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Twitter and Business

VIEWS: 19 PAGES: 20

									                             Twitter and Business
                                              Competitive Advantage Through Online Engagement
                                                                                                                	
  
                                                                                                                	
  
                                                                                                                	
  
	
  
                                                                                                             	
  
                                                                    By:	
     	
     W.	
  Nathaniel	
  Jones	
  
                                                                                           Elon	
  University	
  
                                                                                                             	
  
                                                                    Advisors:	
      Dr.	
  John	
  Burbridge	
  
                                                                                     Prof.	
  Coleman	
  Rich	
  
	
  
                                                                                             Spring,	
  2010	
  
	
  
	
  
Email:	
           	
     nathaniel@wnjones.com	
  
	
          	
     	
     wjones10@elon.edu	
  
Mobile:	
          	
     240.626.5257	
  
Address:	
         	
     11210	
  Bramblewood	
  Ct.	
  
	
          	
     	
     Ijamsville,	
  MD	
  21754	
  
Web:	
   	
        	
     www.wnjones.com	
  
Blog:	
   	
       	
     www.wnjones.blogspot.com	
  
Twitter:	
         	
     www.twitter.com/wnjones	
  
Facebook:	
   	
          www.facebook.com/wnjones	
  
Flickr:	
          	
     www.flickr.com/photos/wnjones	
  
LinkedIn:	
   	
          www.linkedin.com/in/nathanieljones	
  
YouTube:	
   	
           www.youtube.com/wnathanielj	
  
AIM:	
   	
        	
     wnathanielj	
  
Skype:	
           	
     wjones10	
  
                                                            	
  
                                                            	
  
                                                                           Abstract	
  
	
  
Many	
  see	
  Twitter	
  as	
  a	
  novelty,	
  but	
  the	
  service	
  has	
  the	
  potential	
  to	
  revolutionize	
  the	
  way	
  ideas	
  are	
  shared,	
  
namely	
  by	
  bringing	
  together	
  individual	
  and	
  broadcast	
  communications	
  effectively	
  in	
  one	
  platform.	
  Twitter	
  is	
  
real-­‐time,	
  interactive,	
  and	
  it	
  naturally	
  supports	
  communities.	
  For	
  these	
  reasons,	
  the	
  medium	
  presents	
  a	
  number	
  
of	
  opportunities	
  and	
  challenges	
  for	
  businesses	
  that	
  are	
  now	
  able	
  to	
  connect	
  to	
  their	
  customers	
  in	
  ways	
  stronger	
  
than	
  traditional	
  communications	
  would	
  allow.	
  
	
  
This	
  project	
  addresses	
  the	
  question	
  of	
  how	
  some	
  companies	
  are	
  creating	
  a	
  competitive	
  advantage	
  by	
  engaging	
  
with	
  customers	
  online	
  through	
  Twitter.	
  In	
  recent	
  years,	
  with	
  the	
  advent	
  of	
  “social	
  media,”	
  the	
  dynamics	
  of	
  the	
  
customer-­‐business	
  relationship	
  have	
  been	
  shifting	
  dramatically.	
  Customers	
  are	
  relying	
  more	
  on	
  each	
  other	
  for	
  
information	
  to	
  make	
  buying	
  decisions,	
  and	
  they	
  are	
  expecting	
  greater	
  accessibility	
  and	
  responsiveness	
  from	
  
companies.	
  Businesses	
  now	
  have	
  new	
  opportunities	
  to	
  connect	
  with	
  customers,	
  obtain	
  real-­‐time	
  feedback,	
  
improve	
  service,	
  and	
  develop	
  mutually	
  beneficial	
  relationships.	
  
	
  
The	
  research	
  offers	
  theoretical	
  background	
  for	
  how	
  Twitter	
  adds	
  value	
  to	
  communication	
  between	
  businesses	
  
and	
  customers.	
  It	
  also	
  summarizes	
  who	
  uses	
  Twitter,	
  why	
  they	
  use	
  it,	
  and	
  how	
  to	
  get	
  started	
  engaging	
  on	
  the	
  
platform,	
  including	
  some	
  of	
  the	
  challenges	
  when	
  measuring	
  success	
  in	
  social	
  media.	
  	
  
	
  
Lastly,	
  examples	
  of	
  best	
  practices	
  of	
  companies	
  using	
  Twitter	
  for	
  engaging	
  promotions,	
  real	
  time	
  service	
  
recovery,	
  PR	
  and	
  damage	
  control,	
  and	
  internal	
  communications	
  and	
  culture	
  are	
  given,	
  along	
  with	
  
recommendations	
  for	
  firms	
  considering	
  social	
  media.	
  These	
  stories	
  demonstrate	
  some	
  of	
  the	
  real	
  world	
  
rewards	
  and	
  risks	
  the	
  service	
  presents,	
  and	
  offers	
  a	
  framework	
  for	
  deciding	
  when	
  and	
  how	
  a	
  given	
  business	
  
should	
  use	
  the	
  service.	
  




                                                                                                                                                                      2
                                                                                                      Outline	
  
	
  
Cover	
  Page.....................................................................................................................................................................................1	
  
	
  
Abstract ..........................................................................................................................................................................................2	
  
	
  
Outline.............................................................................................................................................................................................3	
  
	
  
Literature	
  Review ......................................................................................................................................................................4	
  
	
  
          Forward	
  
          What	
  is	
  Twitter?	
  
          The	
  Tweet	
  Heard	
  ‘Round	
  the	
  World	
  
	
  
Twitter	
  Theory ............................................................................................................................................................................7	
  
	
  
          Who	
  Uses	
  Twitter	
  
          Twitter	
  and	
  the	
  History	
  of	
  Communication	
  
	
  
Twitter	
  and	
  Business................................................................................................................................................................9	
  
	
  
          Opportunities	
  and	
  Challenges	
  
          Is	
  Twitter	
  Right	
  for	
  You?	
  
          Getting	
  Started	
  
          Measuring	
  Success	
  
	
  
Best	
  Practices	
  –	
  Looking	
  Up	
  to	
  the	
  Airlines................................................................................................................. 12	
  
          	
  
          Engaging	
  Promotions	
  
          Real	
  Time	
  Service	
  Recovery	
  
          PR	
  and	
  Damage	
  Control	
  
          Internal	
  Communications	
  and	
  Culture	
  
	
  
Recommendations .................................................................................................................................................................. 15	
  
	
  
          Decide	
  on	
  a	
  “Method	
  of	
  Engagement”	
  
          Twitter	
  is	
  (More	
  Than)	
  a	
  Full	
  Time	
  Job	
  
          Cross	
  Functional	
  Involvement	
  
	
  
Conclusion	
  and	
  Areas	
  for	
  Future	
  Study......................................................................................................................... 16	
  
	
  
Appendix..................................................................................................................................................................................... 18	
  
          Prompt	
  
          Proposal	
  
          Presentation	
  Handout	
  




                                                                                                                                                                                                            3
                                                                          Literature	
  Review	
  
	
  
Forward	
  
	
  
Jane	
  Reeves	
  has	
  never	
  owned	
  a	
  computer,	
  and	
  she	
  likely	
  never	
  will.	
  She	
  doesn’t	
  like	
  them.	
  A	
  short,	
  amiable	
  
woman	
  with	
  pillow-­‐soft	
  white	
  curls	
  and	
  bright,	
  young	
  eyes,	
  few	
  things	
  bring	
  out	
  sternness	
  in	
  her	
  like	
  talk	
  about	
  
computers.	
  Though	
  she	
  retired	
  from	
  full-­‐time	
  work	
  years	
  ago,	
  she	
  has	
  been	
  working	
  two	
  part-­‐time	
  jobs	
  for	
  
years,	
  spending	
  a	
  few	
  days	
  a	
  week	
  at	
  a	
  mini-­‐storage	
  and	
  playing	
  the	
  organ	
  every	
  Sunday	
  at	
  her	
  church.	
  But	
  
when	
  her	
  boss	
  told	
  her	
  a	
  few	
  months	
  ago	
  that	
  the	
  mini-­‐storage	
  office	
  was	
  going	
  paperless,	
  and	
  that	
  she	
  would	
  
need	
  to	
  learn	
  how	
  to	
  do	
  everything	
  on	
  a	
  computer,	
  she	
  quit.	
  
	
  
Jane	
  is	
  my	
  grandmother,	
  and	
  since	
  I	
  know	
  her	
  well,	
  her	
  quitting	
  came	
  as	
  no	
  surprise	
  to	
  me.	
  I’ve	
  encouraged	
  her	
  
to	
  get	
  a	
  computer	
  many	
  times	
  over	
  the	
  years,	
  mostly	
  because	
  email	
  is	
  the	
  best	
  way	
  to	
  stay	
  in	
  touch	
  with	
  my	
  
brother	
  and	
  me	
  (not	
  to	
  mention	
  others	
  in	
  her	
  life).	
  But	
  explaining	
  the	
  advantages	
  of	
  email	
  can	
  be	
  a	
  surprisingly	
  
tough	
  thing	
  to	
  do.	
  	
  
	
  
At	
  its	
  core,	
  email	
  is	
  simply	
  a	
  service	
  that	
  allows	
  you	
  to	
  send	
  and	
  receive	
  text	
  and	
  files	
  from	
  unique	
  email	
  
addresses.	
  What	
  could	
  my	
  grandmother	
  possibly	
  want	
  with	
  that?	
  She	
  would	
  probably	
  agree	
  that	
  “If	
  email	
  had	
  
been	
  around	
  before	
  the	
  telephone	
  was	
  invented,	
  people	
  would	
  have	
  said	
  "hey,	
  forget	
  email	
  -­‐	
  with	
  this	
  new	
  
telephone	
  invention	
  I	
  can	
  actually	
  talk	
  to	
  people.”1	
  Of	
  course,	
  today,	
  email	
  is	
  a	
  hugely	
  important	
  technology	
  for	
  
most	
  of	
  us,	
  but	
  we	
  may	
  not	
  often	
  consider	
  that	
  its	
  value	
  doesn’t	
  lie	
  in	
  the	
  technology	
  itself,	
  but	
  rather	
  in	
  its	
  
application	
  and	
  integration	
  into	
  our	
  lives.	
  
	
  
Email	
  is	
  not	
  the	
  first	
  simple	
  technology	
  to	
  surprise	
  us	
  with	
  its	
  powerful	
  usefulness.	
  Many	
  (perhaps	
  even	
  most)	
  
of	
  our	
  technological	
  staples	
  initially	
  looked	
  like	
  novelties.	
  Consider	
  these	
  quotes:	
  
	
  
                 "This	
  'telephone'	
  has	
  too	
  many	
  shortcomings	
  to	
  be	
  seriously	
  considered	
  as	
  a	
  means	
  of	
  communication.	
  
                 The	
  device	
  is	
  inherently	
  of	
  no	
  value	
  to	
  us."	
  
                                                                                                                                -­Western	
  Union,	
  internal	
  memo,	
  1876.	
  
                                                                                                                                                                                            	
  
                 "Airplanes	
  are	
  interesting	
  toys	
  but	
  of	
  no	
  military	
  value."	
  	
  
                                                                                            -­Marechal	
  Ferdinand	
  Foch,	
  French	
  Military	
  Strategist,	
  1911.	
  
                 	
  
                 "The	
  wireless	
  music	
  box	
  has	
  no	
  imaginable	
  commercial	
  value.	
  	
  Who	
  would	
  pay	
  for	
  a	
  message	
  sent	
  to	
  
                 nobody	
  in	
  particular?"	
  
                                                              -­An	
  investor’s	
  letter	
  to	
  David	
  Sarnoff,	
  founder	
  of	
  NBC,	
  regarding	
  the	
  radio,	
  1921.	
  
	
  
                 "I	
  think	
  there	
  is	
  a	
  world	
  market	
  for	
  maybe	
  five	
  computers."	
  	
  
                                                                                                                              -­Thomas	
  Watson,	
  IBM	
  chairman,	
  1943.	
  
                                                                                                                                                                                            	
  
                 "Video	
  won't	
  be	
  able	
  to	
  hold	
  onto	
  any	
  market	
  it	
  captures	
  after	
  the	
  first	
  six	
  months.	
  	
  People	
  will	
  soon	
  get	
  
                 tired	
  of	
  staring	
  at	
  a	
  plywood	
  box	
  every	
  night."	
  
                                                                                                -­Darryl	
  F.	
  Zanuck,	
  Head	
  of	
  20th	
  Century-­Fox	
  Studios,	
  1946.	
  
                                                                                                                                                                                            	
  
                 "Whoever	
  said	
  that	
  things	
  have	
  to	
  be	
  useful?"	
  
                                                                                                             -­Evan	
  Williams,	
  Twitter	
  co-­founder	
  and	
  CEO,	
  2010.	
  
	
  
When	
  the	
  creators	
  of	
  SMS	
  (text	
  messaging)	
  developed	
  the	
  service,	
  they	
  had	
  no	
  idea	
  who	
  would	
  actually	
  use	
  it	
  or	
  
why.	
  After	
  all,	
  why	
  would	
  you	
  go	
  through	
  the	
  considerable	
  effort	
  of	
  typing	
  out	
  a	
  message	
  on	
  a	
  number	
  pad	
  when	
  
the	
  recipient	
  was	
  just	
  a	
  phone	
  call	
  away?	
  Even	
  Freidhelm	
  Hillebrand,	
  the	
  researcher	
  responsible	
  for	
  the	
  160-­‐
character	
  limit	
  on	
  text	
  messages,	
  said	
  "Nobody	
  had	
  foreseen	
  how	
  fast	
  and	
  quickly	
  the	
  young	
  people	
  would	
  use	
  

1	
  Anonymous	
  

                                                                                                                                                                                            4
this."2	
  But	
  cell	
  phone	
  companies	
  had	
  extra	
  capacity	
  on	
  their	
  networks,	
  and	
  found	
  that	
  they	
  could	
  send	
  small	
  
packets	
  of	
  text	
  through	
  with	
  a	
  simple	
  software	
  tweak	
  in	
  their	
  towers.	
  They	
  created	
  the	
  technology	
  simply	
  
because	
  they	
  could,	
  and	
  left	
  it	
  to	
  consumers	
  to	
  figure	
  out	
  what	
  to	
  do	
  with	
  it.	
  	
  
	
  
Interestingly,	
  Twitter	
  is	
  one	
  of	
  the	
  things	
  we	
  came	
  up	
  with	
  as	
  a	
  result	
  of	
  the	
  text	
  message.	
  
	
  
What	
  is	
  Twitter?	
  
	
  
According	
  to	
  Twitter’s	
  own	
  definition,	
  the	
  service	
  “is	
  a	
  real-­‐time	
  information	
  network	
  powered	
  by	
  people	
  all	
  
around	
  the	
  world	
  that	
  lets	
  you	
  share	
  and	
  discover	
  what’s	
  happening	
  now.”	
  Twitter	
  is	
  more	
  than	
  just	
  a	
  website;	
  
the	
  Twitter	
  service	
  can	
  be	
  accessed	
  through	
  over	
  50,000	
  third-­‐party	
  Internet	
  and	
  mobile	
  applications.3	
  In	
  
techie-­‐speak,	
  “Twitter	
  is	
  a	
  device-­‐agnostic	
  real-­‐time	
  message-­‐routing	
  platform	
  –	
  which	
  is	
  a	
  fancy	
  way	
  of	
  saying	
  
that	
  it	
  can	
  send	
  messages	
  to	
  and	
  receive	
  them	
  from	
  a	
  variety	
  of	
  devices	
  simultaneously,	
  at	
  the	
  moment	
  a	
  
message	
  is	
  sent.”4	
  It	
  is	
  a	
  simple	
  and	
  powerful	
  communications	
  platform	
  for	
  short	
  text	
  messages.	
  
	
  
In	
  practice,	
  a	
  user	
  who	
  signs	
  up	
  for	
  a	
  Twitter	
  account	
  (oftentimes	
  also	
  connecting	
  their	
  mobile	
  phone)	
  can	
  
immediately	
  start	
  publishing	
  “tweets,”	
  140-­‐character-­‐or-­‐less	
  text	
  posts,	
  and	
  following	
  those	
  of	
  other	
  users.	
  A	
  
real-­‐time	
  feed	
  displays	
  the	
  tweets	
  of	
  the	
  users	
  they	
  follow	
  along	
  with	
  their	
  own.	
  Users	
  can	
  text	
  new	
  tweets	
  to	
  
Twitter,	
  and	
  also	
  sign	
  up	
  to	
  receive	
  other	
  users’	
  tweets,	
  on	
  their	
  mobile	
  phone.	
  In	
  fact,	
  the	
  140-­‐character	
  limit	
  
was	
  designed	
  with	
  text	
  messaging	
  in	
  mind,	
  as	
  it	
  allows	
  an	
  extra	
  20	
  characters	
  for	
  a	
  username	
  before	
  the	
  tweet	
  
in	
  a	
  160	
  character	
  text	
  message.5	
  
	
  
The	
  service	
  is	
  simple,	
  yet	
  people	
  can	
  use	
  it	
  in	
  a	
  surprising	
  variety	
  of	
  ways.	
  A	
  new	
  user-­‐created	
  language	
  of	
  “re-­‐
tweets”	
  and	
  “hashtags”	
  has	
  sprung	
  up	
  to	
  aid	
  in	
  idea	
  collaboration	
  and	
  dissemination.	
  The	
  “@”	
  symbol	
  is	
  used	
  to	
  
denote	
  usernames,	
  so	
  mentioning	
  another	
  user	
  in	
  your	
  tweet	
  links	
  to	
  their	
  profile	
  (e.g.	
  @wnjones,	
  my	
  Twitter	
  
username).	
  Ideas	
  can	
  gain	
  traction	
  and	
  spread	
  quickly,	
  even	
  from	
  users	
  with	
  just	
  a	
  few	
  followers	
  as	
  others	
  “re-­‐
tweet”	
  the	
  exciting	
  idea	
  (copy,	
  and	
  re-­‐post	
  another’s	
  tweet)	
  to	
  their	
  followers	
  (e.g.	
  RT	
  @wnjones:	
  my	
  tweet).	
  
Hashtags	
  are	
  used	
  to	
  denote	
  topics	
  for	
  easy	
  searching	
  and	
  indexing	
  (e.g.	
  @wnjones:	
  my	
  tweet	
  #topic).	
  
	
  
If	
  you	
  were	
  to	
  take	
  a	
  look	
  at	
  all	
  of	
  the	
  tweets	
  being	
  created	
  at	
  a	
  given	
  time,	
  most	
  of	
  what	
  you	
  would	
  see	
  is	
  “daily	
  
chatter,”	
  or	
  a	
  discussion	
  of	
  what	
  users	
  are	
  currently	
  doing	
  or	
  daily	
  routines.	
  Conversations	
  make	
  up	
  another	
  
large	
  portion	
  of	
  about	
  an	
  eighth	
  of	
  all	
  posts.	
  About	
  13%	
  of	
  posts	
  contain	
  a	
  URL,	
  indicating	
  that	
  at	
  least	
  that	
  many	
  
tweets	
  are	
  used	
  for	
  information	
  sharing.	
  Reporting	
  news	
  is	
  also	
  a	
  popular	
  and	
  growing	
  application	
  of	
  the	
  
service.6	
  
	
  
Twitter	
  is	
  the	
  latest	
  in	
  a	
  series	
  of	
  social	
  media	
  services	
  that	
  contribute	
  to	
  a	
  sense	
  of	
  “ambient	
  awareness”	
  for	
  
users.	
  This	
  is	
  the	
  phrase	
  used	
  to	
  describe	
  the	
  feeling	
  generated	
  by	
  constant	
  passive	
  up-­‐to-­‐the-­‐minute	
  updates	
  
on	
  what	
  other	
  people	
  are	
  doing.	
  And	
  while	
  the	
  normal	
  initial	
  response	
  to	
  this	
  sort	
  of	
  “digital	
  intimacy”	
  is	
  panic	
  
(as	
  when	
  Facebook’s	
  “News	
  Feed”	
  feature,	
  which	
  broadcasts	
  changes	
  to	
  facebook	
  profiles	
  to	
  all	
  of	
  a	
  user’s	
  
friends,	
  was	
  released),	
  it	
  quickly	
  becomes	
  more	
  normal,	
  and	
  users	
  find	
  that	
  there	
  is	
  a	
  new	
  dimension	
  to	
  their	
  
lives,	
  almost	
  like	
  “a	
  type	
  of	
  E.S.P.”	
  All	
  of	
  a	
  sudden,	
  there’s	
  no	
  need	
  to	
  ask	
  what	
  a	
  friend	
  has	
  been	
  up	
  to,	
  instead	
  a	
  
discussion	
  can	
  start	
  around	
  what	
  they	
  had	
  tweeted	
  about	
  that	
  afternoon;	
  the	
  conversation	
  is	
  already	
  started.7	
  
	
  
	
  
	
  

2	
  “Why	
  text	
  messages	
  are	
  limited	
  to	
  160	
  characters”	
  Mark	
  Milian,	
  Los	
  Angeles	
  Times,	
  May	
  3,	
  2009	
  

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/technology/2009/05/invented-­‐text-­‐messaging.html	
  
3	
  Twitter	
  ‘About	
  Us’	
  Page:	
  http://twitter.com/about	
  
4	
  “Twitter	
  and	
  the	
  Micro-­‐Messaging	
  Revolution:	
  Communication,	
  Connections,	
  and	
  Immediacy	
  –	
  140	
  Characters	
  at	
  a	
  Time”	
  An	
  O’Reilly	
  

Radar	
  Report,	
  November	
  2008,	
  Pg.	
  3	
  
5	
  Jack	
  Dorsey	
  Interview:	
  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4F4o6-­‐Nx3Vg	
  
6	
  “Why	
  We	
  Twitter:	
  Understanding	
  Microblogging	
  Usage	
  and	
  Communities”	
  Java,	
  A.,	
  Finin,	
  T.,	
  Song,	
  X.,	
  &	
  Tseng,	
  B.	
  (2007)   	
  
7	
  “Brave	
  New	
  World	
  of	
  Digital	
  Intimacy”	
  Clive	
  Thompson,	
  The	
  New	
  York	
  Times,	
  September	
  7,	
  2008	
  

                                                                                                                                                                                               5
The	
  Tweet	
  Heard	
  ‘Round	
  the	
  World	
  
	
  
On	
  July	
  29,	
  2008,	
  a	
  5.4	
  earthquake	
  shook	
  Los	
  Angeles	
  area,	
  and	
  “We	
  had	
  50,000	
  tweets	
  before	
  the	
  AP	
  reported	
  it	
  
nine	
  minutes	
  later,”	
  says	
  Twitter	
  co-­‐founder	
  Biz	
  Stone.	
  “You	
  get	
  to	
  read	
  stuff	
  that’s	
  on	
  its	
  way	
  to	
  the	
  Web.”	
  
Twitter	
  users	
  have	
  consistently	
  beat	
  other	
  news	
  agencies,	
  and	
  even	
  the	
  U.S.	
  Geological	
  Survey	
  in	
  reporting	
  
earthquakes	
  from	
  Mexico	
  City	
  to	
  Sichuan,	
  China.8	
  
	
  
During	
  the	
  2008	
  terror	
  attacks	
  in	
  Mumbai,	
  tweets	
  were	
  published	
  from	
  the	
  city	
  at	
  a	
  rate	
  of	
  sixteen	
  per	
  second,	
  
with	
  real-­‐time	
  firsthand	
  accounts	
  of	
  the	
  events	
  and	
  even	
  pleas	
  for	
  blood	
  donors	
  to	
  go	
  to	
  specific	
  hospitals	
  with	
  
shortages.	
  Twitter	
  was	
  also	
  used	
  to	
  disseminate	
  information	
  about	
  phone	
  help	
  lines	
  and	
  to	
  compile	
  a	
  list	
  of	
  the	
  
dead	
  and	
  injured.	
  One	
  Twitter	
  user	
  remarked,	
  "Mumbai	
  is	
  not	
  a	
  city	
  under	
  attack	
  as	
  much	
  as	
  it	
  is	
  a	
  social	
  media	
  
experiment	
  in	
  action."9	
  
	
  
Because	
  Twitter	
  creates	
  such	
  huge	
  amounts	
  of	
  real-­‐time	
  information,	
  it	
  presents	
  a	
  real	
  challenge	
  to	
  anyone	
  
trying	
  to	
  control	
  the	
  dissemination	
  of	
  ideas.	
  Twitter	
  is	
  a	
  powerful	
  force	
  for	
  democracy.	
  In	
  June	
  of	
  2009,	
  the	
  U.S.	
  
State	
  Department	
  contacted	
  Twitter	
  and	
  asked	
  them	
  to	
  delay	
  a	
  network	
  upgrade	
  to	
  ensure	
  that	
  Iranians	
  had	
  
access	
  to	
  the	
  service	
  as	
  they	
  coordinated	
  protests	
  of	
  their	
  	
  presidential	
  election.10	
  Twitter	
  was	
  the	
  best	
  way	
  for	
  
Iranians	
  to	
  find	
  and	
  distribute	
  the	
  reliable,	
  real-­‐time	
  news	
  that	
  wasn’t	
  being	
  printed	
  in	
  the	
  government-­‐
censored	
  papers.	
  
	
  
But	
  Twitter’s	
  power	
  extends	
  beyond	
  just	
  the	
  speed	
  and	
  quantity	
  of	
  information	
  it	
  can	
  disseminate.	
  In	
  places	
  
where	
  the	
  service	
  can’t	
  flex	
  its	
  brute	
  strength,	
  as	
  in	
  tightly	
  controlled	
  China,	
  it	
  shines	
  with	
  finesse.	
  In	
  June	
  of	
  
2009,	
  in	
  advance	
  of	
  the	
  20th	
  anniversary	
  of	
  the	
  Tiananmen	
  Square	
  massacre	
  in	
  China,	
  government	
  censors	
  
blocked	
  access	
  to	
  Twitter,	
  along	
  with	
  Flickr,	
  Youtube,	
  and	
  other	
  social	
  media	
  sites.11	
  	
  Although	
  the	
  Twitter	
  
website	
  itself	
  is	
  still	
  blocked	
  by	
  the	
  “Great	
  Firewall,”	
  its	
  API	
  (or	
  open	
  application	
  programming	
  interface)	
  means	
  
that	
  the	
  service	
  can	
  be	
  easily	
  duplicated	
  by	
  programmers	
  onto	
  any	
  number	
  of	
  new	
  websites	
  or	
  mobile	
  device	
  
applications,	
  and	
  the	
  government	
  censors	
  have	
  to	
  track	
  and	
  shut	
  them	
  down	
  one	
  by	
  one.	
  This	
  means	
  that	
  
although	
  the	
  service	
  is	
  technically	
  banned	
  in	
  China,	
  the	
  Twitter	
  community	
  there	
  is	
  still	
  vibrant	
  and	
  persistently	
  
active.12	
  




8	
  “Twitter	
  and	
  the	
  Micro-­‐Messaging	
  Revolution:	
  Communication,	
  Connections,	
  and	
  Immediacy	
  –	
  140	
  Characters	
  at	
  a	
  Time”	
  An	
  O’Reilly	
  

Radar	
  Report,	
  November	
  2008,	
  Pg.	
  7	
  
9	
  “Tweeting	
  the	
  terror:	
  How	
  social	
  media	
  reacted	
  to	
  Mumbai”	
  Stephanie	
  Busari	
  November	
  28,	
  2008,	
  CNN	
  

http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/asiapcf/11/27/mumbai.twitter/	
  
10	
  “Iran	
  Protests:	
  Twitter,	
  the	
  Medium	
  of	
  the	
  Movement”	
  Lev	
  Grossman,	
  Time	
  Magazine,	
  June	
  17,	
  2009	
  

http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1905125,00.html#ixzz0j7iWJqbC	
  
11	
  “China	
  Blocks	
  Twitter,	
  Flickr,	
  Others	
  as	
  Tiananmen	
  Anniversary	
  Looms”	
  Fox	
  News,	
  June	
  2,	
  2009	
  
12	
  “Leaping	
  the	
  Great	
  Firewall	
  of	
  China;	
  How	
  Twitter	
  and	
  other	
  technologies	
  are	
  keeping	
  one	
  step	
  ahead	
  of	
  the	
  censors”	
  Emily	
  Parker,	
  

The	
  Wall	
  Street	
  Journal,	
  March	
  24,	
  2010	
  http://on.wsj.com/dpNSNr	
  
                                                                                                                                                                                                          6
                                                                                      Twitter	
  Theory	
  
	
  
Twitter	
  and	
  the	
  History	
  of	
  Communication	
  
	
  
Around	
  1440,	
  a	
  goldsmith	
  by	
  the	
  name	
  of	
  Johannes	
  Gootenberg	
  assembled	
  a	
  printing	
  press	
  that	
  would	
  radically	
  
change	
  the	
  world.	
  The	
  technology	
  behind	
  the	
  press	
  was	
  neither	
  new	
  nor	
  exciting,	
  as	
  it	
  borrowed	
  its	
  mechanics	
  
from	
  the	
  common	
  screw	
  presses	
  used	
  in	
  wine	
  and	
  olive	
  oil	
  production,	
  along	
  with	
  the	
  Chinese	
  invention	
  of	
  
paper.13	
  But	
  while	
  his	
  design	
  was	
  not	
  technologically	
  exciting,	
  it	
  allowed	
  for	
  the	
  mass	
  dissemination	
  of	
  ideas	
  to	
  
people	
  in	
  different	
  places	
  and	
  times,	
  and	
  made	
  the	
  process	
  of	
  replicating	
  text	
  cheaper	
  and	
  faster	
  than	
  ever	
  
before.	
  
	
  
Because	
  print	
  was	
  suddenly	
  cheaper	
  and	
  faster	
  to	
  accurately	
  reproduce	
  than	
  any	
  other	
  medium	
  (at	
  least	
  at	
  the	
  
margins,	
  with	
  a	
  low	
  cost	
  to	
  produce	
  and	
  distribute	
  one	
  additional	
  copy),	
  it	
  became	
  an	
  enormously	
  powerful	
  
broadcast	
  tool.	
  Those	
  same	
  forces	
  (cheaper,	
  faster,	
  and	
  more	
  accurate)	
  have	
  continued	
  to	
  drive	
  broadcast	
  (one-­‐
to-­‐many)	
  communication	
  technology	
  throughout	
  history;	
  just	
  consider	
  the	
  success	
  of	
  radio,	
  television	
  and	
  the	
  
world	
  wide	
  web.	
  
	
  
A	
  similarly	
  revolutionary	
  invention	
  in	
  the	
  area	
  of	
  individual	
  (one-­‐to-­‐one)	
  communications	
  was	
  the	
  telephone.	
  
The	
  telephone	
  made	
  one-­‐to-­‐one	
  communication	
  cheaper	
  and	
  faster,	
  with	
  those	
  same	
  principles	
  driving	
  the	
  
adoption	
  of	
  cell	
  phones,	
  email,	
  and	
  text	
  messaging.	
  
	
  
In	
  modern	
  society,	
  broadcast	
  and	
  communication	
  technologies	
  have	
  become	
  so	
  cheap,	
  fast,	
  and	
  ubiquitous	
  that	
  
almost	
  anyone	
  is	
  now	
  able	
  to	
  make	
  a	
  message	
  publicly	
  available	
  on	
  the	
  web,	
  and	
  to	
  remain	
  in	
  constant	
  contact	
  
with	
  their	
  social	
  network	
  through	
  a	
  cell	
  phone.	
  Simply	
  put,	
  broadcast	
  and	
  communication	
  can't	
  get	
  much	
  faster	
  
or	
  cheaper.	
  So	
  where	
  does	
  Twitter	
  fit	
  in	
  the	
  evolution	
  of	
  communication	
  technology?	
  It	
  isn't	
  really	
  a	
  "better"	
  
broadcast	
  tool,	
  or	
  a	
  "better"	
  individual	
  communications	
  tool,	
  because	
  it's	
  not	
  faster	
  or	
  cheaper	
  than	
  the	
  
instantaneous	
  and	
  free	
  tools	
  we	
  already	
  have.	
  Instead,	
  Twitter	
  is	
  revolutionary	
  because	
  it	
  is	
  the	
  first	
  service	
  that	
  
seamlessly	
  brings	
  together	
  broadcast	
  and	
  individual	
  communications	
  in	
  one	
  platform,	
  and	
  in	
  doing	
  so	
  it	
  
redefines	
  the	
  way	
  information	
  can	
  spread.	
  
	
  
Technology	
  writer	
  Clay	
  Shirky	
  (@cshirky)	
  said,	
  "the	
  internet	
  is	
  the	
  first	
  medium	
  in	
  history	
  that	
  has	
  native	
  
support	
  for	
  groups	
  and	
  conversation	
  at	
  the	
  same	
  time."	
  He	
  explained	
  that	
  the	
  internet	
  has	
  brought	
  together	
  all	
  
other	
  types	
  of	
  media	
  as	
  well,	
  so	
  that	
  now	
  pictures,	
  text	
  and	
  video	
  all	
  co-­‐exist	
  "right	
  next	
  door"	
  to	
  each	
  other.	
  
Technology	
  has	
  enabled	
  consumers	
  to	
  become	
  producers	
  -­‐	
  for	
  example,	
  if	
  you	
  have	
  the	
  tools	
  to	
  read	
  a	
  blog,	
  you	
  
have	
  the	
  tools	
  to	
  make	
  one	
  too.	
  These	
  driving	
  principles,	
  along	
  with	
  the	
  coming	
  together	
  of	
  broadcast	
  and	
  
communications,	
  are	
  moving	
  to	
  make	
  social	
  media	
  a	
  powerful	
  platform	
  for	
  sharing	
  information.14	
  
	
  
Twitter	
  does	
  a	
  particularly	
  good	
  job	
  of	
  bringing	
  together	
  broadcast	
  and	
  communication	
  media;	
  supporting	
  
groups	
  and	
  conversations,	
  with	
  links	
  to	
  all	
  sorts	
  of	
  media,	
  and	
  providing	
  each	
  user	
  the	
  tools	
  needed	
  both	
  to	
  
produce	
  and	
  consume	
  content.	
  With	
  these	
  theoretical	
  underpinnings,	
  it	
  should	
  be	
  no	
  surprise	
  that	
  the	
  service	
  is	
  
growing	
  in	
  popularity.	
  
	
  
	
  
	
  
	
  
	
  
	
  
	
  
	
  

13	
  “Printing	
  Press”	
  Wikipedia:	
  The	
  Free	
  Encyclopedia:	
  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Printing_press	
  
14	
  “How	
  social	
  media	
  can	
  make	
  history”	
  TED	
  talk	
  by	
  Clay	
  Shirky,	
  June,	
  2009	
  

http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/clay_shirky_how_cellphones_twitter_facebook_can_make_history.html	
  
                                                                                                                                                                               7
Who	
  uses	
  Twitter?	
  
	
  
There	
  are	
  three	
  main	
  types	
  of	
  Twitter	
  users15:	
  
	
  
      1. Information	
  Source:	
  	
   A	
  “hub”	
  user	
  with	
  many	
  followers	
  who	
  posts	
  regular	
  or	
  valuable	
  updates.	
  These	
  
                                                  users	
  create	
  most	
  of	
  the	
  original	
  content	
  that	
  is	
  re-­‐tweeted	
  by	
  other	
  users,	
  but	
  
                                                  may	
  engage	
  in	
  less	
  interaction	
  with	
  their	
  (often	
  thousands	
  of)	
  followers.	
  
                                                  	
  
      2. Relationship	
  Builder:	
  	
   A	
  user	
  who	
  follows	
  and	
  interacts	
  with	
  friends,	
  family,	
  and	
  co-­‐workers.	
  May	
  also	
  be	
  
                                                  involved	
  in	
  a	
  topical	
  Twitter	
  community.	
  Likely	
  has	
  many	
  conversational	
  tweets	
  
                                                  directed	
  at	
  other	
  users.	
  Around	
  25.4%	
  of	
  tweets	
  are	
  directed	
  at	
  a	
  specific	
  user,	
  
                                                  and	
  about	
  21%	
  of	
  users	
  use	
  this	
  feature.16	
  
                                                  	
  
      3. Information	
  Seeker:	
  	
   A	
  user	
  who	
  primarily	
  follows	
  others.	
  May	
  re-­‐tweet	
  others’	
  content,	
  but	
  rarely	
  
                                                  generates	
  original	
  posts.	
  
	
  
As	
  an	
  online	
  social	
  network,	
  Twitter’s	
  success	
  is	
  firmly	
  rooted	
  in	
  its	
  ability	
  to	
  support	
  communities.	
  Users	
  
generally	
  interact	
  regularly	
  with	
  relatively	
  few	
  of	
  the	
  users	
  they	
  reciprocally	
  follow,	
  but	
  generally	
  their	
  
networks	
  of	
  Twitter	
  contacts	
  center	
  on	
  a	
  community	
  of	
  users	
  that	
  focuses	
  on	
  a	
  topic	
  or	
  shared	
  interest.	
  Users	
  
typically	
  share	
  both	
  about	
  the	
  topical	
  interest	
  of	
  the	
  community,	
  and	
  also	
  about	
  their	
  personal	
  feeling	
  and	
  daily	
  
experiences.	
  As	
  in	
  real	
  social	
  networks,	
  these	
  online	
  communities	
  often	
  overlap;	
  for	
  example,	
  a	
  community	
  that	
  
focuses	
  on	
  literature	
  may	
  have	
  some	
  users	
  who	
  are	
  also	
  involved	
  in	
  a	
  coffee	
  aficionado	
  community.17	
  
	
  
The	
  median	
  age	
  of	
  a	
  Twitter	
  user	
  is	
  31,	
  which	
  remained	
  stable	
  over	
  the	
  year	
  Pew	
  (@pewresearch)	
  studied,	
  
above	
  the	
  age	
  for	
  MySpace	
  (26),	
  but	
  below	
  that	
  of	
  LinkedIn	
  (39).	
  The	
  months	
  between	
  April	
  2009	
  and	
  
December	
  2009	
  saw	
  the	
  percentage	
  of	
  internet	
  users	
  who	
  use	
  Twitter	
  or	
  another	
  update-­‐sharing	
  service	
  rise	
  
from	
  11	
  to	
  19	
  percent.	
  Most	
  of	
  this	
  growth	
  was	
  driven	
  by	
  the	
  54%	
  of	
  internet	
  users	
  who	
  have	
  a	
  wireless	
  
connection	
  to	
  the	
  internet	
  (i.e.	
  through	
  a	
  laptop	
  or	
  mobile	
  phone),	
  of	
  whom	
  25%	
  now	
  use	
  Twitter	
  or	
  another	
  
service,	
  up	
  from	
  14%	
  in	
  December	
  2008.18	
  
	
  
Since	
  the	
  service	
  was	
  designed	
  with	
  mobile	
  users	
  in	
  mind,	
  it	
  makes	
  sense	
  that	
  “Owning	
  and	
  using	
  a	
  wireless	
  
internet	
  device	
  makes	
  an	
  internet	
  user	
  significantly	
  more	
  likely	
  to	
  tweet.”	
  In	
  fact,	
  even	
  the	
  number	
  of	
  internet-­‐
connected	
  devices	
  a	
  user	
  has	
  is	
  correlated	
  with	
  their	
  probability	
  of	
  tweeting:	
  39%	
  of	
  internet	
  users	
  with	
  four	
  or	
  
more	
  devices	
  (eg.	
  a	
  laptop,	
  cell	
  phone,	
  kindle,	
  game	
  console)	
  use	
  Twitter,	
  compared	
  to	
  28%	
  of	
  users	
  with	
  three,	
  
19%	
  of	
  those	
  with	
  two,	
  and	
  10%	
  of	
  those	
  with	
  one.19	
  
	
  
In	
  percentage	
  terms,	
  the	
  highest	
  use	
  groups	
  are	
  woman	
  (21%	
  of	
  adult	
  women	
  in	
  the	
  US),	
  African	
  Americans	
  
(26%),	
  the	
  35	
  to	
  49	
  age	
  bracket	
  (42%)20,	
  and	
  those	
  who	
  have	
  attended	
  at	
  least	
  some	
  college	
  (21%).	
  Those	
  least	
  
likely	
  to	
  tweet	
  are	
  men	
  (17%),	
  those	
  65	
  and	
  older	
  (4%),	
  and	
  those	
  with	
  only	
  a	
  High	
  School	
  education	
  (17%).	
  
There	
  is	
  little	
  variation	
  in	
  use	
  across	
  incomes.	
  	
  
	
  
Internet	
  users	
  already	
  on	
  social	
  networking	
  sites	
  like	
  Facebook	
  or	
  MySpace	
  are	
  also	
  much	
  more	
  likely	
  to	
  use	
  
Twitter:	
  35%	
  versus	
  6%	
  of	
  those	
  who	
  do	
  not	
  use	
  social	
  networking	
  sites.21	
  There	
  is	
  more	
  evidence	
  to	
  suggest	
  
that	
  Twitter	
  isn’t	
  right	
  for	
  everyone;	
  the	
  Nielsen	
  Company	
  “has	
  calculated	
  –	
  somewhat	
  controversially	
  –	
  that	
  
about	
  60	
  per	
  cent	
  of	
  people	
  using	
  Twitter	
  end	
  up	
  abandoning	
  the	
  service	
  after	
  the	
  first	
  month.	
  


15	
  “Why	
  We	
  Twitter:	
  Understanding	
  Microblogging	
  Usage	
  and	
  Communities”	
  Java,	
  A.,	
  Finin,	
  T.,	
  Song,	
  X.,	
  &	
  Tseng,	
  B.	
  (2007)	
  
16	
  “Social	
  networks	
  that	
  matter:	
  Twitter	
  under	
  the	
  microscope”	
  Huberman,	
  B.,	
  Romero,	
  D.,	
  Wu,	
  F.	
  First	
  Monday,	
  Volume	
  14,	
  Number	
  1,	
  

January,	
  2009	
  
17	
  “Why	
  We	
  Twitter:	
  Understanding	
  Microblogging	
  Usage	
  and	
  Communities”	
  Java,	
  A.,	
  Finin,	
  T.,	
  Song,	
  X.,	
  &	
  Tseng,	
  B.	
  (2007)	
  
18	
  Pew	
  Internet	
  &	
  American	
  Life	
  Project,	
  Twitter	
  and	
  Status	
  Updating	
  October	
  2009	
  Pg.	
  6	
  
19	
  Pew	
  Internet	
  &	
  American	
  Life	
  Project,	
  Twitter	
  and	
  Status	
  Updating,	
  October	
  2009	
  Pg.	
  7-­‐8   	
  
20	
  “Editorial”	
  Jonathan	
  Reynolds,	
  Journal	
  of	
  Targeting,	
  Measurement	
  and	
  Analysis	
  for	
  Marketing	
  (2009)	
  17,	
  79-­‐80	
  
21	
  Pew	
  Internet	
  &	
  American	
  Life	
  Project,	
  Twitter	
  and	
  Status	
  Updating,	
  October	
  2009	
  Pg.	
  4	
  

                                                                                                                                                                                                     8
                                                                          Twitter	
  and	
  Business	
  
	
  
The	
  initial	
  response	
  from	
  business	
  to	
  Twitter	
  and	
  other	
  social	
  media	
  sites	
  has	
  been	
  overwhelmingly	
  negative.	
  
Studies	
  have	
  sought	
  to	
  quantify	
  the	
  dollar	
  value	
  of	
  the	
  time	
  wasted	
  by	
  workers	
  on	
  these	
  sites,	
  and	
  many	
  
organizations	
  have	
  taken	
  steps	
  to	
  discourage	
  workers	
  from	
  using	
  them.	
  At	
  the	
  U.S.	
  Department	
  of	
  Homeland	
  
Security,	
  for	
  example,	
  employees	
  can’t	
  even	
  view	
  the	
  Department’s	
  own	
  Facebook	
  page	
  at	
  work.	
  But	
  banning	
  
these	
  sites	
  creates	
  a	
  lot	
  of	
  work	
  for	
  IT	
  departments,	
  as	
  savvy	
  users	
  flock	
  to	
  overlooked	
  alternatives	
  or	
  
workarounds	
  to	
  their	
  favorites.	
  According	
  to	
  IT	
  security	
  expert	
  Graham	
  Cluley,	
  “Denying	
  staff	
  access	
  to	
  social	
  
networking	
  sites	
  will	
  only	
  drive	
  them	
  to	
  find	
  a	
  way	
  around	
  the	
  ban.”22	
  
	
  
It	
  is	
  extremely	
  shortsighted,	
  however,	
  for	
  a	
  business	
  to	
  view	
  its	
  employees’	
  social	
  media	
  activity	
  simply	
  as	
  time	
  
wasted.	
  This	
  view	
  fails	
  to	
  recognize	
  the	
  way	
  that	
  social	
  media	
  is	
  shaping	
  the	
  nature	
  of	
  the	
  economy,	
  and	
  the	
  role	
  
it	
  can	
  play	
  in	
  a	
  business’	
  success	
  or	
  failure.	
  Because	
  Twitter	
  is	
  based	
  on	
  communities,	
  a	
  large	
  base	
  of	
  employees	
  
participating	
  in	
  the	
  service,	
  an	
  active	
  body	
  of	
  employees	
  on	
  Twitter	
  can	
  greatly	
  boost	
  a	
  brand’s	
  presence	
  and	
  
legitimacy	
  with	
  groups	
  online.	
  
	
  
There	
  are	
  also	
  a	
  number	
  of	
  factors	
  that	
  make	
  Twitter	
  a	
  more	
  powerful	
  tool	
  for	
  business	
  than	
  other	
  social	
  media	
  
sites	
  like	
  Facebook	
  or	
  LinkedIn.	
  The	
  first	
  is	
  that	
  a	
  large	
  proportion	
  of	
  its	
  users	
  are	
  businesspeople,	
  making	
  
Twitter	
  is	
  a	
  hub	
  for	
  meaningful	
  professional	
  discourse,	
  unlike	
  Facebook	
  (which	
  is	
  more	
  social)	
  or	
  LinkedIn	
  
(which	
  has	
  limited	
  interactive	
  potential).	
  Secondly,	
  “Twitter	
  is	
  all	
  about	
  information”	
  and	
  it’s	
  ok	
  to	
  interact	
  with	
  
people	
  you	
  don’t	
  know;	
  you	
  can	
  interact	
  with	
  someone	
  simply	
  because	
  they	
  say	
  something	
  that	
  interests	
  you.	
  
Lastly,	
  because	
  users	
  only	
  tweet	
  or	
  re-­‐tweet	
  the	
  things	
  they	
  find	
  most	
  interesting,	
  the	
  service	
  is	
  a	
  natural	
  way	
  to	
  
uncover	
  trends,	
  information,	
  and	
  to	
  learn	
  more	
  about	
  topics	
  of	
  interest.23	
  
	
  
Is	
  Twitter	
  Right	
  for	
  You?	
  
	
  
If	
  your	
  business	
  could	
  use	
  a	
  more	
  efficient	
  way	
  of	
  sharing	
  information	
  with	
  the	
  public,	
  taking	
  the	
  pulse	
  of	
  public	
  
perception	
  on	
  your	
  company	
  or	
  industry,	
  or	
  building	
  relationships	
  with	
  customers,	
  Twitter	
  may	
  be	
  worth	
  
exploring.	
  Even	
  if	
  the	
  service	
  is	
  not	
  used	
  for	
  external	
  communications	
  and	
  relationship	
  building,	
  it	
  may	
  be	
  worth	
  
exploring	
  for	
  its	
  potential	
  to	
  enhance	
  the	
  company	
  culture	
  and	
  internal	
  communications.	
  
	
  
The	
  use	
  of	
  Twitter	
  will	
  be	
  different	
  for	
  every	
  company,	
  since	
  it	
  should	
  be	
  tied	
  to	
  the	
  firm’s	
  strategic	
  goals.	
  
Couple	
  the	
  low	
  cost	
  of	
  the	
  service	
  with	
  its	
  potential	
  for	
  powerful	
  real-­‐time	
  feedback	
  and	
  interaction,	
  and	
  it	
  
seems	
  that	
  some	
  form	
  of	
  investment	
  in	
  Twitter	
  would	
  be	
  prudent	
  for	
  most	
  businesses.	
  
	
  
Getting	
  Started	
  
	
  
The	
  first	
  step	
  to	
  interacting	
  on	
  Twitter	
  is	
  to	
  sign	
  up	
  for	
  the	
  service.	
  Ensure	
  that	
  your	
  profile	
  is	
  complete	
  with	
  a	
  
picture,	
  brief	
  biography,	
  and	
  link.	
  Unless	
  you	
  take	
  the	
  time	
  to	
  complete	
  your	
  profile	
  (it	
  takes	
  less	
  10	
  minutes!),	
  
users	
  will	
  question	
  its	
  authenticity.	
  Now,	
  with	
  a	
  completed	
  profile,	
  you	
  are	
  ready	
  to	
  start	
  experiencing	
  Twitter.	
  
	
  
The	
  most	
  important	
  thing	
  to	
  remember	
  about	
  Twitter	
  is	
  that	
  it	
  is	
  a	
  global	
  conversation,	
  democratically	
  guided	
  
by	
  individual	
  users	
  steering	
  it	
  with	
  their	
  tweets	
  towards	
  what	
  they	
  find	
  most	
  interesting.	
  So,	
  before	
  you	
  jump	
  
into	
  Twitter,	
  as	
  I	
  hope	
  you	
  would	
  before	
  jumping	
  into	
  any	
  conversation,	
  it	
  pays	
  to	
  listen.	
  “Now	
  that	
  every	
  
consumer	
  online	
  is	
  a	
  commentator,	
  reviewer	
  and	
  publisher,	
  all	
  organizations	
  have	
  to	
  stop	
  talking	
  and	
  start	
  
listening	
  to	
  how	
  they	
  are	
  perceived.”24	
  Listening	
  in	
  Twitter	
  means	
  first	
  creating	
  an	
  account	
  and	
  then	
  using	
  the	
  
search	
  function	
  to	
  look	
  for	
  mentions	
  of	
  your	
  brand,	
  competitors,	
  and	
  other	
  terms	
  related	
  to	
  your	
  industry.	
  
	
  


22	
  Social	
  networking:	
  the	
  business	
  case”	
  Jonathan	
  Wilson,	
  The	
  IET	
  Magazine,	
  June	
  6,	
  2009	
  
23	
  “The	
  Business	
  Sense	
  of	
  Twitter”	
  Scot	
  Finnie,	
  Opinion,	
  Computerworld,	
  October	
  5,	
  2009	
  
24	
  “The	
  social	
  media	
  revolution”	
  Tom	
  Smith,	
  International	
  Journal	
  of	
  Market	
  Research	
  Vol.	
  51	
  Issue	
  4,	
  2009

                                                                                                                                                                                         9
As	
  you	
  find	
  other	
  users	
  talking	
  about	
  your	
  brand,	
  start	
  to	
  share	
  relevant	
  information	
  with	
  them.	
  If	
  you	
  find	
  
users	
  who	
  are	
  saying	
  positive	
  things,	
  re-­‐tweet	
  what	
  they	
  say	
  to	
  your	
  followers.	
  Conversely,	
  if	
  you	
  find	
  users	
  who	
  
have	
  had	
  bad	
  experiences	
  with	
  your	
  brand,	
  contact	
  those	
  users	
  (perhaps	
  with	
  a	
  direct	
  message)	
  to	
  resolve	
  it.	
  
Before	
  long,	
  you’ll	
  find	
  that	
  there	
  are	
  a	
  lot	
  of	
  people	
  asking	
  questions	
  and	
  sharing	
  experiences	
  with	
  your	
  brand.	
  
You	
  don’t	
  have	
  to	
  respond	
  to	
  every	
  tweet,	
  and	
  you	
  shouldn’t	
  just	
  tweet	
  about	
  work.	
  Share	
  about	
  your	
  life	
  and	
  
have	
  a	
  personality.25	
  “This	
  engagement	
  with	
  consumers	
  online	
  will	
  be	
  a	
  powerful	
  way	
  to	
  build	
  long-­‐term	
  
advocates	
  of	
  the	
  brand,	
  who	
  not	
  only	
  purchase	
  their	
  products	
  but	
  also	
  recommend	
  them	
  on	
  and	
  offline.”26	
  
	
  
Opportunities	
  and	
  Challenges	
  
	
  
To	
  understand	
  the	
  opportunities	
  and	
  challenges	
  presented	
  by	
  Twitter,	
  the	
  service	
  is	
  best	
  viewed	
  as	
  an	
  online	
  
tool	
  for	
  customer	
  word	
  of	
  mouth	
  (WOM)	
  communications.	
  WOM	
  is	
  rooted	
  in	
  social	
  networks	
  and	
  trust,	
  with	
  
customers	
  sharing	
  their	
  experiences	
  and	
  advice	
  with	
  each	
  other,	
  though	
  the	
  participants	
  need	
  not	
  know	
  each	
  
other	
  personally	
  (e.g.	
  online	
  reviews).	
  Positive	
  WOM	
  is	
  widely	
  regarded	
  as	
  a	
  powerful	
  marketing	
  medium,	
  but	
  
because	
  it	
  depends	
  on	
  the	
  proactive	
  participation	
  of	
  customers,	
  it	
  is	
  nearly	
  impossible	
  to	
  create	
  or	
  control.	
  	
  
	
  
Customers	
  tend	
  to	
  engage	
  in	
  word	
  of	
  mouth	
  when	
  they	
  are	
  particularly	
  satisfied	
  or	
  unsatisfied.	
  And,	
  contrary	
  to	
  
popular	
  belief,	
  high-­‐satisfaction	
  customers	
  engage	
  in	
  nearly	
  as	
  much	
  word	
  of	
  mouth	
  as	
  dissatisfied	
  customers.27	
  
On	
  Twitter,	
  nearly	
  20%	
  of	
  tweets	
  contain	
  a	
  brand	
  mention,	
  and	
  of	
  those	
  the	
  more	
  were	
  positive	
  (50%)	
  than	
  
negative	
  (33%).	
  The	
  service	
  provides	
  an	
  opportunity	
  to	
  see	
  what	
  customers	
  really	
  think	
  about	
  a	
  brand	
  and	
  its	
  
competitors,	
  and	
  to	
  connect	
  with	
  them	
  in	
  real	
  time	
  to	
  build	
  and	
  enhance	
  relationships.28	
  
	
  
Of	
  course,	
  the	
  same	
  powerful	
  online	
  channels	
  that	
  allow	
  a	
  user	
  to	
  publish	
  positive	
  comments	
  about	
  a	
  brand	
  
instantly	
  and	
  anonymously	
  to	
  a	
  multitude	
  of	
  users	
  online	
  can	
  also	
  be	
  used	
  to	
  spread	
  negative	
  WOM.	
  	
  
	
  
There	
  are	
  eight	
  main	
  reasons	
  why	
  consumers	
  engage	
  in	
  WOM:29	
  
	
  
     Altruism	
  (Positive	
  WOM)	
               Done	
  for	
  others	
  without	
  expecting	
  any	
  reward	
  in	
  return	
  
     Product	
  Involvement	
                      Interest,	
  excitement	
  and	
  use	
  of	
  the	
  product	
  
     Self	
  Enhancement	
                         Project	
  themselves	
  as	
  intelligent	
  shoppers	
  
     Helping	
  the	
  Company	
                   Desire	
  to	
  help	
  the	
  company	
  
     Altruism	
  (Negative	
  WOM)	
               Prevent	
  others	
  from	
  experiencing	
  problems	
  they	
  encountered	
  
     Anxiety	
  Reduction	
                        Easing	
  anger,	
  anxiety,	
  and	
  frustration	
  
     Vengeance	
                                   To	
  retaliate	
  against	
  the	
  company	
  for	
  a	
  negative	
  experience	
  
     Advice	
  Seeking	
                           Obtaining	
  advice	
  on	
  how	
  to	
  solve	
  problems	
  
	
  
It	
  is	
  important	
  to	
  recognize	
  the	
  variety	
  of	
  motivations	
  users	
  have	
  for	
  engaging	
  in	
  WOM	
  when	
  developing	
  a	
  social	
  
media	
  strategy.	
  Ideally,	
  the	
  strategy	
  will	
  allow	
  the	
  firm	
  to	
  assess	
  the	
  motivation	
  of	
  a	
  given	
  user	
  and	
  offer	
  
guidance	
  for	
  the	
  appropriate	
  response	
  (or	
  non-­‐response)	
  based	
  on	
  that	
  assessed	
  motivation.	
  
	
  
Measuring	
  Success	
  in	
  Social	
  Media	
  
	
  
With	
  all	
  of	
  the	
  excitement	
  and	
  opportunity	
  surrounding	
  Twitter	
  and	
  other	
  social	
  media,	
  it	
  should	
  come	
  as	
  no	
  
surprise	
  that	
  many	
  firms	
  are	
  jumping	
  in	
  with	
  both	
  feet	
  -­‐	
  even	
  without	
  a	
  reliable	
  way	
  to	
  measure	
  their	
  return	
  on	
  
investment.	
  But	
  as	
  businesses	
  start	
  to	
  consider	
  more	
  substantial	
  and	
  long-­‐term	
  investments	
  in	
  their	
  social	
  


25	
  “50	
  Ways	
  to	
  Use	
  Twitter	
  for	
  Business”	
  Chris	
  Brogan,	
  Social	
  Computing	
  Magazine,	
  August	
  20,	
  2008	
  
26	
  “The	
  social	
  media	
  revolution”	
  Tom	
  Smith,	
  International	
  Journal	
  of	
  Market	
  Research	
  Vol.	
  51	
  Issue	
  4,	
  2009	
  
27	
  “Customer	
  Satisfaction	
  and	
  Word	
  of	
  Mouth”	
  Eugene	
  W.	
  Anderson,	
  Journal	
  of	
  Service	
  Research,	
  Volume	
  1,	
  No.	
  1,	
  August	
  1998	
  5-­‐17	
  
28	
  “Twitter	
  Power:	
  Tweets	
  as	
  Electronic	
  Word	
  of	
  Mouth”	
  Bernard	
  J.	
  Jansen	
  et.	
  al.	
  Journal	
  of	
  the	
  American	
  Society	
  for	
  Information	
  Science	
  

and	
  Technology,	
  November,	
  2009	
  
29	
  “Word	
  of	
  Mouth	
  Communications:	
  A	
  Motivational	
  Analysis”	
  Sundaram,	
  D.S.,	
  Mitra,	
  K.	
  &	
  Webster,	
  C.	
  Advances	
  in	
  Consumer	
  Research,	
  

25,	
  1998
                                                                                                                                                                                                       10
media	
  strategies	
  (e.g.	
  hiring	
  a	
  full	
  time	
  social	
  media	
  team),	
  it	
  is	
  increasingly	
  important	
  to	
  have	
  more	
  concrete	
  
ways	
  for	
  them	
  to	
  determine	
  their	
  optimal	
  investment,	
  track	
  their	
  success,	
  and	
  uncover	
  areas	
  for	
  improvement.	
  
	
  
Much	
  of	
  the	
  challenge	
  of	
  quantifying	
  the	
  impact	
  of	
  social	
  media	
  efforts	
  is	
  rooted	
  in	
  the	
  difficulty	
  of	
  calculating	
  an	
  
individual’s	
  (or	
  a	
  brand’s)	
  online	
  influence.	
  While	
  historically	
  influence	
  could	
  be	
  simply	
  measured	
  by	
  the	
  
number	
  of	
  followers	
  and	
  comments	
  on	
  a	
  blog,	
  online	
  users	
  are	
  now	
  interacting	
  through	
  a	
  greater	
  variety	
  of	
  
channels	
  (including	
  Twitter),	
  which	
  makes	
  measurement	
  more	
  challenging.	
  In	
  January	
  of	
  2008,	
  Jonny	
  
Brentwood	
  at	
  Edelman	
  shared	
  his	
  design	
  for	
  a	
  “Social	
  Media	
  Index”	
  that	
  incorporates	
  and	
  weights	
  activity	
  
across	
  multiple	
  sites	
  into	
  a	
  single	
  (numerical)	
  influence	
  “score,”	
  but	
  his	
  rudimentarily	
  methodology	
  mostly	
  
demonstrates	
  how	
  something	
  as	
  amorphous	
  (and	
  emotional)	
  as	
  “influence”	
  is	
  really	
  tough	
  to	
  quantify.30	
  Tony	
  
Hsieh,	
  CEO	
  of	
  online	
  shoe	
  retailer	
  Zappos	
  says	
  “It’s	
  all	
  about	
  relationships,	
  so	
  what’s	
  the	
  ROI	
  of	
  a	
  hug?	
  What’s	
  
the	
  higher	
  purpose	
  of	
  this	
  vision?”	
  “Twitter	
  fits	
  into	
  our	
  brand	
  of	
  delivering	
  joy.”31	
  
	
  
Because	
  measuring	
  influence	
  directly	
  is	
  more	
  challenging	
  with	
  social	
  media	
  than	
  with	
  traditional	
  marketing	
  
(e.g.	
  simple	
  click-­‐through	
  sales	
  numbers	
  from	
  a	
  banner	
  ad),	
  another	
  more	
  goal-­‐oriented	
  approach	
  has	
  also	
  
emerged	
  that	
  views	
  social	
  media	
  as	
  a	
  means	
  to	
  accomplishments	
  made	
  through	
  relationships	
  with	
  (potential)	
  
customers.	
  These	
  goals	
  are	
  broken	
  out	
  into	
  objectives,	
  which	
  are	
  tied	
  to	
  quantifiable	
  metrics	
  (possibly	
  
supported	
  by	
  automated	
  data-­‐gathering	
  software).	
  In	
  this	
  way,	
  the	
  success	
  of	
  a	
  business’	
  social	
  media	
  strategy	
  
can	
  be	
  monitored	
  (in	
  a	
  real-­‐time	
  “dashboard”	
  format)	
  more	
  completely	
  and	
  dynamically	
  than	
  through	
  the	
  more	
  
simplistic	
  “influence	
  score”	
  tied	
  to	
  an	
  individual	
  or	
  brand	
  user.32	
  
	
  
Measurement	
  techniques	
  for	
  social	
  media	
  are	
  still	
  in	
  their	
  infancy,	
  and	
  a	
  standard	
  methodology	
  to	
  calculate	
  
success	
  or	
  determine	
  return	
  on	
  investment	
  has	
  yet	
  to	
  be	
  established.	
  Still,	
  the	
  principles	
  upon	
  which	
  these	
  early	
  
efforts	
  have	
  been	
  founded	
  are	
  unlikely	
  to	
  change;	
  the	
  future	
  of	
  social	
  media	
  measurement	
  likely	
  incorporates	
  
information	
  about	
  both	
  the	
  influence	
  of	
  individual	
  users	
  and	
  brands,	
  along	
  with	
  metrics	
  tied	
  to	
  the	
  
accomplishment	
  of	
  organizational	
  goals.	
  




30	
  “Distributed	
  Influence:	
  Quantifying	
  the	
  Impact	
  of	
  Social	
  Media”	
  Jonny	
  Brentwood,	
  Edelman	
  White	
  Paper,	
  January	
  16,	
  2008	
  

http://technobabble2dot0.wordpress.com/social-­‐media-­‐white-­‐paper/	
  
31	
  “The	
  effects	
  of	
  Twitter	
  on	
  my	
  business,	
  The	
  corporate	
  perspective”	
  Brian	
  Solis	
  (@briansolis),	
  Tactics	
  Panel,	
  August	
  2009	
  
32	
  “Social	
  Media	
  Measurement:	
  It’s	
  Not	
  Impossible”	
  Chris	
  Murdough,	
  Mullen	
  Advertising,	
  Fall	
  2009

                                                                                                                                                                                     11
                                                 Best	
  Practices	
  –	
  Looking	
  Up	
  to	
  the	
  Airlines	
  
	
  
The	
  majority	
  (54%)	
  of	
  Fortune	
  100	
  companies	
  are	
  now	
  using	
  Twitter	
  to	
  reach	
  out	
  to	
  their	
  customers	
  directly,	
  
which	
  is	
  more	
  than	
  are	
  using	
  either	
  a	
  blog	
  (32%)	
  or	
  Facebook	
  (29%).33	
  Companies	
  like	
  Ford	
  Motor	
  Co.,	
  PepsiCo	
  
Inc.,	
  and	
  Dell	
  Inc.	
  are	
  leading	
  the	
  way	
  in	
  Twitter	
  interaction.	
  But	
  some	
  of	
  the	
  most	
  creative	
  and	
  aggressive	
  
Twitter	
  adopters	
  have	
  been	
  the	
  low	
  cost	
  U.S.	
  airlines.	
  Virgin	
  America,	
  JetBlue,	
  and	
  Southwest	
  Airlines	
  each	
  stand	
  
as	
  strong	
  examples	
  of	
  how	
  Twitter	
  can	
  be	
  used	
  effectively	
  to	
  enhance	
  both	
  a	
  brand	
  and	
  service.	
  
	
  
An	
  airline	
  blogger	
  explains:	
  “I	
  see	
  Web	
  2.0	
  as	
  an	
  enabler	
  in	
  that	
  it	
  enables	
  an	
  airline	
  brand	
  to	
  interact	
  with	
  their	
  
customer	
  in	
  an	
  efficient,	
  effective,	
  low-­‐cost	
  and	
  real-­‐time	
  manner.	
  Web	
  2.0	
  enables	
  this	
  participative	
  approach	
  
to	
  branding	
  which	
  can	
  be	
  very	
  powerful.”34	
  The	
  following	
  sections	
  illustrate	
  a	
  handful	
  of	
  the	
  powerful	
  and	
  
creative	
  ways	
  that	
  businesses	
  are	
  using	
  Twitter,	
  sharing	
  at	
  least	
  one	
  example	
  for	
  each	
  from	
  the	
  airline	
  industry.	
  
	
  
Engaging	
  Promotions	
  
	
  
On	
  March	
  10th,	
  2010,	
  JetBlue	
  (@JetBlue)	
  announced	
  that	
  they	
  would	
  be	
  giving	
  away	
  nearly	
  1,000	
  free	
  round-­‐trip	
  
tickets	
  (valid	
  between	
  any	
  destinations	
  that	
  JetBlue	
  flies)	
  at	
  three	
  undisclosed	
  locations	
  across	
  their	
  hometown,	
  
New	
  York	
  City.	
  At	
  each	
  of	
  the	
  three	
  locations,	
  all	
  of	
  their	
  tickets	
  (about	
  300	
  at	
  each	
  location)	
  were	
  handed	
  out	
  
within	
  20	
  minutes,	
  and	
  it	
  only	
  took	
  3	
  to	
  5	
  minutes	
  for	
  the	
  first	
  people	
  to	
  show	
  up	
  in	
  line.35	
  
	
  
In	
  addition	
  to	
  more	
  creative	
  promotions,	
  “JetBlue	
  and	
  United	
  airlines	
  are	
  offering	
  their	
  Twitter	
  followers	
  first	
  
dibs	
  on	
  some	
  discounted	
  fares,	
  using	
  the	
  uber-­‐trendy	
  form	
  of	
  messaging	
  to	
  quickly	
  connect	
  with	
  customers	
  and	
  
fill	
  seats	
  on	
  flights	
  that	
  might	
  otherwise	
  take	
  off	
  less	
  than	
  full.	
  Like	
  the	
  e-­‐mails	
  that	
  many	
  airlines	
  began	
  to	
  send	
  
out	
  in	
  the	
  1990s,	
  tweets	
  are	
  presenting	
  a	
  new,	
  faster	
  way	
  to	
  promote	
  sales."36	
  
	
  
Another	
  brilliant	
  example	
  of	
  well-­‐executed	
  Twitter	
  promotions	
  is	
  by	
  Sprinkles,	
  a	
  cupcake	
  bakery.	
  Sprinkles	
  
opened	
  the	
  world’s	
  first	
  cupcake	
  bakery	
  in	
  Beverly	
  Hills	
  in	
  2004,	
  and	
  it	
  is	
  largely	
  responsible	
  for	
  the	
  new	
  
cupcake	
  bakery	
  craze.	
  “Most	
  cupcake	
  bakeries	
  take	
  their	
  inspiration	
  from	
  Sprinkles.”37	
  Every	
  day	
  on	
  Twitter	
  
(@sprinkles),	
  and	
  sometimes	
  even	
  twice	
  a	
  day,	
  the	
  bakery	
  sends	
  out	
  a	
  secret	
  codeword,	
  and	
  gives	
  the	
  first	
  20	
  
patrons	
  to	
  whisper	
  the	
  word	
  in	
  each	
  location	
  a	
  free	
  cupcake	
  (their	
  cupcakes	
  go	
  for	
  over	
  $3	
  each).	
  	
  
	
  
I	
  first	
  heard	
  about	
  Sprinkles	
  from	
  my	
  supervisor	
  in	
  Dallas,	
  where	
  I	
  interned	
  this	
  summer.	
  After	
  she	
  told	
  me	
  
about	
  how	
  she	
  loved	
  the	
  cupcake	
  shop,	
  I	
  looked	
  them	
  up	
  on	
  Twitter.	
  When	
  she	
  saw	
  their	
  free	
  cupcake	
  
promotion,	
  she	
  immediately	
  signed	
  up	
  for	
  Twitter	
  and	
  for	
  the	
  @sprinkles	
  tweets	
  to	
  be	
  delivered	
  to	
  her	
  mobile	
  
phone.	
  It	
  was	
  so	
  much	
  fun	
  racing	
  to	
  get	
  a	
  free	
  cupcake	
  after	
  work.	
  A	
  more	
  tangible	
  measure	
  of	
  the	
  success	
  of	
  the	
  
promotion,	
  and	
  the	
  growth	
  of	
  Twitter,	
  may	
  be	
  that	
  at	
  the	
  beginning	
  of	
  the	
  summer	
  it	
  took	
  hours	
  for	
  20	
  Twitter	
  
users	
  to	
  show	
  up	
  for	
  the	
  free	
  cupcakes,	
  but	
  by	
  my	
  last	
  day	
  of	
  work	
  they	
  were	
  all	
  being	
  claimed	
  within	
  a	
  half	
  
hour!	
  
	
  
PR	
  and	
  Damage	
  Control	
  
	
  
Imagine	
  for	
  a	
  moment	
  that	
  you	
  are	
  sitting	
  on	
  Southwest	
  Airlines	
  (@SouthwestAir)	
  flight	
  2294,	
  along	
  with	
  125	
  
other	
  passengers	
  travelling	
  from	
  Nashville	
  to	
  Baltimore.	
  Then,	
  most	
  of	
  the	
  way	
  through	
  your	
  journey,	
  at	
  altitude	
  
(34,000	
  feet	
  in	
  the	
  air),	
  a	
  “football-­‐sized	
  hole”	
  suddenly	
  tears	
  open	
  in	
  the	
  middle	
  of	
  the	
  ceiling	
  of	
  the	
  aircraft	
  –	
  

33	
  “Burson-­‐Marsteller	
  and	
  Proof	
  Digital	
  Fortune	
  100	
  Social	
  Media	
  Study”	
  July	
  31,	
  2009	
  

http://www.bursonmarsteller.com/Innovation_and_insights/blogs_and_podcasts/BM_Blog/Lists/Posts/Post.aspx?ID=128	
  
34	
  “Branding	
  for	
  Airliners	
  in	
  a	
  Web	
  2.0	
  world”	
  Shashank	
  Nigam,	
  Singapore	
  Management	
  University	
  School	
  of	
  Information	
  Systems,	
  June	
  2,	
  

2009	
  http://knowledge.smu.edu.sg/article.cfm?articleid=1214	
  
35	
  “Airline	
  Twitter	
  promotion	
  attracts	
  huge	
  crowds”	
  Caroline	
  McCarthy,	
  CNET	
  News,	
  March	
  11,	
  2010	
  http://news.cnet.com/8301-­‐

13577_3-­‐20000289-­‐36.html	
  
36	
  “Search	
  for	
  American	
  Airlines	
  fares...	
  on	
  Facebook?”	
  USA	
  Today,	
  via	
  Ben	
  Mutzabaugh,	
  Today	
  in	
  the	
  Sky	
  Blog,	
  August	
  4,	
  2009	
  

http://www.usatoday.com/travel/flights/item.aspx?type=blog&ak=68496104.blog	
  
37	
  The	
  Washington	
  Post,	
  via	
  Sprinkles’	
  website:	
  http://www.sprinkles.com

                                                                                                                                                                                               12
causing	
  a	
  drop	
  in	
  cabin	
  pressure,	
  with	
  oxygen	
  masks	
  deploying.	
  The	
  plane	
  made	
  an	
  early	
  landing	
  in	
  Charleston,	
  
WV	
  and	
  no	
  one	
  was	
  injured.	
  The	
  passengers	
  arrived	
  safely	
  in	
  Baltimore	
  a	
  little	
  over	
  four	
  hours	
  after	
  their	
  
scheduled	
  arrival.38	
  
	
  
Just	
  as	
  remarkable	
  as	
  the	
  story	
  of	
  the	
  737	
  with	
  a	
  sunroof	
  was	
  the	
  conversation	
  around	
  the	
  event	
  on	
  Twitter.	
  
Within	
  minutes	
  of	
  the	
  hole	
  opening	
  up,	
  a	
  passenger	
  posted	
  a	
  picture	
  from	
  inside	
  the	
  cabin	
  on	
  Twitter	
  using	
  their	
  
mobile	
  phone.	
  Southwest’s	
  six	
  person	
  “emerging	
  media	
  team”	
  used	
  their	
  corporate	
  Twitter	
  account	
  to	
  guide	
  the	
  
conversation	
  with	
  constant	
  updates,	
  links	
  to	
  their	
  press	
  releases,	
  and	
  even	
  re-­‐tweets	
  of	
  passengers’	
  positive	
  
feedback	
  about	
  the	
  “great	
  work	
  by	
  crew	
  and	
  customers	
  onboard.”39	
  Ultimately,	
  thanks	
  to	
  Southwest’s	
  quick	
  
response,	
  professionalism	
  and	
  effective	
  communication,	
  the	
  company	
  avoided	
  some	
  potentially	
  awful	
  press.40	
  
	
  
But	
  perhaps	
  an	
  even	
  better	
  testament	
  to	
  the	
  importance	
  of	
  defensive	
  social	
  media	
  use	
  is	
  the	
  cautionary	
  tale	
  of	
  
the	
  relatively	
  unknown	
  musician	
  Dave	
  Carroll	
  (@DaveCarroll).	
  Mr.	
  Carroll	
  was	
  watching	
  from	
  his	
  window	
  seat	
  
as	
  the	
  ground	
  operations	
  agents	
  for	
  his	
  United	
  flight	
  (@UnitedAirlines)	
  threw	
  his	
  guitar	
  and	
  equipment	
  around	
  
on	
  the	
  tarmac,	
  and	
  he	
  was	
  horrified.	
  When	
  he	
  later	
  discovered	
  that	
  his	
  expensive	
  Taylor	
  guitar	
  was	
  broken,	
  he	
  
asked	
  United	
  to	
  pay	
  to	
  fix	
  it.	
  	
  
	
  
Failing	
  to	
  recognize	
  the	
  potential	
  influence	
  of	
  one	
  mistreated	
  and	
  well-­‐connected	
  social	
  media	
  user,	
  they	
  denied	
  
his	
  claim.	
  It	
  seems	
  that	
  they	
  hadn’t	
  considered	
  that	
  he	
  might	
  write	
  a	
  song	
  about	
  it,	
  make	
  that	
  song	
  into	
  a	
  music	
  
video,	
  and	
  publish	
  that	
  video	
  on	
  YouTube.	
  Carroll’s	
  music	
  video	
  “United	
  Breaks	
  Guitars”	
  has	
  now	
  been	
  viewed	
  
online	
  over	
  8	
  million	
  times.41	
  	
  
	
  
United’s	
  subsequent	
  apology,	
  sent	
  out	
  to	
  their	
  measly	
  18,600	
  followers	
  on	
  Twitter,	
  failed	
  to	
  reach	
  the	
  same	
  
audience,	
  and	
  they	
  have	
  yet	
  to	
  respond	
  to	
  the	
  video	
  on	
  YouTube.	
  In	
  the	
  words	
  of	
  one	
  YouTube	
  user	
  “This	
  
company	
  needs	
  someone	
  online	
  for	
  damage	
  control	
  (no	
  pun	
  intended).”	
  A	
  United	
  spokeswoman	
  later	
  said	
  that	
  
the	
  airline	
  should	
  have	
  responded	
  much	
  sooner	
  and	
  that	
  the	
  video	
  would	
  be	
  used	
  for	
  training	
  purposes.42	
  
	
  
Real	
  Time	
  Service	
  Recovery	
  
	
  
Porter	
  Gale,	
  the	
  Vice	
  President	
  of	
  Marketing	
  at	
  Virgin	
  America	
  (@VirginAmerica)	
  described	
  their	
  Twitter	
  use	
  as	
  
an	
  “engagement	
  strategy,”	
  used	
  to	
  connect	
  with	
  their	
  loyal	
  fans,	
  getting	
  feedback	
  and	
  chatting	
  with	
  customers	
  
who	
  reach	
  out	
  to	
  them.	
  Once,	
  a	
  passenger	
  flying	
  first	
  class	
  on	
  the	
  airline	
  tweeted	
  in	
  flight,	
  complaining	
  that	
  they	
  
didn’t	
  get	
  their	
  food.	
  Virgin’s	
  social	
  media	
  team	
  saw	
  that	
  tweet	
  and	
  contacted	
  the	
  pilot	
  for	
  that	
  flight,	
  who	
  saw	
  to	
  
it	
  that	
  the	
  passenger	
  got	
  their	
  food.	
  	
  Ms.	
  Gale	
  described	
  this	
  as	
  “real	
  time	
  service	
  recovery.”43	
  
	
  
A	
  JetBlue	
  passenger,	
  after	
  several	
  hours	
  of	
  waiting	
  for	
  his	
  delayed	
  flight,	
  sent	
  a	
  message	
  to	
  the	
  JetBlue	
  Twitter	
  
account	
  at	
  10:30pm	
  asking	
  for	
  an	
  explanation.	
  Twenty	
  minutes	
  later,	
  a	
  JetBlue	
  Twitter	
  rep	
  tweeted	
  back,	
  
explained	
  the	
  cause	
  of	
  the	
  delay,	
  and	
  promised	
  that	
  the	
  approximately	
  200	
  other	
  passengers	
  would	
  be	
  notified	
  
as	
  well.	
  Moments	
  later	
  the	
  gate	
  followed	
  up	
  with	
  an	
  announcement.44	
  
	
  
This	
  summer	
  I	
  was	
  addicted	
  to	
  the	
  KFC	
  (@KFC_Colonel)	
  popcorn	
  chicken	
  snack	
  box.	
  One	
  day,	
  as	
  I	
  was	
  shoveling	
  
fried	
  chicken	
  down	
  my	
  gullet,	
  I	
  bit	
  down	
  on	
  something	
  hard.	
  As	
  it	
  turned	
  out,	
  one	
  of	
  my	
  popcorn	
  chicken	
  pieces	
  

38	
  “Jet	
  makes	
  landing	
  with	
  football-­‐sized	
  hole”	
  CNN,	
  July	
  14,	
  2009	
  

http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/07/13/us.jetliner.damaged/index.html	
  	
  
39	
  “For	
  Companies,	
  A	
  Tweet	
  in	
  Time	
  Can	
  Avert	
  PR	
  Mess”	
  Sarah	
  E.	
  Needleman,	
  The	
  Wall	
  Street	
  Journal,	
  August	
  3,	
  2009	
  

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124925830240300343.html	
  
40	
  “Southwest	
  737	
  Diverts	
  After	
  a	
  Hole	
  Appears	
  in	
  the	
  Roof”	
  The	
  Cranky	
  Flyer	
  (Blog)	
  http://crankyflier.com/2009/07/14/southwest-­‐

737-­‐diverts-­‐after-­‐a-­‐hole-­‐appears-­‐in-­‐the-­‐roof/	
  
41	
  “United	
  Breaks	
  Guitars”	
  Dave	
  Carroll,	
  Music	
  Video	
  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5YGc4zOqozo	
  
42	
  “Airlines	
  Follow	
  Passengers	
  Onto	
  Social	
  Media	
  Sites”	
  Nicola	
  Clark,	
  The	
  New	
  York	
  Times,	
  July	
  30,	
  2009	
  

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/30/business/global/30tweetair.html	
  
43	
  Interview	
  -­‐	
  Porter	
  Gale,	
  Virgin	
  America,	
  June	
  24,	
  2009	
  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PikzbvWWq4g	
  
44	
  “Learning	
  To	
  Put	
  Out	
  A	
  Blaze	
  On	
  The	
  Web”	
  Kevin	
  Harlin,	
  Investor’s	
  Business	
  Daily	
  

http://www.investors.com/NewsAndAnalysis/ArticlePrint.aspx?id=482541#
                                                                                                                                                                                    13
was	
  not	
  chicken	
  at	
  all,	
  but	
  rather	
  a	
  big,	
  breaded	
  shard	
  of	
  bone.	
  I	
  immediately	
  recognized	
  I	
  had	
  the	
  chance	
  to	
  use	
  
my	
  situation	
  to	
  test	
  the	
  theory	
  that	
  Twitter	
  offered	
  a	
  better	
  way	
  to	
  deliver	
  customer	
  service.	
  I	
  first	
  took	
  a	
  
picture	
  of	
  the	
  bone	
  and	
  directed	
  a	
  tweet	
  (with	
  a	
  link	
  to	
  the	
  photo	
  using	
  an	
  online	
  service,	
  TwitPic)	
  using	
  my	
  cell	
  
phone	
  to	
  KFC’s	
  corporate	
  Twitter	
  account.	
  Then	
  I	
  went	
  to	
  see	
  what	
  service	
  the	
  restaurant	
  itself	
  would	
  provide.	
  
	
  
At	
  the	
  restaurant	
  a	
  confused	
  casher	
  offered	
  me	
  a	
  soda	
  for	
  my	
  trouble	
  and	
  took	
  the	
  “original	
  crispy”	
  flavored	
  
bone.	
  On	
  Twitter,	
  however,	
  the	
  company	
  responded	
  within	
  the	
  hour	
  asking	
  for	
  my	
  address	
  and	
  sent	
  $15	
  in	
  gift	
  
cards.	
  They	
  also	
  contacted	
  the	
  owner	
  of	
  the	
  local	
  KFC	
  restaurant	
  who	
  gave	
  me	
  a	
  call	
  and	
  offered	
  me	
  a	
  free	
  meal	
  
(which	
  I	
  gladly	
  accepted).	
  My	
  experience	
  indicates	
  that	
  Twitter	
  can	
  be	
  a	
  powerful	
  tool	
  for	
  delivering	
  a	
  more	
  
consistent	
  and	
  effective	
  customer	
  service	
  experience.	
  
	
  
Internal	
  Communications	
  
	
  
Southwest	
  Airlines	
  (@SouthwestAir)	
  has	
  a	
  relatively	
  long	
  history	
  of	
  engaging	
  with	
  customers	
  and	
  building	
  
employee	
  interaction	
  through	
  social	
  media.	
  In	
  2006	
  the	
  company	
  created	
  one	
  of	
  the	
  most	
  successful	
  corporate	
  
blogs	
  ever:	
  “Nuts	
  About	
  Southwest,”	
  which	
  has	
  become	
  a	
  hub	
  for	
  customer	
  and	
  employee	
  interaction.	
  	
  
	
  
Even	
  in	
  its	
  first	
  year,	
  the	
  blog’s	
  open	
  forum	
  for	
  feedback	
  from	
  customers	
  and	
  employees	
  helped	
  to	
  cement	
  the	
  
airline’s	
  open	
  seating	
  and	
  advanced	
  scheduling	
  policies.	
  Southwest	
  blogger	
  Brian	
  Lusk	
  explained	
  in	
  2007	
  “it	
  
takes	
  guts	
  to	
  let	
  people	
  post	
  the	
  negative	
  about	
  your	
  organization,	
  but	
  it	
  is	
  a	
  way	
  to	
  build	
  the	
  trust	
  that	
  shows	
  
you	
  really	
  do	
  care	
  about	
  what	
  your	
  Customers	
  think.”	
  
	
  
Southwest’s	
  open	
  culture	
  and	
  communication	
  has	
  stuck	
  around,	
  even	
  though	
  the	
  technology	
  now	
  includes	
  other	
  
media	
  like	
  Twitter.	
  There	
  are	
  hundreds	
  of	
  Southwest	
  employees	
  engaged	
  in	
  the	
  aviation	
  and	
  travel	
  
communities	
  on	
  Twitter.	
  While	
  the	
  corporate	
  Twitter	
  identity	
  (Christi	
  Day	
  is	
  Southwest’s	
  main	
  Twitter	
  
representative)	
  is	
  important,	
  it’s	
  the	
  huge	
  community	
  of	
  other	
  Southwest	
  employees	
  that	
  really	
  supports	
  the	
  
airline’s	
  strong	
  presence	
  online.	
  
	
  
The	
  CEO	
  of	
  online	
  shoe	
  retailer	
  Zappos,	
  Tony	
  Hsieh	
  (@Zappos),	
  has	
  encouraged	
  his	
  employees	
  to	
  start	
  using	
  
Twitter	
  since	
  the	
  spring	
  of	
  2008,	
  saying	
  that	
  “It	
  helps	
  us	
  build	
  our	
  culture,	
  and	
  it	
  makes	
  working	
  together	
  
better…	
  Trust	
  is	
  higher.	
  Communication	
  is	
  better.”45	
  Zappos	
  even	
  takes	
  the	
  extra	
  step	
  to	
  aggregate	
  nearly	
  500	
  
employees’	
  tweets	
  on	
  one	
  feed,46	
  so	
  that	
  anyone	
  can	
  take	
  the	
  company’s	
  pulse	
  at	
  a	
  given	
  moment.	
  	
  
	
  
Twitter	
  gives	
  employees	
  a	
  chance	
  to	
  connect	
  with	
  each	
  other	
  transparently,	
  and,	
  since	
  the	
  Zappos	
  brand	
  is	
  
rooted	
  in	
  its	
  people	
  and	
  service,	
  it	
  also	
  builds	
  the	
  brand	
  both	
  internally	
  and	
  externally.	
  “Branding	
  used	
  to	
  be,	
  
‘This	
  is	
  what	
  my	
  brand	
  is	
  going	
  to	
  be’”	
  Hsieh	
  says.	
  “But	
  now	
  that	
  everyone	
  is	
  connected,	
  and	
  customers	
  expect	
  
things	
  to	
  be	
  two-­‐way,	
  a	
  lot	
  of	
  companies	
  are	
  struggling	
  because	
  their	
  internal	
  culture	
  doesn’t	
  support	
  that.	
  
We’re	
  not	
  just	
  saying	
  we	
  care.	
  We	
  actually	
  do.”47	
  Twitter	
  is	
  one	
  of	
  the	
  best	
  tools	
  Zappos	
  has	
  both	
  to	
  build	
  and	
  to	
  
showcase	
  their	
  culture	
  and	
  brand.	
  




45	
  “Twitter	
  and	
  the	
  Micro-­‐Messaging	
  Revolution:	
  Communication,	
  Connections,	
  and	
  Immediacy	
  –	
  140	
  Characters	
  at	
  a	
  Time”	
  An	
  O’Reilly	
  

Radar	
  Report,	
  November	
  2008,	
  Pg.	
  36	
  
46	
  Zappos	
  Employee	
  Twitter	
  Feed:	
  http://twitter.zappos.com/employee_tweets	
  
47	
  “Twitter	
  and	
  the	
  Micro-­‐Messaging	
  Revolution:	
  Communication,	
  Connections,	
  and	
  Immediacy	
  –	
  140	
  Characters	
  at	
  a	
  Time”	
  An	
  O’Reilly	
  

Radar	
  Report,	
  November	
  2008,	
  Pg.	
  36	
  
                                                                                                                                                                                        14
                                                                       Recommendations	
  
                                                                                            	
  
Decide	
  on	
  a	
  “Method	
  of	
  Engagement”	
  
	
  
Twitter	
  is	
  a	
  versatile	
  tool,	
  and	
  every	
  company	
  will	
  use	
  it	
  a	
  little	
  bit	
  differently.	
  Some	
  firms	
  may	
  decide	
  to	
  use	
  the	
  
service	
  to	
  “push”	
  content,	
  updating	
  subscribers	
  with	
  news	
  and	
  information	
  they	
  care	
  about.	
  Other	
  firms	
  will	
  be	
  
more	
  interactive,	
  carrying	
  on	
  engaging	
  dialogues	
  with	
  many	
  customers.	
  Still	
  others	
  will	
  use	
  the	
  service	
  mostly	
  
to	
  listen	
  and	
  learn	
  about	
  what	
  customers	
  are	
  saying	
  about	
  their	
  products.48	
  Of	
  course,	
  the	
  ideal	
  strategy	
  for	
  
most	
  companies	
  is	
  likely	
  a	
  hybrid	
  of	
  the	
  three:	
  pushing	
  some	
  content,	
  engaging	
  with	
  customers,	
  and	
  listening	
  to	
  
what	
  the	
  community	
  has	
  to	
  say.	
  
	
  
Twitter	
  is	
  (More	
  Than)	
  a	
  Full	
  Time	
  Job	
  
	
  
Given	
  the	
  potential	
  for	
  Twitter	
  activity	
  to	
  have	
  a	
  powerful	
  impact	
  on	
  a	
  valuable	
  brand,	
  it	
  is	
  essential	
  to	
  ensure	
  
that	
  the	
  management	
  of	
  Twitter	
  and	
  other	
  social	
  media	
  be	
  placed	
  in	
  capable	
  hands.	
  Just	
  as	
  a	
  summer	
  intern	
  
wouldn’t	
  be	
  given	
  full	
  control	
  over	
  the	
  firm’s	
  next	
  major	
  marketing	
  campaign,	
  it	
  is	
  important	
  to	
  ensure	
  that	
  
brand	
  management	
  is	
  effective	
  and	
  consistent	
  on	
  Twitter.	
  
	
  
This	
  means	
  that	
  companies	
  need	
  an	
  empowered	
  and	
  public	
  social	
  media	
  representative.	
  Customers	
  want	
  to	
  
know	
  that	
  they’re	
  interacting	
  with	
  a	
  real	
  person	
  online,	
  which	
  means	
  that	
  the	
  corporate	
  spokesperson’s	
  name	
  
should	
  always	
  be	
  in	
  the	
  biography	
  section	
  of	
  the	
  profile.	
  Also,	
  that	
  person	
  should	
  be	
  empowered	
  to	
  meet	
  
customer’s	
  needs,	
  though	
  what	
  that	
  means	
  specifically	
  will	
  vary	
  by	
  organization.	
  For	
  Comcast,	
  it	
  means	
  that	
  
their	
  Twitter	
  spokesperson,	
  Frank	
  Eliason,	
  can	
  give	
  technical	
  support	
  and	
  advice	
  directly	
  through	
  the	
  service,	
  
and	
  also	
  dispatch	
  technicians	
  to	
  help	
  customers.49	
  
	
  
Twitter	
  is	
  active	
  all	
  day	
  and	
  night,	
  which	
  means	
  that	
  it	
  is	
  best	
  to	
  have	
  staff	
  monitoring	
  the	
  service	
  even	
  outside	
  
of	
  regular	
  business	
  hours.	
  Virgin	
  America’s	
  Porter	
  Gale	
  says,	
  “Be	
  real	
  time.	
  If	
  you’re	
  going	
  to	
  play	
  in	
  the	
  space	
  
you	
  need	
  to	
  monitor	
  the	
  posts,	
  you	
  need	
  to	
  see	
  what’s	
  going	
  on	
  and	
  be	
  there	
  24/7.”50	
  	
  
	
  
Cross	
  Functional	
  Involvement	
  
	
  
Even	
  with	
  a	
  full-­‐time	
  social	
  media	
  team	
  and	
  Twitter	
  spokesperson,	
  a	
  brand	
  will	
  be	
  most	
  successful	
  with	
  social	
  
media	
  when	
  employees	
  from	
  across	
  the	
  organization	
  are	
  also	
  involved	
  in	
  the	
  online	
  community.	
  The	
  more	
  users	
  
a	
  firm	
  has	
  online,	
  the	
  more	
  opportunities	
  customers	
  will	
  have	
  to	
  develop	
  a	
  relationship	
  with	
  the	
  brand.	
  Also,	
  
employees	
  can	
  amplify	
  the	
  message	
  of	
  the	
  organization	
  as	
  they	
  share	
  their	
  excitement	
  and	
  involvement	
  in	
  
company	
  news	
  and	
  announcements.	
  It	
  is	
  possible	
  to	
  have	
  a	
  dynamic	
  and	
  vibrant	
  community	
  online	
  around	
  your	
  
brand,	
  but	
  it	
  is	
  unlikely	
  that	
  your	
  social	
  media	
  team	
  can	
  achieve	
  that	
  on	
  its	
  own.	
  
	
  




48	
  “The	
  Evoloution	
  of	
  Brands	
  on	
  Twitter”	
  Jeremiah	
  Owyang,	
  Web	
  Strategy	
  (Blog)	
  August	
  18,	
  2009	
  http://www.web-­‐

strategist.com/blog/2008/08/18/web-­‐strategy-­‐the-­‐evolution-­‐of-­‐brands-­‐on-­‐twitter/	
  
49	
  “Seven	
  Rules	
  for	
  Establishing	
  a	
  Corporate	
  Presence	
  on	
  Twitter”	
  Joel	
  Postman	
  August	
  20,	
  2008	
  http://www.socializedpr.com/twitter-­‐

seven-­‐rules/	
  
50	
  Interview	
  -­‐	
  Porter	
  Gale,	
  Virgin	
  America,	
  June	
  24,	
  2009	
  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PikzbvWWq4g             	
  
                                                                                                                                                                                    15
                                                                                       Conclusion	
  
	
  
Today,	
  many	
  see	
  Twitter	
  as	
  a	
  novelty,	
  but	
  it	
  is	
  clear	
  that	
  this	
  technology	
  has	
  the	
  potential	
  to	
  re-­‐shape	
  the	
  way	
  
people	
  communicate	
  and	
  share	
  ideas.	
  The	
  service	
  is	
  deceptively	
  simple,	
  yet	
  its	
  complex	
  and	
  powerful	
  
applications	
  have	
  been	
  demonstrated	
  around	
  the	
  world.	
  Twitter	
  is	
  used	
  mostly	
  by	
  middle	
  aged,	
  technologically	
  
connected	
  people,	
  but	
  it	
  is	
  available	
  even	
  to	
  poor	
  rural	
  people	
  with	
  a	
  simple	
  mobile	
  phone	
  and	
  text	
  messaging.	
  
The	
  service	
  is	
  notable	
  because	
  it	
  is	
  the	
  first	
  platform	
  that	
  naturally	
  supports	
  both	
  individual	
  and	
  broadcast	
  
communication.	
  These	
  properties	
  allow	
  users	
  to	
  effortlessly	
  form	
  communities	
  around	
  shared	
  topics	
  and	
  
interests.	
  
	
  
For	
  business,	
  the	
  service	
  offers	
  a	
  number	
  of	
  opportunities	
  and	
  challenges,	
  but	
  these	
  are	
  the	
  same	
  challenges	
  any	
  
business	
  engaged	
  in	
  word	
  of	
  mouth	
  marketing	
  has	
  faced.	
  In	
  order	
  to	
  evaluate	
  what	
  sort	
  of	
  Twitter	
  activity	
  is	
  
appropriate	
  for	
  a	
  given	
  businesses,	
  firms	
  should	
  first	
  “listen,”	
  using	
  the	
  service	
  to	
  search	
  out	
  and	
  explore	
  the	
  
conversation	
  that	
  is	
  already	
  happening	
  around	
  their	
  brands,	
  competitors,	
  and	
  industry.	
  Once	
  a	
  business	
  decides	
  
to	
  engage	
  using	
  social	
  media,	
  some	
  attempt	
  should	
  be	
  made	
  to	
  quantify	
  performance,	
  whether	
  this	
  is	
  tied	
  to	
  the	
  
individual	
  influence	
  of	
  the	
  accounts	
  set	
  up,	
  or	
  to	
  goals	
  that	
  can	
  be	
  broken	
  out	
  into	
  individual	
  quantifiable	
  
metrics.	
  
	
  
Twitter	
  has	
  proven	
  its	
  effectiveness	
  as	
  a	
  tool	
  for	
  business	
  in	
  a	
  number	
  of	
  areas	
  including	
  engaging	
  promotions,	
  
real-­‐time	
  service	
  recovery,	
  PR	
  and	
  damage	
  control,	
  and	
  internal	
  communications	
  and	
  culture.	
  The	
  service	
  can	
  
play	
  a	
  number	
  of	
  roles	
  in	
  enhancing	
  customer	
  retention,	
  developing	
  relationships	
  and	
  superior	
  experiences	
  to	
  
build	
  lifetime	
  customers.	
  I	
  recommend	
  that	
  businesses	
  engaging	
  with	
  Twitter	
  first	
  decide	
  on	
  a	
  method	
  of	
  
engagement	
  with	
  the	
  service,	
  understanding	
  the	
  full-­‐time	
  commitment	
  it	
  requires,	
  and	
  encouraging	
  
participation	
  with	
  the	
  online	
  community	
  at	
  all	
  levels	
  of	
  the	
  organization.	
  
	
  
Areas	
  for	
  Future	
  Study	
  
	
  
In	
  a	
  little	
  book	
  called	
  Tribes,	
  business	
  author	
  Seth	
  Godin	
  paints	
  a	
  new	
  picture	
  of	
  leadership.	
  As	
  the	
  title	
  suggests,	
  
it’s	
  a	
  book	
  about	
  tribes,	
  which	
  he	
  defines	
  as	
  “any	
  group	
  of	
  people,	
  large	
  or	
  small,	
  who	
  are	
  connected	
  to	
  one	
  
another,	
  a	
  leader,	
  and	
  idea.”	
  What	
  does	
  it	
  take	
  to	
  create	
  a	
  tribe?	
  Not	
  much,	
  just	
  1)	
  a	
  shared	
  interest	
  and	
  2)	
  a	
  
means	
  of	
  communication.51	
  Sounds	
  a	
  lot	
  like	
  Twitter’s	
  communities,	
  right?	
  	
  
	
  
As	
  it	
  turns	
  out,	
  there	
  are	
  a	
  number	
  of	
  reasons	
  why	
  Twitter	
  is	
  a	
  natural	
  medium	
  for	
  tribal	
  communities	
  and	
  
leaders.	
  Twitter	
  is	
  powerful	
  and	
  democratic.	
  It	
  tightens	
  communication,	
  allows	
  for	
  more	
  focus	
  and	
  it	
  allows	
  the	
  
group	
  to	
  grow	
  quickly	
  and	
  organically	
  across	
  geographic	
  boundaries.	
  Tribal	
  leaders	
  on	
  Twitter,	
  the	
  users	
  at	
  the	
  
center	
  of	
  each	
  topical	
  community	
  (typically	
  these	
  are	
  relationship-­‐building	
  users),	
  are	
  a	
  fascinating	
  group	
  
worthy	
  of	
  study	
  due	
  to	
  their	
  influence	
  in	
  the	
  loose	
  and	
  fast	
  process	
  of	
  creating	
  new	
  ideas.	
  
	
  
Related	
  to	
  this	
  is	
  the	
  question	
  of	
  untangling	
  the	
  nature	
  of	
  the	
  relationships	
  that	
  underlie	
  complex	
  patterns	
  of	
  
social	
  media	
  interaction.	
  While	
  some	
  studies52	
  have	
  started	
  to	
  peel	
  back	
  the	
  layers	
  in	
  the	
  web	
  of	
  online	
  social	
  
relationships,	
  there	
  is	
  much	
  more	
  work	
  to	
  be	
  done	
  in	
  this	
  area	
  once	
  more	
  data	
  is	
  available	
  about	
  the	
  movement	
  
of	
  new	
  ideas	
  being	
  shared	
  and	
  the	
  patterns	
  of	
  non-­‐public	
  communication	
  (like	
  direct	
  messages	
  on	
  Twitter).	
  
	
  
While	
  this	
  paper	
  has	
  focused	
  on	
  Twitter	
  as	
  a	
  tool	
  used	
  to	
  connect	
  customers	
  and	
  employees,	
  an	
  interesting	
  area	
  
for	
  future	
  exploration	
  is	
  its	
  potential	
  business-­‐to-­‐business	
  application.	
  As	
  a	
  powerful	
  feedback	
  tool,	
  it	
  may	
  be	
  
well	
  suited	
  to	
  relationship	
  development	
  between	
  business	
  partners.	
  Mark	
  Schaefer,	
  founder	
  of	
  Schaefer	
  
Marketing	
  Solutions,	
  says	
  that	
  “Right	
  now,	
  a	
  lot	
  of	
  businesses	
  are	
  trying	
  to	
  figure	
  out	
  how	
  to	
  survive,	
  not	
  
improve	
  their	
  Facebook	
  page	
  or	
  update	
  their	
  Twitter	
  account.	
  But	
  once	
  this	
  economy	
  turns	
  around,	
  I	
  think	
  



51	
  Tribes,	
  We	
  Need	
  You	
  To	
  Lead	
  Us	
  Seth	
  Godin,	
  2008	
  
52	
  “Social	
  networks	
  that	
  matter:	
  Twitter	
  under	
  the	
  microscope”	
  Huberman,	
  B.,	
  Romero,	
  D.,	
  Wu,	
  F.	
  First	
  Monday,	
  Volume	
  14,	
  Number	
  1,	
  

January,	
  2009	
  
                                                                                                                                                                                                 16
you’ll	
  see	
  Twitter	
  take	
  off	
  in	
  the	
  b-­‐to-­‐b	
  world.”53	
  
	
  
One	
  last	
  topic	
  for	
  future	
  study	
  would	
  be	
  a	
  look	
  at	
  the	
  impact	
  of	
  social	
  media	
  sites	
  like	
  Twitter	
  on	
  workers’	
  
productivity.	
  Although	
  many	
  researchers	
  have	
  been	
  tallying	
  up	
  the	
  dollars	
  in	
  productivity	
  lost	
  to	
  social	
  media,	
  is	
  
this	
  time	
  spent	
  really	
  time	
  lost	
  for	
  businesses?	
  Given	
  that	
  our	
  economy	
  is	
  now	
  driven	
  more	
  by	
  ideas	
  than	
  
factories,	
  more	
  by	
  nonlinear	
  creativity	
  than	
  strict	
  efficiency,	
  is	
  it	
  possible	
  that	
  social	
  networks	
  are	
  an	
  incubation	
  
chamber	
  for	
  new	
  ideas,	
  and	
  that	
  time	
  spent	
  engaging	
  there	
  is	
  generating	
  a	
  return	
  for	
  business?54	
  




53	
  “Is	
  b-­‐to-­‐b	
  ready	
  for	
  Twitter?”	
  Jon	
  VanZile,	
  The	
  Magazine	
  for	
  Marketing	
  Strategists,	
  October	
  12,	
  2009	
  
54	
  “How	
  Twitter	
  and	
  Facebook	
  Make	
  Us	
  More	
  Productive”	
  Brendan	
  I.	
  Koerner,	
  Wired	
  Magazine,	
  February	
  22,	
  2010	
  

http://www.wired.com/magazine/2010/02/st_essay_distraction/	
  
                                                                                                                                                                       17
                                                                               Appendix	
  
	
  
Prompt	
  
	
  
The	
  American	
  economy	
  has	
  been	
  fueled	
  by	
  the	
  United	
  States	
  providing	
  an	
  infrastructure,	
  laws,	
  and	
  a	
  political	
  
environment	
  that	
  allows	
  entrepreneurial	
  efforts	
  to	
  flourish,	
  benefiting	
  society.	
  	
  Today	
  global	
  competition	
  is	
  causing	
  
many	
  to	
  question	
  whether	
  the	
  United	
  States	
  can	
  continue	
  such	
  a	
  status.	
  	
  Recently	
  corporate	
  scandals	
  have	
  hurt	
  the	
  
image	
  of	
  the	
  American	
  corporation,	
  allowing	
  laws	
  to	
  be	
  passed	
  that	
  may	
  harm	
  our	
  competitive	
  position.	
  	
  How	
  
should	
  our	
  society	
  respond	
  to	
  such	
  challenges?	
  	
  Develop	
  a	
  research	
  agenda	
  concerning	
  this	
  topic	
  and	
  pursue	
  such	
  
research.	
  
                                                                                       	
  
Proposal	
  
                                                                                                	
  
Imagine	
  if,	
  after	
  completing	
  a	
  four-­‐week,	
  paid	
  training	
  program,	
  your	
  new	
  employer	
  offered	
  you	
  $2,000	
  to	
  quit.	
  
This	
  offer	
  tests	
  the	
  dedication	
  of	
  every	
  new	
  hire	
  at	
  online	
  shoe	
  retailer	
  Zappos,	
  and	
  it’s	
  not	
  the	
  only	
  thing	
  the	
  
company	
  does	
  differently.	
  Every	
  employee	
  gets	
  medical	
  and	
  dental	
  benefits,	
  free	
  food	
  in	
  the	
  cafeteria,	
  and	
  free	
  
snacks	
  from	
  vending	
  machines.	
  For	
  customers,	
  the	
  online	
  store	
  offers	
  free	
  shipping	
  on	
  every	
  order	
  (both	
  ways),	
  
a	
  365-­‐day	
  return	
  policy,	
  a	
  24/7	
  in-­‐house	
  (US)	
  call	
  center,	
  and	
  a	
  website	
  with	
  pictures	
  of	
  each	
  of	
  the	
  over	
  80,000	
  
shoes	
  they	
  sell,	
  in	
  every	
  color	
  they	
  offer,	
  taken	
  from	
  seven	
  angles.	
  
	
  
Despite	
  the	
  economic	
  downturn	
  and	
  tough	
  competition,	
  Zappos’	
  sales	
  rose	
  20	
  percent	
  in	
  2008,	
  surpassing	
  $1	
  
billion	
  dollars	
  annually	
  in	
  just	
  ten	
  years	
  of	
  doing	
  business.	
  The	
  reason	
  for	
  the	
  firm’s	
  rapid	
  rise	
  to	
  success	
  is	
  
simple:	
  Zappos	
  is	
  remarkable.	
  It	
  isn’t	
  just	
  a	
  great	
  company	
  –	
  it	
  is	
  a	
  company	
  worth	
  talking	
  about,	
  and	
  Zappos	
  has	
  
already	
  started	
  the	
  conversation	
  for	
  us.	
  
	
  
The	
  company	
  runs	
  13	
  blogs,	
  along	
  with	
  Myspace,	
  Facebook,	
  and	
  LinkedIn	
  profiles.	
  CEO	
  Tony	
  Hsieh	
  and	
  197	
  
other	
  Zappos	
  employees	
  are	
  active	
  on	
  Twitter;	
  Hsieh	
  has	
  over	
  600,000	
  followers	
  on	
  the	
  social	
  messaging	
  site.	
  
The	
  firm	
  is	
  on	
  the	
  front	
  lines	
  of	
  a	
  new	
  way	
  of	
  doing	
  business:	
  using	
  emerging	
  media	
  to	
  deliver	
  superior	
  service	
  
and	
  develop	
  meaningful	
  relationships	
  with	
  passionate	
  customers	
  and	
  brand	
  evangelists.	
  	
  
	
  
Zappos’	
  success	
  shows	
  that	
  building	
  strong	
  relationships	
  with	
  customers	
  through	
  emerging	
  media	
  creates	
  a	
  
competitive	
  advantage	
  for	
  a	
  company.	
  	
  Emerging	
  media	
  can	
  form	
  a	
  relationship	
  where	
  the	
  customer	
  feels	
  a	
  
personal	
  connection	
  to	
  the	
  business,	
  and	
  this	
  two-­‐way	
  connection	
  also	
  creates	
  accountability	
  from	
  the	
  
corporation	
  to	
  the	
  customer.	
  
	
  
This	
  paper	
  will	
  explore	
  the	
  ways	
  that	
  emerging	
  media	
  is	
  shaping	
  a	
  new,	
  relational	
  business	
  environment,	
  and	
  
the	
  factors	
  that	
  create	
  success	
  in	
  this	
  environment	
  for	
  entrepreneurial	
  ventures	
  like	
  Zappos	
  and	
  Sprinkles	
  
Cupcakes,	
  along	
  with	
  more	
  established	
  brands	
  like	
  Southwest	
  Airlines	
  and	
  Coca-­‐Cola,	
  that	
  are	
  connected	
  to	
  
their	
  customers	
  in	
  ways	
  stronger	
  than	
  traditional	
  relationships	
  would	
  allow.	
  




                                                                                                                                                                                18
	
  


	
   	
   	
   	
   	
   	
  and	
  Business	
  
Competitive	
  Advantage	
  Through	
  Online	
  Engagement	
  

Abstract                                                          messages to and receive them from a variety of devices
                                                                  simultaneously, at the moment a message is sent.” It is a
Many see Twitter as a novelty, but the service has the            simple and powerful communications platform for short text
potential to revolutionize the way ideas are shared, namely by    messages.
bringing together individual and broadcast communications
effectively in one platform. Twitter is real-time, interactive,   Who Uses Twitter?
and it naturally supports communities. For these reasons, the
medium presents a number of opportunities and challenges for      1. Information Source: A “hub” user with many followers who
businesses that are now able to connect to their customers in     posts regular or valuable updates. These users create most of
ways stronger than traditional communications would allow.        the original content that is re-tweeted by other users, but may
                                                                  engage in less interaction with their (often thousands of)
This project addresses the question of how some companies         followers.
are creating a competitive advantage by engaging with
customers online through Twitter. In recent years, with the       2. Relationship Builder: A user who follows and interacts with
advent of “social media,” the dynamics of the customer-           friends, family, and co-workers. May also be involved in a
business relationship have been shifting dramatically.            topical Twitter community. Likely has many conversational
Customers are relying more on each other for information to       tweets directed at other users.
make buying decisions, and they are expecting greater
accessibility and responsiveness from companies. Businesses       Around 25.4% of tweets are directed at a specific user, and
now have new opportunities to connect with customers, obtain      about 21% of users use this feature.
real-time feedback, improve service, and develop mutually
beneficial relationships.                                         3. Information Seeker: A user who primarily follows others.
                                                                  May re-tweet others’ content, but rarely generates original
The research offers theoretical background for how Twitter        posts.
adds value to communication between businesses and
customers. It also summarizes who uses Twitter, why they use      Opportunities and Challenges
it, and how to get started engaging on the platform, including
some of the challenges when measuring success in social           To understand the opportunities and challenges presented by
media.                                                            Twitter, the service is best viewed as an online tool for
                                                                  customer word of mouth (WOM) communications. WOM is
Lastly, examples of best practices of companies using Twitter     rooted in social networks and trust, with customers sharing
for engaging promotions, real time service recovery, PR and       their experiences and advice with each other, though the
damage control, and internal communications and culture are       participants need not know each other personally (e.g. online
given, along with recommendations for firms considering           reviews). Positive WOM is widely regarded as a powerful
social media. These stories demonstrate some of the real world    marketing medium, but because it depends on the proactive
rewards and risks the service presents, and offers a framework    participation of customers, it is nearly impossible to create or
for deciding when and how a given business should use the         control.
service.
                                                                  Customers tend to engage in word of mouth when they are
What is Twitter?                                                  particularly satisfied or unsatisfied. And, contrary to popular
                                                                  belief, high-satisfaction customers engage in nearly as much
According to Twitter’s own definition, the service “is a real-    word of mouth as dissatisfied customers. On Twitter, nearly
time information network powered by people all around the         20% of tweets contain a brand mention, and of those the more
world that lets you share and discover what’s happening now.”     were positive (50%) than negative (33%). The service
Twitter is more than just a website; the Twitter service can be   provides an opportunity to see what customers really think
accessed through over 50,000 third-party Internet and mobile      about a brand and its competitors, and to connect with them in
applications. In techie-speak, “Twitter is a device-agnostic      real time to build and enhance relationships.
real-time message-routing platform – which is a fancy way of
saying that it can send
                                                                                             W. Nathaniel Jones (April 27, 2010)


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                                                           professionalism and effective communication, the

Best Practices                                             company avoided some potentially awful press.

                                                           Real Time Service Recovery
Engaging Promotions
Sprinkles Cupcakes opened the world’s first cupcake        This summer I was addicted to the KFC
bakery in Beverly Hills in 2004, and it is largely         (@KFC_Colonel) popcorn chicken snack box. One
responsible for the new cupcake bakery craze. “Most        day, as I was shoveling fried chicken down my gullet,
cupcake bakeries take their inspiration from               I bit down on something hard. As it turned out, one of
Sprinkles.” Every day on Twitter (@sprinkles), and         my popcorn chicken pieces was not chicken at all,
sometimes even twice a day, the bakery sends out a         but rather a big, breaded shard of bone. I immediately
secret codeword, and gives the first 20 patrons to         recognized I had the chance to use my situation to
whisper the word in each location a free cupcake           test the theory that Twitter offered a better way to
(their cupcakes go for over $3 each).                      deliver customer service. I first took a picture of the
                                                           bone and directed a tweet (with a link to the photo
I first heard about Sprinkles from my supervisor in        using an online service, TwitPic) using my cell phone
Dallas, where I interned this summer. After she told       to KFC’s corporate Twitter account. Then I went to
me about how she loved the cupcake shop, I looked          see what service the restaurant itself would provide.
them up on Twitter. When she saw their free cupcake
promotion, she immediately signed up for Twitter           At the restaurant a confused casher offered me a soda
and for the @sprinkles tweets to be delivered to her       for my trouble and took the “original crispy” flavored
mobile phone. It was so much fun racing to get a free      bone. On Twitter, however, the company responded
cupcake after work. A more tangible measure of the         within the hour asking for my address and sent $15 in
success of the promotion, and the growth of Twitter,       gift cards. They also contacted the owner of the local
may be that at the beginning of the summer it took         KFC restaurant who gave me a call and offered me a
hours for 20 Twitter users to show up for the free         free meal (which I gladly accepted). My experience
cupcakes, but by my last day of work they were all         indicates that Twitter can be a powerful tool for
being claimed within a half hour!                          delivering a more consistent and effective customer
                                                           service experience.
PR and Damage Control
                                                           Internal Communications
Imagine for a moment that you are sitting on
Southwest Airlines (@SouthwestAir) flight 2294,            The CEO of online shoe retailer Zappos, Tony Hsieh
along with 125 other passengers travelling from            (@Zappos), has encouraged his employees to start
Nashville to Baltimore. Then, most of the way              using Twitter since the spring of 2008, saying that “It
through your journey, at altitude (34,000 feet in the      helps us build our culture, and it makes working
air), a “football-sized hole” suddenly tears open in       together better… Trust is higher. Communication is
the middle of the ceiling of the aircraft – causing a      better.”   Zappos even takes the extra step to
drop in cabin pressure, with oxygen masks deploying.       aggregate nearly 500 employees’ tweets on one feed,
The plane made an early landing in Charleston, WV          so that anyone can take the company’s pulse at a
and no one was injured. The passengers arrived             given moment.
safely in Baltimore a little over four hours after their
scheduled arrival.                                         Twitter gives employees a chance to connect with
                                                           each other transparently, and, since the Zappos brand
Just as remarkable as the story of the 737 with a          is rooted in its people and service, it also builds the
sunroof was the conversation around the event on           brand both internally and externally. “Branding used
Twitter. Within minutes of the hole opening up, a          to be, ‘This is what my brand is going to be’” Hsieh
passenger posted a picture from inside the cabin on        says. “But now that everyone is connected, and
Twitter using their mobile phone. Southwest’s six          customers expect things to be two-way, a lot of
person “emerging media team” used their corporate          companies are struggling because their internal
Twitter account to guide the conversation with             culture doesn’t support that. We’re not just saying we
constant updates, links to their press releases, and       care. We actually do.” Twitter is one of the best tools
even re-tweets of passengers’ positive feedback about      Zappos has both to build and to showcase their
the “great work by crew and customers onboard.”            culture and brand.
Ultimately, thanks to Southwest’s quick response,          	
  


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