Jack Dorsey one of the brains behind Twitter settled on the social networks name after reading a definition which stated that a twitter meant ‘a small burst of inconsequential information’. Apart from summing up the concept of Twitter itself nothing could be further from the truth for businesses because depending on how you utilise Twitter the effect it can have is anything but inconsequential.
Ask Kogi BBQ and its 90000 fans (and rising), not bad for 140 characters worth of effort. A mobile food vendor specializing in Korean BBQ who simply used twitter to advertise where he would be, at what time and any offers he had. Not only this but he used Twitter to engage with his customers, find out what they thought and even got reviews. Website traffic soared, repeat customers increased and ultimately increased turnover and profit led to massive expansion. The benefits are starting to look more attractive no? The results speak for themselves – customers are literally queuing around the block.
But why and how does Twitter contribute to your business, basically what makes it so attractive?
Market Research: Twitter gives you a direct line to your potential customers which allows you to see what people are saying about your product, services or business in general and this information is often peoples honest opinions. Thanks to the increase in Twitter tools you can now dig through archives to find information that you otherwise would of never seen. Furthermore it allows you to keep an eye on your competitors. What it gives you then is insights which can translate to increased customer satisfaction.
Brand Building: Brand building and awareness are some of the most recognised benefits of Twitter, businesses have built their entire brand through it. Though it is highly recommended that Twitter be integrated as part of an overall marketing campaign, not something done separately or relied on alone. Twitter allows you to get your name out there for the cost of 140 characters, post something informative or interesting and it could soon be re-tweeted spreading across Twitter at an exponential rate. For those willing to invest money Twitter also allowed paid #(has tag) trends with many customisable options almost certainly guaranteeing a huge number of traffic to your Twitter page.
Customers: With Twitter you can search for people by interest, location (geo-targeting) and even content (what they are saying and sharing) this means that the kind of individuals you are engaging will be highly relevant to your business and they obviously have some pre-existing interest in your field. Utilising the research you already have/gain through Twitter can provide an unrivalled level of customer service thanking happy customers, engaging them with interesting content and special offers. Importantly you can talk to those unhappy with your products or services who may of otherwise been unheard. It is not uncommon on Twitter for a business to contact an unhappy customer and suddenly turn them into a loyal one with a generous gesture or taking their suggesting onboard for a future product.
Furthermore Twitter has proved highly effective at increasing word of mouth recommendations, for instance when I considered learning Photoshop I located Adobe on Twitter and sent them a message about any potential guides they could recommend. Within 24 hours they had responded with some excellent tips and tutorials and even wished me luck, needless to say removing the corporate sheen and personally engaging with me has kept me following them for some time now and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the program to my friends. Why? Apart from the informal and non-corporate way in which the message was sent Adobe has genuinely provided me with useful content with no hint of a sales pitch. This reflects a shifting trend in Marketing in general, content is becoming king and those businesses that only promote their offers without engaging or offering its followers anything may find it hard to gain a real following. Twitter is not about driving direct sales its about building a receptive community.
Networking: If you are in the B2B market Twitter can be a fantastic way to connect to similar businesses to yourself, promote your services and network in general. Some businesses have worked to become authorities in their own field, providing content for other similar companies and in doing so have gained a name for themselves in areas they would of otherwise ignored.
Practical benefits: One of the greatest reasons that so many businesses are getting involved with Twitter (and social media in general) is the cheapness with which a campaign can be pursued. The increase in tools have made this even easier, you can even set your Twitter campaign up much like an e-mail marketing campaign, with pre-determined content set for pre-determined times freeing up your time to locate new followers and do market research. You don’t need to literally sit and read everything said by your community with Twitter it is easy to find the tweets most important and relevant to your business.
So can Twitter improve your business? Simply put, yes. The benefits it offers not as a direct sales route but as a brand builder and a source of market research is absolutely unrivalled. What if your competitors are involved, could you be seriously missing out? After all Twitter is both a B2C and B2B avenue and for the cost to benefit provided it is one that is hard to ignore, especially considering the growing mobile market and its intimate link with Twitter – 140 characters is after all rather similar to a text.
Written by Ben Griffin for Online Media Marketing.