The internet provides consumers with more choice than ever. But with so much choice available many can find it difficult distinguishing one product from another. Meaning, businesses must develop long-term relationships with customers or risk losing them to the competition. Relying on traditional channels to reach and monitor the behaviour of customers is at best hopeful these days, and at worst inaccurate. To successfully market a brand, organisations need to take time to develop a thorough understanding of the interests and behaviours of customers, and how to best to reach them.
Twitter for Businesses
Twitter can help you win customers, drive sales, find & solve problems, and manage your brand. If you do not have a Twitter strategy, you need one.
The previous sentence is under 140 characters, the maximum length of a “tweet.” And yet it captures the power of this relatively new short-form messaging system. Twitter has quickly become a critical business communication tool, not just by measurement of its user base, but because it allows businesses to engage with their customers in real-time, and in a highly personal and effective manner. It enables you to keep your finger on the pulse of what your customers are saying about you (and your competitors) – in real time. Using immediate customer feedback through tweets and responses to surveys, you can better understand your customers’ attitudes and preferences, and leverage that information to quickly inform business decisions.
Twitter offers several advantages over other communications channels:
True immediacy: Twitter updates are posted in real-time, without delays imposed by ISPs or email account gatekeepers. The impact of those updates can also be observed, measured and analysed in real-time.
Greater ability to be conversational: While other communication channels claim to be conduits of “dialogues,” their ability to truly facilitate two-way conversations is limited. Twitter is, by its very nature, a discussion stream where two or more people can actively participate in a fluid conversation.
Going public: To go a step further, the conversations on Twitter are usually public, meaning that anyone can participate. This public dialogue has the potential to nurture deeper and more organic community building around a brand or topic.
Device- and connection-agnostic: Twitter users can post and read tweets from virtually any device – a desktop computer, a smart phone or even via SMS. This flexibility creates the opportunity for customers to comment at any time, and enables businesses to be very nimble with their Twitter accounts.
The Power of the Retweet: Because Twitter messages are public, there is an unlimited opportunity for content–and links to content–to be shared and re-purposed. Twitter’s immediacy, its potential as a conduit of conversation and community-building, its ease of use and its ability to amplify your messages create a compelling value proposition.
Make sure you define your goals
With any social media programme, be sure to define your goals. Your Twitter programme deserves the same rigorous process of defining objectives and goals that you would bring to a marketing plan or a new product launch. This will help drive how many Twitter accounts you should manage, how you brand and operate those accounts, what kind of content and conversations you seed each account with, and what business expectations are set for your overall Twitter programme.
Identify areas of your business that can be served by Twitter. Examples of functions and their possible goals and objectives include:
Marketing and promotions: Build awareness of new products and services, communicate special offers for your Twitter followers, and drive foot traffic to physical locations.
Customer service: Gather feedback, listen and respond to complaints and questions, and solicit ideas from customers.
Sales operations: Take orders and provide delivery updates.
Public relations: Disseminate important news and information, help drive attendance for special events, create events exclusively for Twitter followers (“Tweet-Ups”) .
Human resources/recruiting: Communicate job openings and promote the organisation as a preferred employer.
So, should you approach Twitter and LinkedIn in the same manner? No. On LinkedIn, you are always in business mode and on Twitter, you are a person who does business. When you use LinkedIn, think of it as wearing a suit and tie – everything is about business. Twitter, on the other hand, is like going to a familiar networking event where you know a lot of people. You are aware that you are a businessperson, but you show your human side, you connect with people on a different level – it’s more about social dialogue.
LinkedIn for Businesses
Before LinkedIn there were already plenty of websites available for people to sign up and search for careers, and these sites were the largest of their time. However, the concept of combining the trend of social networking to grow businesses was ingenious. LinkedIn set a new standard in social networking and has a history of its own due to its vision to redefine the social networking community by enabling people to network professionally rather than for leisure purposes.
Social networking sites have come a long way in development and most of them are being packed with more features than initially intended. The rise in popularity of social media channels such as LinkedIn has triggered many businesses to ask: “Why invest precious resource in such a fledgling technology?” Well, every day, consumers post information on social media channels that can be leveraged by marketers to refine the targeting of their campaigns. Currently, LinkedIn’s top features include groups, people searching and the people you know feature. Users voluntarily share public information about their lifestyle preferences and interests that can be tapped for significantly better targeting across channels. Not only that, but LinkedIn is currently the easiest of the social media platforms to navigate.
Ultimately, LinkedIn, Twitter and other social media sites will continue to change at a quick pace, and businesses are discovering new ways to benefit from them every day. The techniques and best practices of today will morph into new ones tomorrow. By galvanizing your internal team and partnering with experts, you can stay current with best practices, maintain and grow your follower base, and ultimately build competitive advantage.
Kara Trivunovic, Vice President of Agency Services, StrongMail. Kara is responsible for managing StrongMail’s New York-based agency services and its full suite of multi-channel strategic, creative and implementation services. Prior to joining StrongMail, Kara was founder and principal of The Email Advisor, a respected email marketing consultancy focusing on email strategy and channel optimisation acquired by StrongMail in May 2009.
Over the course of her 12-year tenure as a marketing professional, Kara has become a fixture at email marketing events and in industry publications. Working with a number of Fortune 500 and Fortune 1000 organisations, Kara has had the opportunity to conceptualise and implement new and innovative email programmes, optimise contact strategies and develop staffing and budget plans. Kara is actively involved in programmatic email development, execution and strategy, where she brings a unique industry perspective having worked on the client, agency and provider side.
This is a sample from a chapter taken from the social media business guide, SocMed: Social Media Marketing