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Twitter Tactics - Leveraging the Brand Sweet Spot in Tweets

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					Twitter Tactics: Leveraging the Brand Sweet Spot in Tweets
By Nancy Pekala This very month, Twitter turned three. (Happy Birthday Twitter). Exactly three years ago, Twitter was launched as a research project for Odeo, a podcasting company. Thirty-six months and millions of followers later, Twitter is not only still around; it’s bigger than ever. In its latest report, State of the Twittersphere, Hubspot reports the following statistics:       Twitter has about 4-5 million users (as of Q4 2008) , about 30% of whom are relatively new or unengaged users Twitter is dominated by newer users - 70% of Twitter users joined in 2008 An estimated 5-10 thousand new accounts are opened per day 35% of Twitter users have 10 or fewer followers There is a strong correlation between the number of followers you have and the number of people you follow Traffic has grown over 600% in the past 12 months. Compete reports that Twitter saw 8,000,000 visitors in February 2009.

But while millions of tweeple busily compose their next 140-character tweet, marketers and business communicators are still scratching their collective heads trying to make sense of how Twitter can be used to market their brand. The fact remains that 140 characters does not a branding campaign make. Twitter remains what it’s always been---a tool. It’s just one micro tool in a toolbox filled with social media and customer engagement options available to marketers today. As a single tool, Twitter can be beneficial to marketers, but in limited ways. If you’re looking to keep in step with what your customers are thinking and feeling in an informal, friendly way, Twitter is for you. If you’re looking to drive customers to specific areas of your website to view new content or information, Twitter can also be a good vehicle. But if you’re looking to build your brand in a robust, valuable way, Twitter will likely not be your tactic of choice. Instead, Twitter is best used to better understand your customers which, in turn, can help drive your comprehensive branding strategy. It also offers limited value as a PR tool, to help your company maintain a visible presence on the Web and in consumer consciousness.

Twitter Brand Success Stories While the value of Twitter is still being debated in marketing circles, several large brands have used Twitter to their advantage in the last year. Companies like Dunkin’ Donuts, Comcast, Ford, Zappos, Dell and Home Depot are using Twitter for branding, customer service and corporate culture-building.

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Marketing Matters

Dunkin’ Donuts, for example, makes use of tweets to drive product and service innovation. One Twitter user asked “Dunkin’ Dave” via tweet whether the company sold bulk coffee. In response, Dunkin’ Dave tweets back a link to a website page dedicated to the “Regular Refills” coffee delivery program. The response was friendly and casual, key elements to any Twitter engagement. Twitter, like other social media tools, is about two-way communication with customers. Brands that have the most success with Twitter are those who understand the personal and casual nature of the message. Salesforce.com recently announced the addition of a new application to its platform that enables companies to query the tweets that relate to their brand, products or competitors and monitor what they’re saying in real time. Zappos, the online shoe retailer known for its trailblazing customer service policies, engages with social media in a big way. The company has 198 employees on Twitter which help humanize the company maintain a high profile. On its website, Zappos has a dedicated page linked from every other page on the site with the phrase, “What are Zappos employees doing right now? The page includes Twittering employees’ most recent messages. CEO Tony Hsieh boasts more than 2,800 followers and is following more than 3,200 friends. He also published an introduction to using Twitter which reads, in part: “Remember back when sending SMS text messages on your cell phone was a new thing, and it seemed kind of strange to use your cell phone to do that? And today, you probably wonder how you ever lived without text messaging. Well, Twitter is the same way. It's going to seem a little weird at first, but I promise you if you can talk your friends into joining it and you all use it for 2 weeks, it will change your life. You will wonder how you ever lived without it.” Comcast’s Frank Eliason is no stranger to Twitter either. A recent BusinessWeek article described how Eliason, as Director of Digital Care, devised the idea to use Twitter to interact with customers. He discovered that by doing a search for the word “Comcast”, he could find tweeters who mentioned specific service complaints. As of last December, Eliason had addressed more than 22,000 tweet-initiated concerns. Twitter, itself, is looking to respond to criticism about the lack of a real business-focused model. Recently, the company announced it would begin selling sponsorship of an “ExecTweets” site to Microsoft. ExecTweets is a page that pulls in a collection of posts, or "tweets," written by corporate executives, and features branding from Microsoft. On its company website, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone wrote that ExecTweets is being operated by online advertising firm Federated Media. "Twitter is contacted regularly by brands interested in sponsoring innovative experiences based on topics of interest," Stone wrote. "However, our focused commitment to Twitter itself means we don't have much time or resources to build these interesting topical experiences." Like any tactic, using Twitter to market a brand requires telling the right story. In his book, Twitter Power: How to Dominate Your Market One Tweet at a Time, author Joel Comm relates how Mars extends its robust M&Ms brand story by developing different personalities with corresponding Twitter accounts for each M&M candy color. For example, twitter.com/msgreen has a timeline for green M&Ms which is targeted towards women, while twitter.com/mmsracing has a different timeline written for the red M&M which targets male NASCAR fans. The “story” can be told in different ways via the Twitter profile as well as the sidebar and background on the landing page.

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Marketing Matters

Comm also stresses the importance of crafting tweets that are friendly and authentic. “They have to sound like they’re coming from a real person, another member of the Twitter community, not from some creepy company that’s listening for a mention of their name.” In general tweets composted to build a brand fall into four main categories: company news; customer support; feedback and special offers. As Comm acknowledges, “When you’re using Twitter for branding, you don’t have to spend millions of dollars to keep your market’s attention. You just have to keep sending out tweets.” Comm recommends that companies tweet at least once a day and ideally far more than that.

Tweet Tips: Twitter allows a company to monitor how influencers think. It provides insights about customers’ lifestyles which help to build brand loyalty. If you’re committed to incorporating Twitter into your social media mix (or at least to giving it a shot), consider the following uses for the microtool: 1. Monitor conversations about your brand. Twitter has a search engine that lets you monitor what people are saying about you. You can subscribe to these searches by RSS to keep yourself updated. You can then follow Twitter users who are talking about your brand. 2. Promote new products and other company news. Include links to specific website pages in tweets to drive customers to your site. 3. Keep in touch with key bloggers. Follow important bloggers in your space to keep track of what they’re writing about as well as drive information to them quickly and easily. 4. Announce live updates on events. Utilize Twitter to announce last-minute changes to events or promotions. 5. Engage your CEO in social media. Unlike blogs which typically require a significant investment in time and effort, Twitter is an easy tool for CEO and company executives to adopt. At 140 characters, CEOs can easily send a message from wherever they are. Learn more about some essential Twitter techniques including a list of useful Twitter tools.

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Marketing Matters


				
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