If you have spent any time reading blogs lately or if you have been paying attention to the situation in Mumbai, or the Obama presidential election campaign, you’ve likely heard this little word floating around the cloud of conversations: Twitter.
There’s still a dearth of knowledge in the public sphere about Twitter, it appears, despite its user base of millions (and growing), and the fact that the number of comments on Twitter about the US and Canadian elections was actually tracked on live television news broadcasts.
So what is Twitter? First, let’s cover what Twitter is not. It’s not a rare bird. It’s not a video game. And finally, it is certainly not useless.
Twitter is a social networking and microblogging tool that allows its users to send bite-sized (140 characters max) updates to people who are following them on the network. Twitter users ‘tweet’ updates using the twitter.com website, their mobile phones or instant messaging clients along with a host of other applications designed to interact with the network.
Put simply, it’s a way to get instant answers from your friends to that most simple question: what are you doing?
But since its launch in October 2006, Twitter’s usefulness has extended far beyond finding out what your friends are currently working on, eating, wearing or thinking about. It has become:
- a powerful personal communications tool -it allowed for hostages in Mumbai to get messages out to the world in real-time;
- a social justice helper - it was used by an American prisoner in Egypt to secure his release in less than 24 hours;
- a customer service and support tool- Comcast employee Frank Eliason started the @comcastcares twitter account and practically single-handedly saved Comcast from its PR nightmares.
So how can this nifty little tool come in handy for you?
Here’s a quick step-by-step guide to using Twitter to help build your business and your profile in the social media sphere:
- Sign up for an account at Twitter.com. Make sure you include detail about *who* you are, not just who your company is. People don’t like faceless corporate entities. They like other people. Use your company’s logo as your photo or if you want to go the more personal route, use your beautiful mug instead.
- Check out what other current users are saying about your company by using Twitter search @ http://search.twitter.com. Be careful about replying to everything, and don’t take the negative stuff personally. Use it as constructive criticism.
- Start promoting your @username in your online and offline advertising. This is a great way to pick up followers without doing any heavy lifting.
- When posting, try to vary up your tweets. If all you ever do is promote yourself or your business without being part of any real conversations happening there, people will notice. And they won’t like you.
- Be genuine in your replies and understand that Twitter users can smell a pitch. That being said, if you think your solution is right for someone, don’t be afraid to mention it to them. That’s why you signed up, isn’t it?
- Once you’ve developed a following, you can really start to see the power of Twitter. You can post messages for secret sales, promotions and meetups on Twitter that will automatically be sent to anyone following you. Updates are sent through the web, over SMS (short message service, a.k.a. text messaging) on mobile phones, to blogs and more – making your message spread wider than just the twitter website itself.
Here’s a few links that should help you wrap your head around the right and wrong things to do when getting started with a marketing strategy on Twitter:
- 50 Ideas for Using Twitter for Business
- The Evolution of Brands on Twitter
- Don’t Be That Guy
- Cultural Immersion in 9 Steps for Social Media Tourists
If you’d like to learn more about implementing Twitter as a part of your overall internet marketing strategy, talk to one of the experts at Canada’s Web Shop.