Twitter for business or fun?

by Eve Resnick on November 10, 2008

in General

Twitter is so controversial among Internet users that I did some research on how and why people use it. Some use it just to chat with their friends and let them know where they are and what they’re doing – “having my cappucino, it’s raining today”. Others are trying to have a more professional use of this social media tool. This is what is interesting to us, marketers.

During my research I found two in depth articles and strongly recommend them to you. The first one is from Chris Brogan, a marketing blogger, whose posts are always of great interest. Chris posted 50 ideas on using Twitter for business. If the “first steps” are basic recommendations, I found a few refreshing ideas “about WHAT to tweet”:

  1. “Instead of answering the question, “What are you doing?”, answer the question, “What has your attention?”
  2. When promoting a blog post, ask a question or explain what’s coming next, instead of just dumping a link.
  3. Ask questions. Twitter is GREAT for getting opinions.”

Chris ends up by the 10 positive feedbacks you can throw at people:

  1. “Twitter helps one organize great, instant meetups (tweetups).
  2. Twitter works swell as an opinion poll.
  3. Twitter can help direct people’s attention to good things.
  4. Twitter at events helps people build an instant “backchannel.”
  5. Twitter breaks news faster than other sources, often (especially if the news impacts online denizens).
  6. Twitter gives businesses a glimpse at what status messaging can do for an organization. Remember presence in the 1990s?
  7. Twitter brings great minds together, and gives you daily opportunities to learn (if you look for it, and/or if you follow the right folks).
  8. Twitter gives your critics a forum, but that means you can study them.
  9. Twitter helps with business development, if your prospects are online (mine are).
  10. Twitter can augment customer service. (but see above).”

Chris refers also to an other blog on the same topic but with a different perspective authored by Jeremiah Owyang. This post is very pertinent because it is centered on twittering and brands. Jeremiah already authored a post on why brands are not successful on Twitter. He nows reflects on the evolution of brands on Twitter. Two ideas are striking:

– choose your identity (personal vs. corporate): “There are only a few variations and among them include: 1) A branded approach, void of personal interactions. In many cases, brands are unsure how to approach this conversation and most speak on behalf of the company, void of a personal reference of the publisher. Companies like Popeye’s Chicken don’t readily indicate who’s behind the account, although they are very engaging conversing with others. 2) Some brands indicate who the user is, and go so far as to encourage individuals to represent the brand, RicardatDell takes this on with ease, as he both engages in personal interests as well as evangelizes and defends the Dell brand.”

– Your involvment: “There are three major options that brands can use: 1) Publish content in a ‘push’ style. Marketers, corp comm, PR folks and media companies can choose to use Twitter as a publishing system, as those who opt-in to follow can now receive updates from the latest story, press release or update. 2) Dialog: Some employees engage in relationship building with community members by responding, answering, and asking questions of those around them,or the ‘classic’ case example of Comcast Cares and Zappoes shoes interacting and supporting customers 3) As we’ve indicate above, some may use these tools to glean insight –mainly listening rather than talking.”

And the main point of Jeremiah is the last one: link your Twitter activity to your web site, blog and any other on line tool your brand developed. With those two articles, we should be able to use Twitter to the best of our ability to promote our brand, get new business contacts and – why not? – make friends. See you on Twitter!

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