If you haven’t noticed that the word Twitter is somewhat of a ‘buzz word’ at the moment, you must have been living under a rock. But the question is, should you be doing it and what are the tangible results it can return?
Worldwide traffic to Twitter.com reached 10 million visitors in February 2009, up a whopping 700 percent from the same time last year, according to comScore.
As a creative agency we’re expected to ‘keep up with the Jones’s’ so of course when Twitter reared it’s birdy head last year, we made a point of climbing the tree to check out what all the tweet was about (sorry it’s hard to write a piece about Twitter without having some fun with the ‘twitterisms’.)
So perhaps firstly a how to set up a Twitter account would be a useful piece of information to some of you who have not yet got on the bandwagon. If you’re well into twittering and want some real tips, skip ahead to the next star set now.
Like setting up a web-based email account such as gmail, yahoo or hotmail, it’s pretty easy and of course free. Simply go to http://www.twitter.com and click on the big green button the front page (at least it was green the day we went there) which says ‘get started –Join!’
The rest we’re sure you’ll navigate your way through no dramas – enter full name, username (just like domain names people are snapping up twitter territory with good usernames that reflect the niche they would like to dominate the market they are trying to target or something else suitably witty so choose something with this in mind), password, email and a code to copy. All pretty straight forward.
If you like to display yourself as a unique individual you may like to click on the settings tab and customize the look of your profile. You may also like to find what other friends from any given email address (that is an online one i.e. gmail, yahoo or hotmail) is already on twitter. You may search to find new friends in the form of celebrities, business people or groups in line with what you do. Once you’ve faffed about with the menu options, you’re now the proud owner of a twitter account.
But here’s the crazy thing: after examining some 300,000 Twitter accounts, a Harvard Business School professorreported earlier this month that 10 percent of the service’s users account for more than 90 percent of tweets. The study dovetails withrecent analysisby the media research firm Nielsen asserting that 60 percent of Twitter users do not return from one month to the next.
And we’ve got a pretty good hunch why this is. It’s because people don’t know what to do with a twitter once they have one. They haven’t yet worked out how potentially powerful their twitter account can be.
Essentially with twitter you have 140 characters to tell people what you are doing. Which whilst it may sound like a mindless and timewasting past time can actually produce real commercial returns. The key to getting the return is, like any other marketing, setting out with a specific objective in mind. Before you write another ‘Tweet’ to your Twitter account ask yourself what it is you want to achieve from Twitter? Is it (and all of these things are possible with Twitter):
• Building Community—creating a strong community of followers that ultimately help drive business objectives and bring in new customers
• Customer Service—using Twitter to successfully engage with customers needing help and showing a personal side to your company
• Selling—driving online and offline sales by using Twitter to post promotions, discounts and offers
• Prospecting—creating demand and pinpointing potential customers needing the type of solution your product/service/event offers
• Branding & Awareness—employing Twitter in creative ways to increase awareness around a product, person (celebrity) or business
• Fundraising—using Twitter to spread the word about important causes i.e. events, deadlines to help someone etc.
Well Twitter can do all of these things.
To put these in context here are five case studies of businesses we’ve uncovered online who have used twitter for real commercial success.
1. Twittering for Local business
A New Orleans local pizza shop ‘Naked Pizzas’ got onto twitter and signed up anybody and everybody it could find in its local area. With his first concerted effort at a Twitter-only promotion, the owner was able to drive 15% of daily revenues with Twitter. And of those 15%, 90% were new customers! Not bad for a guy who didn’t even have an account 5 weeks prior. And, here’s the crazy part, it’s all him. No expensive PR firm. No “Social Media Expert”, just a guy on a mission to change the world one pizza at a time. Now you know what they can do when things are quiet? Run a special! Within minutes of twittering an irresistible deal, their pizza sales can go crazy.
2. Well known brand tries to invigorate itself
Skittles, the lolly brand started a twitter conversation about the brand in the hopes of bringing the product top of mind and getting exposure through viral means. Skittles posted a live, uncensored feed of any tweets talking about Skittles on their website as a brand like Skittles can only be helped by more exposure and it’s not exactly something that people are going to moan about! Skittles was in a position to benefit from the publicity largely without taking a hit to its brand.
3. Twittering for a good cause
Bonnie Sayers, a mother of children with autism, decided to use Twitter to promote awareness of autism and to allow those who live with it to share their experiences and knowledge with others. Dubbed “Twitter Autism Day” and connected with the #ASD hashtag, this was a HUGE success both by the standards of the benefits it created for those who participated as well as the number of tweets it generated. It became a “trending topic” on more than one occaission during the day. Parents and care givers sharing their experiences over Twitter was a great way to connect with others who had experience with autism, and it gave those who wanted to help the opportunity to help spread that awareness through following along and retweeting.
4. Big Dollar Dell figures
In a blog post this week, Dell the computer giant revealed that it has generated more than $2 million in revenue from @DellOutlet, one of its many Twitter sites. Not bad for a little twittering! The secret formula for Dell has been to use Twitter as a way to extend exclusive offers, discounts and other forms of savings. Everyone loves a bargain, right? Before you knew it, thousands of people were following @DellOutlet -and it’s numbers are now in excess of 600,000.
5. I’ll have that to go
When J.R. Cohen, Operations Manager for CoffeeGroundz (@coffeegroundz) Cafe in Houston, Texas first heard about Twitter from one of his customers, he was puzzled but intrigued. Today, he credits Twitter with almost doubling his clientele and with opening his eyes to a whole new way to build Community. Seeing an opportunity, Cohen started taking to-go orders via direct message from any of his Twitter Clientele.
Cool Twitter Tools / Twitter links you have to know about
On a final note I’ll leave you with some fun links to check out. They’re some of the coolest twitter tools we’ve found in our travels. Feel free to share others via comments.
- http://twitterholic.com/ – Check out the current leaderboard of the most followed people on twitter. Celebs such as Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore, lily allen, Britney spears and Martha Stewart feature as to smart media outlets such as Time.com, The New York Times, Good Morning America and Nightline (also American) to politicians scuh as Barrack Obama.
- Search.twitter.com works well for finding your friends, celebrities, or organizations, or for searching for specific topics you’re interested in.
- http://twitgoo.com/ or www.twitpic.com – Make your twitter account more visually engaging by adding pictures. These could be product images, social pics of you or your colleagues at an event, your work, attendees to an event or just inspirational/arty things.
- http://www.tweetlater.com — You don’t have to tweet on a daily or weekly basis. Get smart and tweet ahead of time. This system allows you to post tweets to be sent later as well as to send automatic messages every time someone new follows you. Users can set up Tweets to happen later on the day, week, or month. Also allows you to set up Twitter alerts for any keywords, people, companies, etc. that you want to track. Alerts are sent to you via email. Also allows you to auto follow those who follow you and send them a welcome message.
- Twtvite – Send invitations and track RSVPs online. Example: http://twtvite.com/wlsvw
- Twtqpon – Create coupons for distribution on twitter or anywhere online. Example: http://twtqpon.com/7uz1
- Twitterfeed – Have a blog? Automatically tweet (send a message) each new blog post.
- http://www.tweepler.com/ – Evaluate new followers & decide if you want to follow them back.
We’d love to hear of any other top twitter tips or tools you’d like to share. Send them through via a comment!
Yvette Adams is the director of The Creative Collective https://thecreativecollective.com.au, an award winning creative services agency based in Queensland, Australia offering the full range of creative services including PR, awards applications, websites, internet marketing, seo, graphic design, print production, photography and more. They won the 2008 Queensland Small Business Champions Specialised Small Business award and Yvette won the Young Entrepreneur of the Year and has been a finalist in numerous other local, state, national and international business awards.