Leveraging Social Media: Twitter

Established in 2006, Twitter didn’t burst on the scene until 2007 when the amount of tweets and users skyrocketed – and current research indicates that it won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. According to eMarketer, Twitter’s growth rate, while predicted to decline in upcoming years, will still be higher than Facebook’s. Now, one simply has to look at the number of registered users to know that Facebook’s growth would inevitably decline below Twitter’s, but this microblogging tool is making ease of access to news far simpler than ever before. This begs the question: how can businesses properly utilize Twitter as a part of their digital marketing mix?

The first step to using Twitter effectively is to be active. Far too often I will come across inactive business Twitter accounts that provide nothing of value to their audience. Unlike Field of Dreams, simply building a company page will not get users to follow. However, you can keep them engaged by disseminating timely information and tips; encouraging participation through rewteets, replies, and sharing through other networks; and announcing promotions and contests. For example, your typical B2C strategy could entail tweeting about new product lines and upcoming promotions and discounts. Remember, the average Twitter user will only look at the home page for recent tweets, so it’s best to stay active to entrench your position in the consumers’ evoked sets. On the other hand, simply spamming your followers will begin to annoy them, which is why it’s integral to find a normal balance between too many and not enough posts.

credit to http://www.flickr.com/photos/woofer_kyyiv

Content is key in determining what to tweet. Simply tweeting “isn’t it nice outside” will not engage your audience. However, tweeting about the latest industry trends, company information, helpful tips, etc. will motivate your audience to participate and encourage others to follow your stream. Hashtag (#) marketing can also prove to be effective – just make sure that you do not encounter the same pitfalls brands such as McDonalds went through when their “McDStories” campaign turned sour. When launching hashtag campaigns, be aware of the inherent risks available and have a mitigation plan in place in the event of a backlash. However, the potential is limitless: American Express recently partnered with Twitter to launch a campaign that gives users the opportunity to sync their credit cards to their Twitter accounts, and receive coupons/discounts by including specific hashtags in Tweets. Innovation is necessary to stand out among the rest, and breaking through the clutter can be achieved by applying similar strategies.

Twitter can also be a helpful tool for finding a job, particularly in the recruiting industry. Although LinkedIn is still the most dominant platform among recruiters, (which I’ll cover in my next blog post), Twitter can be used to provide timely updates on job openings. End-users can also exploit the platform’s untapped potential by creating “Twesumes” and messaging them directly to companies. Considering 89% of companies use social media for recruiting, providing a concise elevator pitch in 140 characters might help you break through the clutter and secure your dream job.

Twitter is still an evolving social platform that will prove to be more valuable for brands as time moves forward. An active account, in conjunction with Facebook, is the bare minimum companies should invest in social media marketing. Costs are inherent, especially with monitoring becoming more crucial. Customer service is evolving with brands interacting more on Twitter, and reacting quickly is the best way to preserve the brand image and quell any negative PR. Make sure you have someone designated to screen all interactions involving your brand, or else you may find your account returning negative feedback.

That covers the basics about marketing on Twitter and how brands can effectively apply it to their mix, and in my next blog post, I’ll provide an analysis of the growing LinkedIn social site and its main advantages for marketers.  My parting question to readers is: are you active on Twitter, and if so, what type of organizations/users do you follow?

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