From the Sioux Falls Business Journal
Take advantage of Twitter’s ability to make connections
By Paul Ten Haken • For the Sioux Falls Business Journal • April 15, 2009
It’s hard to talk about social media today without Twitter quickly dominating the conversation. In a nutshell, Twitter allows users to send out 140-character messages, called tweets, to anyone who has chosen to follow that user.
These messages are received by their followers by a variety of methods – be it a mobile phone, desktop application or Twitter.com. It’s a free service, for now, and quickly has become an effective communication vehicle for early adopters of social media.
Twitter continues to evolve as the new darling of the social media space. The number of unique visitors to Twitter.com has grown from 500,000 in March 2008 to nearly 7 million in February, according to Nielsen Media Research. That growth has led businesses from almost every vertical to take the Twitter plunge – whether they fully understand why or how to engage.
So how should your business be using Twitter? Should you be using it at all?
Here are five ideas that every organization can use to capitalize on the growing reach of Twitter:
• Follow organizations and experts in the same vertical as your business. Doing so will allow you to keep tabs on industry trends, expose you to new content and perspectives, and build an online network of like-minded colleagues.
• Use Twitter as a media relations vehicle. Twitter certainly is not meant to be a one-way megaphone for press releases. However, many media organizations have started following businesses and people whose tweets might provide content for news stories.
• Engage with consumer chatter. With more than 7 million users, there are discussions happening on Twitter relating to virtually every topic under the sun – possibly even about your company or brand. Check out search.twitter.com, and start gauging the pulse of public opinion. Then, get involved where appropriate.
• Create an online persona for your organization. Who your company is in a print ad can be quite different from who you are online. Twitter allows you to put a personality to yourself as an individual, as well as your organization, in ways that traditional media cannot always accomplish. Some local companies that are doing a good job of this include @vvi (Vision Video), @flopperbluejay (The Outdoor Campus), @pickfresh (Fresh Produce) and @MaryAkkerman (Woods, Fuller, Shultz & Smith).
• Communicate offers to followers. Sounds like a no-brainer, but on the most basic of levels, Twitter can be used to push out offers. Be careful on this one, though. Too much narcissism in the Twitterverse quickly can turn off users.
Twitter has passed the fad test successfully and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down, so understanding the tool is important in determining the value it can provide your business.
Ten Haken is president of Click Rain Inc.