(FYI - My fellow Jersey neighbor and favorite ClickZ reporter Kate Kaye was kind enough to text me a reminder link to a story she wrote at the end of December called Despite Debate, Brands Find Value on Twitter. Check it out too)
I've had a lot of meetings in the past few weeks (before my vacation) with companies, large and small, where Twitter has been a topic of conversation. I'm a little surprised by the lack of understanding of Twitter and how it can help companies. So, I thought I'd give some free advice that I normally charge money for to all of you marketers and agency folks who think Twitter is a flash in the pan and not useful for business. However, before I give my five free business tips, I'd like to issue this challenge....
Get an account, load up a picture, find some friends, look at the people your friends are following, and load on an add-on like Twitbin to make your Twitter experience better. Give it a shot.
- Communicating with Co-Workers: Yes a simple one. Setup your own private account for your workgroup and share ideas. Use # hashtags for setting up keywords so you can easily retrieve Tweets on subjects. Take notes on what people say in meetings or conference calls. You know why you should do this for your business? Quicker communications and more efficient modes of sharing data.
- Customer Contact: Setup a professional account especially if you are at least a mid-sized business. All of those email communications? Make them Tweets. Special offers? Tweets. Customer complaints? Direct messages to you. Services outages? Tweets with regular status updates. You get the idea.
- Website Traffic: Yes you know you still want some and need some. Why else are you wasting money on say direct mail. Twitter is cheap (free right now for business but that will probably change) and if you don't want to engage in customer service, at least realize that social media on the web is moving towards status updates and short messaging bursts. Whether that is Twitter, Facebook or Mobile, you need to learn to market in 140 characters or less and generate enough interest to have people go to your website for more information.
- Customer Research: Not the scientific kind, but have you ever wanted to get a massive amount of customer feedback quickly for little fees? Getting ready for a focus group and need to fine tune some concepts? Post a question. How about trying to get help with a software problem or hardware problem? How about a new offer idea or potential sale dates? There's one thing that I've learned on Twitter is that people love to give you feedback. How about seeing what people in your local area are concerned about?
- Monitoring Your Brand: This one is so simple that you have to do it and you are crazy if you don't. Go to Twitter Search and type in your brand name. On the Twitter search results page, setup a RSS feed of the results and then see what people are saying about your brand in real time. Here's a sample search on AT&T. Wouldn't you like to know what users are saying about your product now?
Oh and here's a bonus one for you. Setup a Twitter API so that when someone purchases one of your products a Tweet can be sent from their Twitter account telling their followers that they just made a purchase. In order to do this put a few optional feeds on your checkout confirmation page that allows a user to self report their purchase, Twitter account name, and password so they can opt in to have that Tweet posted.
That's it. Five reasons plus a bonus reason why your business should be on Twitter now. All of it virtually free for the moment and the only "cost" is some time, permission, and a little coordination with PR. What's stopping you? Oh yeah. That's that voice in your head telling you Twitter is a waste because you haven't figured out how to use it yet.