Talk to anyone in marketing these days and they seem to be saying the same thing, “how can we leverage Twitter”. It feels like the early days of Facebook all over again. And no one wants to be the kid at the party who isn’t tweeting.
I think marketers are missing the point. Twitter is not a magic bullet. It will not instantly increase top-line revenue. And it certainly won’t have customers gushing with brand love just because you send out what you want them to hear. That said, I think Twitter is full of marketing potential. If you use it correctly. If you accept it as a tactic in your marketing mix. And if you give it the attention it requires.
So, what exactly is Twitter? The team that created it provides a great history lesson. But essentially it is an instant message format that allows you to publish in 140 character bursts. It allows anyone to follow you, read your messages, and publicly reply to them. And if you choose to follow someone back, you can share private messages. Oh, and all your public communication is on-the-record.
But in marketing terms, Twitter is an extremely efficient access point directly into the mind of your consumer. It’s self-subscribed. The communication flow is 100% controlled by the consumer. And your success or failure is completely up to you. Create the type of relationship your customers crave and Twitter can change your business.
So, where to start:
• Decide if Twitter is right for your company. But know that using it to extend your offline ad campaign as 140 character soundbites could be a recipe for disaster. Twitter isn’t advertising. It’s a conversation. You need to respect your consumers’ views, and understand their relationship to your product(s) and brand. If they want information about retail sales offers, do it. If you sincerely want discussion about a product, ask for opinions and consider the feedback. [UPDATE: and as @thirtytwoteeth suggests, "provide useful/insightful updates."] But most of all – determine your voice. This is likely the most intimate conversation you’ve ever had with your customer. Don’t squander it.
• Make Twitter part of your communication plan. And this really means you’ll need to find someone in your company to own it. At this stage of the game it’s not something you can pass off to your ad agency, PR company or digital partner. It’s fast becoming a critical component of your social media mix, and potentially, more important than your advertising. If the US Army has a social media strategy, so can your company.
• Most of all, embrace failure. The best way to find your voice is to start talking and listen to what your followers say. Engage them. Ask questions. And don’t be afraid to change. Twitter is extremely cost efficient experiment, so don’t let budget stand in your way.
These three tips are by no means the only way to get into the Twitter game, but they will get you started. And no matter what your objective is, Twitter can help you define your social media approach. This is only going to get more important as consumers continue to become more savvy. So, get in there and figure it out.
Follow *3beat* on Twitter.