From the early days of the ‘Net and its accompanying social media outlets, people have had an avid interest in status messages. Let’s face it: people are nosy and want to know what others are doing. This in turn led to the influx of blogging, which was a means of answering the “what are you doing” question in a much more wordy format. In this day and age, time is much more of a luxury for most people, and Twitter has taken its position as the mid-way point between, say, a Facebook status message and a LiveJournal post about a wedding one just attended.
For those of you who are still unaware of what Twitter actually is, think of it as a micro-blogging tool by which you can write whatever you want, to be seen by your “followers,” in 140 characters or less. For many people, this is merely a prettier way of saying, “Oh, man, I ate the most wicked meatball sub today at ABC Diner in Philly,” but for others, it has become one of the foremost networking and information-sharing outlets available today.
Because of the latter, companies are beginning to jump on the Twitter bandwagon as a means of marketing their products or services. Each of these companies takes its own tailor-made approach to its Twitter efforts, which tends to utilize a mixture of four specific methods.
Broadcast company news and events.
This is the most “marketing-esque” of all the methods mentioned, plus the most transparent, so I’m mentioning it first. You’ve seen the type: @mycompanyname posts one or two tweets per day with a press release headline, an upcoming seminar the company is hosting, a new service offering, etc. For people already emotionally invested in your brand, this is reason enough to follow your company on Twitter. For others, there is little incentive to follow if this is all that you do with your account.
Provide customer service/support.
By utilizing search.twitter.com, Twitter’s internal search engine, as well as sites like Twilert, which sends you daily digests of tweets written that day with your chosen keywords, companies can track everything being said about their products or services on Twitter. Because of this, a number of companies have jumped into Twitter as a customer service outlet. JetBlue and Comcast are great examples of how to do this appropriately. Both Twitter accounts offer quick responses to customer inquiries without being too marketing-esque, and, as a result, have each acquired 6000-plus followers. An randomly-chosen tweet from JetBlue is below, and I think it’s a great example of how to quickly and effortlessly appease one’s customers.
Promote new offers/discounts/sales.
Some companies rely heavily on tweets that advertise upcoming sales, online-only discounts, and new products. The primary mission here is to earn money more rapidly than one would if he or she ignored this particular methods. Dell has a number of Twitter accounts, including @DellOutlet, @DellHomeOffers, and @DellSmBizOffers that only include tweets about sales and offers, which is perfect for those potential customers who want to find good deals on new products.
Build a community around your brand.
One of the premier reasons for using social media in your marketing activities is to build a community around your company’s products and/or services. In one of my previous posts, I emphasized some of the top things a company must consider while setting up its social media marketing efforts, a few of which are:
- It’s called “social” media for a reason. Have a conversation.
- Remember what your parents told you about the importance of sharing.
- Scratch their backs, and they’ll scratch yours.
- Honesty is the best policy, and, no, they don’t all like you.
- Provide valuable, useful content that is going to attract a targeted market.
I elaborate more on each of those points and the others in Building the Social Media Marketing Foundation, but it’s important to note that they do apply in the case of Twitter as well. Building a thriving, vocal community is the holy grail of social media marketing, and it’s probably the hardest goal to achieve. Ensure your tweets are a healthy mixture of the aforementioned three points, with many, many conversations with your Twitter followers thrown in. Remember: it’s not all about your company. Be objective sometimes; mention a blog post that applies to your industry as a whole and perhaps doesn’t even mention you but which applies to your target audience, for example. Answer questions asked by people who don’t follow you, and don’t insist that they follow you once you’ve given them that information. Once you’ve mastered the art of projecting an image of honesty, caring, and usefulness with your tweets, your followers will come, and your company will be well on its way to a successful marketing effort with Twitter.