Using Twitter

“What is Twitter?”

Twitter is a website that allows registered users to post short comments up to 140 characters to their followers: other Twitter users who subscribe to your posts, or “tweets.” Posts can be made from the Twitter website, from numerous cell phone applications, and from instant messenger clients like AIM, so “tweeting” is very easy to do, from pretty much anywhere.
You can think of Twitter as instant messaging from one to many and from many to one.
At a first glance, you could think that Twitter is for people that are bored, and at the beginning, this was probably true until some people began to tweet at conferences and events.
Within months of launch, a few experimental brands saw the opportunity and jumped on the Twitter bandwagon. Comcast, often a target of angry bloggers, began to answer customer service queries on Twitter. H&R Block started offering tax advice.
Simultaneously, many applications were developed to allow easy tweeting. This led to a tremendous rise in the number of users, resulting in the Twitter we know today with over 6 million users.

Are companies using Twitter?

Yes, they are and every day more com onboard, they finally realized that they can be using Twitter for outreach, customer service and engagement. Here is a short list:
• Whole Foods
• Marriott International
• Starbucks
• Urban Outfitters
• Carl’s Jr.
• GE
• American Apparel
• TJ Maxx
• Fast Company
• Wall Street Journal
• Apple
• QuickBooks
• Dell
• JetBlue
• Virgin America
• Ford
• Comcast
• Dunkin’ Donuts

What to Tweet about?

Twitter can be used in two ways. One is to convey information, the other is to spark discussions.
Ideally, a timeline should contain a good mixture of both kinds of tweets.

Here are a few options used by companies:

• Give tips on one specific topic
• Customer support.
• Feedback
• Category/sector news
• Company news that are interesting
• Current events that impact company business or that you are promoting
• Reports from the floor of events such as conferences
• Special offers to Twitter followers (discounts, promotions, contests)

Don’t forget to use your imagination. Some companies are already using Twitter to take orders and suggesting different uses for their products, others have Twitter parties for specific groups.

What not to tweet about?
Just Tweet about things that could add value.

How much time will this take?

Twitter is a qualitative, rather than quantitative, brand channel. It’s a great tool to build dialogue, engender trust, establish brand loyalty, and to raise awareness.
Try to spend 2 to 4 hours a week on Twitter.
If you think it is too much, reallocate some of your time and effort away from older techniques and try the new. You’ll have fun, learn a lot and will be able to demonstrate new expertise and innovative marketing approaches.

What is proper Twetiquette?

• Stay positive. It’s easy to get snarky, easy to scoff.
• Thank people who follow you with a Direct Message. Twitter allows you to send private messages (called “Direct Messages” or DMs) to individual users. Rather than publicly replying, send a DM saying thank you.
• If someone asks you a question, respond via DM. If your response would benefit a number of followers, reply publicly.
• If it makes sense, thank those who retweet your tweets. If you see “RT @yourname” in your Replies, it means someone has found your tweet valuable enough to share with their own followers.
• There is some debate about automatically following those who follow you. Some think it’s only fair to follow those who follow you, as a sign of mutual respect. Others only follow interesting Twitterers, regardless of whether or not they follow you.

What is the first step?
Open a Twitter account, start following some people and listen to the conversation. You will soon get the feel and the addicting bug!

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