Friday, February 19, 2010

Should your brand be on Twitter?

The pace of soc media hasn't slowed down any over the last year, and while more brands are actively participating, there are still a lot of them pulling on the arm floats and belly-flopping into a Facebook page near you. That's fine. It's often appropriate.

Likewise with Twitter. If by now you haven't paid it any respect, wake up. Willy O'Dea resigned yesterday as Minister of Defence because of the power of Twitter. One or two little tweets, in fact.

That's politics however. What about brands?

Reasons to be on the microsite

1. Use Twitter to pull traffic to your site.
You can link to online articles on your blog, slide presentations, your website, your YouTube page, a photosharing site, your Facebook page etc etc. If it's useful information that's a very good start.

2. Use it to shout about special offers.
You can pull people back to your website or your actual store by telling them about the fantastic deal you've got for them. Very often companies will give dedicated deals to their Twitter followers. It creates great word of mouth and while the community can be relatively small it is fiercely connected and spreadability factor is potentially astronomical if the offer is right.

3. Gain new customers.
So you sell robust teat feeder buckets for young goats? Did you know you can follow people who have previously mentioned any of your specific terms. Use http://search.twitter.com to see if anyone out there has mentioned them on Twitter already. Don't be shy about it for God's sake! It's just business. I didn't ask you why you make goatboy teat buckets, did I?
As an interesting exercise, the search results can also show you who else is selling perverse items like the ones you make. They're the competition. Don't follow them, but consider following whoever they follow.

4. New product launches.
As per special offers, Twitter can act as a great PR outreach. The critical issue here (and with pretty much all of these points) is that you need to be following the relevant people. There are a lot of automated robot accounts out there which are about as much use to your business as nipples are to a chicken. No, let me guess, you have a product for that too.

5. Another way to get your logo out there.
It's not a big space, but that little Twitter avatar, when used properly, can sear your logo into the minds of your followers. Bear in mind too that Twitter is increasingly first port of call for people searching online. It makes sense to have a presence there for many brands.
Strong colours and simple icons work best, as they do in most visual communications, and if you're consistent and tweet with relevance you can become the opinion former amongst your competitors.

6. Find out who's talking about you.

You don't even need to run an account to see if your name's coming up or what people are saying about you. If it's good news it's nice to know about it. If it's bad, it becomes crucial. Use the Twitter search facility to find out.

7. Keeping track of what interests your followers.

Whenever you use Twitter to point your followers to a deal, you can track how many people click on your links and where they are from. A service like www.bit.ly is free and offers excellent metrics. Set up your account, use it to shorten links down to manageable size and keep an eye on what works best for your followers. Then keep doing it.

8. Upskilling

No doubt there is a lot of waffle on Twitter, but if you use their lists tool you can be very selective and group people you follow into relevant categories. Follow the informative ones in your field (there must be hundreds of goat teat manuf sites out there) and you'll be up to your tonsils in rich and valuable content that's shared free in the great big givathon that is the web. Tutorials; presentations; videos: you could be the best marketer of synthetic goat teat products of all time by the end of the year, no kiddin'.

9. Live news in real time.

Obviously once a year the Goatworld Trade Show will loom large on your calendar. With your Twitter account in place, you can tell everybody what the goatiest trends are as they happen. Others on Twitter will be doing the same, and beautiful little thing that it is, Twitter can let you all tweet on the same topic. Just decide a name and put a hashtag in front of it, and by golly I'll be sure to check out what y'all are saying at #goatworld10 next whenever.
(Remove all jocular reference to things hircine above and it should still be good information. Get baack to me if not.)

10. One more way to build a database

If you have an e-mail list Twitter can be an excellent way to get opt-ins. A careful cultivation of followers can yield favourable results and sales conversions. Targetted information will always be more valuable than scattergun stuff.




As with most social media, you really ought to watch the space with your company hat on before you jump. Follow others first, watch what your competitors are doing if they're on Twitter, get a feel for how people act and react in the space. If you were to be patient about it, and wait for a crisis (say, like a government minister's resignation or a food health scare), there is an awful lot tha Twitter can teach about human behaviour that only an idiot would dismiss. Nobody knows what the average life span of new social media might be. Like Blade Runner's Roy Batty the light that burns half as long will burn twice as bright, and in the meantime you should at least, at the very least, know what your competitors are doing. It may not be for every company or every sector, but for the majority of companies there probably is a space for Twitter.

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