Back to Basics: Twitter 101

14 Aug

As I met with a new client yesterday, I was rambling on and on about Twitter and it’s benefits. I quickly realized that I needed to take a step back and explain the basic fundamentals of what Twitter is and how it can benefit you and you’re business. So here it goes, your Twitter 101 lesson of the day:

What is Twitter?twitter-bird

Twitter is a tool that lets you write and read messages of up to 140 characters, or the very length of this sentence, including all punctuation and spaces. The messages are public and you decide what sort of messages you want to receive—Twitter being a recipient driven information network. In addition, you can send and receive Twitter messages, or tweets, equally well from your desktop or your mobile phone.

When you combine messages that are quick to write, easy to read, public, controlled by the recipient and exchangeable anywhere, you’ve got a powerful, real-time way to communicate. And real-time communication is turning out to be ground-breaking for users and businesses alike.

How can my business use Twitter?

Twitter connects you to your customers right now, in a way that was never before possible. For example, let’s say you work for a custom bike company. If you run a search for your brand, you may find people posting messages about how happy they are riding your bikes in the French Alps—giving you a chance to share tips about cyclist-friendly cafes along their route.

Others may post minor equipment complaints or desired features that they would never bother to contact you about—providing you with invaluable customer feedback that you can respond to right away or use for future planning. Still others may twitter about serious problems with your bikes—letting you offer customer service that can turn around a bad situation.

You don’t have to run a bike shop or a relatively small company to get good stuff out of Twitter. Businesses of all kinds, including major brands, increasingly find that listening and engaging on the service leads to happier customers, passionate advocates, key product improvements and, in many cases, more sales.

A key benefit

One of Twitter’s key benefits is that it gives you the chance to communicate casually with customers on their terms, creating friendly relationships along the way—tough for corporations to do in most other mediums.

But Twitter isn’t just about useful immediacy. The conversational nature of the medium lets you build relationships with customers, partners and other people important to your business. Beyond transactions, Twitter gives your constituents direct access to employees and a way to contribute to your company; as marketers say, it shrinks the emotional distance between your company and your customers. Plus, the platform lends itself to integration with your existing communication channels and strategies. In combination, those factors can make Twitter a critical piece of your company’s bigger digital footprint.

For instance, let’s say you run a big retail website. In addition to learning more about what your customers want, you can provide exclusive Twitter coupon codes, link to key posts on your blog, share tips for shopping online, and announce specials at store locations. And you can take things a step further by occasionally posting messages about fun, quirky events at your HQ, giving others a small but valuable connection with the people in your company.

Can I see some examples of companies use Twitter effectively?

Sure! Check out the following:

@Dell – Dell has the set the bar for big corporations and use of Twitter. Dell has used Twitter to offer discounts to customers and in result has sold millions of dollars of product over the last year.

@NakedPizza – Naked Pizza, a New Orleans establishment, became an instant overnight success due to one sign outside of the store that told passerby’s it’s Twitter name. Their Twitter feeds offer specials to it’s followers driving loads of people to the shop nightly.

@coffeegroundz – This Houston-based coffee shop lets customers order their to-go orders via Twitter.

@JetBlue – Jet Blue Tweets out airfare sales, flight delays as well as other useful information to travelers. They also use their Twitter feed as an additional way to manage their customer service inquiries, complaints and suggestions.

Stay tuned for more Back to Basics information! And don’t forget to follow AL Marketing on Twitter: @AshL1123

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5 Responses to “Back to Basics: Twitter 101”

  1. wendy August 14, 2009 at 1:51 pm #

    Ashley,

    Great job! It’s true lots of people have heard of Twitter but what the heck is it and how can you use it – what is the point of it all?

    Looking forward to more!

  2. ashleylmarketing August 14, 2009 at 2:09 pm #

    Thanks Wendy! The feedback is much appreciated.

    More to come…

  3. @betterthanporn August 14, 2009 at 10:40 pm #

    how does twitter help just the basic person?

    • ashleylmarketing August 17, 2009 at 2:15 pm #

      Great question. Twitter puts the power back in the consumers hands. You can communicate directly with companies whether it be a suggestion or complaint, as well as find great deals on products and services you use.

  4. Donna August 23, 2009 at 6:39 pm #

    The only thing I know how to do on twiiter is post and follow. I don’t know how to talk to a fellow tweet or chat with multiple people at the same time. How does this work?

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