Back to top

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