What is it? As most of you know Twitter is the “it” technology of the moment. Thanks to users like Oprah, Ashton Kutcher and Larry King, you can’t turn on the TV, go online, or go out to dinner without hearing about it. So what is it? Put very literally, Twitter is a free micro-blogging service.
What does it do? Twitter allows you to post updates and read other user’s updates or “tweets”, as many people call them. Personally I find Twitter is similar to instant messaging, except on a much larger scale. Instead of chatting with one person, you are now chatting with anyone else using the service- whether they follow you or run a search that’s relevant to something you’ve written.
Why should you use it? Twitter is another social media tool that helps you build brand awareness. To decide whether it makes sense to add Twitter to your social media plan, read about how you can use Twitter below and start a “listening” plan. Run a search for your industry or your business using tools like Twitter Search. This will allow you to see if people are talking about you, your industry and even your competition. If you want to be a part of that conversation, you should join. If you want to start a conversation that you think is worth having, you should join as well.
How do you use Twitter? When you join Twitter, it prompts you to let others know what you’re doing. You are allowed 140 characters to do this. However, in terms of business, Twitter has turned into much more than a tool that lets your friends know that you are going to Carl’s Jr. for lunch. Twitter allows businesses to do a great number of things. Here are just a few examples:
Customer Service: Companies like ComCast, Sprint and JetBlue are using Twitter as a customer service tool. They are responding to questions, comments and concerns in real time. Immediacy, as we all know, is huge when it comes to dealing with customer service. I don’t know about you, but I dread calling a company’s customer service department. Usually it takes at least 20 minutes to get the right person on the phone and half the time they’re not very helpful. Handling customer service online helps to build credibility with customers. Interacting with customers, both happy and not-so-happy, out in the open allows a company to be more transparent, and it allows everyone to see that they care about making their customers happy.
Industry Expert: Some companies use Twitter to demonstrate their expertise in a particular industry. They’ll give tips, start discussions, pass on articles and references and talk about what they’re doing in the field. This helps build their credibility and in some cases may even connect them with potential clients.
Networking: Twitter can be a great networking tool. It allows you to connect with potential partners, clients, employers and even employees. You form relationships with these people by becoming a part of their online community and when it makes sense those relationships can then be taken offline by setting up a meeting or a “TweetUp”. Sounds a bit like internet dating doesn’t it?
These are just a few examples and there are many other success stories. Dell made $1 million in sales over the holidays afer they alerted their Twitter followers of sale items and now they're offering discounts specifically to people who follow them on their @DellOutlet account. Kogi Korean BBQ, a gourmet Korean taco company, has had huge success by alerting the Twitter world of where they will be going next. They announce a location, and by the time they taco truck arrives, customers are already lined up around the block. The truth is Twitter can be used in a million ways. It’s a new communication tool that allows you to connect with people who share your interests all across the world.
A few more resources:
Trying to explain Twitter can be a bit difficult in this Client Corner format because there are so many things to be addressed. What are “RT”s? What are followers? How do I follow someone and who do I follow? What’s a DM and how do I use it? Last month Mashable posted the “Top 7 Twitter Tutorials on YouTube”. These tutorials cover a number of things, from what Twitter is to how to use TweetDeck and desktop applications. I invite you to check out the post.
And to give Twitter a try for yourself visit Twitter.com and set up an account. (I warn you, it's addicting.)
Next Week's Term: SEO (Search Engine Optimization)