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Marketing with Twitter

Marketing with Twitter

Twitter, part of the modern evolution of the web, provides a platform for micro-blogging. For the uninitiated, a micro-blog is effectively SMS for the web – it allows you to publish up to 140 character text messages about anything, from what you are eating for lunch through to useful references or work-related information.

But it’s more than just a push platform – it’s a collaboration and community tool. People can respond to your posts (called “Tweets”) directly – it’s what makes it different and more than just an RSS feed. You can also read and/or post from both mobile phones, the web and popular IM clients such as Windows Live Messenger and Digsby. There are also a host of other applications that allow interaction with Twitter.

So, where does Twitter sit in your communication strategy?

Blogs are quite easy to place – a business blog contains business-related information, such as this one. Articles are usually longer and more informative and range from technical to strategic. The blog helps visitors understand you/your company better taken as a whole (they can see the focus from the types of posts).

Websites are easy too – they are about your company. They tell people who you are, what you do and why they should buy from you. They also sell things like electronics, books, toys, furniture, jewellery and all manner of things.

Email marketing is also clear – it’s about promotion, the latest news, the newest offer, or a press release. There are other uses, but it’s usually a one-to-many output which can either inform, build the brand, or call the reader to action.

So what is Twitter?

It’s similar to your subconscious – a list of things you might like to blog, but are either too short or not quite on-brand (for business blogs), or conversely too business-like (e.g. blatant self-promotion) for personal blogs. Twitter sits between these worlds and is an acceptable platform to post personal as well as business Tweets. As a marketing tool, you need to determine what is an acceptable work/life balance to create, but the idea about Twitter is to create a constant stream of consciousness – it’s “all about you, baby”. And it’s not conversation either – keep that for IM clients or phone calls.

One important thing to remember is that people reading your Tweets want to know you, so too much self-promotion will have them switching off and not following you. Remember too that you need to occasionally respond to Tweets from people you are following – it’s a community thing too – you need to be involved with your network of followers and the people you are following. It’s the virtual equivalent of referrals. Remember too that it’s a fluid environment, so followers will come and go so don’t panic about losing people along the way. You will evolve your strategy over time and settle on a format that works for you – there’s no magic bullet.

It’s also a great tool to ask people who are following you for input – for example “anybody going to event x?”, “does anybody know about AdWords?”, “can anybody recommend an electrician?”, “what’s a good Lebanese restaurant in London?” These types of posts encourage community and communication, as well as providing insights about you/your brand which would not be obvious from your website, blog or email campaigns – or even be appropriate for them. In this sense, it is a perfect online mirror for offline business networks and allows you the ability to instantly connect to your network without the need for bespoke online tools or logging in to a website before you can check your updates. With Twitter it’s always on, and integrations through your IM client (e.g. Windows Live, Digsby, etc) provide you immediate feedback as it happens.

In essence – to answer the question “what is Twitter” – it is an online, interactive networking tool that allows you to collaborate with co-workers, friends (and complete strangers) through which you can enhance your personal identity/brand.

One guide I use is “don’t witter on Twitter or you’ll end up being a twit.”

Read more:
Web Strategy by Jeremiah Owyang
Using Twitter Properly (Part 3)
Twitter gets some notice in the enterprise

You can follow me on Twitter here.

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