I recently returned from a social networking conference. As with any web techie gathering a key “buzz” word comes to the forefront that is repeated over and over again. This year the key work seemed to be Twitter and Tweeting. As a matter of fact 700 Tweets, or Twitter messages, were internally posted during the three day gathering among 175 attendees.
When Twitter first hit the internet a few years back skeptics wondered why anyone would want to follow another persons personally exploits throughout the day. What kind of Starbucks an individual is purchasing is analogous to watching paint dry in many minds. Also, how much could actually be said in the Twitter limit of 140 characters.
But as Twitter matures, more and more corporations are seeing marketing value in using Tweets as a social media outlet to consumers.
Twitter has spawned a powerful social information and communication medium. This has impacted how news is gathered, how organizations get the word out and how buzz is created. And with Twitter’s explosive growth brands are jumping into the game.
So just how does a brand use Twitter to further its aims? A few recent anecdotes that I heard at the conference can help demonstrate how companies need to think about Twitter and its impact on their brands.
Brands ranging from ESPN to Starbucks to Dell are supporting active accounts boasting tens of thousands of followers. Whole Foods, a natural, holistic food store chain, has over 300,000 followers, enabling them to communicate instantly with their most avid customers, essentially providing an open discussion forum around the Whole Foods lifestyle, with recipes, promotions, tips, etc.
Google had tens of thousands of followers within a day of establishing a Twitter page. Just one month later, they’ve got a quarter of a million. Skittles candy temporarily turned their homepage into a Twitter search result, which published every single Twitter mention of the word “skittles.” While this last effort sparked plenty of buzz, the result was an onslaught of Skittles tweets – some positive, some negative, some banal, some vulgar – that all lived, for at least a few moments, on the Skittles homepage. While the goal was certainly buzz, the effect remains unclear.
In my estimation brands that don’t have a plan for Twitter need one fast. At the very least, monitor the stream. For many, for now, that is probably enough, as listening can help avoid surprises while staying attuned to trends.
If you do decide to Tweet, make sure you establish the infrastructure. With this type of fast breaking, real time media, a corporate monitor will need to be in place to constantly follow tweets and respond if needed.
Editorial Staff: By Jeff Bressler (firstname.lastname@example.org)