Twitter can be a powerful tool if you know how to use it. Alex Sass, head of digital at Renegade Media, explains how to get the most out of Twitter
Twitter is the almost overnight phenomenon of micro-messaging that has sent spasms of confusion through blue chip marketers and owner-managers alike.
The winners and losers are poles apart in their approach. Winners understand the audience or more often are the audience. Losers have been led to believe that Twitter is a “cheap as chips” marketing platform, where if you build it, they will come, rushing to adopt without understanding its dynamics and culture.
It’s confusing because there is no definitive guide to Twitter from a marketing perspective. In its purest form, Twitter is a “stay in touch” network where members have the ability to publish short messages or Tweets and receive updates from those they select to follow.
Each message is a maximum of 140 characters and can be read by anyone who chooses to follow you.
Where there is conversation there is always networking (and marketing) to be done. Twitter holds millions of profiles that can be searched by location, interest or subject matter.
Whether you’re a local balti house or P&G, Twitter can engage. But post your marketing message and see how rapidly your followers disappear unless you follow the Twitterquette.
The key to attracting the right followers and keeping them interested is in creating the right style and reasoning behind the messages.
The Twitterati know that every post they make must be current, honest and appropriate to the interests of their followers. The best Twitterers are those who naturally succeed in holding the attention of a large group, the public speakers of this world or natural social butterflies whose understanding of interpersonal communications is inherent rather than learnt.
The ReTweet option (re-pasting someone else’s Tweet, adding RT, the post’s owner name and their original message) allows you to highlight something you believe is of wider interest to the community and gets you noticed as someone on trend. Using your real photo and name also increases the chance of your profile being trusted when you suggest these ReTweets, especially if you start by ReTweeting people you already know.
Twitter is a useful place to find out what your target audiences are thinking about right now. Used as a tool to monitor the industry, Twitter comes into its own. Even if you rarely Tweet yourself, you can use various search tools to locate mentions of your brand name or review the hot trends.
Business owners can’t fail to benefit from the ability to search on specific tags. If you have stakeholders who could benefit from a short sharp boost of group conferencing, simply request that they do so on Twitter adding your own ‘hashtag’ (a word following the #key) so that you can follow each others’ posts in real-time. It’s also possible to feed the results of such conversations directly to your website.
So who is succeeding in the Twitter game? Take Raging Bull, a Gloucestershire-based sportswear brand. Its founder, Phil Vickery (of London Wasps and England rugby fame), heads up its Twitter account. We introduced his profile with a quick hello to the top followers of his sport and followed up with a few informal posts of interest to rugby players and fans and his network grew to over 600 followers within days.
The Raging Bull profile uses Phil’s own informal photograph in the profile and a direct link to RagingBull.co.uk. This sets the expectation from the beginning that those following Vickery will get a mix of commercial posts, intertwined with updates from his private world.
Book retailer Waterstones engaged Twitter to promote a book by Ant and Dec. This took the form of an online interview (or Twinterview), allowing the celebrities to post replies to questions in real time from a wide target group.
This closeness to a real person encouraged debate and raised follower numbers for the Waterstones brand for a relatively small outlay.
Examples like this show that Twitter can be effective for businesses of all shapes and sizes. Twitter offers an insight into who you are talking to and what’s on your mind. Used as a tool for reputation management and as a space for your clients to become ambassadors, it’s well worth the investment of time.
Alex Sass is head of digital at Renegade Media.
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