‘User First, Brands Second’ services.
The brands are all over these services now.
But for the most part, these services didn’t do much to bring them.
The engaged users did.
Social media platforms, like Twitter, have empowered customers and provided brands with an alternate access to their markets. Smart brands are aware that today’s online world is dominated by people who, in turn, may be potential (or existing) customers. Adam Denison, one of the Chevrolet’s main PR guys, says the reason they are on Twitter is – “People especially love to talk about their cars: good or bad.”
The reach, ease and personalized nature of rewarding customer interaction permit the growing popularity of brands.
79% of the surveyed Indian brands rely on agencies for their social media requirements for implementation and roll out of campaigns, according to the E & Y study.
“Brands that want to participate in Twitter need to be committed & be part of the community. This is not advertising” cautions, Paula Drum, VP of marketing at H&R Block.
Twitter is essentially a short message communication tool. We are allowed only 140 characters to convey our message to people who subscribe to us. Some companies welcome the challenge, while others find it tricky. It is worth it, however: almost half of the frequent Twitter users follow brands online. It’s a market which a brand can build and nurture. Twitter marketing has impressively increased brand awareness and a loyal customer base of many traditional and upcoming companies.
TV Guide, who is well prepared for the crazy pace of breaking news, credits Twitter for quadrupling “to 15mm unique in 2 years”.
Best Buy uses Twitter “to help facilitate communication, collaboration and community among our user base. Also to be human and be available.”
The Travel Channel doesn’t believe in overloading the readers with irrelevant information. They only publish what they feel will be valuable to their audience.
Pop Cap, the company behind the popular game Plants and Zombies, found it best to lose the business lingo on Twitter and show everyone the real people behind the brand.
Twitter is invaluable to Dunkin Donuts. Since its brand strategy primarily involves listening to its customers, the social network has made it possible for the brand to collect authentic feedback in real time.
A former barista has taken the Twitter helm at Starbucks and steered the brand onto the screens and into the hearts of millions. Brad Nelson uses tools like Twitter Search and Tweetdeck to manage the Twitter load. Tweetdeck shows you everything you need to see at once, be it trending topics, searches or replies.
Comcast, on the other hand, acknowledges that the expanded operations are responsible for its good load management. The company has multiple Twitter user ids – @comcastbill, @comcastgeorge and others- to log in at the same time.
TWITTERING YOUR BUSINESS
Let’s discuss, how you can get tweeting about your business:-
Choose a username wisely, get an account and fill out the profile section to completion. Provide information about your brand. Who are you? Where can the readers find you? Present a brand story. Use customized visuals. Maintain consistency across all online platforms to aid identification and build trust.
Use Twitter’s advanced search to find potential customers who live or work near you.
You can subscribe to read what others choose to share by following them on Twitter. The social network can scan your email address book and help you find people who you may want to follow – customers, professional contacts and even competitors. Some of your followers will even follow you back.
Note: Twitter has a strict policy against aggressive following so go a little easy on the ‘Follow’ buttons.
Now that you have spent some time observing, listening and joining a few conversations, you are comfortable enough to send out a tweet of your own. You are ready to talk.
Come up with a communication plan. Strategize your Twitter chats. Promote your business in a way that appeals to your audience. Tweet out discounts and deals to keep your audience hooked. Focus on what they would like to hear. Complement your tweets with photographs and videos to show people what you are up to and what your product can do for them. Be prompt with your replies. These messages are public and, therefore, can help you better engage customers.
You can use Twitter to drive traffic to your corporate website or blog. You do this by accompanying the links with compelling introductions. Position URLs in the middle of your comments; experts claim this increases the chances of your link being clicked. Twitter tools offer a URL shortening tool, which uses only the first 20 characters of any web address and yet, the end result is a functioning link. This can come handy given the 140 character limit.
Place the Twitter Follow and Tweet This buttons on your website and blog. It is important that your readers feel that the content is worthy of a retweet. You can embed tweets into blog posts and you can also share a tweet timeline on your pages for more exposure. Twitter sends push messages to your smart-phone when people mention you, follow you, favorite a tweet, retweet or send you a direct message (DM).
You can group your followers using Conversation Lists into customers, potential customers, community businesses, trade organization, etc.
Separate timelines will display tweets for each list. You can keep these lists public or private per your choice.
A hash sign (#) followed by a unique identifier on Twitter makes up what is called as a Hashtag. This is done to identify by topic or shine light on a particular characteristic of a tweet. The hashtag pulls all the tweets linked with that hashtag into one huge conversation. Use a unique hashtag for your brand. This allows customers to find you, and you to keep tabs on brand-related conversations.
You will have to analyze your web presence and performance at regular intervals. Engagement can be adjudged by the number of click-throughs, retweets and favorited tweets. Analytical tools like Buffer and Twitter Reach can provide a more thorough evaluation.
Building a Twitter community takes time as does any branding or marketing exercise. You must focus on building trust. Keep your audience engaged and updated on what you are about. Write honest recommendations for your business contacts. Don’t forget to place your brand’s twitter id on all your marketing collaterals. In fact, integrate all marketing attempts so as to retain the same look and feel. Embrace innovation. And most importantly, experiment with marketing strategies to get a clearer picture of what works best for your brand.
Go forth and tweet away!
Contributed By : Ankita Verma (Class of 2009, IBS Hyderabad)