as a Marketing Tool
By John Foley
There is a lot of buzz around Twitter these days, but if you Twitter Basics
aren’t looking to find out what your friend had for coffee this How are consumers getting information from these sources?
morning or what’s happening in the latest celebrity gossip, does They are looking at comments, blogs, trackbacks, feedback and
Twitter have relevance for business? The answer is yes. But it other forms of user interaction. If you’ve read the reviews of a
takes a little digging to understand when and how to use this book on Amazon before buying, looked at the seller ratings on
exploding social phenomenon as a tool to build your business. eBay, or clicked through a link on a blog post, you know just
how powerful these peer influences can be. One of the most
Marketing has traditionally relied on push methods. Content powerful these days is Twitter.
was sent via direct mail, television advertisements, e-mail, and
more. Regardless of the channel, the strategy was to push infor- So what is Twitter? At its inception, Twitter started out as a
mation in front of consumers, whether they were looking for the content management system. Over time, it morphed into a mass
information or not. messaging system of the most global and colossal kind. The
premise of Twitter is simply to ask millions of people, “What are
Today, thanks to the Internet, marketing has become far more you doing?” then allow them to answer in 140 characters or less.
reliant on pull methods. Whether it’s news, politics, business The result is a free social messaging utility that allows millions
or entertainment, people can pull the content they want, when of people to stay connected simultaneously. The power for mar-
they want it, so they are receiving only information of relevance keting is nearly unlimited—if you can harness it.
to them when they are looking for it. For marketers, the goal is
to get people to pull information on their products and services Once you open a Twitter account, you can “follow” people that
or, if the person is searching by topic, to make sure that their you choose. Once you log into your Twitter account, updates
company’s products and services get in front of the user’s eyes. from everyone you are following are displayed to you in a list
(Hence the importance of search engine optimization—SEO.) (like a giant RSS feed) in real time. You can then scan all of the
“tweets,” as they are called, to stay updated with what people
One of the places Internet users are pulling information from is are posting and what they feel is important at that time. People
social networking sites. While many in the business community can choose to follow you, as well. When they do, your tweets
are still getting their minds around whether or not it is relevant are displayed in their Twitter account, along with all of the
to their business, social networking itself is exploding—and its tweets of everyone else that person is following.
influence over branding and word-of-mouth is growing.
Tweets can be about anything, but from a marketing perspec-
In part, this growth in influence is being driven by skepti- tive, you want to keep it about relevant business issues. You
PRINTING NEWS, MONDAY, November 2, 2009 www.printingnews.com
cism about traditional media. Instead of relying on television, might tweet about the status update on a project, an announce-
radio and publications, people are turning to word-of-mouth ment about a new blog post, or a link to a resource you think
sources such as Twitter