is a social networking and microblogging service that allows users to send and
read short, text-based posts. Each "tweet" is limited to 140 characters and
typically answers the question, "What are you doing?" You can choose to
"follow" the tweets of other people and allow them to follow you.
Twitter is fairly new to the
social media scene, but many companies have already found ways to use it for
business, from announcing new products to helping out customers in need. Like
blogging, Twitter allows companies to have fast, direct conversations with
customers (presuming, of course, that they are using Twitter) or reach a new base
of prospects. In this section, we will share ideas and best practices to help
you get started.
for Small Businesses
Over the past 12 months, companies
of all sizes have started to experiment with Twitter as a communications
and marketing channel. Here are a few interesting applications:
Tweet company news in short, manageable pieces - an
effective strategy for reaching multi-tasking customers with ever shortening
Tweet special offers or discounts for your Twitter
"followers" to drive sales. Some companies do this to unload excess inventory.
At Dell, for example, we've generated more than $1 million in sales by posting consumer, SMB and DellOutlet offers on
Twitter. Be sure to create separate Twitter accounts for sales-generating
activities and general company or employee news. This way, your customers know
exactly what to expect when they agree to follow you.
Tweet from company and industry events to provide real
Tweet questions or ideas about your business to get
immediate feedback from customers following you.
Seek out customers tweeting about good and bad
experiences with your company. Thank your happy customers and try to resolve
Tweet about things that interest you, and have fun with
it! Your customers might appreciate getting to know you as a real person, not
just a brand.
Twitter is a free tool, so the
cost of entry is low. The primary investment required is employees' time.
It's easy to
get started with Twitter in a few simple steps:
Set up a Twitter account. You can
either create one central account that is used by multiple members, or
preferably, create an account for each employee at your company with
differentiated names, yet a common theme. For example: Firstname_Lastname_atDELL.
Build your network. Start by following
users that mention your brand or product. You can find them by using a tool
called TweetScan to search for recent
"tweets." If you have a database of customers who have agreed to receive your
e-mails, you might also contact them directly to let them know that you're
experimenting with Twitter as a way to communicate with them more effectively. You
can also add a link to your Twitter profile to your e-mail signature so people
know they can follow you there.
Start tweeting. Introduce yourself with
an inaugural tweet that explains your purpose for being on Twitter.
Based on our experience at Dell
and conversations with small- and medium-size business owners, we've identified
several best practices for using Twitter, such as:
Tweet regularly, but don't over-update. If you post too
frequently, followers could consider your updates an annoyance and stop
following you. Aim for at least one or two tweets per day, but no more than 15.
If multiple employees are using Twitter, try to assign a
specific role or subject matter focus for each person. This will help to ensure
that multiple people aren't tweeting on the same topic.
If a person chooses to follow you, follow them back. This
is common courtesy and a good way to build your network.
Remember that you don't have to log-in to Twitter.com to
use the service. You can send and receive updates via your mobile phone, RSS,
email or an application like Twitterrific or
Facebook. You can learn more and download these applications at http://twitter.com/downloads.
Also, check out Chris Brogan's
recent post on "50
Ideas for Using Twitter for Business" for many other helpful tips.
At a young age, Gary
Vaynerchuk took over his family business, a liquor store in New Jersey. Over a
period of six years, Gary and his father rebranded it as a Wine Library and
grew sales from roughly $4 million to $50 million annually. In February 2006, Gary launched Wine
Library TV, a daily video blog in which Gary tastes and reviews wines. To extend his
reach and influence, Gary
has employed a host of social media strategies, including Twitter. Gary tweets multiple times daily
about wine and everything else on his mind, and he has attracted 14,265
followers in the process.