At the time of writing this blog, Twitter reached over 29 billion tweets and counting. So, what is it about this little blue bird that has captivated the minds of so many fans globally? How and for what can we best use it and why? Is this another one of those online gadgets that are going to suck whatever time we have left and not provide us with anything in return? I know, I know, I’m always looking at ROI.
What I’d like you to do first is check out this link that gives you two options: the first is a live Twitter count (see the tabs) GigaTweet and the second is a live Twitter feed. The count is great to watch just because it’s impressive.
The video, Twitter in Plain English, gives a basic explanation of what Twitter does in its basic format. When Twitter was initially founded, the idea was to create a micro blog; a place where you can post or ‘"blog" in 140 characters or less some relevant information. Or not. Most everyone started blogging about what they were doing right now at this very moment. Why, you say? Why not? It was a great way for friends to find out where you were or what you might be doing and give them an opportunity to participate by following your daily activities and also participate in the conversation.
Today, those conversations have been replaced by geo-targeted social media platforms like FourSquare and FaceBook places. They provide an opportunity to let people know where you are, like Starbucks, and then they let you know who is in the vicinity. But, we can discuss these platforms at another time. Twitter really cornered the market in getting people interested in reading what you had to say, but it evolved or it grew up.
Right now, Twitter has over 175 million registered users and over 95 million tweets per day. These numbers are accurate as of September 2010 from Twitter.com/about So, what can we do with all this?
Twitter has evolved to become a great marketing tool. As a micro-blogger, it has the ability to reach out to thousands, if not millions, of potential customers. It can be used as a mechanism to drive traffic to your Web site, new blog post or any other online platform you create. The key is to have followers that are interested in you or what you have or offer. Through the use of lists and #hashtags, you can now find followers that are interested in specific industries, products and services.
Like any other social media platform, never jump into this by selling something. Use Twitter as a customer service tool. Get feedback on products or services. Use followers as your own personal focus group providing feedback on new products, a recent launch or how to improve your service.
A personal example of this is when I was totally frustrated with AT&T because of poor reception by my office. I was so fed up that I posted a tweet about the poor reception and asked if anyone was experiencing the same issues as I was in my area. Within two hours, an AT&T representative sent me a private message (also known as a direct message or DM) asking how they could help or be of service. Pretty powerful marketing tool.
There are many ways you can use Twitter to build a brand, increase sales or for positive media. As I have always suggested, give yourself a set amount of time to work on this project. Do some reading on how to best use it in your specific industry. A great resource is Twitter for Business. There are countless YouTube videos on the specific features of Twitter. There are rules and do’s and don’ts for Twitter.
Something few people think about is to find your competitor and look at who they are following. Chances are that a lot of the people in their list are their clients. What better way to market to the same interested group of people, and it doesn’t take much to find these people. Get creative in your searches for the right followers.
Keep in mind that you can have 100,000 followers in your accoun,t but if only 1,000 of those are interested in your industry, product or service then it really is pointless to have that many followers. Wouldn’t you rather have 100 people that believe in your product or service that will "re-tweet" your post and promote it to their networks because they believe in what you do, rather than have 1,000 times that number and not have anyone notice what you say simply because it’s a game of how many people they can get in their tribes and gives them bragging rights? I know what I would prefer.
On a final note, use tools that can save you time. TweetDeck, HootSuite and Ping.FM are great tools that can save you time by planning your posts for an entire week in advance. My friend Mari Smith also has resources that can be used for more information and, of course, you can always go to my web site where I post new and relevant information.
Frank Guzzo is a speaker/trainer and coach at Emerging Sales Success, a sales and marketing consulting company specializing in social media marketing and focused on building solutions for regional, national and international businesses alike. He is also an independent campaign director at AdzZoo. The firm keeps up with trends, filters the noise and help companies and individuals put social media to work. To learn more about how you can use social media marketing or to hire Frank as a speaker for your next event, call (858)633-7177.
Posted on WholeFoods Magazine Online, 1/28/11