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What Twitter is good for

June 4, 2008

Twitter has been around a while. But a kid gets out of an Egyptian jail using it, and all of a sudden, it’s kind of mainstream. (Over a year ago, Twitter was featured in an investigation on CSI).

We have a senior client using Twitter (on his own), and we have a client paying us to use Twitter. So it seems worthwhile to figure out what it could be good for.

First, a primer.

Twitter is a micro-blogging platform. A conversation that happens in 140 characters or less. One can update their Twitter feed with ‘tweets’ (that’s what they are called) using a cell phone, or a computer.

People can and do follow a twitter feed, meaning whatever is updated on that feed gets sent to a mobile phone, or placed on the users own Twitter page. In other words, if I follow you, your updates will appear on my page.

Here then, are some best practices.

Barack Obama vs Hillary Clinton — and why the follow button is a cool tool
Barack Obama has 34,000 people following him. He follows 35K. Hillary Clinton has 4,000 people following her. She follows 0.

Both Twitter feeds are most-likely done by a staffer, but both update followers on the whereabouts of their favorite candidate. However, look at the numbers and think about this: HRC is saying listen to me. She’s using Twitter as a thing to talk to people. But since she follows no one, she’s sending a subtle message that she’ll listen to no one. Contract that message with Obama, who is saying lets have a conversation. On a purely literal level, he doesn’t listen to all 35K people, but at least he gives the impression that he does.

Zappos.com: the entire place Twitters.
The CEO of Zappos.com is following over 6,000 people. Over 6,000 people follow him. Recently he used Twitter to ask for people’s thoughts on his new website. That’s free consultation from 6,000 people. That’s value. Also, they post all the feeds from all the employees in one place at twitter.zappos.com. And finally, they are making fun of themselves and Twitter with things like this.

It’s a great place to share a link.
Got news to promote? How about something that needs Digging? Twitter is a great tool for pushing something onto people. Just remember to use it wisely. If all you do is push news, you might get really boring to people really fast. Fact is, if we wanted to get your news, chances are we’ll subscribe to your RSS feed.

It’s a big focus group.
Not right away. But if your brand is looking for people talking about your product, using Tweetscan is a good first step. Tweetscan searches all ‘tweets’ for your search string. A search for ‘your brand’ will turn up all the chatter about your brand. One doesn’t need to be in Twitter to take advantage of the chatter. Knowing what people are saying about your brand is fly on the wall kind of stuff, but potentially valuable. They could be saying the exact opposite thing you are trying to say in your marketing. There are other tools as well. Just Google Twitter tools.

It’s a pipeline into your company.
Companies have websites with contact us buttons. They also have 1-800 numbers and Fax numbers. Twitter could simply be another pipeline in. How forward thinking would it be if a site had @ us here. People on Twitter would get that.

It’s great for SEO.
This one gets a little more complicated, but check out this google search for Zappos. The CEO’s twitter feed is the second result. Words or keywords rank high in Google results. Think about your keywords, and then consider a Twitter feed for those words.

Other uses for Twitter will emerge. I’ve been using Twitter more and more to get questions answered. I got some leads on finding a company that does Facebook applications through a friend on Twitter. On behalf of a client, I recently asked a twitter follower if mom’s used social bookmarking. She pushed me in the direction of three sites that I would never have found.

When used wisely, Twitter is a tool.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 4, 2008 10:55 am

    I believe that micro-blogging will become a common tool sooner than we expect.

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