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Twitter is catching on with all segments

Users can keep updated with others by subscribing to them, gaining followers

Every business is, or should be, considering new ways to branch or market.  Experimenting with new marketing outlets can be a very risky hike, as well.  One new social networking and micro-blogging service has provided a path that, while one cannot say is less traveled, is proving to boom in popularity.

Twitter, a 140-character, micro-blogging social network has become one of the latest craves for growing businesses around the world.  This free service enables its users to send and read other users’ updates known as “tweets.”  Users can keep updated with others by subscribing to them and gaining the title “followers.”  This Internet-based program is not locked to its foundation, though.  Applications to update and view Twitter can be found on most up-to-date cell phones.  So as people check their e-mail and text messages via their Blackberry’s and iPhones, they now can also check to see what people are up to on Twitter.  For the Internet-savvy, Twitter can be fairly easy to use.  Its basic ‘enter text here and click update’ format is easy enough to understand.  If you can e-mail, you can update twitter.  The details may be a little harder for some to figure out, such as updating photographs, replying to other “tweets,” and searching for specific users, but once the route to these is mapped, it is fairly easy to remember.  

The estimated amount of users varies daily.  In November 2008, Jeremiah Owyang of Forrester Research estimated that Twitter had 4-5 million users.  In a February 2009 Compete.com blog entry, Twitter was ranked the third most used social network behind Facebook, the largest, and Myspace, second.  This puts Twitter’s number of unique monthly visitors at roughly six million and the number of monthly visits at 55 million.  Also, Twitter has raised $57 million from venture capitalists, with CEO Evan Williams, raising about $22 million in venture capital.  The Twitter market seems to be growing largely, having increased 1,382 percent in growth in February 2009, making it the fastest-growing site in the Member Communities category of Nielsen.com, the blog that assessed this rank.  

This proves no other time but now to jump on the Twitter-bus, especially for businesses marketing to a young, Internet-driven demographic. But, just like any other new marketing plan, there are many obstacles to consider.  What are the steps to creating a Twitter account?  Are they easy? What are the advantages and disadvantages? What do we ‘tweet’ about? Chris Brogan, President of New Marketing Labs, a new media marketing agency, as well as the home of Inbound Marketing Summit conferences and Inbound Marketing Bootcamp educational events, offers some advice to his blog readers in his post, ’50 Ideas on Using Twitter for Business.’  

 

First steps

n Build an account and immediate start using Twitter Search to listen for your name, your competitor’s names, words that relate to your space. (Listening always comes first.)

• Add a picture.  People want to see your face.

• Talk to people about their interests, as well.  

• Point out interesting things and tidbits in your space.

• Share links to neat happenings and things in your community.

• Be helpful.

• Be wary of always constantly promoting your stuff. Your fans will love it. Others will tune out.

• Promote your employees’ outside-of-work stories.

• Talk about non-business, too.

 

Ideas about what to ‘Tweet’

• Instead of answering the question, “What are you doing?” answer the question, “What has your attention?”

• Have more than one twitterer at the company. People can quit. People take vacations. It’s nice to have a variety.

• When promoting a blog post, ask a question or explain what’s coming next, instead of just dumping a link.

• Ask questions. Twitter is great for getting opinions.

• Follow interesting people. If you find someone who tweets interesting things, see who that person follows, and follow them.

• Tweet about other people’s stuff. 

• When you do talk about your stuff, make it useful. Give advice, blog posts, pictures, etc.

• Share the human side of your company. If you’re bothering to tweet, it means you believe social media has value for human connections. Point to pictures and other human things.

• Don’t toot your own horn too much.

• Or, if you do, try to balance it out by promoting the heck out of others, too.

 

Some sanity for you

• You don’t have to read every tweet.

• You don’t have to reply to every @ tweet directed to you (try to reply to some, but don’t feel guilty about it).

• Use direct messages for one-to-one conversations if you feel there’s no value to Twitter at large to hear the conversation.

• Use services like Twitter Search to make sure you see if someone’s talking about you. Try to participate where it makes sense.

• Third-party clients like Tweetdeck and Twhirl make it a lot easier to manage Twitter.

• If you tweet all day while your coworkers are busy, you’re going to hear about it.

• If you’re representing clients and billing hours, and tweeting all the time, you might hear about it.

• Learn quickly to use the URL shortening tools like TinyURL and all the variants. It helps tidy up your tweets.

• Commenting on others’ tweets, and re-tweeting what others have posted is a great way to build community.

 

The negatives people will throw at you

• Twitter takes up time.

• Twitter takes you away from other productive work.

• Without a strategy, it’s just typing.

• There are other ways to do this.

• Twitter is no replacement for customer service

• Twitter is buggy, and it is not enterprise ready.

• Twitter does not replace direct e-mail marketing.

• Twitter opens the company up to more criticism and griping.

 

Some positives to throw back

• Twitter helps one organize great, instant meet-ups (tweet-ups).

• Twitter works effectively as an opinion poll.

• Twitter can help direct people’s attention to good things.

• Twitter at events helps people build an instant “backchannel.”

• Twitter breaks news faster than other sources, especially if the news impacts online denizens.

• Twitter gives businesses an idea of what status messaging can do. 

• Twitter brings great minds together, and gives daily opportunities to learn.

• Twitter gives your critics a forum, but that means you can study them.

• Twitter helps with business development, if your prospects are online.

• Twitter can augment customer service. 

 

— To see all of Brogan’s blog, visit www.chrisbrogan.com.

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